Body Fat Battle…Part 1
The most regular question I get at work…how can I lose more body fat? How can I get leaner? Why do I not look like **** on Instagram?
As a gym owner this is par for the course I guess!
So I am going to try and pick apart this highly complex, controversial and deep question! As I write this I am not sure how I am even going to do it as it is such an individual and personal process, but hopefully I can give you a bit more insight into the process of improving body composition and how to approach it.
First off, we need to discuss some of the reasons we actually put on excess body fat.
All human bodies are organisms that physiologically and psychologically are highly complex, I will try and make fat loss/gain a bit more simple.
In terms of fuelling ourselves, at the most basic level, for someone who has no physical disorders and is relatively healthy the simple rule of calories in Vs calories out needs to be explored.
Think of the body as a furnace. The more fuel (calories from food/drink) we put in it, the harder it burns and more heat (energy) it can create. As human beings if we do not burn this energy then our body saves it for a rainy day by storing it as body fat. This is part of the role of body fat, it is excess energy stored for emergencies.
*It is worth remembering at this point that our bodies don’t know that most of those reading this post live a comfortable lifestyle with little to no risk of natural disaster, war or famine hitting anytime soon. We have plentiful food and live fairly sedentary lives. Our metabolism does not know this and is still storing body fat for when the next harvest fails, or our tribe is forced away from its home. Keep this principle in mind at all times when you think about the body*
So, simply put, if we are living a fairly sedentary lifestyle, and eating a lot more food/drink than we need then we are going to be slowly putting on body fat. This is the basic principle.
The composition of our diet starts to play a role here too. If you are eating a ‘poor’ diet which is composed of processed foods, high in sugary carbohydrates, low amounts of protein and processed/man made fats then you are not going to be promoting healthy norms within your body.
On the other hand, maybe you are sedentary but eat a balanced diet full of good quality protein sources, high in fruit and veg, good quality fats and low GI carbohydrates in appropriate amounts, you will firstly be at much less risk of disease but you will also, generally look better. Eating this way, also makes it a LOT more difficult to over eat…the better quality foodstuffs are generally those which satiate us.
To give a better idea of this, imagine eating as many sugary cakes as you can in one sitting, versus as much beef as you can. I guarantee that almost everyone will eat the beef much more slowly and would eat much much less in terms of calorific content of the beef. It will also keep you fuller, for much longer than the sugary cakes which will quickly spike blood sugar, quickly followed by a crash!
Lets say someone actually isn’t eating that much and is training too. How on earth can they be getting fatter?? Well this is slightly more complex and there can be plenty of reasons but some of the more common are:
- Stress – Too much physical/psychological stress starts to affect our hormones and we no longer run as we are meant too. See here for a breakdown of stress.
- Circadian rhythm – This is lost and this affects sleep and hormonal patterns. All key when losing body fat/increasing muscle.
- Hormonal Imbalances – Can be due to stress, thyroid problems, adrenal fatigue or a whole other range of issues. This is for a doctor or functional nutrition specialist to delve into. This is a huge problem with people that train extremely hard and under fuel for extended periods of time!
- Metabolic Adaptation – Linked to the above hormonal problems, this results from long periods of ‘crash’ diets. Actually I will revise that…just diets. I really don’t like that word, diet implies it is short term, high intensity effort to lose body fat, something that generally is not sustainable and long term leads to problems.
So…those are the very basics of gaining body fat – you can see that actually there is nothing that basic about it and every person will have a different story or reason behind their fat gain.
Eating a LOT of food and doing no activity or exercise leads to weight gain and health problems. This is common sense and at first it is fairly easy to lose that weight if you have put a large amount of body fat on (just eat a tiny bit less, and/or start doing some exercise) the tricky bit is when someone is not actually that over fat, or has lost a lot of body fat and wants to really take it a step further . This is where it begins to get a bit more complex.
Standby for part 2 where I will dig into some ways the average person can start to battle the body fat and why it can be so hard to shift…
- LiftOff CrossFit is a gym in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire offering group classes for motivated individuals to come and improve their fitness. Tom is head coach and co owner. To contact us, drop an email at firstname.lastname@example.org