Learn everything there Is to know about fItness, performance, fat loss and lifestyle from Adrian McDonnell.
Dropping bodyfat can feel like a long, monotonous journey. While the end result might seem appealing, the commitment and effort required to get there can be off-putting even thinking about. Below, I’m going to share some of the ways I plan on dropping bodyfat over the coming weeks.
One size fits nobody
Firstly, before I start, this is the formula I plan on using. While a lot of these are good principles to follow, I’m not trying to suggest my way is the best way or only way. You might not agree with everything I say or have different thoughts and that is absolutely fine.
‘As to methods there might be millions and then some, but principles are few. The man who can grasp the principles can successfully select his own method.’
It’s something I want to do
The best gym program in the world could be created. Or the most proven diet to get you guaranteed results could be given to you. But if you can’t adhere to it or if you just don’t have any desire to do it, it doesn’t matter how great the program is, it’s not going to deliver results. Dropping body fat is something I want to do, not something I feel like I must do.
I always find the novelty of starting something new and making a change seems to disappear around the third week in. So if you do plan on making changes to your lifestyle, make sure it’s something you actually have a desire to do. Not because someone told you to do it, or that your friend is doing it or maybe you even saw something on social media that you fancied trying out.
When you’re not in the mood for training or you want to eat something which would put you over your daily calorie limit, if you’ve a strong enough why and reason for starting, you’ll be able to resist the temptation of giving in. If you started because you were told you should, chances are your workout won’t be done or you’ll break open the biscuits. Make sure you have a strong enough reason for starting so when your motivation goes (I say when because nobody feels motivated 100% to train or adhere to a nutrition plan), your drive will see you through.
And just a side note: the hardest part is always starting. When something is in motion it stays in motion – you can’t argue with Newton’s first law of motion!
Your behavior, lifestyle and adherence levels are the most important
1. Gradual Calorie Deficit
My maintenance calories are approx. 3,500 a day. For the last couple of years, especially in-season with football I’ve always maintained the same weight and body fat percentage by consuming around 3,500 Kcals a day.
Now that I’m looking to drop bodyfat, I’m going to gradually lower my calories down starting at 3,000 Kcals and lowering accordingly as the weeks go on. I don’t want rapid fat loss – which is something I don’t recommend. I want more of a gradual approach so 3,000 kcal is a good starting point. Patience is key.
Time Restricted Eating (TRE)
Ever since I heard Dr Rhonda Patrick speak on Joe Rogan’s podcast over two years ago, I became interested around the topic of TRE. The concept is similar to intermittent fasting except it’s a bit more flexible. The basic idea is from the moment you break your fast in the morning, try to consume your meals within an optimal window of nine hours to a maximal twelve hours. So for instance, if you ate your breakfast at 11am, by 8pm optimally or at the very latest 11pm, try to finish up eating.
TRE isn’t something I recommend to many people (except people who work night time shifts and could potentially be eating for up to 20 hours in a day – nurses, guards etc.) because calorie intake is the most important factor so I don’t try and push it on anyone who I feel won’t benefit from it. However it does work well for me and my lifestyle and I find it easier to stay within my calorie limit when eating within a strict window of time.
Every day (during lockdown), I train at about 11.30am fasted. So, by the time I finish up, shower and cook my first meal it’s usually around 1.30pm. I don’t like going to bed hungry so I usually have my last snack/meal at about 10.30pm which is a nine hour eating window. During the fasted morning period, I’ll have drunk a gallon of water by the time I take my first meal. On another side note – don’t mistake being hungry with just being dehydrated.
Protein & Fibre:
High protein & fibre intake are key towards fat loss. Starting with protein – when strength training in a deficit, the goal should be to maintain as much muscle mass as possible. After all, what good is dropping body fat if all your hard earned muscle fades away with it? So I’m aiming for at least 2g protein per Kg of bodyweight (e.g. 70Kg male x2 = 140g daily). This should be sufficient enough to allow me to recover in between strength training sessions while maintaining my muscle mass. On top of this, protein helps keep you satiated/fuller for longer in between meals.
Fibrous foods include fruits and vegetables. While excessive fruit intake isn’t necessarily a good thing, I’m not going to be shy on adding more vegetables to my plate. Besides being packed with tonnes of minerals and vitamins, combining a source of protein with fibre will tie you over for a few hours in between meals. Being hungry while in a deficit usually leads to your will power (which is like a muscle and the more you use it, the more it fatigues) gradually being worn down until you reach boiling point and give in. Combining protein and fibre rich foods might just be the winning formula to keep hunger at bay.
To make it easy for you to understand what a meal might look like, simply combine some form of lean protein such as chicken or steak mince and make a stir fry using lots of vegetables seasoned with your favourite flavours and sauces. Not only are the calories going to be quite low in this meal, it will make you more satisfied for longer.
Timing of Carbohydrates:
I always have my biggest carbohydrate meal post workout. After an intense training session, you deplete your bodies preferred form of energy – glycogen. There is an increase in insulin sensitivity which in layman’s terms means your muscles are begging you to replenish your depleted energy stores.
Because of this, post workout is when I’ll have my biggest carbohydrate meal (along with a good source of protein and BCAA's) which usually consists of a slow and fast releasing carbohydrate - some form of oats cooked along with a fast digesting fruit such as a chopped banana. If you have a sweet tooth, after exercising is also the most optimal time to take something sugary. While carbohydrates during the day often make me feel bloated, after I exercise I don’t get that same feeling
When people say they want to drop bodyfat, what they really mean is they want to improve their body composition. Your body composition is the ratio of muscle: fat you have. We’ve already addressed how to drop bodyfat (calorie deficit) so next we must address building muscle. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that strength training is the most optimal way to build muscle. So while I do not expect to increase my strength while training in a deficit, I do plan on maintaining it by doing the minimal effective dose of power, strength & hypertrophy work.
To wrap it all up
If you feel you need some guidance, structure and a proper routine to follow to help you achieve your goals, feel free to drop me a message and I’d be happy to help you. Thanks for reading.
Adrian McDonnell -
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