There are many fads and fallacies regarding fat loss. The bottom line is this; you will not lose fat if you cut calories dramatically, and you will only lose body fat (and keep it off) if you burn calories through regular exercise! It really is that simple. The part that everyone finds so challenging is figuring out this balance between calorie consumption and calorie expenditure; what do I eat, when do I eat it and what kind of exercise will optimize fat loss. Then the only hurdle is actually doing the work!
One thing I know for sure after years of clinical experience treating back pain patients who had become overweight from inactivity secondary to pain.
Diets Don't Work!
This is particularly true with females. In the book "Outsmarting the Female Fat Cell," Debra Waterhouse makes it very clear that females come equipped with significantly more lipogenic (fat storing) enzymes and significantly less lipolytic (fat releasing) enzymes than their male counterparts. She also cites studies showing that a female's lipogenic enzyme count increases and lipolytic enzyme count decreases after a calorie-restricted diet, making it increasingly harder to lose weight with each and every successive diet!
A man's body doesn't appreciate dieting either. I have seen many male back pain patients undergo hospital directed diets, lose 60 pounds, and gain it all back in as little as a month. Coming off a diet to start eating "normally" again is like the tide coming in!
Instead of starving your body to shed fat, a more effective method is to increase the amount of energy you expend. Muscle cells are fuel hungry machines. Consequently any exercise that increases the size of muscle cells and makes them work more often will increase metabolism for optimal fat loss. Sounds to me like resistance training tops out again! It is well known among strength training professionals and researchers that there is a significant post-exercise elevation of metabolism, lasting up to 3-4 hours after your weight training session ends. This is an important consideration when deciding between cardio work or resistance training for fat loss. Since cardiovascular exercise provides very little post-exercise elevation of metabolism, your cells stop burning extra energy when you get done with your run, bike, swim, etc. Compare this to a good, solid weight training session where your metabolism keeps nibbling away at that fat for hours.
To see this in action, look at any group of athletes whose predominant exercise consists of resistance training, or short, high intensity sprint work. Sprinters are some of the very leanest athletes in the world. Olympic Weight lifters would rather be castrated than go for a run, yet they are predominantly a very lean group. Bodybuilders, by simple observation, are far leaner than those trying to lose fat by aerobics alone.
So there you have it, if you want to lose fat, do the following:
- Don't Diet! Eat a nutritious well balanced diet to discourage "survival" fat storage. Make your first two meals of the day the largest. Eat snacks as needed to convince your body you're not starving, so you don't activate lipogenic enzymes.
- Eat your smallest meal of the day for dinner, remembering to give three hours between eating and hitting the sack. Use resistance training to increase muscle mass, increase cellular metabolism and become FUEL INEFFICIENT.
- Apply periodic cycles of high intensity circuit training. Format your circuits with 5 compound exercises, short rest periods, bring a towel so you don't sweat all over everyone and prepare to up-chuck if you eat too close to your training session.
I have been applying these principles with great success, as have my interns all over the world. I am sure you can create the body you've always wanted with them if I can!