The formula for losing bodyfat applies to you just as it does to a professional bodybuilder, but the pros take it much further than most typical bodybuilders ever do. To lose bodyfat, take in fewer calories than you burn. If you have more energy going in than out, an energy surplus, you’ll gain weight. If you have more energy going out than in, you have an energy deficit, and you’ll lose weight because you’ll force your body to draw on its energy stores—bodyfat.
Many diets and diet-and-exercise plans can produce the energy deficit required for fat loss, but some are better than others. A healthful and practical diet-and-exercise strategy can be sustained over the long term without any loss of muscle. My next series of columns will provide many facts and tips you can use to help you devise such a strategy. Here’s the first group:
1) Don’t confuse weight loss with fat loss. You want fat loss, not just weight loss.
2) Most men store their fat around their waists, and most women store it around their hips and thighs. It’s a gender issue.
3) Bodyfat can’t be melted away through plastic wraps, saunas or steam baths. It can’t be rubbed away through massage or vibrating and rubbing machines. Nor can it be dissolved by a dietary supplement.
4) Sweating—whether through saunas, special bands, belts or wrappings—doesn’t produce fat loss. It produces water loss, which you regain through fluid intake.
5) No matter how many situps, crunches, twists or whatever else you do, you won’t whittle away fat from your waist. You achieve fat reduction internally, and only if you’re in sufficient energy deficit for a sufficient period. The body sheds fat overall, from some places more than others—or not at all. The only way to spot-reduce fat is through surgery, which has dangers and isn’t a long-term cure.
6) To avoid muscle loss while you strip off bodyfat, you must lose fat slowly and avoid overtraining. Make one pound a week the maximum rate of weight loss.
7) Train as if your priority is to build muscle. Keep your routines short, hard and focused on the basic exercises. Train with progressive poundages if possible, although that may not be possible on a fat-loss program if you’ve already trained for a long time. At minimum, maintain your current strength and muscle mass as you strip off bodyfat.
8) The more food you can eat and still lose bodyfat, the easier it will be for you to sustain the plan because you won’t suffer the deprivation that most people feel when they diet. To be able to have a satisfying calorie intake, increase your calorie output. The more energy you burn through exercise and general activity, the more food you can have and still be in a calorie deficit.
9) The simplest, most practical, cheapest, low-intensity exercise is walking. If you walk for an hour each day on top of your usual activities, you’ll use up an additional 400 calories, depending on your pace.
10) If you prefer to use an elliptical or cross-trainer or a rower, climber or stationary cycle instead of walking, that’s fine. Still, you can walk outdoors anywhere, without special equipment. For the alternatives you need equipment and a gym, unless you have your own gear at home.
11) Each mile covered by foot, whether you walk at a snail’s pace or run it as fast as you can, burns about 100 calories. Of course, the faster you cover a given distance, the more quickly you’ll burn the 100 or so calories. The quicker you cover it, of course, the more it will tire you. While it’s easy to walk at a leisurely pace, it’s a rigorous workout to run. Which are you more likely to do on a daily basis?
12) If you get a home treadmill, you can make walking even more convenient. You can walk while watching TV, listening to music, or holding a conversation. You also have climate control and other advantages over walking outdoors. You can do some of your walking outdoors and some of it indoors, depending on your preference and the weather.
13) Analyze how many calories you’re currently taking in each day. Maintain a food journal for a week of your normal food and drink consumption. Write down everything you eat and drink and the precise quantities, and be honest with yourself.
14) Use a printed calorie counter or go to www.CalorieKing.com, to find the calorie value of what you eat and drink. Compute the total number of calories you take in over the seven days, and then divide the total by seven to produce your daily average calorie intake.
Next month I’ll give you another bundle of facts and tips to guide you further. —
Editor’s note: Stuart McRobert’s first byline in IRON MAN appeared in 1981. He’s the author of the new 638-page opus on bodybuilding Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great, available from Home Gym Warehouse, (800) 447-0008, or www.Home-Gym.com.