With the summer approaching, we all focus on one goal: losing fat. As you have read on our blog before is fat loss in the base is not even that difficult. Make sure you eat less than your body needs in a day and you've tackled the most important step. Of course there is much more to it, such as the distribution of your macros, the correct choice of foods and the distribution of your meals, but your total energy balance is and remains number 1.
Yet we often notice that fat loss remains a major challenge for many. Not even at the start of a diet, but especially after the first weeks or months have passed. Over time, the fat loss goes slower and slower, to that terrible point that nothing seems to happen anymore. That is what we are going to focus on today: how do you make sure you get fat remains to lose? Even if you have been busy for weeks or months? We give you 7 tips to prevent your fat loss from getting stuck!
Tip 1: Do not immediately eat too little
The first tip is probably also the most important. If eating 500 calories under your maintenance is good, 1000 calories below should be even better, right ?! Well, not that fast. It is one of the biggest pitfalls to go too fast. After all, you want fast results, so you go on a starving diet from day 1.
But then we fast forward a few weeks. The first weeks went great, but now you notice that it is getting heavier. What are you going to do then? Eat even less? Eating 1500 calories under your maintenance?
That is precisely the problem with a starting point that is too low. You no longer hold anything in reserve for when your progression goes slower and you then come to the point that you unrealistically have to eat little to lose weight even further. This ultimately leads to poor recovery, muscle loss, little energy, extreme hunger and a relapse at the end of the ride.
So never start too low, but give it time! Make sure you keep something behind when it gets harder.
Tip 2: Build up your cardio slowly
Just as it is not wise to eat extremely little immediately, it is also not a good idea to start an hour of cardio a day from day 1. It will not come as a surprise to you, but the combination of 1 and 2 is of course even worse.
Too much cardio too early in your diet will eventually have the same effect as eating too little. You start explosively, but also get stuck faster. Your energy level decreases, muscle loss (especially in the legs) becomes noticeable and the only way to lose even more fat is to increase the duration of your cardio even further. That will be a huge mental obstacle, because your energy level decreases, while you actually have to stand longer on that cross trainer.
Also keep in mind that your body can adjust damn well to the circumstances it is in. Do you hardly eat and do you spend hours a day doing cardio? Then your body makes sure that it becomes more efficient in the use of energy. Yes, that literally means that more cardio no longer yields you in terms of fat loss.
This is a body's survival mechanism that originated millions of years ago. In times of scarcity, your body must become more economical in order to survive, and that also happens when you ask your body too quickly.
So build up your cardio slowly depending on your progression, but don't stand on the treadmill for 1 minutes a day from day 60.
Tip 3: recharge yourself from time to time
Day in, day out dieting is both physically and mentally demanding. You are literally starving yourself to lose body mass and that can sometimes be disappointing.
When you notice it is getting harder one can refeed be a good idea. This is a period of 1 to 3 days where you eat more (especially carbohydrates). The effect of this is twofold:
- You physically replenish carbohydrate stores, you influence certain hormones that in turn have an effect on hunger and fat loss and you contribute to your overall recovery
- Mentally it is just delicious, and sometimes even necessary, to eat something more. It gives you a moment of peace to continue for the full 100% afterwards
Refeeds are not required if you have just started or if you only want to lose a few pounds. However, have you been on a diet for a long time or are you aiming for an extremely low fat percentage? Then it would be wise to add a refeed every week after a while, for example during the weekend.
Refeeds serve as a physical and mental break so that you are charged and energized to continue afterwards. No, on those days you don't lose fat, but don't underestimate the effect of a refeed!
Tip 4: Take a break if it is really necessary
Maybe you have a big goal that cannot be achieved just like that. Perhaps you are currently weighing 140 kilos and you ultimately want to go back to 80. Perhaps you want to work from a slightly higher fat percentage to a competition shape. Whatever your goal is, every big goal must be approached with patience.
Losing 60 pounds like in the first example is not done in 1,2,3. This requires a huge amount of time, perseverance and patience. If you have been strict for 20 weeks, it may not be a bad idea to have a somewhat longer refeed, called a 'diet break'.
A diet break is literally what the name suggests: a break from the diet. That does not mean that you are going to eat everything that you come across, but that you are not in an energy shortage for a period of time and have your body repaired. This way your hormones return to normal values, your energy level rises again, your hunger diminishes 24/7 and you mentally return to a mindset where you 'feel like it'.
Taking a break with your diet often feels negative. After all, you don't move forward or backward for a few weeks, which makes it feel like wasted time. After all, it is anything but wasted. After a diet break, you are often fully motivated to go against it and you also notice that your body is ready for it again. For example, after a diet break your workouts will go better, you will be less hungry, you will feel better and eventually fat loss will again be in a higher gear.
So don't go on an endless diet if you have a big goal. After a week or 16-24, you realize that it is time for a break and allow yourself a rest. When you are recovered and ready to go, you can give the maximum again.
Tip 5: Stay active
We mentioned above that your body is extremely smart and can make itself more efficient during a diet. After all, your body does not want to lose fat, because that fat is valuable fuel in periods where food is scarce and also helps regulate your body temperature.
Your body therefore also tries in other ways to become more efficient. One of those ways is to reduce (unconscious) activity. Do you normally always move your hands when you say something? Do you always walk up and down while calling? Can you never sit still? Chances are that this is different during a diet.
You may not realize it, but if you are in a fat loss phase you exercise less than during the bulging. This effect contributes directly to your result, because less exercise means that you use less energy. This means that your energy shortage is smaller and your fat loss is slower.
The trick? Keep moving as much as possible without becoming a mental obstacle. Take the bike to the gym, go to the supermarket on foot or take the stairs instead of the elevator. All small things that can make a big difference at the end of the ride.
However, please note that this is not going to disappoint you mentally. Are you already tired of the idea of climbing stairs? Then it might be better to just leave it for what it is and prevent yourself from being 'used up' later in the day and getting rid of a bag of chips.
So if possible, try to keep moving as much as possible. Move = use energy, so that helps you towards your goal!
Tip 6: Overcome the mental game and be patient
Fat loss rarely goes in a straight line, especially when you've been busy for a while. This can be a danger if you stand on the scales daily and this determines your whole mood. It is not surprising if after a week of strict diets you have not gained any weight on the scales.
This gives you the feeling that something is going wrong, that the diet is not working or that you have hit a plateau, but that does not have to be so ...
Fat loss is a stressful process for your body. You eat little, you train a lot and mentally you have to find continuous control in order not to end up with a pizza on the couch. As you may know, stressful situations cause the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. And what does cortisol take care of again? Water retention!
This may mean that you lose fat, but it is not visible on the scales. Your body experiences stress and as a result retains moisture, so that your weight only hangs around the same point.
This phenomenon can also cause you sometimes even after a refeed or cheat meal lighter then be for it! Because you eat a little more and give your body a break, a 'flush' is created. Moisture that is being retained is released and leaves your body. This reduces your body weight, moisture disappears and the result is that you look better than ever before!
This often creates the illusion that you have to eat more to lose weight again, but that is of course not true. Temporarily eating more can indeed cause you to lose fluid and move forward again, but lasting eating more will only keep you on weight or even gain weight. That is also the pitfall: getting stuck in more food and slowly seeing those lost kilos come back ...
So rely on the process, do not stare yourself too blindly on the scales and apply the refeed from tip 3 from time to time. You do not see everything directly in the scale, so do not panic if the scale does not do what you hope for a moment.
Tip 7: Keep training hard
And we have already arrived at the last tip, number 7: watch out deliberately making your strength training lighter. Fat loss often involves the transition from heavy training with compound exercises to light 'pumping' with mainly isolation exercises.
The idea behind this is to increase your energy consumption by stopping a lot of work in very little time. However, what people do not realize is that your strength training is actually slowly turning into a creative cardio session. Yes, your energy consumption may increase on the spot, but the stimulus on your muscles decreases considerably and recovery after training costs less energy because it was lighter.
Perhaps you have done this yourself and you were indeed lighter soon afterwards. That does not have to mean anything positive, because the chance of muscle loss increases as a result. You are already very low in your diet and your body is already struggling to maintain muscle mass. Leaving out the strength training that you have built up that muscle mass with is really not going to help! The weight that you lose after that switch will therefore probably be traced to muscle loss.
Keep strength and cardio training separate during a diet. Strength training is meant to maintain your muscle mass, cardio training is meant to burn extra energy (and therefore fat). Do not mix this with each other, because the chance of losing that hard-earned muscle mass will increase.
Your way to successful long-term fat loss!
And those were the 7 tips that will help you achieve long-term fat loss without getting stuck on a plateau. Make sure you make a good plan, follow it to the last detail and, above all, keep it up. That is the way to your ultimate summer body!
Written by Mathias Jansen