For someone who is obese (more than 27% body fat for men and 31% for women), a chiseled and toned body might seem like a distant dream. The truth is that whatever your case maybe, your body can and will transform. All you need is someone to tell you exactly how and follow them step by step all the way. By this time next year you can be looking at a brand new you.
This article is the first in a series of articles on Body Transformation.
MEET Mr & Mrs X
Consider this guy Mr X, he weighs 90kgs with 27% body fat (bf) and his ideal weight as per his height and body frame is 77kgs. He is determined to get lean and start living a healthy and more active life. For a defined midsection, he needs to reduce his body fat (bf) to 10% (i.e. ~8kgs). At 77kgs with only 8kgs of body fat he will not only be lean but have a aesthetic muscular build.
Mrs X is also overweight and similarly wants to reduce her weight from 75kgs at 35% bf to a lean 54kgs (her ideal weight). By reducing to 54kgs and reducing her body fat to 20% bf (or to ~11kgs), she would have a lean and toned physique.
They are both ready for their transformation.
Use the Ideal Weight Calculator to know these numbers for yourself; it is based on your height, gender, body frame and numbers will represent a muscular physique for men and toned body for the women.
NOW LETS DO THE MATHS FOR THEM, TAKING THEM FROM OBESE TO LEAN:
Mr X needs to drop 16.6kgs of body fat. This will get his weight down to 73kgs which is why he need to add atleast 4kgs of muscles to reach his ideal weight with a good muscular frame. Can you do this calculation for Mrs X?
Before we dive into what these stages will be and how Mr & Mrs X can become lean mean machines, we need to know about these three ugly truths of fat loss and weight gain:
- You cannot lose fat and gain muscles at the same time (unless you are a beginner to weight training or you are on steroids)
- It is inevitable that you will lose some muscles as you try to lose weight
- It is also inevitable that you will gain some fat while trying to gain muscles
I will detail these in an article later this week, but for now know that these things hold true for anyone trying to lose fat or gain muscles.
HOW TO REACH THE GOAL – THE BODY TRANSFORMATION PHASES
Phase 1: FAT LOSS
It is possible to lose about 1-2 kgs every week without the need for aggressive dieting and aggravating your body. Some who have water retention problem might also drop 5 kgs in the first week itself but this generally slows down to 1-2 kgs per week from week 3 onwards. This fat loss phase lasts till you reach your fat loss goal.
In case of Mr X, his fat loss goal is 16.6kgs. After losing this much fat, he will now look lean at ~73 with ~8kgs of body fat. This gives him a body fat of 11%.
All this look simple in theoretical calculations but the truth is that of the 16.6kgs that is lost, some of it will be muscle mass also – which means the bf% at 73kgs will in reality be higher than 11%. This is ok because this is a back and forth process between fat loss and muscle gain, till you reach your ideal weight numbers.
In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” ~Anonymous #sotrue #fatloss #musclegain
Can you check where Mrs X will be at the end of this phase and how long it will last for her?
This amount of fat loss can take anywhere from 10-14 weeks. Around the 6 week mark, it is advisable to take 2 weeks break and move to maintenance phase. This is where you eat just enough calories to maintain your weight.
MAIN PRINCIPLES of the Fat Loss Phase:
- Calories should be less than calorie requirement at all times
- Your calorie requirement cannot be exactly determined with any mathematical formula. Start with the standard calculation for fat loss, and then if the weight is not changing even after a week, further reduce calories by 200-250Kcal.
- If you hit a weight loss plateau where the weight gets stuck and refuses to move even with calorie deficit diet and regular exercise, it can be resolved with certain strategies (Post on this coming soon!).
- Cardio, HIIT, fancy diets – not eating carbs at night, no rice, no potato, and other such things are all means to create a calorie deficit. You need not worry about them too much if you are creating a calorie deficit because that is what will give you 60% of the results.
- 30% results depend on getting your macros right. If you are looking for faster and efficient way to lose fat you should aim for a balanced ratio of your carbs, proteins and fat.Researchers have confirmed that ‘Low Carb Diet’ and a ‘Mediterranean Diet’ are superior to others when it comes to fat loss. (Ref1) But many people find them completely ridiculous and unsustainable.Some low carb diets like Keto reduce the ratio of carbs in the diet to 5%. At this level it becomes impossible to meet your nutrient requirements from only proteins and fats alone. So while following this diet, it is advisable to take multi-vitamins and fibre supplement.The ideal and more tolerable distribution for low carb diet is 25:35:40 (in ratio of carbs : proteins : fats). For more efficient fat burning you can try to build your diet plan around this.
- The remaining 10% results, if you really want to go that extra mile, can then focus on macro timing. You can utilise your hormone cycle to focus on fat burning.This is where most of the misconceptions exist and it is easy to get entangled and confused in when you should have your carbs, take your proteins, etc.The truth is you do not have to go into depth in this unless you have hit a plateau or nothing else seemingly works. (I will cover this in detail in the ‘Weight Loss Plateau’ article). For now, you can focus on calorie deficit and getting the macros right because this will get you 90% of your results.
- Long duration Cardio for fat loss results in significant loss in muscle mass. Lifting weights will produce similar fat loss results as cardio but with significant saving in muscle mass.To reach your ideal weight you need both low body fat AND good muscle mass. If you destroy your existing muscle mass while trying to lose fat, two bad things will happen:
a. First, the time required to build this muscle mass later will be that much more. And it will take that much more time to achieve that ideal body.b. Secondly, more muscle mass means higher metabolism (Ref2). As you lose your muscle mass, you would have to keep dropping your calories to see the same amount of fat loss. This can become a vicious cycle and at some point your body’s hormones will stop reacting to calorie reduction or physical exercise.This is true even for girls. Ditch long duration slow cardio. You can have a toned body by doing only weight training and focusing on high intensity cardio.
Related: Beginners Training Routine for Fat Loss (Coming soon!)
- Protein and good fats are almost non-negotiable when it comes to any diet. Make sure they are in adequate supply in your diet even when doing fat loss.
Once you have achieved the fat loss required, it is advisable again to enter maintenance phase for 2-3 weeks. This gives your body’s hormones time to stabilise before the start of next phase.
Coming soon: Phase 2: Building Lean Muscles
Unlike Mr & Mrs X, if you are close to your ideal weight but those abs are nowhere in sight, then you need to do 2 things:
- Drop body fat: If you workout your ab muscles but still cannot see them, you should know that they are hiding behind your abdominal fat.Reducing belly fat is not very difficult but it takes dedication and focus. You need to start lifting weights, and really clean up your diet. Eat a diet that is low in calories by removing all refined sugar and simple carbs (bread, pasta, white rice, etc). Do the maths above, same as Mr & Mrs X.
- Build Muscles: Your abs are your core muscles. By dropping body fat you will get a lean frame but your muscles are the difference between looking ripped and healthy or looking starved and emancipated! (See image below)
Ref1: Mediterranean Diet for Weight Loss. Harvard Health Publications. Last accessed Apr 2016
Ref2: Elia M. Organ and tissue contribution to metabolic rate. Raven Press; New York: 1992. pp. 61–80