Fitness Tip # 2: The Science of Fat Loss
There is a definite science to fat loss - so precise, in fact, that if everyone was to follow this exact science, they would melt away the fat at an amazing rate. Sound too good to be true? I don't think so. Read on...
In a nutshell, the science to fat loss is a four legged stool, that involves:
1) consuming less overall calories than you burn/expend during the day
2) regular weight/resistance training
3) high intensity cardio
4) sufficient rest periods
Let's look at each facet individually without getting too technical: For today's post, I'm purely going to focus on the first of the four discussions above. The rest I will discuss over the next few days..
1) Consuming less overall calories than you burn/expend during the day
This is a no brainer. Excess calories make you fat, regardless of whether the extra calories come from fat, protein or carbs. For the record, one gram of fat gives you nine calories. One gram of protein gives you four calories, and one gram of carbs also gives you four calories. Yet, it's not so much the fat intake most people should be weary of, but rather high glycemic carb intake.
During the 70s and 80s, there was this "fat-free" craze that started in the US, and one would think that if "fat-free" was the way to fat loss, that most of the US would be sleek and lean. Just the opposite was true. In spite of a gigantic movement towards fat-free products, the nation only became more obese. Recent studies confirmed it was the high glycemic sugar intake that led to the pancreas secreting extra insulin, which led to drastic sugar highs & lows and eventually, added fat.
If you are naturally fat (i.e. endomorphic physique type - where you put on fat easily), you're most likely insulin resistant. This in simple English means that the body does not metabolize/break down the sugar in the blood very efficiently, meaning that the excess sugar gets stored as fat. You may consume all the fat-free foods you want, but the extra sugar will be converted into fat. One product I have tried that really helps to break down sugar and improve insulin resistance is a Swiss product called Diabecen. It contains water based ground cinnamon which has been scientifically proven to reduce blood cholesterol and improve insulin sensitivity, which can aid to fat loss if combined with regular exercise.
Secondly, meal portions is also very important. As a general rule of thumb, consume 5 - 6 smaller meal portions throughout the day so as to regulate blood sugar. Generally, every meal portion should be about the size of a clenched fist.
Upon waking in the morning, if you can afford it - have one scoop of about 20 grams of whey protein isolate on an empty stomach. Do this before you even brush your teeth. As you have not eaten for several hours during sleep, your body will absorb the whey protein very efficiently and this will go a long way in helping you recover in the long term if you do this on a daily basis. About 20 - 30 minutes thereafter, have a solid breakfast.
Breakfast should be the exception (in terms of meal portion size - it can be larger than the size of a clenched fist) though as the 1st meal of the day, as during sleep you fasted for a 7 - 8 hour period during which the body received no nutrient intake. Oatmeal is by far the single best breakfast there is as it is low GI, provides a consistent, slow release of energy and reduces soluble blood cholesterol. You could also add a scoop of whey protein isolate to your oats and some chopped pieces of fruit. Also have a good multi vitamin with your breakfast to give you the vitamins/minerals/phytonutrients your body needs for proper biological function throughout the day.
Thirdly, taper down on carb intake as day progresses into night. Notice I never suggested that you stop eating after a certain hour. This is a myth. What is really meant is that after about 8pm at night, you should cut down on as much carbs as possible, as the body's metabolic functions are slower at night than it is during the day - unless of course you had a grueling workout late at night, during which it is perfectly acceptable to consume a carb/protein drink after your workout.
Which brings me to point # 4 - consume a high glycemic carb drink plus one scoop of whey protein isolate directly after your workout so as to top up lost glycogen stores. The protein will help to improve recovery of body tissue, which includes muscle tissue but also other body tissue that took a strain during your workout. This includes your immune system as well. Protein repairs it all - not just muscle tissue. Include a teaspoon of the amino acid L-Glutamine to your post workout drink as this will help the body absorb protein more efficiently.
You might ask why I recommend a high glycemic carb drink directly after a workout and not a low GI carb drink. It is simple: during the workout, your body breaks down energy quite rapidly and hence, your body needs to top it up very quickly and a low GI carb won't do the trick. You need a high GI carb, and if you top it up during the 20 minute window period following the very second your workout ends, the body's metabolic drive is extremely high meaning that the high GI carb and protein drink won't be stored as fat. Instead, it will be sucked up by the muscles almost immediately.
About 45 - 60 minutes after your post workout drink, have a solid, low GI meal with some protein. An example would be two slices of rye bread, a small salad and a grilled chicken breast about the size of your palm.
Just before bedtime, if you can afford it - consume a cassein based protein (as opposed to whey protein that gets digested too quickly). A cassein based protein takes several hours to digest - which is good just before bedtime, as during the first 90 minutes of deep sleep, the brain secretes GH (growth hormone) into the bloodstream, and combining this with a slow release protein such as cassein goes a long way in helping you recover from the stress imposed by your workout (and the day's stress in general) and also helps you to improve your quality of sleep.
If weight loss is specifically your goal, try to cut down on as much carbs as possible during the day, but the exception should be breakfast - as you'll run yourself into a hole if you completely cut out carbs all together. Breakfast should most certainly be a low GI meal as it will give you a slow release of energy throughout the day, and what better a source of low GI carbs than oatmeal, with some chopped fruit, some cinnamon, some natural honey as well as a scoop of whey protein.
Always try to consume some protein with your meals as this will create a feeling of fullness. Great sources of protein include skinless chicken breast, turkey breast, tuna, lean cuts of steak, lean cuts of beef, egg whites (poached or boiled), brocolli, soy, and also protein drinks and bars (be careful of protein bars with too much sugar - always go for high protein/low carbs)
Also do not forget the importance of essential fatty acids. Excellent sources include salmon, fresh water fish, avocado's, nuts and organic (sugar-free) peanut butter. You can also supplement with omega 3 and 6 fatty acid capsules as this fat helps your body to burn bodyfat more efficiently.
Let me know if any of this helped, and I will write more about the remaining three issues pertaining to the science of fat loss.
Fitness Professional (eta 2003)
Group Creator: Cape Town Health & Fitness
Mobile : 072 402 1108
Thanks Nazeem :-)
Please keep the advice coming... it's fascinating and a lot of it is new to me :-) Really appreciate your efforts!