I’m one of our resident Exercise Physiologists, and also an accredited Strength and Conditioning Coach, Personal Trainer and Level 1 Weightlifting Instructor. Outside of the gym, I tend to go in search of good food and great coffee. And yes, Dan’s Shoulder Stretch is mine.
It’s the final installment, and it’s taken four blogs to get here.
[If you haven’t read the protein and fat blogs, or watched my intellectually-oriented carb videos, then check them out first!]
The Most Important Weight Loss Factor…
At the end of the day, calories matter. For a beginner, that’s as simple as replacing crappy, processed food with real food for 3-4 meals per day. This should get you down to around 15% body fat without anything more complicated. Counting calories is NOT the place to start if you’re new to this. Intermediate and advanced people only.
When you want to go to the next level, however, you NEED to take note of your caloric intake. You also need to know how many calories you need to be in a slight calorie deficit.
As a rule of thumb (there can be a wide variation between different individuals – some trial and error is necessary) calories should be:
BW in pounds x 15 for maintenance
BW in pounds x 12 for slow-moderate fat loss
BW in pounds x 10 for aggressive fat loss (you can last on this for about 8-12 weeks before returning to maintenance levels).
The total calories need to be adjusted every 2-3 weeks as you start to lose fat.
All the rules of eating real, healthy food and minimizing or avoiding alcohol still apply here. Don’t eat crap just because “it fits the numbers (IIFYM)”.
Working out protein first, the target is 2g/kg/day. Each gram of protein for our purposes is 4 calories per gram.
Secondly, calculate fats. The target for these is 0.8g/kg/day, with each gram of fat equaling 9 calories.
The carbohydrates are the variable bit. We subtract the calories from fat and protein from our total target, and that will tell us how many calories can come from carbs.
Divide calories by 4 for carbohydrates and that will tell us how many grams to eat per day. It’s really simple to calculate once you get used to how to do it.
Training While Dieting
The goal of training is to preserve as much muscle as possible. 3-4 sessions a week (up to 6 for advanced athletes) of primarily high volume, lower intensity lifting, and a dash of sprint work (4-6 sets of 20-30s sprints with moderate rest). Think 8-12 reps, 3-4 sets per exercise for 4-6 exercises. Train like you’re trying to build muscle.
I followed this exact protocol for seven weeks, and dropped nearly 4kg of body fat in that time, with no loss of strength or muscle (note that you’re unlikely to get stronger in this time – the goal is not to lose any strength).
I weighed in at 78kg (about 175lb), and in the final two weeks my numbers looked like:
This got me down to 74kg, but more importantly, my waist measurements were down from 82cm to 76cm while chest and thigh measures were largely unchanged.
I didn’t feel particularly hungry at any point, and had heaps of vegetables and water to keep my stomach feeling full. Health and sleep were both good (some people can get restless sleep when they use this protocol – magnesium helps) and my sessions in the gym were quite good (a couple of sessions towards the end felt “flat”, but I expected that).
If you want to try this out, come and have a chat to me. I’ve used this very successfully for a whole host of clients, but it does require some diligence and consistency. As I’ve said before, this isn’t the place to start if you’re new to training and diet. Have a read of the other articles (here, here andhere) and slowly implement the information in those first!