Five tips for Fat Loss, whilst maintaining Lean Body Mass.
Weight loss & Fat Loss – terms we all know well. Whether you’re wanting to lose weight for improved athletic performance, overall health or purely just aesthetic reasons, you definitely want to read this blog!
Let’s start with the basics.
We (should) all know by now that weight loss is achieved through a calorie deficit (i.e. Calories in are less than calories out). This deficit can be manipulated with nutrition, exercise or ideally, a combination of both. The difference between Weight Loss & Fat Loss is that weight loss purely reflects the overall amount of body weight lost, whereas Fat Loss, reflects the overall amount of Body Fat lost. I’m just going to generalise everyone here and say that out of these two options, MOST people are chasing fat loss. To achieve Fat Loss, we need to do a few specific things to ensure we’re predominantly losing fat, as opposed to lean body mass.
The human body is incredibly efficient. When you’re in a calorie deficit, the rate of muscular protein synthesis automatically reduces. This compromises the growth & maintenance of lean body mass. Most people don’t want to lose their muscle mass, right? Whether that’s for aesthetic reasons or not, it’s wise to maintain as much of your lean body mass as possible. Why? LBM is important for metabolic function & exercise/sports performance. The good news is that when you’re in a deficit, there are strategies that you can include to maintain this mass whilst facilitating high-quality, long-lasting fat loss.
Here are our five, research proven tips for maintaining healthy weight loss.
Maximum Calorie Deficit:
It’s easy to think that if a small calorie deficit is good for fat loss, then a HUGE calorie must be amazing for fat loss. Don’t feel bad if you think this is true.. We’ve all been there.. But we’re here to tell you that this is NOT TRUE.
Several studies by Mettler, (2010), Longland (2016), and Aretaet (2014) all corroborated and concluded that the maximum deficit for calorie restriction should be ~ 40% of your daily energy expenditure.When consuming the adequate protein intake (don’t worry, I’ll talk about this next), all groups found that anything more than this, compromised lean body mass, resulting in reduced muscle mass and strength.
Let’s put this into real terms for ya’ll. If your maintenance calories (energy in = energy out) is 2000 calories per day. In order to remain in an effective deficit, without compromising your muscle mass, you need to be eating no less than 1200 calories per day to lose body fat. Remember, this is a minimum and only works when consuming adequate nutrients! Also, before you start going ham & cutting cals left, right and centre, you should definitely go see a health professional (we’re always here to help!)
Optimal Protein Intake and Timing for Performance:
I will make this section short and sweet, as we all know that protein is king. For those who don’t know, higher protein intakes combined with structured resistance training, has proven to be effective at promoting fat mass loss, and enhancing LBM retention during calorie deficits (aka. when you’re dieting, eating enough protein helps you stay swole). The current recommendations for protein intake whilst undergoing caloric restriction is 2.4 g protein/kg/day. Helmset (2014) showed in an impressive study, that this high level of protein intake helps to improve adaptations for weight loss, due to the increase in muscle protein synthesis. Erdman (2013) and Gillen (2017), then investigated the importance of meal timing and found that a balanced distribution of high-quality protein was shown to support muscle growth greater than a skewed distribution throughout the day.
In real terms, eat yo’ protein, and eat it consistently throughout the day. Don’t just eat 1 x 400g steak for the day then call it quits. Your digestive system would probably hate you for that anyway!
High Quality Proteins and Supplements:
To promote high-quality weight loss in a restricted energy budget, the use of dietary supplements is not essential. If you can get all of your protein from high quality protein sources (aka real food), then you’re set! If you struggle to hit your protein goals, then sure, grab a protein supplement. However, just remember to look for a complete protein. A complete protein is when 9 essential amino acids, join together to form a complete carbon chain. If you don’t have all 9, you’re wasting your time (and calories.. And money), as the protein cannot act metabolically on the body. Speaking of a waste of time and money, let’s just skip all other supplements, hey? You really don’t need BCAAs or Fat Burners to get results… unless you’re overflowing with cash and need something to spend your money on, then go for it….
Bless the lazy people who went straight to this section of the blog, because in all honesty these points are all you need.
- To produce the fastest fat loss, whilst retaining lean body mass you cannot go under a 40% energy restriction. Taking your restriction under this amount will compromise not only your lean body mass but the rate of fat loss as well.
- The current recommendations for protein intake whilst undergoing caloric restriction is 2.4 g protein/kg/day.
- A balanced distribution of high-quality protein is shown to support muscle growth. So however long your day is, make sure you balance your meals out accordingly.
- Meats, yoghurt and eggs are full sources of protein, that provide you with all necessary amino acids. You do not need to supplement, however protein poweders are a convenient source of protein to promote muscle building.
- Supplements such as BCAA, HMB, and other herbal/natural substances do not appear to have strong scientific evidence. Aka. A waste of your money!