October 31st, 2022
My dear friend and trainee… 👋
Here are a few general recommendations that will help you achieve your health goals. Specifically body composition by providing a summary of key aspects that have a huge impact on this element.
– Why is it so hard for me to lose weight?
Well… Let’s define terms first. Losing weight DOES NOT mean losing fat. In fact, you can lose weight as measured by the scale and increase your body fat at the same time. Body weight is composed of Fat Mass (FM) and Fat-Free Mass (FFM). FM is just adipose tissue, also called fat tissue. FFM is everything else that is not fat. These include muscles, bones, organs, water, etc.
* The human body is a ratio of FM:FFM. What does that mean? It means that if you increase your FFM, your FM will decrease.
Among the factors that make it hard for you to lose weight are aging, slow basal metabolic rate, and other physiological factors. However, behavioral factors such as poor food choices, physical inactivity, and lack of sleep seem to be the main culprit.
– How can I do it then?
Now that we have define terms, let’s dive into the importance of energy balance on losing weight. A calorie is one of the forms that the human body uses as energy. Calories=Energy. Calories are consumed through foods. The more energy/calories you store, the greater your body weight. It is that simple.
- The more calories you consume=the more energy you consume=the more body weight that will be gained 💡
Therefore, if excessive calories make you gain weight… how can I lose weight? Well, applying the same definition, we lose weight by consuming less calories or energy. We can also increase the energy or calories we expend to reduce the total net energy in our body (final energy levels at the end of the day).
– So.. are you saying that I can consume that same amount of calories or energy a day and still lose weight if I increase my energy expenditure?
– That’s right!
– But well, this sounds amazing… but how the heck am I supposed to expend calories?
That’s a good question. There are three main ways to expend energy or calories… and exercise is one of them but far from being the most important one. Here are the three ways the human body uses the expend energy or calories:
1- Basal metabolic rate: You have probably heard about this. It is literally the amount of energy the body uses at rest to keep us alive. These are by performing basic functions such as maintaining normal organ functioning, digesting food, repairing tissues (maintaining muscle mass requires a lot of energy 😉) , etc. This accounts for about 60-75% of the total energy we expend throughout our day!
2- Exercise: The classic. It accounts for about 15-30% of the total energy expended throughout the day, varying depending on intensity, duration and other factors. However, even though it has a small contribution to your overall expenditure, it has great effects on Basal Metabolic Rate… ( go back to 😉).
3- Thermogenic effect of food: What the heck is this? Well, let’s make it simple. To digest protein, to a greater level compared to fats or carbohydrates, the body needs to provide a considerable amount of energy or calories. What does that mean? It means that a high-protein diet will cause the body to expend energy on digesting food… not a bad deal right? Therefore, at the end of digestion, the final energy or calorie value will be lower due to the body’s energy contribution at digesting protein.
So far, so good 👍?
Things to keep in mind till now:
- To decrease FM (fat) we need to increase FFM (e.g, muscle).
- To expend energy, we need to optimize Basal Metabolic Rate, emphasizing our contribution of Exercise daily, and a focus on High-Protein Diet.
Okay… but a couple of questions should be coming up… (1) How can I optimize my Basal Metabolic Rate? (2) How can I increase calorie or energy expenditure when exercising? (3) Where can I find a high-protein diet?
Let’s go one by one to solve all of our great questions.
(1) Basal metabolic Rate is affected by many factors. However, we can only control a few. And of those, some have almost an irrelevant effect. On the other hand, two of the “controllables” play a big role. One is Lean Body Mass, how much muscle you have. The second one is sleep 😴. This will impact our Basal Metabolic Rate negatively if we lack quantity and quality of sleep. Therefore, paying close attention to our sleep schedule and increasing muscle mass are two ways that can positively impact Basal Metabolic Rate and cause greater energy expenditure at rest.
(2) When exercising 🏃♀️, calorie expenditure is given by factors such as intensity, duration, frequency, type of exercise, etc. Logically, the harder, longer, more often, and larger muscle groups involved, the more energy or calories we will be needed to expend to counteract the demands. A combination of cardio and resistance training would be ideal.
(3) Protein is found in many products. Animal products including meats (chicken 🍗, turkey, beef), fish, eggs 🍳, and dairy contain high-quality protein. If plant-based products are preferred, you can still meet your protein needs. Go for legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils), rice, soy, nuts, quinoa. Since it is harder to consume the same amount of protein from plant-based sources due to the need of consuming greater volume, protein powder may help reach the quantity needed for everyone.
And finally, the question for a million dollars 💰… Now that we know what we need to do to lose weight… How do we lose fat specifically?
Well… I will give you a few minutes to bring everything together and find out yourself…
Have not found it out yet?
Let me tell you. Losing fat CAN occur simultaneously with losing weight. However, each individual is very unique and it may require multiple phases of fat loss and muscle building to get to the overall goal you are looking for. Here are three main factors that come into play:
- Calorie deficit: Expending more calories or energy than we consume. It is that simple. By being in a “calorie deficit”, the body will reduce its energy storage and thus lose overall body weight.
- High-protein diet: Protein is the nutrient for which the body has to provide good amounts of energy or calories to digest. We go back to the thermogenic effect of food 🥘, most dramatically occurring with protein. With carbohydrates and fats, this does not happen to the same degree (protein is 20-35% thermogenic whereas carbohydrates and fats are 5-10% and 1-3% thermogenic respectively). Moreover, as we have talked about, consuming more calories or energy than we expend it is just going to make us gain weight (“calorie surplus”). However, and this is key, if the “surplus” is coming from protein (in other words, over-consuming calories through protein), this weight gain effect does not occur because we do not store protein in the human body! Fats and carbohydrates are stored in the human body as adipose tissue and glycogen respectively, but protein…? We will pee the excessive protein, but we will never store it. Therefore, if you over-consume calories (“calorie surplus”), make sure they are coming from protein.
- Build muscle: As we know, the body is a ratio of FM:FFM. Therefore, building muscle 💪 (belongs to FFM) will help reduce FM (fat), causing an optimal and healthy weight loss and body composition.
These three points are key factors when it comes to achieving the physique you want. Apply them into your daily life, progressively, for you to adhere.
And remember… Being HEALTHY goes with being CONSISTENT.