Fat loss: How it’s done

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loss key points

  • Calorie control and awareness of your daily calorie consumption
  • Create a 300-500 calorie deficit with diet and exercise
  • Consume foods that are nutrient rich
  • Eat every 2 – 4 hours
  • Include high quality complete proteins in every meal
  • Eat only low glycemic high fibre wholesome carbohydrates or
    keep carbohydrate intake low
  • Do not exclude essential fats they are vital to your health and for metabolism
  • Drink between 30-40ml/kg of water each day ie; 80kg x 30ml = at least 2400ml

Fat loss is the most sought after goal in the world of fitness and for a good reason too. Generally speaking, low body fat levels are a reflection of good health and this has also been the case historically too. This notion holds true today more than ever, especially when contrasted against an obesity epidemic.

Calorie control
Fat loss is something that is dictated by energy input and energy output. You need to create a calorie deficit through diet and exercise to lose body fat. Once a calorie deficit has been established your body will be forced to use any unwanted fat to meet the metabolic demands of the body. If you consume more calories than you burn off through exercise, daily activities and your body’s natural metabolic and physiological processes on a daily basis, your body stores the unneeded calories as fat. Consume less calories than you burn off, however, and you lose fat.

Every one has a certain amount of calories they will need to eat to maintain their weight. For me (at time of writing) it’s around 2900 calories. Depending on whether you eat above or under what it takes to maintain your weight is what dictates whether you burn fat or store it.

You can use any online calculator to work out your maintenance caloric intake;

My fitness pal is also a very useful app which tracks your calorie intake and sets caloric targets based on your goals;

For most people 1-2lbs of fat loss per week is a realistic and ideal target. Although, you can expect to lose more weight than that each week the heavier you are, but it’s likely to be mainly water weight. Aiming for an initial daily calorie deficit of 500 calories is ideal since there are 3500 calories in a lb of fat. A daily deficit of 500 calories would therefore result in a loss of around a 1lb of fat per week.

A quality calorie
Now we’ve determined how to lose body fat through calorie control we need to make sure the quality of calorie complements your goals. Just because you have a calorie allowance, it’s not wise to spend all day eating your favourite junk foods. Although it’s true, a calorie deficit is a calorie deficit, your satiety, energy and health won’t be favoured by a diet high in refined and processed foods and low in micronutrients and fibre, which can inadvertently affect your fat loss goals.

Meal frequency
I personally am a firm believer and practitioner of frequent feeding. It does have small but positive effect on your metabolism, but the main reason for me is that by eating small meals every 3 hours it keeps my gut somewhat flatter than does eating 3 big meals a day, which seems to distend my stomach a bit more. Also whether you’re burning fat or building muscle, and particularly for performance and health, I think its very important to maintain a regular and steady intake of energy and micronutrients. 

Here I will briefly outline the importance of the types of carbohydrates, fats and proteins;

Protein – The thermic effect of protein is particularly high with approximately 25% of the calories consumed from it being burned up in the digestion process. In other words if you eat 200 calories of protein around 50 calories is burned just while your body tries to break it down and digest it. That means you burn some calories eating protein. The effect is seen in some other hard to digest low calorie foods too. Whether you’re slimming down or bulking up you should aim to eat lean low saturated fat sources of protein with every meal. Being someone who follows an almost exclusively plant based diet, my top 3 favourites are:

  • Nato (fermented tofu)
  • Vegan Quorn
  • Scallops


Carbohydrates – Carbs are a double edged sword because they can be stored as fat much more readily depending on amount consumed, time of consumption and source. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes and obesity has skyrocketed over the last several decades. A paragraph from the national obesity statistics encapsulates an important point; ”Obesity statistics paint an alarming picture – and one that’s getting worse. In the UK around 43% of men and 33% of women are overweight, and a further 22% of men and 23% of women fall into the obese category.” A factor in this, which is supported by research, is the increased consumption of simple sugars and sugar rich snacks. Fast digesting, almost fibre-free carbs can increase hunger, decrease energy output and encourage weight gain. Carbs provide our body with energy as we all know but too much of the wrong types at the wrong times will do you no good. Most if not all of your carb sources should be high in fibre, slow digesting (low GI) and as unprocessed as possible. Eating carbs with them qualities will keep your energy, hunger and mood stable and will ensure your metabolic furnace remains ticking over. My top 3 favourites are:

  • Oats
  • Sweet potato
  • Quinoa


Fats – I had a look at someone’s diet at my gym once and they pulled a very confused face when I told them to replace their reduced fat peanut butter with the natural full fat version. It’s absolutely essential you include a sensible amount of healthy fat in your diet for metabolic, hormonal and immune related reasons. Mono-unsaturated, poly-unsaturated fats (omega 3’s & 6’s and 9’s) and small amounts of saturated fat will help you stay in good health when restricting calories. Good fats will improve fat loss and muscle building via certain hormonal and metabolic pathways and particularly whilst dieting hard it will keep your immune system functioning well at a time when your body may not be at its fighting best. My top 3 favourites are:

  • Flax seeds
  • Avocados
  • Mixed nuts


Water – This is last but certainly not least. As I’m sure you should know by now water is absolutely essential for good health. It really does surprise me how little water most people drink. I have seen many people complain of headaches and only when asked how much water they average a day do they realise how little they consume. Water is the first thing we look for when searching planets for life because it is the foundation for it. The average person loses around 2 litres of water a day through sweat, urine and moisture lost through respiration. If you drink less than 2 litres a day you are likely not replacing what you’ve lost naturally, you will then lose more if you exercise. The amount you need really depends on your muscle mass and exercise regime. But aiming to drink any where between 2-3 litres a day is a good idea if you exercise moderately. Proper hydration will aid the digestion of food and will help transport nutrients a lot more effectively throughout the body. Hydration also aids fat loss and will allow you to work out harder in the gym. Besides the body is afterall around 70% water.
My favourites:

  • Mineral water
  • Filtered and fluoride free

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