Do you know the absolute, most important factor to fat loss?
No, it’s not eating 100% ‘clean’.
No, it’s not having the willpower to never have that pizza or that glass of wine ever again.
No, it’s not giving up carbs.
The absolute, most important factor to fat loss is: creating a caloric deficit.
What that means is that you consume less calories than you burn every day. Simple.
The calories you burn or expend each day — also known as calorie expenditure — can easily be calculated. In fact, you can get step-by-step instructions on how to calculate your maintenance calories by downloading our free e-book here. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see the option to download.
Now, the strategies below will ONLY work efficiently if you don’t have a history of under-eating or a history of chronic dieting. If you think you might, schedule a call with us here and we can answer your questions.
But let’s say that you’re currently eating the appropriate amount of food and that your body is ready for fat loss.
Here are strategies that will help you create a caloric deficit:
TRACK YOUR FOOD INTAKE
This is the methodology we use the most at FYF because it is both educational and science-based. It gives clear and precise data, so we as coaches can efficiently track progress.
It’s simple really. Calculate your maintenance calories and try to eat 10, 15, or 20% less than yourmaintenance depending on how aggressive you want to be with your fat loss.
Once you get the hang of that, we also recommend aiming for a certain amount of protein every day, ideally somewhere close to 1g of protein per pound of goal body weight. This will help keep you satiated as well as maintain lean muscle mass as you drop body fat.
We use the MyFitnessPal app to track our food intake, but you can use other apps like Cronometer.
DESIGN YOUR PLATE
This methodology has been around for a while, but has been spearheaded by the folks to Precision Nutrition. Essentially, it tells you how to “design” your meals so that you’re eating balanced meals, mostly whole foods, and inadvertently creating a caloric deficit. Here are the three main plate designs:
Some people refer to this at intermittent fasting, but we like to take a bit of a looser approach, especially since intermittent fasting seems to wreak havoc on women’s hormones if done over the longterm.
Essentially this strategy requires you loosely fast for some part of the day. Some people who follow this methodology fast for 16 hours (including sleep time) and eat all their food within an 8 hour window.
Because the amount of time you have to eat throughout the day is limited, most people find that they are eating in a caloric deficit and therefore dropping body fat. That being said, if you choose to stuff yourself with a bunch of junk food in your window, you’re missing the point and likely won’t be seeing a caloric deficit, so avoid thinking of your “eating window” as a free-for-all.
Another note: if you do any sort of high-intensity exercise, it’s important to make your eating window start right after you finish your workouts so your body can get what it needs to properly recover.
Here’s a visual example of what a day may look like:
This methodology works really well if you currently don’t lead a super healthy lifestyle. The idea is to focus on accomplishing a few habit-based goals everyday that are either designed to create a caloric deficit, increase food quality, manage portions, and more. Some examples of habit-based goals are:
- Drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water.
- Having two cups of vegetables with lunch and dinner (two fist-sized portions)
- Eating only until you’re about 80% full and then stopping.
- Drinking a full glass of water before reaching for a snack.
- Snacking on a piece of fruit when you get a craving for something sweet.
JUST CHANGE ONE THING
This may be our favorite strategy just because it’s so simple and easy to follow. If you’re a creature of habit and eat pretty similarly every day, this is a great way to create a caloric deficit without having to think too much. Here’s a real-life example:
- Coach Britt loves to have a half cup of granola on top of her smoothie bowl every morning. When Coach Britt decided she wanted to focus on fat loss, she decided to give up her morning granola, which put her in a caloric deficit of about 280 calories per day. So she is now losing fat without changing anything else about her day.
- When I am personally focused on fat loss, I switch one of my meals to be just protein and vegetables. So, normally my lunch is around 500 calories, but typically my protein/veggie option is only about 300 calories. So I create a 200 calorie deficit just by changing up one of my meals per day. In fact, the other day, I ate 1 POUND worth of food for lunch, and it only equated to 294 calories.
Now, if you’re already training super hard 5 days a week, this strategy is not for you. But, let’s say you live a pretty sedentary lifestyle and want to lose fat without really changing anything about the way that you eat. Simple: just move more.
If you don’t exercise at all, are injured, or hate the gym:
- Start by adding 30 minutes of movement 3 days a week.
- Make sure it’s something you enjoy. It doesn’t need to be balls-to-the-wall-difficult.
- This can be low-intensity work on the bike or elliptical, a dance class, jazzercise, it doesn’t matter.
- Eventually work your way up to 4-5 days a week.
If you currently exercise:
- Focus on getting 7-10k steps per day
- Approximately every 2,000 steps, a person burns 100 calories
- 10,000 steps = 500 calorie deficit
- 500 cals x 7 days per week = 3,500 cals
- -3,500 cals = 1 lb of fat loss
- So from walking 10,000 steps/7x per week, you could lose 1lb of body fat.
- Most people can get 10k steps a day by doing two, 30 minute walks per day
INCREASE FOOD QUALITY
One of the reasons that diets like Paleo and Whole30 work is because they require a major increase in food quality from the Standard American Diet.
In fact, the Standard American Diet is usually comprised of a good amount of processed, calorically-dense foods so just focusing on a diet of meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds will usually create a caloric deficit for most people without making them feel too hungry.
- One of my favorite methodologies is to adopt an 80% Paleo lifestyle.
- You can do this one of two ways: making 80% of your food choices every day Paleo-friendly OR go 100% Paleo every day except for one day a week, when you’ll get to indulge a bit in the foods you love that aren’t Paleo-compliant.
Have questions or want to work one-on-one with a coach? Schedule a free introductory call here.