Why is my diet not working?
The age old question.
You’ve tried all the things that people have told you to kick start your fat loss.
But things just aren’t happening and you’re getting close to cutting an arm off just to see the scales move down
The simple answer here is that you are not in a calorie deficit.
Or you are eating too much for your current energy level
Which is sort of the same thing.
Let’s clear up some myths regarding body fat burning.
You’ve probably heard or been told these by some expert in the gym or on a facebook ad.
Then I can show you how to make the first steps to actually getting results
Starvation mode is stopping you losing body fat
Many people preach that your calories being too low causes you to enter starvation mode so you don’t burn bodyfat
There’s no such thing. Your body does not go into starvation mode if you restrict calories.
In fact there is a documented case of an obese man who ate nothing for a year. He lost nearly all his body fat going from 207kg to 82kg. Furthermore, He regained only 5kg in the 5 years after the fast. There is a good summary of this here.
However if you’re thinking of doing this you need to be monitored as potassium levels can drop which affect heart function.
I wouldn’t advise eating NOTHING for a year, it’s probably not the best way to get to your fat loss goals. There’s also a high probability you may die which isn’t a good result.
Calorie Counting or controlling calorie intake does not work
A lot of new age diet gurus and generally people who don’t understand how the body works will tell you that calorie counting is outdated.
In the 10 years I’ve been working with clients for fat loss. Overwhelmingly the ones that make the most progress are the ones that control their eating in some way.
You cannot train harder to burn up calories to lose fat. In fact, exercise by itself is a pretty rubbish method of losing weight.
First, it’s quite hard to burn significant calories to burn off a meal. Even an hour of intense weights or cardio will only equate to around 600 calories. That’s not even a large chips at Nandos.
Secondly, people tend to do something called ‘compensation eating’. You’ve probably done it yourself a few times.
‘Well that was a hard workout, I’ve earned that extra ice cream tonight’
‘That was a tough spin class, good thing too as I’m having a few wines with the girls tonight’
The body has an uncanny way of making you eat more and by regulating hormones such as leptin and ghrelin, which control hunger, it can make you want to eat REALLY badly.
Everyone breaks eventually.
So unless you make an effort to monitor your intake and know when you’ve reached your limits, it’s very likely you’ll fall into the Intuitive Eating trap and overeat continually.
Fasted Cardio is better than other forms of cardio
‘Exercise on an empty stomach, you’ll immediately tap into your fat stores due to glycogen and carbs being low’
Heard this before?
Most people have said it or had it said to them at some point.
It’s true that if you exercise in a fasted or low glycogen (carb) state then you will tap into fat stores quicker.
However, the more experience you have training/exercising the higher chance that your body will adapt and use fat that’s stored in your muscles instead of body fat.
This is a good thing as far as efficiency goes as it allows you to switch between fat and glycogen (carbs) for exercise energy quickly. So the more trained you are the LESS likely that your fasted cardio will come from bodyfat.
The only exception to this is obese people as they lack the enzymes to utilise muscular fat stores so they will burn more body fat from exercise.
The even bigger kicker is that this only really applies to Low Intensity Exercise (LISS) as the higher the intensity of exercise the higher the percentage of glycogen and the low the percentage of fat that is burned.
Diagram below shows intensity of exercise and the type of fuel the body uses.
So to make sure you burn body fat during exercise you need to exercise at a really low rate (CHO is carbohydrate).
I explain this more quickly in a one minute video here on the best fat loss exercise.
TLDR – Don’t worry about how much fat you burn in the gym worry instead about the total calories you burn in the day.
Eating fat will burn more body fat
It is true that if you reduce your carbohydrate intake and increase your dietary fat intake then you will switch over to burn more fat as a fuel.
However, this is just an adaption by the body.
You won’t burn more body fat unless you maintain a calorie deficit to force the body to break down body fat stores to provide you with energy.
An analogy – If you are going to the shops to buy a cake which costs £1 and you have £2 in your pocket you won’t stop at the bank to withdraw £1.
There’s no need.
Same with body fat stores. If you have a surplus of fat for energy in the diet then there is no point breaking down body fat stores to provide energy. So your fat loss goals are not going to be achieved.
But also here’s the real Bad News.
If you have a surplus of dietary fat then it’s REALLY easy for the body to convert that into body fat. However it’s slightly harder and more energy intensive to convert carbs into body fat.
So if you are dieting it may be better to stick to a lower fat intake if you think you will overeat sometimes.
However if you prefer higher fat and low carb and can stick to a diet better that way then absolutely do that. Either method is correct if you can stick to a diet.
Fruit turns easily to fat
No, not really.
In fact when this was studied only less than 1% of fruit calories in a surplus turned to body fat.
It’s much easier to turn fat to fat.
So if someone says that they got fat eating fruit. I’d take that with a pinch of the cake they are also eating.
Or maybe all the healthy fats they are also piling in with their healthy desk nibbles which leads to…..
Healthy Fats are better for fat loss
No, it’s still fat.
Yes fats like Avocado, Nuts, Olive Oil can be healthy and contain vitamins, minerals and healthy unsaturated fats that can help the body function.
But eat these in excess and they can still be turned to body fat.
So now that those are out of the way how do you lose body fat?
First work out your calories for losing weight/fat loss.
There’s many ways to do this.
An easy and relatively simple way is:
Bodyweight in kg x 22 (female) or 24 (male)
Then minus off 100 calories for every additional stone you want to lose.
So for example:
a 100kg male wants to lose 3 stone
100 x 24 = 2400 – 300 = 2100 calories per day
- Then divide that by 4–5 blocks
- Which gives roughly about 420 calories per block
- Assign yourself 3 meals of 420 calories
- Then the remaining you divide by snacks or extra food you want to eat in the day
Use an app like My Fitness Pal to work out the meals
Remember that calories are the main driver for fat loss.
You can eat cake or chocolate etc and lose weight. Trouble is that these things don’t really fill you up so you will be more likely to be hungry if you eat them a lot.
The key is combining them with more filling satisfying foods, so you can still eat those treats to lose weight and not be as hungry.
Take a look at my Diet Blueprint to build your own diet
Or you can look at my Target Lean Program where I do it for you, easy.