Fat loss is that elusive goal, almost like a mirage, that many of us keep on chasing for most part of our lives without actually being able to get a hold of. And, the reason it always remains a topic of hot discussion is because of our gullibility to fall prey to easy fixes. We want to lose weight but we don’t want to work on it. We keep on believing that drinking tea will magically burn off layers and layers of fat, or simply putting on the heat belt while watching reruns of our favourite shows will reveal our six packs. Divisions of education, social and economic strata, nationality and religion are all obliterated in this one pursuit of a utopian fantasy – there can never be a greater unifying factor amongst all humanity!
First of all, there are no fat burners. There are no teas or salts or potions that can do the trick. So, once I have burst your bubble, let’s see what we can actually do for sustainable fat loss.
1. Take it slow: Weight loss and fat loss are two different things. When we lose weight, we may lose muscle, bone mass, water, and fat. What we want in reality is only fat loss. So, if we take a drastic approach to it, we end up losing the wrong things.
2. Clean your kitchen: Before you embark on your lifestyle-changing journey, clear your kitchen cabinets and fridge of all those empty calories – cakes, pastries, cookies, packaged delicacies, etc. And, while you are at it, clear your kitchen of refined flour and vegetable oil also.
3. Measure your food: The zealots get their food scales; the sensible ones take out their hands or rather their palms. Measure your carbohydrates like rice, and proteins like chicken with your palm – it should be of the dimension of your palm. Measure your vegetables with your fists, and fats with your thumb. For example, a fat loss diet plate would look like – two portions of protein, one portion of grains, two portions of vegetables, and one portion of fat (the oil or butter that you use to cook your food).
4. Ditch the calorie count: Modern mobile apps help track the calories that you eat; but sometimes, one may get over enthusiastic about it. Relax – those calorie counts are not accurate, at best, they are representative and, most often, completely off track. Calorie measurement is variable, based on multiple factors and intangibles like place of produce, ripeness of food, cooking method, absorption in the body and so on.
5. Eat your vegetables: Vegetables are a powerhouse of phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Have at least two servings of them every day. It will keep you satiated, provide you with good nutrients.
6. Calorie deficit: The final and golden rule of fat loss – you have to eat less than you burn in order to lose fat. In other words, you have to be in a calorie deficit state. If you are not losing weight, it simply means you are not in calorie deficit. No point blaming your hormones, genes, or your trainer, for that matter. In very few, I repeat, very few cases, there may be a medical reason for your inability to lose weight. In all other cases, it is just your inability to be consistent with your routine.
The only way to achieve sustainable fat loss is by making behavioural modifications that can be stuck to. For some, it may be intermittent fasting (IMF), for some, it may be skipping dinner, and for some, it may be skipping breakfast. Identifying what works for you and taking slow steps towards that goal is the key to lasting fat loss.
(The writer is a fitness educator, coach and consultant. He can be contacted at [email protected])