Keto? Paleo? Whole 30? HCLF? Atkins? The amount of readily accessible, ready for download and/or purchase, diets is overwhelming. There is SO much (conflicting) information, he said, she said, and pure NONsense that even experienced athletes and fitness enthusiasts can easily get lost in the worldwide web.
Let’s set a few parameters before going any further. This post is specified towards weight loss – NOT optimal health, and NOT optimal performance. These three categories operate as somewhat of a venn diagram, there is overlap, but to achieve any one in the optimal state, the other two will inevitably suffer to some degree. At CrossFit 269 we encourage the pursuit of optimal HEALTH. I talk more about our mission and goals in other posts, podcasts, and in class, (eating organic, locally grown, whole foods. mostly plants. moderate proportions. and so on…) Ok, onward with the details.
Eat Less. Weigh Less.
Crazy concept, right? The basis of losing weight boils down to a very simple principle, that is
Calories “out” > Calories “in”
We have to burn/use/convert more calories than we eat, in order to lose weight. It doesn’t much matter if those calories are fat, carbs or protein. NOW – this is where the diagram can provide some overlap and common sense can help us. Eating 1400 calories of oreos while training like an olympian WILL allow you to lose weight, however, it could also lead to chronic inflammation, poor recovery, type 2 diabetes, muscle loss, depression and a myriad of other unwanted results. **This is why we at CF269 prioritize HEALTH. In weight loss, total calories are your only concern.
If you eat more fat, you can use fat for energy and then burn more fat, right? Well, not exactly. The body doesn’t “burn fat” as a preferred energy source. Fat is used once the body goes into “starvation mode” – or you start using more energy than you have fuel. Carbs are your bodies choice source for FUEL. Now, if performance of any kind isn’t important, then carbs don’t really matter if you eat more fat or more carbs. Again – just the calories matter. However, if performance IS somewhat important (or of great importance) then carbs are highly suggested. Just as protein is required to build and/or sustain muscle growth.
So, what forms of exercise are most effective at burning fat / contributing to weight loss? Well, essentially we’re looking to burn as many calories as possible, so we can tilt the scales in our favor. When it comes to burning calories, INTENSITY is a HUGE factor. Here’s a small blip from a great source on the topic:
“We’ve all heard a number of ‘fitness claims’ that the best type of aerobic training to burn fat is lower intensity exercise, referred to as the ‘fat burning zone’. Thompson and colleagues (1998) have confirmed that at lower intensities (50% VO2max) there is a greater ‘percentage’ of energy from fat than at higher intensities (70% VO2max). However, at the higher training intensity the TOTAL energy expenditure will be greater, and a person will almost always burn the same amount (or more) fat calories as s/he would exercising at the lower intensities, providing the workouts are the same length in time.”
In short, intense workouts burn more calories than the LSD (long slow distance) methods, when the duration is the same (making HIIT more efficient). What about maintaining definition and my muscles? Now we’re getting back to the before mentioned venn diagram, and here we would show the needs and benefits of weight/resistance training integration to maintain or improve strength, in addition to protein intake.
Of course, ANY form of exercise and movement is better than NONE and will inevitably lead to a higher expenditure of calories, resulting in aid to weight loss.
I hope this helps give a BASIC OUTLINE to losing weight, and the steps necessary to start. I truly encourage people to combine tactics and eat to optimize all Three categories of life as best as possible (eat less calories than you burn (lose weight), eat organic, local, WHOLE / REAL foods (health) and implement resistance training combined with sufficient amounts of protein (performance). Life is about balance. Once your goal weight has been reached, shift priorities to HEALTH of PERFORMANCE based on personal goals.
Eat Real Food. Not Too Much. Move, Daily.