This is not going to be a full blown physics lesson, just a simple idea that could enlighten you. Amongst all the bull out there about low carb, low fat, low fructose, low everything foods and diet plans, only one thing has been scientifically proven to work…. EVER.
Want the physique of your dreams? Listen up
Win the Game
Losing weight is a game of energy in v energy out. What does this mean? Well, in order to slim down, you have to either
- decrease the amount of energy coming into your body on average (those last two words are very important), or you have to
- increase the amount of energy going out of your body.
Simple huh? That’s right – no fad’s, no gimmicks, just plain facts.
When you are in an energy surplus (more coming in than going out), that energy has to be stored (the body will not waste it unfortunately, millions of years of evolution have ensured that). Where is it stored? The fat cells, muscle cells and liver are the main places.
It is very common (especially in recent times) to ridicule this idea of energy in versus energy out. This is very common amongst groups that are claiming superiority of ‘their diet’. But the reality, and the scientific literature, is very clear;
The most dominant factor when it comes to weight loss is the energy game
Bottom line is, as we take in more energy than we burn, we will put on weight; And the reverse too, as we burn more energy than we take in, we will lose weight. Some of this will be muscle, some will be fat. The ratio for how much muscle:fat you lose is influenced by;
- Genetics – people will tend to gain fat and muscle and lose fat and muscle in the same ratios. For example, random Joe puts on 10 pounds, 7 of this is fat and 3 is muscle. This also works in reverse – Joe loses 10 pounds and 7 of it is fat, 3 of it is muscle. This is called our P-Ratio, and is largely genetic.
- Gender – Men will tend to lose less muscle than women will with the same weight loss.
- Your current fat% – the more fat you are holding, the higher proportion of fat you will lose when you lose weight. Obese people can lose almost exclusively fat with no muscle loss. As you get leaner, more muscle tissue is lost as a percentage. But this is generally not a problem until you’re in the athletic ranges of bodyfat %
- Age – Regardless of gender and genetics, we all get worse P-Ratios as we get older. In other words, we will tend to gain less muscle and more fat when we gain weight. Life’s a bitch eh!
None of the above things are in your control. The below things ARE;
- The types of food you eat – can influence (to a lesser extent) where that excess energy is stored. Eating certain macronutrients (you will know these as Carbohydrates, fats and proteins) can increase the amount of fat lost through decreasing the amount of muscle lost during dieting (and also the reverse during weight gain). This is not the magic bullet that most people think it is though.
- Exercise – certain types of exercise can decrease the amount of muscle lost during a dieting stage, thus increasing the amount of fat lost.
- Drugs – steroids, clenbuterol, testosterone, HGH etc can all improve your body’s ability to both store excess energy in muscle tissue, and decrease energy losses from muscle tissue during dieting. That’s why bodybuilders use them – although none of my advice will involve any of this. Some other drugs can improve or worsen your energy expenditure through metabolism drops/increases.
Muscle and Fat
Regardless of the above information, if you are in an energy deficit YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT, some of it will come from muscle, some from fat.
Why would we want to maintain muscle? For guys, this is a no brainer. For girls, maintaining muscle is going to keep everything toned and firm leading to the look you probably want. And I am talking about maintaining as much muscle as you can – building muscle is a different game, and you are not going to do that with your female hormones in a dieting situation. So no worries about waking up liking like the hulk, you are more likely to wake up looking like the below picture. The muscly women you see in bodybuilding mags are usually either insanely low body fat (like Madonna) or taking huge amounts of steroids to achieve that look.
So, what is the secret to weight loss?
- Decrease average amount of energy in (within reason)
- Keep energy out as high as possible (within reason)
- Improve the partitioning of those energy sources, so that more of it comes out from fat stores
- Maintain this for long enough to see a noticeable effect on our physique
In other words – Win at the energy game (calories in versus calories out). Now, the real question is, how do we do this while still living life? To find out more about that, why not pick up a copy of The Flexible Diet, where you can learn more