Effective Fat Loss Guide – Burn Fat Not Muscle

I’m wrting this post in late december 2010 but this fat loss guide will work any time, whether it’s summer or winter so get started right now. Instead of worrying about your body fat in late spring or early summer why not start taking care of it right now? Depending on your body fat % you could keep on building muscle mass but if your body fat is around 20% you’ll need about 16 – 20 weeks to get to 10% body fat without losing muscle mass (you can’t prevent yourself from losing muscle mass but you’re able to reduce it to a minimum). So if you want show off at the beach with a lean muscular physique and great six pack abs you’ll better start right now. But keep in mind that your mindset, nutrition and training have to be nearly perfect to achieve such fat loss in 16 – 20 weeks.

Which Diet Is the Best?

It really doesn’t matter which type of diet you’re sticking to as long as you stick to. Different diets work different for different people so there is no “best diet”. The only form of diet I wouldn’t recommend is where you cut out ALL carbs like “The Anabolic Diet”. It’s not that these diets don’t work but you’re really restricted with food choices and you probably won’t have much power when working out because you’re not allowed to eat carbs. Another aspect is that if you want to increase carbs after cutting down body fat you have to be extremely careful. Besides that it’s not really important if you do intermittent fasting, low carb, 6 meals a day, 3 meals and 2 snacks or whatsoever as long as you apply some important nutrition and training principles.

1. Weight Lifting for Effective Fat Loss

Weight lifting increases and maintains lean muscle mass, strengthens your whole body and also burns fat.

More Muscle: Weight lifting builds strength and muscle mass that increases your BMR (basal metabolic rate) which means more muscle = increased fat loss.

Less Fat: During weight lifting your body burns a lot of calories and it also keeps burning more fat after working out due to an increased metabolism and hormonal response.

Look Better: Weight Lifting makes you look strong and muscular instead of skinny fat, which you’ll become if you do cardio like crazy trying to lose fat.

2. Proper Nutrition for Fat Loss

Fat loss won’t happen without adequate nutrition so make sure you watch what you eat. I don’t think I’ve to explain why you should avoid junk food, candy, sugar and other unhealthy crap that keeps you from losing fat. Also sugared drinks are likely to decrease tat loss causing frustration in ignorant people. As well as you’ll gain weight when having a caloric surplus you’ll lose weight when being in a caloric deficit. Since we want to lose fat and not muscle mass it’s inevitable to watch your diet.

Protein: The most important macronutrient and necessary in every diet regardless if your focus is on losing fat or building muscle. Make sure your protein intake is high enough to support your muscles with amino acids needed for muscle recovery. Protein is the bodies construction material for new cells, muscle tissue etc. so you know about the importance of protein in your diet. Recommended protein intake is about 1 – 1.5g per pound of lean body weight. Stick to protein from animal sources like meat, eggs, cottage cheese, chicken breast, protein powder etc. as these are of higher quality than vegetable protein. Soy is a high quality vegetable protein source compared with other vegetables.

Carbs: Carbs are the body’s main energy source but it’s important to choose your carbs wisely as it makes a big difference if you eat mainly junk carbs like sugar or complex carbs like oats, potatoes etc. Avoid simple carbs except right after lifting weights where simple carbs like maltodextrin or dextrose make sense. Good carb sources are whole wheat foods, oats, potatoes, rice, yams etc. Carbs should be cycled to promote fat loss and keep your metabolism running which means your intake on non-workout days is quite low compared to workout days.

Fat: Fats, saturated as well as unsaturated, are extremely important because they are responsible for maintaining and regulating hormones like testosterone, insulin sensitivity, increasing energy levels and fat burning processes etc. Fish oil (capsules), flax seed oil, almonds, olive oil and walnuts are popular healthy fat sources. Fish oil, flax oil and walnuts contain high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids which have amazing benefits on our cardiovascular system. Fat from red meat won’t hurt at all as saturated fat has lots of benefits like increasing testosterone levels, vitamins and more. They also help your tissue retain omega 3 and convert it to the body’s usable form DHA more efficient. Just make sure your fat intake is balanced and use different fat sources. Also you don’t have to worry about egg yolks because its cholesterol won’t influence your body’s cholesterol levels, so it’s no problem at all to have several yolks a day. Saturated fats are important as well and don’t affect your health in a negative way since trans fats are the reason for heart diseases.

Drinks: Drink lots of water and calorie free drinks like green tea, water and diet drinks though I recommend drinking mostly water and green tea. Avoid sugared drinks and teas except it’s artificial sweetener. Our bodies are made of 70% water and even being slightly dehydrated will cause lack of energy which means your workouts will suffer. Make sure to drink about 1 liter per 45 pound (20kg) of body weight or 1 gallon per 165 pound of body weight. For every hour of intense training add liter water. Just by the way, a 3% loss of water can result in a 10 – 15% drop in strength and performance.

Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are healthy and should be included in everybody’s nutrition as they are a great way to fill up your stomach without getting in too many calories. Not to mention that fruits like apples and grapefruits taste pretty good. Especially vegetables are the best way to fill up your stomach without getting in many calories. You ever heard of someone getting fat because of too many vegetables?

Vegetables: Eat vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, green peas, spinach, carrots, tomatoes and mixed salad which are very low in calories but fill up your stomach. Green vegetable are usually the ones with the smallest amount of carbs and calories.

Fruits: Apples, strawberries, blueberries and Grapefruits are my favorite fruit choices because both taste good, don’t contain many calories and are healthy. Fruits like bananas are ok after working out as they contain more carbs than apples or grapefruits.

Recommended Nutrient Intake:

–       Protein 1.5g – 2g per pound of lean body weight

–       Carbs 0.5 – 2 g per pound of lean body weight

–       Fat 0.5 – 0.7.g per pound of  lean body weight

Maybe you think such a high protein intake isn’t necessary for proper protein supply and you’re right. Just for the purpose of maintaining muscles or building a protein intake of 1 – 1.5 is plenty but more protein increases your metabolism because of its thermogenic effect. This means that your body burns more calories when digesting protein instead of carbs or fat. The thermic effect for protein is about 25 – 30%, natural starchy and fibrous carbs around 20%. Fat and refined carbs have a thermic effect of only 2 – 3%.

Say a person is 5’7 at 185 lbs (85kg) of which are 30% body fat. This means that 55.5 lbs (25.5kg) is pure fat. Subtract 55.5 from 185 and you’ll get 129.5 lbs (60kg) of lean body weight. After doing the math, this person would have to eat around 260g of protein (1040 kcal), 260g of carbs (1040 kcal) and 65g of fat (583 kcal) which would be a total calorie intake of about 2660 kcal. Obviously these are amounts required on workout days with intense weigh training and cardio. On non-workout days reduce total calories by 300 – 500 while cutting down on carbs. Protein should be reduced slightly since you won’t burn that many calories. Increase your fat slightly so you still get an adequate amount of total calories. Cycling your calories prevents you from crashing your metabolism.

Excellent Foods Choices Are:

–       Carbs: Oats, rice, pasta, grits, potatoes (e.g. homemade French fries), bread and bagels. Just avoid processed junk food which is full of simple sugars and fat. Vegetables and fruits also contain carbs but except for some fruits, only a little amount. Honey and jam are fine when spread on bread after working out and taste great.

–       Protein: Red meat, turkey breast, chicken breast, lean cold cuts and ham, protein powder, low fat (cottage) cheese, eggs, milk, tuna, salmon and other fish as well. Seafood is also fine.

–       Fat: Omega 3 (capsules), flax seeds, flax oil, walnuts, almonds, olive oil, fish (e.g. salmon) and are convenient unsaturated fat sources. Saturated fat like in yolks (2 – 3 a day), meat, butter, coconut oil and whole milk etc. is also important for several reasons so make sure to include it into your daily diet.

3. Cardio to Burn Extra Calories

Cardio is a great way to burn more fat but without lifting weights you’re likely to burn muscle mass instead of fat. It also improves cardiovascular health as well as endurance so don’t avoid cardio but also don’t overdo it. It doesn’t matter if you use the treadmill, elliptical trainer or go jogging as long as you keep the right intensity.

Intensity: Cardio intensity should be 70 – 75% of your max HR for sessions up to 45 minutes and 75 – 80% for sessions up to 30 minutes. Based on my experience I can say that the lower your body fat is the lower your cardio intensity. Still, lower than 70% has very little effect on fat loss except you do fit for hours.

Timing: After working out and waking up are favorable times for doing cardio because of several reasons like depleted glycogen stores but actually it’s fine to do whenever you like as long as you do it. Start with 3 sessions of 30 minutes a week and increase to 5 – 7 sessions of 30 – 45 minutes if necessary.

4. Calorie Tracking

It’s important that you know how many calories you took in since you won’t lose weight if you have too much. Therefore you should track your calories with fitday or write them down by hand using a calorie counter book. Get a kitchen scale, weigh your groceries and add up calories and nutrients. To get a rough estimate on your caloric needs multiply your lean body weight in lbs times 20.

–       Caloric value: Fat 9 kcal/g; protein 4 kcal/g; carbs 4 kcal/g

–       2660 kcal example: 260g protein (1040 kcal), 260g carbs (1040 kcal), 65g fat (583 kcal)

–       Calories from sauces and dips have to be considered too

5. Progress Tracking

Keeping track of your progress is crucial for success so keep a workout log, cardio sessions and fat loss etc. Once a week you should step on a scale to see how much weight you’ve lost. Losing more than 1 – 2 lbs a week might look good on the scale but for real you’ll lose too much muscle tissue. This also depends on your current body fat level, the lower the less you should lose in one week.

6. Supplements That Help

Weight loss e.g. fat loss is a billion dollar industry so there are literally thousands of products out there promising to burn fat 274% faster…faster than what? A load of junk food? Not to mention such supplements are wasted money but actually there are some supplements which improve burning body fat as well as maintaining lean muscle mass.

BCAA: Branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) are three essential amino acids you have to take in through nutrition or supplements. BCAA are metabolized as soon as they get into the muscle so they’re used preferably pre, during and post-workout to improve recovery while creating an anabolic environment. You won’t induce protein synthesis immediately with whole foods due to reasons like digestion time etc. If you want to get lean while keeping training intensity high then BCAA are definitely a supplement worth investing in. I recognized more energy and pump when I start using BCAA and somehow they also suppress my appetite.

Protein Powder: Protein powder (no vegetable sources as they’re of low quality) is probably the most popular bodybuilding supplement ever because it’s been available for a long time. It’s no magic powder but it’s quite helpful to meet your daily protein intake. In addition to more protein, protein powder of high quality usually tastes great and you can mix it into smoothies, coffee or make meals like protein pancakes. Whey protein is best used in the morning and after working out but you can also use it as a meal replacement with some healthy fats (nuts, flax seeds etc.) depending on your total calorie intake. For persons worrying about muscle loss while sleeping I recommend casein protein powder as it’s slow digested and provides amino acids over a long time.

Creatine: Creatine is a natural substance in the muscles where it’s converted into creatine phosphate, which is used as energy by your muscles. Creatine is found in beef but you’d have to eat pounds of it to make use of its included creatine so therefore you better supplement it. Don’t be afraid of retaining water because it’s intramuscular and not under your skin. Including creatine in your cutting diet has amazing benefits as you’re able to keep your strength up and muscles full even your glucose levels are low.

Glutamine: Glutamine is the most common amino acid in the body and if your body is stressed by intense workouts then you’ll benefit from supplementing glutamine because it improves recovery and strengthens the immune system. It also has anti-catabolic effects on your muscles which is quite important when dieting.

7. Build Everyday Habits

It’s easier adhering to your diet when you don’t have to fight against your mind so you should develop certain daily habits. Research shows that it takes on average 21 – 30 days to develop a new habit, that’s why you should do it for some time therefore don’t just try it for a few days and then let it slide.

Stay Motivated: Persistence is the key to success. Doesn’t matter if you want to make big money, build muscles or lose fat and get in your best shape ever. Always keep in mind that developing your dream body is a long term process with great rewards. Compare old pictures of you with new ones and see notice the difference. You can also write down sayings that motivate you and read them every morning. There are endless ways to be motivated.

Have Breakfast: It’s recommended to start your day with a big healthy breakfast which will provide you with energy and nutrients after sleeping. It’s also easier sticking to your diet because you’ve started your day with a healthy meal.

Be Active: When your want to lose fat you have to be active no secret there, right? For this reason you should be as active as you can so don’t take the elevator but walk the stairs. Don’t use your car for short distances but walk or ride your bike. I think you get the point. Even if you just burn 50 calories more a day which doesn’t sound much, but after 70 days that’s 3500 calories or 1 lbs body fat.

Eat First: Never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry because you’ll tend to buy junk food and candy. Make sure to have a big substantial meal before going to the supermarket. Make a list of foods you need and don’t get tempted to buy something not listed.

Prepare Food: What’s most likely if you’re hungry but your food isn’t prepared? Right, you’ll grab something trying to eliminate the hunger. If you grab an apple that’s ok but if it’s a candy bar or other crap, then you’re just sabotaging yourself from progressing. Avoid this mistake by preparing your food in advance the evening before or in the morning. You can also portion food for the next days and put it in the fridge.

Portable Meals: Lots of people like the excuse of not being able to eat clean because they’re working or going to school but in fact that’s a really lame excuse. Just prepare your meals at home and put it in food container which you can take with you. This way you’ll always have good quality food and you don’t have to buy junk food. If you worry about what other people might think of you then you probably should think about your goals and if you really want it. If you really want something you won’t give a shit what other people think.

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