If you want to find out how to shed fat and build strength in the most effective way possible with lasting, sustainable results, this article is for you.
The hard truth is successful fat loss will take months of consistently sticking to a well-designed nutrition and exercise program to see results. The upside is that once you get started, the results come easier.
Over the years, our expert FENIX Coaches have proven how the latest evidence-based nutrition and exercise training and high quality support, determine the long-term results. It really pays to start off with a comprehensive analysis and a well-designed program that suits your specific circumstances and objectives. To help with your journey, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on how to lose fat, manage your weight, and build strength.
Here’s What You Need To Know To Kickstart Your Fat Loss Journey:
- Create a Calorie Deficit: To facilitate fat loss, it is essential to be in a calorie deficit, consuming fewer calories than you burn. Good nutrition will play a significant role in achieving this.
- Eat a Balanced Diet: Besides managing calories, you need to eat a balanced diet. Consuming the right proportions of protein, carbohydrates, and fats is important to achieving the best results. Focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Protein is the key to retaining and building muscle, and if you don’t get enough protein, you’ll keep feeling hungry. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and limit your alcohol intake.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help you feel full and reduce the temptation to snack on unhealthy foods.
- Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can disrupt your hormones and lead to weight gain. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night to support your fat loss efforts.
- Introduce Resistance Training: It is important to follow a structured resistance training plan with a focus on protecting your muscles. That way, you will not lose muscle along with fat while you are in calorie deficit. You will increase muscle density and even build muscle, all of which will help increase your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which allows you to burn more calories at rest.
Why Do We Gain Fat?
When we consume more calories than we burn, we will gain body fat. Blame our palaeolithic ancestors who lived as hunter-gatherers and had to survive between successful hunts (or when they failed to kill something) by having enough fat reserves to live off and, most importantly, to have the energy to go hunting again for the next meal.
As a result, our bodies are great at storing energy reserves, which they do in the form of fat. But unfortunately, our bodies don’t understand that we no longer need to store excess energy (body fat) because we now have a supermarket around the corner and meal delivery apps at our fingertips.
How much fat we have on our bodies depends on two factors:
- How many calories we eat versus how many calories we burn in a day (CICO; Calories in Calories Out) and
- How many calories we burn when we are at rest, doing nothing, just being alive, which is called our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
What Is The Difference Between Losing Weight And Losing Fat?
Losing weight and losing fat are related, but they are not the same thing.
Losing weight refers to the overall drop in what you weigh because any component of your body has decreased, and that could be fat. Still, it could also be muscle, water, or even a reduction in your bone density, which is NOT desirable.
On the other hand, losing fat specifically refers to a decrease in body fat while maintaining or increasing muscle mass. This is often achieved through calorie restriction, regular exercise, and strength training.
It’s important to note that losing weight does not necessarily mean losing fat.
WEIGHT LOSS ≠ FAT LOSS
For example, if you follow a crash diet that severely restricts calories, you may lose weight, but much of that weight loss may come from muscle mass or water weight rather than fat. This weight loss could mean a reduction in your lean body mass (LBM) and even result in negative health implications such as lowered metabolism, fatigue, increased risk of injury and potential effects on psychological states (Richards, 2021).
Lean Body Mass (LBM) = Total Weight – Fat Mass
LBM includes organs, skin, bones, body water, and muscle mass.
TLDR; You could be losing weight but not by losing more than body fat. Weight loss due to a drop in lean body mass can be dangerous, as it makes you susceptible to injury and health problems.
In contrast, focusing on losing fat through a healthy diet and regular exercise can help you achieve sustainable weight loss while improving your overall health and well-being. This method, supported by medical research, proves that it is healthier to work towards sustainable fat loss while maintaining lean body mass (LBM) instead of just aiming for weight loss (Richards, 2021).
Why Is Strength Training So Critical To Losing Fat?
Ultimately, you want to lose some of your body fat and maintain or even build up your muscles.
Strength training helps the body retain muscle when you are in the calorie deficit needed to lose stored fat. Suppose you don’t increase your protein and do strength training – in that case, your body is more inclined to waste the muscles it thinks it does not need and to instead, protect the energy reserves it thinks it needs for safety, namely, your fat.
Your initial goal might be to lose weight, but you will soon discover the many other long-term benefits of strength training.
Strength training will reduce your risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes (Walle, 2021). For example, in a recent study from the National University Hospital (NUH) and the National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, middle-aged women with poor muscle strength faced twice the risk of diabetes. As such, Professor Yong Eu Leong has urged Singaporean women to include resistance exercises in their daily routine as a public health measure (Abdullah, 2023).
Strength training can improve physical performance, making it easier to perform everyday activities and athletic pursuits. In addition, this improved physical performance can also increase confidence and lead to a better quality of life.
Strength training also helps lower the risks of both sarcopenia and osteoporosis, common in older age. Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and function in people as they age. It reduces mobility, diminishes quality of life, and can lead to fall-related injuries (Larsson et al., 2018). It commonly affects people aged 60 and beyond, but many of us start to lose muscle mass and strength as early as our 30s. If you’re physically inactive, you could even lose up to 5% of your muscle mass per decade (Dunkin, 2022). Since resistance training increases muscle strength and volume, it is recommended as a first-line treatment for sarcopenia (Hurst et al., 2022) and to prevent it.
Osteoporosis is another common condition amongst older people where bones become weak, brittle, and prone to fracture (Dunkin, 2022). It is pervasive among women after menopause as oestrogen levels drop, frequently leading to bone mass loss. Studies show that strength training can prevent osteoporosis and may even help increase bone density (Shaw, 2009).
Moreover, strength training plays a part in improving mental health – specifically, by lowering stress levels, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation, and coping with anxiety, depression, and related conditions (Bryant & Reynolds, 2022). It requires you to practise some aspects of mindfulness in how you carry out the exercises, which can effectively reduce anxiety symptoms (Finn, 2018). Not only are you paying attention to the present moment, but you also learn to focus on your thoughts and build that mind-muscle connection. Having spatial and bodily awareness is especially important to preventing injury at the gym.
TLDR; Here’s why strength training is so critical to losing fat sustainably:
1) Protect and improve your lean body mass (muscles) while in calorie deficit
2) Lower risk of chronic illnesses
2) Essential for a better quality of life and healthy ageing
3) Good for mental health
If you’ve been trying for a while to lose stubborn fat and want to achieve your goals safely and sustainably, book a FREE consultation with our Coaches. Fenix Fitness Coaches use evidence-based training methods that deliver results, they access the best equipment available, and are always ready to offer support and advice.
Start your fat loss journey today.
Abdullah, Z. I. (2023, February 22). Middle-aged women with poor muscle strength face twice the risk of diabetes: Study. The Straits Times. Retrieved February 27, 2023, from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/middle-aged-women-with-poor-muscle-strength-face-twice-the-risk-of-diabetes
Bryant, E., & Reynolds, S. (2022, July 15). Maintain your muscle. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved February 22, 2023, from https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2020/03/maintain-your-muscle
Dunkin, M. A. (2022). Sarcopenia (muscle loss with aging): Symptoms, causes, and treatments. WebMD. Retrieved March 3, 2023, from https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/guide/sarcopenia-with-aging
Finn, C. (2018, December 5). Lifting weights has a surprising effect on Mental Health. VICE. Retrieved March 3, 2023, from https://www.vice.com/en/article/nepdpm/lifting-weights-has-a-surprising-effect-on-mental-health
Hurst, C., Robbinson, S. M., & Witham, M. D. (2022, February). Resistance exercise as a treatment for sarcopenia: prescription and delivery. Home Page. Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afac003
Larsson, L., Li, M., Degens, H., Thompson, W., & Salviati, L. (2018). Sarcopenia: Aging-related loss of muscle mass and function. Physiological Reviews. Retrieved March 3, 2023, from https://journals.physiology.org/doi/10.1152/physrev.00061.2017
Mcleod, J. C., Stokes, T., & Phillips, S. M. (2019, May 7). Resistance exercise training as a primary countermeasure to age-related chronic disease. Frontiers. Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.00645
Richards, L. (2021). Weight loss vs. Fat Loss: Difference, tips, and more. Medical News Today. Retrieved February 22, 2023, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/weight-loss-vs-fat-loss#which-is-best
Walle, G. V. D. (2021, February 9). Weight loss vs. Fat Loss: How to tell the difference. Healthline. Retrieved February 22, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/weight-loss-vs-fat-loss#focus-on-fat-loss
Shaw, G. (2009). Weight training for osteoporosis: Exercise tips for women. WebMD. Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/features/weight-training
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