Attack your fat
A couple of days ago, I got frantic calls from Amita, a 32-year-old who wanted to lose weight. One of my ex-clients had referred her to me. She called herself obese. I did a quick visual assessment of her Body Fat % and estimated it at 35%.
Esha has just enrolled with me. She’s slim, tall and long-legged. But on closer observation, the layer of fat around her waist; a spare tire, in layperson terms, is clearly visible. There’s also a bit of fat around her hips.
Esha has been on a diet and intermittent workouts for four years. She managed to knock off her pregnancy weight but ended up with the layers of fat. The fat layers look prominent every time she goes on a bingeing spree. She has been on a binge for a while now. She finds it difficult to resist all the tempting foods she’d abstained from for four years.
Esha is a case of extreme dieting combined with rigorous cardio workout. The result - extra Body Fat! Her Body Fat % is approximately 28. I warned her against using her old diet and exercise regimen.
I remember yet another one of my ex-clients who only wanted to work out. He said he just cannot diet. His Body Fat was around 40%. I don’t insist in such cases although I stress on the fact that 80% of the work is done by the diet.
What is this Body Fat that I’m constantly referring to? Well, that’s an important part of your body composition. But like everything else in life, excess is not good. Excess Body Fat will make your body look loose and flabby, in layperson term. Technically speaking, your body will not look toned.
So, what is body composition? The body is made up of two important components - Lean Body Mass (LBM) and Body Fat. LBM comprises muscles, bones, tissues, in short everything besides Fat. The ratio of LBM : Fat for men is 85:15 and for women is 80:20. This is the Ideal Body Composition and makes a person look lean and toned. High LBM increases Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the rate at which your body burns calories at rest. Higher BMR - Lesser fat deposition. That’s the equation.
Excessive cardio and inadequate diet causes muscle loss. Even disciplined eaters experience creeping obesity as they get older. This is because, with age, muscle loss occurs. All this leads to low BMR and high fat deposition. So calories previously used to maintain muscle mass are now being placed in fat storage areas of the body.
A common strategy for quick weight loss is to cut calories. But during periods of restricted food intake your hormonal activity slows down your metabolic rate to compensate for the reduced calorie intake to ensure your survival. Ad claims of weight losses up to 3 kg/week without exercise are extremely misleading. The majority of these weight losses are carbohydrate and water losses. The downside of this is that when you return to your old eating habits you gain weight again because your metabolic rate had dropped to compensate for your low calorie intake. Worse, your Body Fat% increases. This is what happened with Esha.
You need to differentiate between Weight Loss and Fat Loss. There’s no short-term solution to fat loss. So, although diet contributes 80% to any weight loss program, it is still only part of the story. You need to get enough sleep and you also need to get active.
Some people will go on extreme diets but hate the mere thought of exercising.
Even if you are a couch potato, be inspired by the fact that you are going to benefit from even a small increase in your activity levels. The health benefits of rising from zero to one on the fitness scale are far greater than increasing from a super fit nine to a ten. Even introducing a little gentle walking into your routine will improve your fitness and stamina. Once this becomes easy, just pick up the pace or increase the distance.
Increasing activity and disciplined eating should form part of a permanent lifestyle change. While exercise is important, it will never compensate for a diet that’s too high in calories.