Good morning! It’s Day 1 of the 14 day challenge! Let’s do this!
Is this your first attempt at improving your body?
If it is, I’m going to give you as much useful information as possible that I think everyone needs to know, so you can knock this out of the park on your first attempt!
If this is NOT your first attempt, then I want you to know that just because you’ve failed before, does not mean you are going to fail again.
The information I’ll share with you will show you what I (and most others) wrongly believed about fat loss, and what I needed to learn to start seeing reliable and sustainable fat loss for myself, which I now teach to my clients.
Your First Action Item!
The first thing I want you to do is to complete the Kickstart Assessment (if not already done). Add up your score and post the total and individual scores in the Discord Server
You can go into the reasons why you gave yourself that score if you like. We’ll be aiming to improve that score over the next 2 weeks.
Right, with that done, here’s the first lesson!
Most People Approach Fat Loss in a Completely Unsustainable Way
Imagine a marathon.
Most people approach fat loss like someone trying to flat out sprint the full 26 miles of a marathon.
How much of the 26 miles do you think you’d complete, running flat out, before you failed to finish?
Why do people approach fat loss like this?
They cut out so many foods. They drop their calorie intake extremely low (basically starving themselves), and they start some sort of horrible exercise program (some sort of bootcamp with burpees and lots of circuits).
We’re not going to do that.
We’re going to approach this in a sustainable fashion.
You won’t be starving. You won’t be trying to “melt” your fat away in the gym.
Cardio isn’t even necessary at all if you don’t want to do it.
You’ll just have to make some changes to your diet and stay consistent with a workout routine – which I think you’re actually going to really enjoy!
How does fat loss work?
It’s not carbs that cause fat gain. Nor sugar. It’s not eating big meals before bed. I used to believe all of these things, and I was totally frustrated when I didn’t see progress despite doing these things – or when I couldn’t stick to what I was trying for longer than 2 weeks..
What follows is the first thing you need to understand. Once I understood this and started following a plan based around this principle, I was able to lose fat at will, whilst not having massive cravings and still eating carbs and the occasional treat foods. Every client I take on usually has to get re-educated on this, and then they too lose fat without crazy workouts 5 times per week or completely avoiding carbs. Here it is:
The ONLY thing that causes fat gain is when you give your body more energy (measured using calories) than it can use. The ONLY thing that causes fat loss is when you give your body less energy than it can use.
Put simpler – eating too much food makes you gain fat. Eating less food than what your body needs to keep all its functions running and fuel your activity will result in fat loss.
Your body HAS to get energy from somewhere in order to function.
It can get that energy from your bodyfat stores (when this happens, you’re losing fat), by breaking your muscles down to use as fuel (you don’t want it to do this), or by using the energy in what you eat (and drink).
When you give your body less energy than what it requires to keep everything working, keep you moving and do your daily activity, your body will get the extra energy it needs from your stores of energy (fat and muscle).
Don’t believe it’s this simple? Still believe it’s all about insulin or hormones or whatever? Read this. While you’re at it, read this one too.
You CANNOT gain fat if there is no surplus of energy being provided.
You WILL lose fat if your body has to make up a deficit of energy.
This is regardless of the actual foods you are eating. (Note – this does not mean Twinkie or McDonald’s diets are healthy just because you don’t have to get fat).
We require energy just to exist. There is a certain amount of energy (more than you’d think) that your body would need, even if you laid in bed all day and night.
This is called your basal metabolic rate. A rough estimate of how many calories this is, would be your bodyweight in lbs multiplied by 10. This isn’t exact, but it’s a good estimate. It’s also influenced by how much of your weight is muscle, but don’t worry about that too much for now. Bodyweight in pounds x 10 is close enough.
You Already Burn a Lot of Calories Just Existing!
But you don’t just lay in bed all day. Everything else you do requires energy too. Doing the dishes, walking your kids to school, making dinner, working out in the gym.
So YOUR bodyweight and YOUR level of activity determines how many calories YOU burn.
None of this “men should eat 2,500 and women should eat 2,000” rubbish.
There are men who’d lose weight on 2,500 and others who’d gain fat.
There are women who won’t ever lose fat on 2,000 calories and there are others for whom fat will drop off at that intake.
How much energy you use for your body and your level of activity is called your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure).
If you want to lose fat, you need to eat less than your TDEE (we’ll be coming on to how to find out this number later).
Potential Mistake Warning!
This all seems logical to most people. They realise “I need to eat less than X calories to lose fat!” but then they go and eat WAY less.
They think a bigger calorie deficit is better and will get them to their goal faster.
Well, it WILL mean faster weight loss. But it won’t get you to your goal faster.
That’s because there comes a point (after not very long) where it WON’T be sustainable.
Survival mechanisms that we’ve been evolving over millions of years will kick into gear to keep you alive in the “famine” that your body thinks you’re experiencing.
You’ll experience very powerful urges to eat more food, and the higher in calories the better. You body wants you to eat and store fat to get you through this “threat”.
To lose fat consistently and sustainably for many weeks/months, you need to eat the RIGHT AMOUNT. Not just generally less, and it HAS to take into account your own unique daily energy expenditure.
It’s easy to overdo this.
Here’s a graphic to illustrate what I’m talking about:
The blue line in the centre represents your TDEE. Stay below this and you will be losing weight. How far below will determine how quickly you lose it. You want to get into the optimal zone that I’ve marked on the diagram, which is about 20-25% below your TDEE.
Go below this and you’ll be making it MUCH harder for yourself and you’ll run into lots of issues – not just hunger and failing to stick to the diet. You will mess up hormone balance as well and potentially lower your immune system.
Stay consistently in that 20-25% range and you’ll be in the sweet spot where fat loss isn’t too difficult and it also isn’t so slow that you’re not sure it’s even happening.
Let me ask you this:
Do you think there’s a good chance that completely cutting out all carbs and therefore drastically reducing your energy intake at the same time that you increase your energy expenditure with more cardio, bootcamps and HIIT classes is going to land you in that optimum 20-25% zone?
More than likely you’ll end up well into the danger zone.
Do you think that only eating 500 calories on 2 days of the week and “eating normally” the rest of the time will get you there (on average)? Maybe… but there’s a good chance it won’t.
Let’s do this a bit more intelligently rather than taking a blanket approach.
Action Number 2. Get your target calories
Go here and get an estimate of your TDEE by populating the form.
Choose the activity multiplier that best describes you. Most people should choose sedentary! The activity level you select should not take into account the 3 workouts per week I’ll be setting you, so you should choose sedentary if you’re not really doing anything other than that and you don’t have an active job.
I would only choose “very active” or “extremely active” if you’re doing a lot of other significant activity outside of this challenge, like regularly training and playing a sport, doing lots of running, cycling or swimming, or you have a job where you walk around all day.
Select “lose weight” as the goal (-20%).
An estimate for your BMR and TDEE will be displayed, and below that your daily calories and macros will be displayed in the coloured boxes. Ignore the macros for now, we’ll be coming to that later.
The calorie number tells you how much you should be eating. Again, this is based on an estimate. It’s a ballpark, but it’s a good ballpark. You can always adjust over the coming days/weeks – and I will encourage you to do so as we collect data about what’s going on.
Action Three: Start Tracking Foods
Now that you have a daily calorie target to aim for, it’s time to start tracking foods.
- Download myfitnesspal.
- Set up your account with your relevant personal data.
- Set your target calories for the day to be the same as what the calculator gave you for a 20% deficit.
- Start tracking foods (we’ll talk more about accuracy in future emails).
I want you to track as much food as possible for the duration of this 2 week challenge. This will educate you so much on how much energy is in the foods you eat and it will probably cause you to start make different choices.
You’ll probably quite quickly realise that some foods contain a lot of calories for how much they fill you (peanut butter, ice cream), while others are hardly any calories for a large serving (strawberries, broccoli, etc.)
Try to be as accurate as possible. Everything with calories counts. Ketchup, cooking oil, mayonnaise, butter, etc.
Tracking food isn’t for life. It’s a useful tool to gain you the knowledge you need. Once you’re more practised and you’ve learned more about food, you’ll be able to stop.
That’s enough for today! Don’t forget to check out the Discord Server and ask questions in there if you need any help.
Summary of today’s actions:
- Post in the Discord Server your kickstart assessment score.
- Get a ballpark figure for your TDEE (link)
- Get your target calories for “sweet spot” 20% deficit from the above.
- Download myfitnesspal on your phone and start tracking foods.
- Post in the Discord Server if you’ve got any questions, challenges or concerns about this.
- No workouts yet! They’re coming tomorrow!
P.S. If you haven’t joined the Discord Server yet, you really should. You won’t get the most out of this kickstart if you’re not in there.