This is me - on day 2 and day 10 of my holiday. (By the way for the record I did not ‘intentionally lose weight’- and no I don't think there was anything wrong or ‘fat’ about my figure before). As always I’m using this as click bate (at least I’m honest), to try and explore a point.
My ten day fat loss holiday involved occasional cake, multiple milky (dairy riddled) flat whites, an occasional cocktail or 2 in the evening and eating ‘bread’ and ‘rice’ every day.
Am I promoting the consumption of all of the above as a guarantee to lose body fat?
But what I am trying to point out is that ‘I could do’ and still be speaking ‘some truth’. And this is where many extreme diets sit. They tell ‘some truth’ and they get ‘some results’ But most of the time this is not because of the reasons they claim.
Correlation is not causation.
Ultimately for fat loss to occur, the body needs:-
-A calorie deficit (it really doesn't care where this comes from)
-An environment which promotes good health. So this means enough sleep and lower stress levels.
Thats pretty much it.
Returning from hols in Jan is interesting. Everyone seems to be on ‘dieters world, full force’ and the extreme ‘quick fix solutions’ are in full swing. Quit carbs, quit fat, quit dairy, quit meat, quit booze, eating after 6pm, the list goes on. And don't forget to take part in fasted cardio, coconut coffee HIIT sessions 6 x’s + per week. EEeeeeek I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
I’m also hungry
The long term effect of such extremes is in my view counterproductive for ‘longevity’ and unsustainable for most people. It also often leads to those engaging in such diet extremes, becoming ‘weaker’ (physically) than they were before they started, and with a very confused view around food. Making Feb a very tough month. And this is why I am generally not a fan.
So whilst I am not discrediting anyone who wants to make a change to become healthful. Its worth mentioning a few things that generally ‘work’.
You can see from my picture that in fact visible fat loss (or weight loss) is really not that hard. I ate foods on holiday I don't normally eat. I also trained at a much lower intensity than I do when I’m at home.
So why and how can I show a slightly trimmer figure, flatter stomach, within just 10 days, without even trying, and eating ‘unhealthy’ or apparently ‘fat gaining’ foods.
I was possibly carrying a little extra water weight in image one, due to the inevitable December ‘extra fun/bloat’. So before I went away I had indulged in more booze than I normally would. More mince pies. I had also travelled alot. Both factors lead to water retention. Most people gain a little weight over December as their routines or diets are out of sorts. Returning to a normal (ish) diet in January is a really easy and simple option to overcome this. So on holiday whilst in fact I had eaten a little cake here and there, by and large my diet was still full of healthy protein/veggies/fruits and good fats and carbs. This is ‘normal’ for me. Make this normal for you. *****TAKE AWAY. You can gain or lose 'water weight' and make a noticeable difference in appearance. You can also make very small changes to allow an improvement to show.
I adjusted macronutrients according to my energy needs. This means you can still ‘have your cake and eat it’, just like I did. Eat more carbs on days of higher levels of activity and/or movement. Eat more fats on days you are more sedentary. This is scientifically a better way to ‘eat for performance’. Allowing your body sufficient carbs to really max out when you train at high intensity and conversely to switch to fats as fuel when you are completing day to day tasks/movement keeps fuel stores tip top. ****TAKE AWAY Flexible approaches allow you to enjoy foods which most ‘diet plans’ ban = happier life + a healthful attitude towards food. Cutting macros or whole food groups is unsustainable for life and longevity.
I moved around a lot. Now this could account for a ‘calorie deficit somewhere’ each day. I did hit the gym around 6-7 x’s, but training was for short periods only. I am a natural fidgeter, sit me on a sun lounger and within half an hour I want to stand up, move around, go for a walk, do a head stand. Whatever. *****TAKE AWAY Don't forget that low level movement all adds up to help the body burn fat. In fact the body is burning fat with super efficiency at low intensities. Add in a little ‘extra movement’ to your day on top of your gym or training sessions. Try standing up on a tram or a train. Taking an extra walk in the morning or afternoon. Whatever you can realistically fit in. Just move a little more than normal. This will aid a calorie deficit in an easy way, without even thinking about it.
Stress Management. There is a wealth of science linking stress with fat loss. The body just does not seem to want to let go of fat when we are chronically stressed. Holidays = Relaxation. They also usually = good sleep (another factor linked with fat loss success or regress). *****TAKE AWAY Try and think about the stresses placed on your world. Are you able to switch off at night. Do you have ten minutes a day to yourself. Add this as a goal into your Jan plan and see how life takes a positive turn.
High Metabolism. For the year preceding Dec, the main focus of my training is to work on strength gains. Notice I say ‘strength gains’ here and not ‘fat loss’. So this means resistance training and muscle growth. This raises metabolism. Holding onto muscle and keeping your metabolism lifted is THE MOST HEALTHFUL move we can make as we age. It is also a bit of a gold card for fat loss. *****TAKE AWAY. Growing muscle takes time. It takes commitment, but once you have it you will find fat loss happen ALOT quicker (and with making only very small adjustments like me on holiday). Keep the focus of your training predominantly in this area. Whilst you may get a little heavier on the scales, the overall impact allows the body to become leaner. Bye bye skinny fat. Hello ‘muscle tone’. Put the work in now and reap the rewards down the line.
Could I have lost Muscle? Returning home from the gym I am without doubt feeling slightly weaker than when I left. Without sufficient stimulation, protein and calories muscle loss can and will occur. Without having a full body fat measurement this is difficult to judge and in 10 days most 'conditioned people' are unlikely to show visible muscle atrophy but this is a plausible option for newer trainees or those who fuel their bodies insufficiently. *****TAKE AWAY. If you are taking part in extreme diets or not feeding the bodies with the right fuel, know that you risk losing muscle tissue as a result. (see above for why this is important in the world of fat loss). You also risk a decrease in performance in the gym which is counterproductive for muscle gain.
So there you have it. Just a few variables that can easily be added into day to day routines which will have long term healthful FAT LOSS implications. Whilst extreme diets may win the sprint, long term day to day habits, will always win the fat loss race in the end.....
Meanwhile I've got some calories to make up for ......