Having recently answered a question on weight loss, I was in two minds when I received this question via email:
“Hi there, must say i’m impressed with the blog…well done. What is the quickest way to lose fat – ive put on sooo much over the summer (>20 kg) but it just won’t go away. Is there any special food i should have (slimfast?) and i go to uni doing medicine which means after all the work i get i have not got the energy to go gyming. Any spare time i find, i play badminton for 3 hours a week and cycle for 2 hours a week. Pls help [sic].”
At first, I considered referring him to a previous Q + A (similar topic), but then I read more closely; there were a few words/statements that stuck out to me which I felt needed addressing. So, thank you for your question – You can read my response after the cut.
On paper, losing weight is pretty straightforward – calories in vs. calories out. A calorie is just measure of energy and therefore, this means that in order to “lose fat” you need to burn more calories than you consume. Just so you know, there are approximately 3500 calories to a pound of fat.
Since you’ve gained weight, I can already deduce that you’re doing two things wrong – eating too much and doing too little, of which the latter is probably owed to your busy university schedule. I don’t blame you. In fact, my hat goes off to you – I can only imagine how strenuous a degree in medicine can be.
Image courtesy of Yin & Yang.
A question I often get asked is “how do you have the time to hit the gym, diet etc.” My belief is that you will always make time for the things that are important to you. For example, if you’re an avid supporter of a football team, then it’s highly likely that you’ll allocate a certain amount of time to watching them play. The same applies to your health. How important is your health? How important is your fitness? How important is your self-image? Are they important enough to make time for? Think about it…
Unfortunately, there is no quick way to lose fat and if there is, the likelihood of you experiencing a rebound and regaining that weight is very high. Losing weight should be both a healthy and gradual process. Stay consistent through your training, diet and recovery and I promise you that in due course, you’ll reap the rewards.
This brings me onto my next point – diet. As far as what you eat is concerned, there are no “special foods” – especially not Slim-Fast. As you may know, Slim-Fast is a brand that manufactures dietary foods designed to aid weight loss. The problem I have with Slim-Fast is that a lot of their products are marketed as “meal replacements”, which I disagree with for two reasons. Firstly, I believe that preparing your own meals is a discipline that everyone should learn and therefore, having your meals replaced for you just isn’t right. Secondly, many of the ingredients found within Slim-Fast’s products are not suitable as part of a healthy lifestyle. Looking at a few of their products on the Slim-Fast website, the main ingredients (by weight) appear to be milk, water, sugar and cocoa as well as a shit load of bulking agents. So, whatever you do, avoid these kind of products.
To quote one of my earlier posts:
“Eat smaller meals more frequently as this will keep your metabolism revved up. The word metabolism refers to how much energy your body uses daily in order to keep you alive. Analogously, your metabolism is a fire that needs to be fuelled – the greater the fire, the more calories you burn. Now, unappetizing as it may be, imagine that your meals are the fuel, which in this case are logs; frequently fuelling the fire with logs will ensure that the flames stay alight. Your metabolism is no different; eating little and often will stoke your metabolism, helping you burn more calories while also keeping blood sugar levels stable.”
As for training, carry on doing what you’re doing and if you get the time, do some more. Try and throw in a few weightlifting sessions at the gym. Pumping iron will also help boost your metabolic rate and speed up fat loss. How? Well, it takes energy to repair and maintain lean muscle mass. This energy is acquired from the food that we eat and moreover, stored body fat. So, even when you’re not exercising, you’ll still be burning calories.
Finally, remember that consistency is key, and only by staying consistent will you see progress. At first it will be difficult, but to quote my friend and fitness model Amer Kamra:
“Some people give up on things too easily! Just because you aren’t successful at something the first time around, doesn’t mean you should give up! Think about how difficult it once was to tie your shoes. Use that approach to all your goals in life.”
Good luck – I wish you all the best!