Despite the science being there to show us what really works, so many female fat loss and nutrition plans are based around principles that don’t deliver results, and pseudoscience that just doesn’t stack up.
Your typical female is told to do two things to lose weight -
1. Drastically slash calories.
This is usually done by minimizing carbohydrate intake, cutting down on fats, eliminating processed foods and alcohol completely, and even banning whole food groups such as grains, gluten or dairy.
2. Start doing lots of cardio.
(And we mean LOTS of cardio.)
The theory is that cardio burns calories, and so any woman who wants to drop body fat needs to pound the treadmill, take up jogging, dedicate themselves to evenings on the Stairmaster, or spend hour upon hour on an exercise bike.
This isn’t the case. You’ll be amazed how little exercise you need. Once you’re doing the right type of exercise that is.
Before we move on, and I go into how we’ll get you to lose fat faster than you ever imagined, as well as doing it safely and sustainably, so you experience no ill-health effects, and maintain all the progress you make, let’s just look at why the above methods don’t work.
You Slashed Calories and Upped Your Cardio?
Initially, doing this will bring about results.
The weight on the scale will definitely go down, and you may even look a little leaner.
This is because you’ve created a calorie deficit.
A calorie deficit is where you’re burning more calories than you’re eating, so in order to survive and to have a supply of energy, your body turns to its stored fat for fuel.
No matter what type of diet you do, you have to have a calorie deficit to lose weight. You can eat as healthy or as clean as you like, but if you’re eating more calories than you burn, you won’t lose an ounce.
Even if you’re surviving solely on chicken breast and broccoli, while it would be hard to over-eat these, it’s still theoretically possible to gain fat if you’re not in a deficit.
So you’ve been ‘dieting’ for a few weeks, and seen the scale move down, your clothes feel loser and you might even have seen some changes in the mirror, but pretty soon, a few things happen.
For one, your hunger levels will be through the roof. This is because typical weight loss diets restrict your food intake so much, that you’re ravenous, almost 24/7.
Combined with this, you’ll also be getting huge cravings. Because you’ve probably banned most tasty foods, your body’s pleasure sensors have gone into overdrive, and you’re craving something delicious.
Also, it’s not just fat you’ll be losing.
Much of the initial weight you lose when dieting and training like the above isn’t body fat at all. If you’ve gone the low-carb route, then your body’s stores of carbohydrate will be significantly lower, which in turn reduces your water weight. Plus, because you’re in such an aggressive calorie deficit, your body can only burn fat at a certain rate, and so instead of relying on fat for fuel, it’s burning up muscle too.
Now, you might be wondering why muscle matters if you don’t want to be a bodybuilder, but we’ll cover that very soon. First I want to talk a little more about how detrimental the common way of doing things is.
So your diet’s not going great, but how about the training?
Cardio is fine for burning calories, but what you’ll notice is that pretty soon, your calorie burn per session starts going down.
Even if you try to work harder, you won’t be getting the same results, and you have to go longer and longer to get it back up. This is because subconsciously, your body is trying to save energy, so driving your calorie burn down.
Unfortunately, while often deemed safer than weights, this isn’t true either. Cardio (especially impact activities like running) can create huge stress on your joints and lead to injuries, particularly overuse injuries such as tendonitis.
Let me ask you this too: Do you enjoy cardio?
I know they talk about ‘runner’s high’ but apart from that, it’s pretty boring, right?
Even if you put a podcast on, or watch something on the TV, it’s not the best way to get your aggression out, relieve stress and really make you feel like you’re working hard and blitzing that stubborn body fat either, is it?
Now, when you combine these long, drawn out, monotonous cardio sessions with an extreme diet, things really start to go downhill.
You may have lost some weight, but your body’s wondering what the heck’s going on. You’ve gone from feeding it adequate fuel and not exercising that often, to slashing your calories right down and getting your cardio in every day.
As it starts to burn off muscle mass, you begin to look skinny and drawn out, and while many women say they’re not bothered about HOW they want to lose weight, provided they lose it - trust me, when you start seeing the muscle wastage and the lack of definition that come with the above approach, you’ll change your tune pretty fast.
The longer you diet like this, the slower your results get. Why?
Well that loss of muscle mass means you burn fewer calories each day, and by burning fewer calories, the size of your deficit reduces, meaning weight loss slows. To get round this, you have to eat less than you are at the moment.
But remember those cravings?
Well they kick in HARD, and it becomes almost impossible to stick to your plan.
When the results are coming fast, depriving yourself and eating your same old bland, boring foods is bearable, but when the results aren’t there, it gets so much harder.
To combat such a drop in calories, your body also fights back with it’s survival mechanism.
You might have head this referred to as starvation mode, and while starvation mode itself is somewhat of a myth, there’s a degree of truth to it, though most people in the nutritional sciences industry refer to it as metabolic adaptation.
This is a process whereby your body starts to down regulate all non- essential functions, such as sex drive, digestion speed, and even the
production of some hormones, so you can start to feel very lethargic and quite unwell. Additionally, you’ll subconsciously move around less, and so will be burning fewer calories, making it harder to keep losing weight.
(Can you see a pattern here?)
In the end, it all gets too much, and you give in and binge.
Maybe you’re out for a meal with friends, intend on having a plain steak or a chicken salad, but spy the burger and fries on the menu, and just can’t resist, so you have this.
It tastes so good, and you figure that you’ve blown your diet anyway, and so you go on to have dessert, wine, and then chocolate when you get home, and before you know it you’ve eaten a week’s worth of calories in just a few hours. And then you feel guilty.
This guilt starts to form part of a vicious cycle, whereby you think to get back on track you need to be even more extreme than you were before, with MORE cardio and LESS calories, but the same thing happens again, only this time, the binge comes sooner.
Each and every time you do this, you’re making future fat loss progress harder and harder, as you’re playing Russian roulette with your metabolism.
You make your physique worse too, as you lose a combination of muscle mass and body fat during the diet, but put back on solely fat (no muscle) when you binge or over-eat.
Now, this is not meant to be a horror story. Far be it for me to try and scare you straight from the start.
But I wanted to include this to outline how the way most women are told to eat and train to lose weight is just downright wrong.
I also know there’s plenty of skepticism out there when it comes to female fat loss, so wanted to show you how I’m not just another guru who wants to sell you supplements or get you onto an extreme eating plan.
I genuinely care about your results and your health, and in the next article, Lift for a Lean Body, I’m going to give you my overview of how you can lose fat fast, but avoid all the perils and pitfalls we talked about.