Learn everything there Is to know about fItness, performance, fat loss and lifestyle from Adrian McDonnell.
Whenever most people want to lose weight, the first thing they look to do is incorporate some form of cardio.
The thought process being that cardio burns more calories than strength training during the workout so it’s better for weight loss. And while cardio is an effective tool to implement in order to lose weight, it’s important for you to understand that there are more effective ways to lose weight.
Today, I’d like to discuss three things you can do to help lose weight without ever having to put on your running shoes – they are: structured nutrition, strength training and prioritising sleep.
1. Structured Nutrition
The only way to lose fat consistently is to create a sustainable calorie deficit. By consistently eating less than your body needs to maintain its current weight, you will lose fat. This might sound simple. I’m aware it does not sound fancy, but it’s really that simple! While it might sound simple in theory, it can be difficult in practice.
So how do you create a sustainable calorie deficit?
For example, say your maintenance calories are 2,000 calories per day. A 10% calorie deficit would require you to reduce your calories by 200 per day while a 20% deficit would require you to reduce your calories by 400 a day.
On top of this, I always say, when eating in a calorie deficit, you should have two goals in mind:
1.Maintain as much (if not all) of your muscle mass as possible
2.Eat as much food as possible while staying within your calorie limit
This is where the benefits of setting a high protein target comes in. It’s not uncommon for people to lose weight but they just because a smaller version of themselves. While I’m not trying to be critical or to sound like an a*shole, the common term used to describe this is “skinny fat.” You’ve lost weight on the scale yet you still don’t have that toned and trim physique which you had hoped for. If this has happened, chances are your protein intake wasn’t adequate and/or you didn’t strength train (future point).
So how much protein should you eat? I recommend 1.6 – 2.2g of protein per Kg of bodyweight. So if you weigh 70 Kg, this would range from 116g to 154g of protein per day. In general, it’s always better to be on the higher end if possible.
Of the three macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats), protein is the most filling. Being hungry while dieting sucks. It is not enjoyable going to bed hungry. You can help keep hunger at bay by ensuring you’re getting in an adequate protein intake.
Unsure of good sources of protein? Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered!
And remember when it comes to weight loss, don’t buy into the juice or “cleanse/detox” diets – they don’t work long term. I teach my clients Peak Performing Nutritional Practices which educates them on how to structure their nutrition so they are empowered to be able to decide what they would like to eat. I never ask anyone to follow a diet because it’s not – it’s a lifestyle.
Unsustainable methods yield unsustainable results.
2. Strength Training
Whenever someone says they want to get in “shape” or to “tone up,” if you think about it, what are you referring to? What gives your body that shape and tone?
No, it is not your bones! They hold your body in place. But to get that shape and tone you desire, you are specifically referring to building muscle in the right areas so you can get that toned stomach, or defined butt or big arms! Muscle is the thing that gives your body that shape and tone in the absence of bodyfat!
As mentioned above, a lot of people lose weight but their weight loss is typically a combination of fat and muscle so what you’re left with is a smaller version of yourself. The focus should be to build muscle, not burn it off.
The best way to get “shaped” and “toned” and lose weight is to perform strength training while eating in a calorie deficit. This will give you a much better overall transformation. Anyone whose lost a considerable amount of weight but still looks somewhat “soft” is usually because they have lost some fat, but their muscles aren’t overly toned. I recommend at least 3-4x a week of strength training (not working out) for optimal results.
And ladies, if you think weight training makes you bulky, then checkout how Michaela managed to tone up while lifting weights and performing proper strength training.
A huge reason as to why strength training is more beneficial than cardio is after a weights session, your metabolism can be boosted for up to 38 hours post-workout. This means that your body burns more calories as you chill out on the couch for the evening after strength training vs doing a traditional steady state cardio session alone.
How cool is that? After you pay your dues in the gym and sit down and relax for the evening, your body will continue to burn more calories as you rest.
Not only this, but by building muscle, you’ll increase the amount of food your body needs to maintain it’s current weight. Why is this? Muscles are more metabolically active than fat. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn even while you rest.
That is why strength training is not only a good short-term strategy for fat-loss, but long-term too. The more lean muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn around the clock.
To summarise all the above, strength training consistently allows you to eat more food without getting fat – how great is that?!
I can’t stress how important sleep is for weight loss. Your body, your workouts, and your goals will suffer because of a lack of quality sleep. After a poor night’s sleep, Ghrelin (the hormone that tells you you’re hungry) and Leptin (the hormone that tells you you’re full) go in opposite directions. Basically, lack of sleep makes you hungrier but when you do eat, you don’t become as full as normal which makes you want to eat more. On top of this, the type of food we tend to eat when we’re tired tends to be low nutrient, high calorie foods.
I can relate to this on any night I’ve had a poor sleep – I feel groggy and tired the next day and every hour it feels like I need some more food to “keep me ticking over.” People tend to eat at least 300 extra calories a day when sleep deprived which adds up to over 15lbs per year. Furthermore, if you’re not getting enough sleep, 70% of the weight you’ll lose will come from lean body mass (your muscle).
I used to pride myself on only needing six hours of sleep to get through the day but was I functioning optimally or to the best of my ability? Probably not. It still is an area I need a lot of work on improving but I have been getting better.
Have trouble falling asleep early? Form a sleep ritual. That means two hours before you want to go to bed, dim the lights. 1 hour before bed, unplug from all electronics (I also find this very difficult!). Try not to eat 2-3 hours before bed, or drink 1-2 hours before bed. If possible, go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Replace the TV with some light reading. And make your room a bat cave (block out all lights). If you’re still having trouble – try supplementing with Melatonin & Magensium and/or drinking Chamomile tea before bed.
If losing weight is your goal, it’s important you prioritise:
That’s not to say cardio is not beneficial. However, it shouldn’t be the first area you address if you want to lose weight and keep it off.
Thanks for reading. I hope you found this post beneficial.
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If we are a good fit, we can get working on your personalised program so you can finally make the changes you’ve always wanted.
Adrian McDonnell -
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