Those who were born in the 1980s grew up during what was inarguably the most revolutionary time in modern day history. We had 56k internet, Power Rangers, Pogs and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. How can you argue with that? Answer: You can’t (although I encourage you to try your hardest).
The best part of this existence is that we had shows that not only entertained, but also enrolled us in the school of hard knocks. One show in particular gave us the secrets to fat loss, but we were too young to realize it at the time – Legends of the Hidden Temple.
The premise of the show was this: six groups of kids battle it out via physical challenges in order to earn the right to enter the temple and escape with the sacred treasure. In order to progress within the temple, the young adventurers had to solve various puzzles, one of which was responsible for failing more unsuspecting newbs than banana peels and whoopee cushions combined – The Shrine of the Silver Monkey.
In order to proceed to the next room, the monkey had to be assembled in the correct order on the pedestal. It consisted of three pieces: the base, the body, and the head. However, due to lack of functioning retinas, or the failure of the American schooling system, more often than not the head or the body ended up going on first, time ran out, and the kids went home with nothing but memories of epic failure for their troubles.
So far I’ve managed to prove two things:
A) The 90′s were awesome.
B) Some kids need to revisit kindergarten.
But Rog Law, how does this relate to fat loss at all?
It All Starts With Diet
One of the first errors that people make when looking to drop a few pounds is that they start with a base that isn’t conducive to their goals. For instance, I’m sure we all know at least one person who begins a fat loss program with all the energy and vigor of a 5 year old on a Cookie Crisp high. They hit the gym in the morning. They hit the gym during their lunch break. They hit it again after work. They hit it again for good measure right before bed time. Hell, they probably hit the gym in their dreams, bench pressing with good ‘ol Freddy Kruger himself giving them a spot! Naturally, after weeks of arduous effort, they hop on the scale with a smile on their face. I mean surely after all this hard work they are destined to be rewarded, right?
Knees meet the floor in horror as the scale greets them with the terrible news: same crap, different day. Without knowing it, they violated the cardinal rule of fat loss – develop a solid nutrition base, or prepare thyself for a lifetime of sailing the blubbery seas.
Just like the failed assembly of the Silver Monkey, many get it wrong when it comes time to implement their fat loss plan, and as a result often spend months if not years spinning their wheels in frustration.
Can you out-train a subpar diet? Sure, but I can think of a few things that are slightly harder, such as slurping dry the Atlantic Ocean with a straw, or body-slamming the Empire State building. Simply put, it’s hard as all get-out to burn a ton of calories through exercise alone unless you’ve built up your physical capacity to the point where you’re able to handle the workload, and even then it’s always easier to eat less food than it is to burn it off after doing so.
So what is the person looking to bring that head image of themselves into reality left to do? Here is where we put together…
In order to stand a chance of getting to where you want to be, you first have to figure out where you are. Therefore, it is of super duper importance that you determine your maintenance calories. There are a lot of fancy calculators out there, but you don’t need no stinkin’ technology to figure out where you stand – just multiply your current body weight in pounds by 14-15.
Remember that this is but a rough estimate and nothing more. That said, it still serves as an effective starting point compared to just pulling random numbers out of thin air. If you find that you’re gaining weight at this calorie level, decrease your starting number by 150 calories and reassess.
If you’re raring to get going and want to skip this step, start by multiplying your starting body weight in pounds by 10-12 to get your fat loss calories. For those who have jobs that don’t involve much movement throughout the day, you may want to start at 10 or 11, but try multiplying by the top end of the range first.
Here’s an example using a 200lb man:
- Maintenance calories: 2800 – 3000
- Beginning fat loss calories: 2000 – 2400
With the base in place, it’s time to fill in those calories with macronutrients.
Protein: 1 – 1.2g per pound of body weight. If you happen to severely overweight, start with 0.8g (this should remain constant throughout the diet).
Fill in the rest of your diet with carbohydrates and fats, making sure to stay within your “calorie house” for the day. Make sure not to buy into any of the low carb hype – carbs play an important role in healthy metabolic function, overall well-being, and maintaining an intense level of training.
Here’s an example of how that might breakdown using our 200lb man.
- Protein: 200g (800 calories)
- Carbohydrate: 175g (700 calories)
- Fat: 55g (495 calories)
- Total calories: 1995
As long as you maintain protein levels and stay within your calorie range, arrange carbs and fats in a way that makes the most sense for you and helps with compliance.
Set yourself up for success right from the start. Fill in your calorie/macro plan with foods that you like, love, and can eat consistently. If you enjoy what you’re eating and look forward to it, this can go a long way towards creating compliance.
This is the area of the mind, where all battles are won or lost before a single move is made. For any fat loss diet to work, working the plan is key – if you don’t have a baseline, or simply don’t stick to the plan long enough to know if it’s working or not, then how can you expect to see any results?
Before you even begin, take objective measurements so that you have something to compare them to later – this could be your weight, tape measurements that you’ve taken, or even clothes that are currently a bit too tight on you.
Follow the plan with reckless abandon for 2 weeks and then remeasure. If no changes occurred, up your activity slightly, reduce your intake from carbs and fats a bit, or a combination of both. Rinse and repeat, making more adjustments along the way only as necessary.
Fat loss takes time, so don’t stress if the changes don’t happen as quickly as you’d like them to. Forward progress is progress, regardless of how slow it may appear at times.