Why You Should Aim To Lose Fat and Not Weight
Most people want to lose weight for their health and happiness, but losing weight doesn't necessarily mean losing body fat. As a matter of fact, we often lose muscle mass when dieting and are susceptible to weight regain, called the "yo yo effect". This leaves our metabolism slower, our bodyfat percentage higher, and our hunger hormones on the fritz for months to come.
So how can we focus our efforts on fat loss instead of “weight loss”?
Begin an exercise regimen that incorporates resistance training and uses progressive overload.
This could be weight lifting, pilates, crossfit, bodypump, and any other exercise modality where you’re required to get stronger over time and where you’re placing resistance on the body (with either body weight or weights).
Cut down your total cardio activity or ensure that you’re maintaining a small to moderate calorie deficit.
That’s right, eating like a bird and hitting the eliptical is a great way to acheive the “skinny fat” body. The goal here should be to consume enough calories to maintain your muscle mass while still eating in a calorie deficit. You don’t want to lose more than .5% of your total body weight per week (if you’re already in a healthy bmi) or more than 1% of your total body weight per week (if you’re obese).
For example, if you are:
Female: 5’5 (165 cm) and 150 lbs (68 kg)
You want to lose .5% of your total body weight per week. That means you don’t want to lose more than .75lbs per week (1/3 kg).
Your calorie deficit shouldn’t exceed -375 calories a day. In this example if you’re sedentary you’d need 1,800 calories a day to maintain your weight without exercise.T
The Result: You shouldn’t eat less than 1,425 calories for optimal results.
If you’re in love with cardio, make sure you’re eating back the calories burned to keep yourself at the desired calorie deficit. For example, if you burn 400 calories on the treadmill, make sure that you’re accounting for that in your “maintenance calories” and eating more.
Eat enough total protein and amino acids. How much is enough? Atleast .8-1.2 grams of protein per pound (.45 kg) of lean body mass. If you find yourself struggling to reach this goal there are a plethora of high protein foods (vegans and vegetarian sources here) ranging from meats, fish, dairy, grains, legumes, and protein supplements like bars and powders.
At the end of the day you’ll need to consume enough protein so that your body doesn’t need to rely on muscle tissue for amino acids and energy.
Eat enough protein, consistent and progressive resistance training, and a small to moderate calorie deficit will get you to the body of your dreams.