One of the most common remarks I receive all throughout social media is, “I want to lose belly fat. Please help.”
I wanted to take a moment to give some more in-depth knowledge on fat loss. There are some common misconceptions out there regarding fat loss. When it comes to losing belly fat, an overall understanding of fat loss is necessary because you can’t just spot train one area, regardless of any workout you see that will say “6-pack Ab Workout!” When you lower your body fat percentage, you are losing fat all over (even in your face!). After losing a certain amount of fat, the muscles beneath your subcutaneous adipose tissue (fat tissue) will begin to show more. In the fitness world, this is called being “lean.” Most of us want to achieve some sort of “leanness.”
So, the question is, how do you do this?
Nutrition is the main way to lose fat, but movement plays a role, too. Overall, the goal is that you are in a caloric deficit, meaning that your energy INTAKE (food consumed in a day) is less than your energy OUTPUT (calories burned during a day) by about 500 calories each day. Energy output is accomplished in three ways:
1. Calories are burned to keep you alive and your body organs functioning
2. Performing daily tasks (even going to the bathroom or squatting to pick something up burns some amount of calories)
3. Workout out and recovering (I.e repairing your muscles).
Severely limiting your calories isn’t the solution, though, and this is why crash diets aren’t sustainable. When you restrict your calories too much, you will very likely lose muscle as well.
How do you know if you are in a caloric deficit?
Well, you cannot know EXACTLY how many calories you burn during a day, but you can guesstimate and get pretty close. The total amount of calories burned using all three factors listed above is called your TDEE, which means Total Daily Energy Expenditure. My macro calculator on this website will help you to calculate your TDEE by taking into account things like your age, weight, and daily activity level. Once you know this number, you simply ensure that you are intaking 500 calories less.
PRO TIP: Muscle burns calories, so the more muscle you have, the easier it will be to achieve and maintain a leaner physique. You don’t want to lose muscle!
How do you lose muscle?
You can lose muscle by either not eating enough, overtraining, or doing too much steady state cardio, to name a few. Branched chain amino acids, a supplement known as BCAAs, help you maintain muscle during your workouts or if you have to go a while without eating. BCAAs include the three amino acids that are known to be important for muscle health and recovery – leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
This is one reason why the MA Programs give you meal plans that will put you in a caloric deficit, but not an extreme one (if you choose fat loss as opposed to muscle building). You lose a little bit day by day. My programs require commitment in this way because you may not get the instant gratification of seeing huge change right away, but over time you are losing fat in increments and also building the habits you will need to sustain that fat loss over time.
ANOTHER PRO TIP: processed foods don’t metabolize the same way that clean, whole foods do, so they are more likely to “stick” to your body as fat.
So, the takeaway is this: Eat clean, eat in a small deficit, and, as a bonus, use resistance training to increase muscle. It really is that simple, but most people struggle until they build healthy habits.
My programs lay this out in an easy to follow way. I never advertise a quick-fix solution because it’s simply not realistic, but what you do get is a plan that can give you results that LAST!