The Essentials to Weight Loss
It is near impossible to start off your weight loss journey, without doing some prep work to make sure you are set up in the best position possible. Set yourself up for success. There are of course some exceptions, a traumatic experience or illness can cause drastic weight loss. However, this is not the healthy route that we should be aiming for. These methods are also unpredictable and unsustainable in the long run. Therefore, we must seek out healthy ways in which will both lead you to weight loss and leave you feeling energised for the rest of life.
There will be a variety of aspects that we will be addressing in the bible below but it is vital that you take all areas into account. This is one of the largest reasons that people start and fail before fulfilling their potential. It is because they only focus on one area and neglect another. Treat each area with the same respect as one another, in order to achieve weight loss. Especially if we are looking for long term success.
The 3 main areas of life that need to be in sync are Nutrition, Exercise and Mindset. These are the 3 pillars from which to change the body to exactly how you want. Take each one as seriously as the other and you will be well on your way to achieving your fitness goals, and more.
Know How The Body Works
Before you even go for your first run or lift your initial weight, there is some information you need to gain first. But even before we do this, we must understand just how the body works. This way we are able to manipulate it in any way we want. This is also important because each person has a slightly different blue print. Therefore, you must know how your own body works before taking the next step.
Everyone’s overall calorie intake can differ. However, as a rule of thumb, these figures can be followed for both Males and Females.
Adjust For Weight Loss
One of the most important things to understand is that evolutionary, the modern world has progressed far quicker than the human body. That goes for yours, mine and the top athletes of the world. This is an issue that is out of our control, but what we can control is how we react to this fact. What this means practically, is that the world we currently live in, is built for convenience and ease. At the click of a button, we can have a full meal arrived to our doorstep within minutes. The choice is limitless too, you can have whatever you want, whenever you want.
Although, this ease of access is great for acquiring food, our insides are not set up for the same frequency of food that is available. The human body takes millions of years to adapt and evolve. Which means that the body is still in hunter gather mode. In this mode, food would be scarce. Dealing with starvation, famine and lack of food, is what our bodies are built for. It is yet to develop the mechanisms to deal with such an abundance of food. Therefore, when so much food is incoming, the body is unable to find a suitable use for it.
This problem may be easier to deal with if the food available was all of high quality. But here lies another issue that may stop you in your weight loss tracks if you are unaware. The foods around us are made for preservation and first class taste. As oppose to the benefits they will give us both long and short term
Learn To Make Nutrition Work For You
Another way in which our predecessors fell victim to accessibility, taste and greed. Is seen through the way in which carbohydrates are everywhere we look today. Bread, pasta, rice and all numbers of treats are thrown in our face. To the point that it feels abnormal to be rejecting such products. Our education system has also geared us to believing that carbs are the energy source from which we should be reliant on each day. Flashbacks of the plate percentages image may come to mind. This is another aspect we will delve into later in the bible.
Know your energy source
It is from these clever education and marketing strategies that have made us become almost completely dependent on consuming carbohydrates for energy. We have all probably been a culprit, or been around someone who becomes ‘hangry’. Seemingly short tempered or not themselves because they believe that they need to eat food to regain energy.
Although this is somewhat true, it is mostly a mind game. In reality, it is the way in which we see hunger and our relationships with food that are the root cause of feeling depleted when going long periods of time without food. The human body has spent millions of years evolving and perfecting the art of being able to survive through starvation and famines. As a result, it has the mechanisms available to tap into a number of different energy sources.
However, the problem is that the majority of the population are unable to get the body to use each source effectively and efficiently. Especially when it comes to fat. Many people complain that they only need to look at a chocolate bar, and their body has already gained weight. There is a reason that the body is so good at storing fat. Storing it in places we wish it wouldn’t, but holding onto it none the less.
The main reason being, is so that when starvation does strike, the body has a storage of energy. This form of energy is much more effective, the brain also works a lot better when using the store of fat, as oppose to immediate food. The positive side effect to the body utilising this source is that your body fat remains low, revealing a physique that is healthy and toned. Both on the inside and out, as it stops the organs and arteries being over supplied with fat.
Apply Metabolic flexibility
So how can you tap into this energy source? Well the first and easy part is reducing the amount of carbs you consume. This then forces the body to find another source of energy. Which is more often than not, our so called ‘enemy’ – fat. The reason this is the easy part is because overpowering your relationship with carbohydrates is often the toughest task. Potentially cutting out bread, pasta and cakes, can strike fear into any person. It is at these points when your body is testing you.
Once you push past these, baring in mind they do not last long at all. You will reach the paradise of metabolic flexibility. Here is where your body can pick from a number of sources, simply because you have set up the signals to lead it down the right path. As oppose to consuming carbs, then burning said carbs. Never actually using the other sources available.
It is from here that we are able to start a sustainable and long lasting weight loss journey. Now that you can utilise each energy source effectively, you are less likely to succumb to temptations or hunger. This is because your body can adapt to not need as much food as you think it may do. This is often the most common reason that people start and fail their journeys.
The Basic Weight Loss Principle
Now that we understand the major part of our body that inhibits weight loss, we can move onto to what we need to work out in order to kick the process off. The first thing you must understand is that everything should be seen as energy – from the foods we eat to movements we make each and every day. The excess fat that we so badly want to lose, should also be seen as energy. Therefore, if we use more energy than we eat (burn more calories than we consume), the body will be forced to find the energy from a different source (metabolic flexibility). A source that is readily available – called adipose tissue. Otherwise known as excess fat.
This is what is known as a calorie deficit, and is essential to the process of losing weight. This simple equation gives a more visual representation of how it works;
- Calories consumed – Calories used by the body = E.g – 500 calories (this will be burned from fat stores)
If your body is not within a calorie deficit then it will not burn through the excess fat stores you have all over your body. It is also important to note, that you are not able to target specific areas (lower stomach, back of the legs or side of the torso). This because your fat cells will only burn as a unit. Not in specific groups. Therefore it is better to perform full body exercises that force you to use your whole body.
MAKE YOURSELF PROUD!
The first part to using this equation in a practical sense is working out each part of it. How do we work out how many calories the body uses during the day? This is done by calculating, what is called – Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the amount of calories (or energy) your body needs, in order to function. This will include;
- Holding your posture
- Digesting food
- Maintaining a heart rate
- Regulating temperature
This number can vary from each individual person. Therefore it is important that you do not copy another persons BMR, and that you take the time to work out your own. This number can differ depending on your age, height and weight. The easiest way to work out your own BMR is by using the Schofield Equation.
This will be your base number to work with. However, this is really only relevant if you were to lay in bed all day and never move. As the more we move, the more calories we burn. What we do day to day, including our jobs and our hobbies, will have a major effect on what your magic target number will be. This is why the Active BMR is a much more accurate number. Depending on your activity level, you will need to times your original BMR by a certain number (often between 1-2).
This is the breakdown for the Schofield Equation. This can be used to work out your very own BMR. Taking all the necessary factors into account.
What To Do With Your BMR?
Once you have your number, all you need to do is stay under it. In terms of how many calories you consume during the day. Depending on your goal and your starting point, your target number may be greater or lesser than another persons. This is again, where it is important to stay focused on your own path.
You must also remember that you should not have too large a deficit, as you will deprive your body of essential calories that it will need to perform vital functions. If you go too big too fast, you will often find that diminishing results will occur. Your body will react in starvation mode. Once the calories come back it will automatically store most of it as fat, because it will be unsure when the next food supply will be. Keep it at a consistently healthy level and it will set this to its default, “normal” state.
The next part of the jigsaw is calculating how many calories you consume during the day. This is another extremely important aspect, because this is the area that most people are unaware of. It is a common and understandable mistake to think you are either over or under consuming the right amount of calories. It is understandable, because companies will manipulate packaging laws to make certain foods, appear to have less calories than the actually do. Making you more likely to purchase their product over another companies.
It is also made harder, because the weight of products, recipes and recommendations, all vary dramatically. Especially recommended portion guidelines, which are much smaller than what people think they are.
PUSH YOUR LIMITS!
Luckily, we live in a technological age. Which makes working out the next part of our equation, much easier. There is a buffet of apps and programs out there that will allow you to track the foods you eat. This is a very important part of the process, but should only be done for around 2 weeks, as it can become tedious. However it will allow you to stay within your target number. It will also hold you accountable, because more often than not, you will not want to see a negative number on your screen. We have found that the most effective platform is My FitnessPal.
If you are a beginner, then we would advise that you only focus on the total amount of calories and keeping the protein intake high. Keeping the protein high will allow you to feel fuller for longer. This way you will not become overwhelmed by the array of numbers and charts within the app. Confusion about what you are seeing can add to a failing journey. Keep it simple, and take one step at a time.
Get Into A Healthy Mindset
Once you have the necessary information to create a foundation, it is time to jump up to the next step. However, although you are eager to jump into the latest, celebrity diet. That is not always the best idea. A more trusted first step, is to first establish your starting point. Especially as everyone has a different starting position to the person standing next to them.
An important point to remember when doing this, is to always be honest with yourself. At the end of the day, you should only be doing this for yourself. Therefore, knowing the exact point at which you are starting from is a vital factor. This should begin with a long hard look in the mirror. If you are over or under weight, just being aware, is a step in the right direction. Weight loss is just as much a mental game as it is a physical one. This means that you will have to overcome mind barriers to reach your target.
Keep A Food Diary
The next step is to know where your nutritional stand point is. The best way to do this is to either keep a food diary, noting everything that you consume within a day. You can also keep track of your current diet on the My FitnessPal app. We recommend that you only do this for 7 days, to get a good spectrum of what you are consuming. You will then need to evaluate, or get a reliable source to do so.
This is then where you can pin point what you need to change, in terms of macros. What timings work best for you and you lifestyle. Then also what targets you need to be hitting, being realistic, to reach your goals. It also makes it much easier to know which type of diet would be best suited to you and your needs.
Prepare For Weight Loss
Just being organised and aware of what you are eating and when you are eating it, will give you a significant advantage over your past self. One of the biggest enemies to your fitness journey will be falling victim to convenience or potential laziness. It can be easy, and is extremely common, for people to come home after a long day at work. Then reach for the nearest, most time efficient food source. Unfortunately, this tends to be an unhealthy option. Becoming a major difference in whether or not you reach your goals.
Fortunately, you are able to curb this problem by investing the time in helping this future version of you. Who will essentially be on a different thought process as your current motivated self. By preparing your meals before hand, and blocking out a certain time in the week to do so, you will significantly improve your chances of weight loss. It will also make your life much easier, taking out decision making and cooking time. Of which, many of us are consistently bogged down with on a daily basis. This also means that you can spend that time on other activities.
For all the tips for a successful meal prep, just take a look at the Braww Blog right here.
Experiment With Your Nutrition
As we previously mentioned, following a cookie cutter diet may not be sufficient for reaching your goals. It is essential to find your own path, making sure your nutrition is tailored to you, is the key element to having long lasting results. There are a multitude of techniques to be experimented with, that it may take you a painstakingly long time to uncover your optimal method. Below we have listed some tried and tested nutrition routes that will benefit you both long and short term;
- Intermittent fasting – One of the most popular methods for people who have busy work or family life. Only eating between a certain time frame, will allow your body to focus on other important functions. It will also help transfer your body to a fat burning system.
- Carb cycling – Just reducing your intake of carbs will have a positive effect on brain and body function. But again it will also allow your body to tap into the fat reserves for energy. As oppose to just relying on the current foods you feed it.
- Calorie deficit – The easiest method on a macro level. Simply eating less than your body uses, will force your body to burn the excess fat on your body. It is important to note that while you can eat whatever you want on this method. It is extremely advisable to keep the quality of your food high.
- Keto – High fats / moderate protein / low carbs is another common system. Especially in recent years. Going back to how our ancestors ate, allows the body to follow a more sustainable system. Fortunately this is geared towards weight loss. Depending on how your body works, the Keto diet is not for everyone.
These are Braww’s most reliable and sustainable ways in which you can divide your macros up across the day.
The Importance Of Water
When you are on your weight loss journey, your glass of water should become your best friend. Even more so, it should be attached to your hip at all times. Water not only has a seemingly unlimited list of benefits, but it is also one of the largest aids to weight loss out there. One of the biggest reasons for this is the fact that around 60-70% of the time that you believe you are hungry, you are actually thirsty. Your body is not actually in need of any calories, it simply needs to be re-hydrated. Below are just a few reasons why you need to keep water by your side;
Benefits of getting enough water
- Better complexion
- Healthier joints
- Healthier teeth and bones
- Improved digestive system
- Clearer thinking
- Helps build muscle
- Increases muscle tone
- Reduces the risk of disease
Risks of not getting enough water
- Impair intramuscular coordination
- Decrease concentration
- Cause slow thinking
- Reduce endurance
- Decrease strength
- Cause cramping
- Slow down muscular response
- High risk of headaches
Are You In A Healthy Relationship With Food?
The fact that we can be hungry and thirsty at the same time, suggests that the majority of the problem lies within our heads. Not within our stomachs. Seeing as all processes, including hunger and emotions, must run through our brains first. It would be a rookie mistake to not adjust your mindset. Theoretically, it seems easy to just remove the chocolate from underneath your nose. But that bar of chocolate will remain on your brain. Then you and your body will go to extra measures, make up elaborate narratives, just to seek out the chocolate.
Now the chocolate could represent anything from sweets to bread, or crisps to ice cream. The thought process that goes on with your brain, remains relatively consistent, no matter what the naughty product is. These processes and electrical pathways are heightened when your body is in certain states. Like being hungover, tired or sad. Meaning you crave these even more than usual.
Social Media & Fitness
Now, it may not just be the relationship with food that we have conditioned into a negative situation. The current world has also played a major role in having an effect on our relationship with ourselves too. The numbers of people suffering with body dismorphia and gym anxiety is on the rise. A worrying percentage of the population is stuck in a system of comparing themselves to other people. Especially on social media. In a world where we can lock ourselves away and scroll through millions of pages of ‘perfect’ bodies, it is understandable that these statistics are increasing dramatically.
Therefore, it is of paramount importance that you are able to protect yourself from this onslaught distorted perceptions. Yes, the influencers of Instagram are great to use as inspiration and knowledge. But you must not get trapped into the thought that if you do exactly as they do, you will look like them. This is because you will very rarely ever be able to replicate exactly what they do. It is for this reason that many people give up their journey, because they do not see the same results they see on their screens.
Become Flexible With Your Nutrition
Your mind is a powerful source, that if used correctly, can give you the opportunity to achieve anything you want. Here is a way in which to help keep a balanced mindset throughout your weight loss journey. Which may seem counter-intuitive, is to always ensure you allow a time to indulge in foods that have no benefit to your weight loss. You may be able to force yourself into a cold turkey mentality. However, in the long run this is not always the best route to go.
By having an indulgence at certain times in the week, you are able to feed the animal in your brain that craves unhealthy foods. As long as you do not lose control, this small amount is usually all that is needed to tame the animal. From which then you can get straight back on track with no problem at all. It will depend on your starting point as to how frequent your indulgences are, and the amount that they equate to. But it is still important to have this time allocated for a consistent path to success. Here are few methods you can implement to get your fix of treats;
- 1 Cheat meal per week
- 1 Cheat day per week
- 3-1-2-1 – 3 days of eating health / 1 cheat day / 2 days eating healthy / 1 cheat day
- 5 / 2 – Health eating for 5 days with 2 cheat days
- 90/10 – 90% of the day healthy / 10% of the day unhealthy
Overcome Sugar To Reach Your Goals
It is now time to clear up one of the most common misconceptions when it comes to losing weight. Sugar is one of the major factors for the increase in obesity. A main reason for this is the way in which companies are able to disguise the silent killer.
If you are trying to lose weight, it would be understandable to gravitate towards buzzwords like ‘no added sugar’, ‘diet’ or ‘sugar free’. Unfortunately though, the clever wording and the angelic green colouring on the label, does not necessarily mean it is a supporter of your hard work. You may have become a victim of clever marketing gurus who are paid a lot of money to trick innocent people looking to become more healthy. It is true that there may be a zero amount of fats, salt and sugar, so the label is not lying. However, companies are able to replace these with less known substances but these often more dangerous than the originals themselves. Here are some of the most common culprits;
- Carbonated water – Most fizzy drinks are made by dissolving carbon dioxide into water under pressure.
- Sweeteners – Such as aspartame, saccharin or sucralose which are 200-13,000 times sweeter than regular sugar
- Acid – Citric, malic and phosphoric acid are used to add tartness.
- Colouring – Carotenoids, anthocyanins and caramels.
- Flavours – Many different kinds of natural juices and artificial flavours are used.
- Preservatives – These make the product last longer.
- Vitamins and minerals – Added for labeling purposes only and are usually more than your body is even able to use.
- Caffeine – One can of Diet Coke contains 46 mg of caffeine – that’s stronger than a cup of coffee.
The artificial sweeteners in so-called ‘diet’ drinks are heavily linked to weight gain due to the nature of the ingredients. They can stimulate your hunger hormones, increase your appetite, alter your sweet taste receptors and trigger dopamine responses in your brain. This borders on the definition of an addictive substance.
The Role Of Exercise
It is time now to ramp up the exercise and really drive home your results. Nutrition will get you a fair distance when it comes to weight loss. However, if you are really looking to sculpt and shape your body to exactly what you want. Exercise and training is the only road to go down. This will require you to push yourself outside of comfort zone. So get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
The reason for this is that, in order for your body to change, it must have good reason to do so. To protect itself, it wants to adapt to it’s surroundings. Luckily, you are able to control this. By stressing the body, in any chosen method, you break it down and force it to build back stronger. The side effect of this is a well defined physique, ready for any situation you present to it.
Cardio With Resistance
The most optimal way in which to burn the most calories, is by combing both cardio training and resistance training. By putting the two together, you are pulling every resource the body has to the forefront. This requires maximum energy from the body, resulting in the largest amount of calories being burnt in one go.
To be the most time efficient, try to make sure that the workouts you are doing are using as many body parts as possible. This will also make the body use as much energy available to it. When you begin to add weights and resistance to these moves, you start to activate the muscles needed to perform each movement. Once they are unable to perform, they will need to adapt. It is at this point, with the right nutrition, that the definition or even size will begin to increase to your chosen desires.
Include these pointers into your training and you will be well on your way to weight loss success;
- Train at least 3 times per week
- Include full body movements
- Perform both cardio and resistance together
- Keep your reps high (12-20 reps)
- Make sure the workouts are at as high intensity as you can
- Always include core building exercises
Keep Track Of Your Weight Loss Progress
Knowing exactly where you are and where you have come from will be one of the main reasons you achieve weight loss. It will also increase your accountability, keeping you in line with where you need to be. It is also important that you are using the right tracking methods. With the weighing scales being so volatile, also remembering that if you gain muscle, the number may not be what you thought you would see.
Here are the best ways in which to track your progress and your weight loss journey;
- Body fat calipers.
- How you fit in your current clothes.
- Tape measurements.
- Progress pictures.
- Always compare yourself to a previous you, not another person.
Go Reach Your Goals
So that was your whistle stop tour of the most valuable weight loss secrets out there. Now that you have the information to get you to where you want to be, all that is left to do is to put in the hard miles. With the right knowledge you have the tools to get where you want to be. However, no one is able to put in the work but YOU. So as well as absorbing and applying what you have learnt today, make sure you are consistent, disciplined and relentless in reaching your goals.
Always remember that these results will not come to you over night. It takes time to see small results but your purpose for starting and your discipline will be the reason you push past this and reach the light at the end of the tunnel. You must also note that the ups and downs are part of the journey. It will be extremely rare to find a person with a desirable physique, that has not fallen at some point in the past. It will be the moments where you get back on track which will ultimately define where you get to. Accept that mistakes will be made and you will have no trouble reaching your goals.