We are adamant about not cutting down other personal trainers because we believe professionals should raise standards by working together. The down side of this is we may be a bit overly cautious about calling out bad practices and false advertising.
It is high time we confront the myths around fat loss head on. We will point some fingers but just absorb the fundamentals and you will be able to draw the better part of the correct conclusions yourself.
You can shed unwanted body fat by eating less than you use in energy right? Increasing the amount of energy you use will burn some fat. Decreasing the amount of food you eat …will burn some fat. The grey area which fitness fads play in is the result of your physiology not being a linear system. So calories in – calories out has superficial roots but your body is a system with many deeply ingrained feedback and self protect subsystems.
When you are physically active (after about 20 minutes depending on intensity) you can achieve lipolysis (the burning of your body fat stores for energy). You do not internally digest your fat all that quickly but it does provide you energy when your blood sugar levels are depleting. What most don’t consider is that at the exact same time your body is counteracting this use of emergency energy stores.
As you burn body fat your system works to lower the rate at which your entire metabolism is running in order to conserve energy. At this time your body sends out chemical messaging which will increase the rate at which you store body fat. Furthermore, your future appetite is purposely/chemically increased to encourage you to replace all the fat you may have burned.
When you add to this that the same things happen when restricting calories + the added kicker of post diet rebound you start to see the difficulty. The issue is supposed ‘fixes’ which show good results over a 3-6 month timeframe actually make matters worse for the individual. Seriously consider: it can easily take as much as 2 years for your immune system and your brain controllers (hypothalamus) to agree with each other that a particular change in body composition is ok.
All this to say that if you think you can just quickly strip off that fat and leave behind a nice fit body you have been mislead. As you lose fat you lose water and muscle and when you are done your body is slowed down metabolically. In nature a human that loses piles of fat in a single year is either starving (lack of food source) or sick/ill as dictated by evolution.
Now if that weren’t enough when you find out how much physical activity you need to burn a pound of fat and you will be eyes wide open to the fitness and diet industries dirty secret. If you are athletic and work hard you might burn 1 pound of fat every 8-10 hours of intense exercise…might. Remember the smaller your muscles the less fuel you burn while active. Now add in reduced food from a dieting and your physical output decreases even more. Holding back food means less energy to get your body working hard and pulling hard from fat stores. This like not adding wood to a fire and it just ending up a pile of smouldering coals.
Dieting and activity which cause fat loss also weakens you because it drains other energy stores like glycogen held in muscle cells. The weaker you are the less energy you can burn and thus you need to spend more time trying to shed fat. Hard bootcamp blasting, spinning like a pro, running, jumping twisting pumping is all the perfect trap. The more you do the more you are trapped like a dog chasing its tail… a dog who often ends up with overuse injuries.
“…like not adding wood to a fire and it just ending up a pile of smouldering coals”
Bottom line you have to look inside first then take a serious long-term outside view. You have to eat for your body type, age, sex, career/lifestyle and exercise in regards to those things as well while trying to organize your personal goals. You must choose everything based on sustainability over years not months, otherwise ALL of your effort and time will result in failure.
Know – real success takes time and consistency and that patience will pay off huge with regards to health and fitness.
Be well, be strong,
Andrew and Tierney