Many people are in endless pursuit of an effective method for the loss of excess body fat. A lot of people that have the proper discipline and that get enough exercise fail regardless of their efforts. There are several reasons for failure, some of them are obvious and some are very confusing. I am hoping to debunk some myths and uncover some truths about losing excess body fat. Additionally, I will outline some exercises that I have found to be invaluable to weight loss.
The first misconception about weight loss is that you must eat light foods in order to lose fat, foods such as; leafy vegetables, fruits, etc. Although these foods contain a wide array of vitamins and minerals, they should not be a substitution for high-protein foods, because this will inevitably lead to muscle loss and metabolism slow-down. Vegetables should be eaten in addition to high protein foods, not in substitution of them. Fruits on the other hand should be avoided altogether, when trying to lose fat, because they are full of sugar.
Another huge misconception about weight loss is that cardio vascular exercise will lead to overall fat loss and muscle increase. On the contrary, cardio coupled with a negative calorie deficit will lead to the loss of lean body mass. This has been observed in long distance runners in several longitudinal studies. In order to prevent excessive muscle loss, you must do two things; train with heavy weights and eat lots of protein. Training with heavy weights will maintain muscle mass, and high protein intake will prevent muscle catabolism. You will lose muscle when you lose fat, no matter what! However, with proper technique and diet, you will be able to minimize muscle loss.
Proper nutrition can make or break any weight loss plan. If you eat poorly, not even the most intense training regimen can save you. Before you begin dieting, I recommend gaining some lean body mass. You must consume more calories than you metabolize, in order to build muscle. In other words, you must overeat when trying to gain muscle. But, you must over-eat the right types of foods. These foods should be the same as the foods that you eat on your fat cutting diet (below), however in larger quantities. Below, I have recommended some great exercises that you should perform, while eating lots of high-protein foods.
A few exercises that I recommend performing before beginning your diet are; bench press, pull-downs and squats. These are great exercises to pack on large amounts of muscle before you take the plunge and start cutting fat. They are compound exercises, which mean that they require the movement of more than one joint in the body to complete. Between these three exercises, you will work nearly every muscle in your body. When you feel comfortable performing these major exercises, you may begin to include cardio vascular exercises. But, I would not recommend doing cardio until you have a solid foundation of lean muscle mass. Otherwise, you may lose muscle, leading to metabolic slowdown, and weight gain.
Whence you have gained significant muscle mass, you must switch gears to cut excess body fat. In order to accomplish this, you must eat high protein foods, while limiting fat and calorie intake. This can be very difficult. However the foods should be the same as when you were gaining muscle, foods such as; tuna salad sandwiches on multi-grain bread, eggs, protein bars, chicken breast, etc. In order to be successful, you must have the perspective that food is fuel, and not for enjoyment. After one or two weeks of cutting, you will be regularly hungry (because you body will try to maintain your current weight) and probably bored with your food selection. Hang in there, because results will come quickly if you train hard and eat right
As a precaution, note that a weight loss program is a temporary dietary change. Long-term negative calorie deficits will ultimately lead to feelings of lethargy and weakness. Whence you have achieved your desired weight loss goals, I recommend immediately increasing calorie intake back to the maintenance level.
In conclusion, the steps towards successful fat loss and lean body mass gain are; gain muscle by exercising and eating lots of healthy, high protein foods then; continue to exercise and eat lots of protein and cut calories, and finally; increase calories to maintenance level (neutral calorie intake, i.e. no weight gain or loss) and continue exercising. These steps are very easy to understand, but they are very difficult to perform. Good Luck!