The question “why am I fat?” comes up a lot in my clients. From the many hours I spend talking to them about their diet I have noticed patterns emerge and thought I’d share a few fat-loss discoveries!
Body fat is such a stubborn issue in society and affects just about everyone. It’s either a health issue or an aesthetic issue and the bottom line is: less body fat equals more joy.
Less body fat will almost always equal feeling and looking more attractive. Less body fat will also allow many people to do more in their life. It will allow people to feel comfortable wearing less or wearing clothes they otherwise wouldn’t.
It’s a powerful thing and yet everyone – and I’m talking about 99% of people – are doing it wrong!
Here’s a few of the fat-gain patterns I noticed:
That’s right, “why am I fat?” – because you’re under eating. Imagine the confused looks I got from my overweight clients on their first diet consultation. This one issue alone is almost enough to tip the scales over a long enough time frame.
I would ask them what they ate every day and tally up the calories and, if we took my average female forty something client for example, they’re usually eating around 50% of what their body requires them to eat. Some are only eating a third of what they need!
Some skip breakfast, some skip lunch and the odd one or two skip both! Some skip both and then go to the gym in the afternoon!
I hate being too approximate but for the sake of brevity I will do so here. Your average sedentary five and a half foot 150 pound female will need around 2000 Kcal a day, give or take a hundred, before her metabolism will allow her to burn fat (burn fat, NOT lose weight remember).
Your average five and a half foot plus sedentary male will need around 2500 Kcal give or take, and if you’re over six feet tall with some degree of muscularity we’re talking about 3000 Kcal. And again, these people are living on about 1000 Kcal a day and expecting their metabolism to work in their favour i.e. maintain muscle mass and burn fat. Not gonna happen.
The carbohydrate diet
We’ve all heard of the Atkins diet, well most people do the exact opposite of this diet and mainly eat carbs as some kind of pseudo method of not getting fatter. “Why am I fat?” – because you’re having carbs for breakfast, mainly carbs for lunch, carb snack in between as an attempt to maintain metabolism, and a pile of carbs with your dinner.
Of the people who’s diet I’ve reviewed, most ate a diet that consisted of 70% carbs or more.
Not only did I hear this but the other Personal Trainers I’ve known and worked with reported the same dietary glitches with their clients. This one has become an inside joke to Personal Trainers: “Well, I only have a yoghurt and some fruit for lunch.”
A yoghurt contains lactose which is a form of sugar and fruit contains fructose which is a rather bad kind of sugar in relation to body fat. Fruit is NOT on my fat loss diet plan. This often comes as a shock to my clients. A good fat loss diet should have protein as the majority macronutrient. Carbs is usually lowest on the list.
Good ol’ meal frequency
Ah, this is a tricky one. Possibly the trickiest of all. I can tell people what to eat, and how much, but when it comes to fitting those meals in every three hours, my clients get very frustrated with me and my Excel spreadsheets!
Look, if you stop eating for long periods of time two things will happen. First, your metabolism is going to slow because you’re hungry and running on empty. This means less fat burning and possibly more muscle burning. Secondly it means that it will become impossible to fit your daily calories in. Are you going to stuff 1200 Kcal into your last meal? No. So spread it out.
The consistent response here was that every person would eat their dinner and then fast for a minimum of 12 hours and an average of about 14-16.
Long periods of starvation, followed by carbs for breakfast (cereal only) and majority carbs for lunch (a sandwich or soup and bread – literally the only two things my clients ate before coming to see me) equals you getting fatter every single day until, suddenly, you have 60 pounds of fat between you and the clothes you looked so good in when you were 20.
Eat protein and fats late in the night after your dinner and before you go to bed (an hour or two is fine) and eat protein again when you wake up. Then eat something containing protein every 3 hours.
Final thoughts on fat loss
Above all, what I notice about people is a lack of knowledge, combined with a wide spectrum of assumptions on nutrition, followed by a sudden feeling of horror when they realise what it takes to burn fat effectively.
The thing is, a fat loss diet is possible when you know how and when you begin slowly and work your way up to the requirements. Eventually your whole attitude toward food will shift, especially once the results come in.
The question you have to ask yourself is, is it worth it? What does it mean for you to have your ideal body? If it means a lot to you then you’ll be prepared to do a lot. But I want to make it very clear that without an educated view and some instruction from a specialist, it’s very hard to guess your way to healthy, metabolically sound, weight management.