14 Day Challenge – Day Three

Welcome to Day Three!

Yesterday you got the workout program. What do you think?

Are you surprised by these workouts?

They’re not exactly “fat loss workouts”.

You may even find them enjoyable… (I think you will. If not now, then eventually)

But what gives?

Where’s the cardio? What about HIIT? Where’s the “booty blasting”, “fat melting”, putting you through your paces and making you want to sit in a dark room with your head between your knees?

I’m not really about that stuff.

To be honest, I hate it, and I think everyone else probably hates it too.

You’ll be glad to learn it’s completely unnecessary and you don’t need to work out in this fashion to lose fat.

About Working Out for Fat Loss

Let me be clear:

  • You are not supposed to hate these workouts.
  • You do not have to be dripping with sweat by the end (you probably won’t be).
  • The workouts might not make you breathe all that hard.
  • You don’t have to go from one exercise right into the other, circuit style.
  • There’s no HIIT.
  • There’s also no ab exercises (because you can’t spot-reduce fat by targeting areas with fat on them).

You might be thinking, “how on earth is this going to work to help me lose fat, then?”

Fitness marketing for magazines and DVDs has got people thinking they need to “burn” (or worse, “melt”/”blast”) their fat away in the gym.

This leads to disgusting types of workouts where people are busy jumping around, jogging on the spot, throwing a few weights around, dropping into pushups, doing some burpees and maybe jogging on the spot or jumping on a rowing machine. This is all done at the highest possible intensity until the drill sergeant (gym instructor/trainer) allows a brief respite.

It’s miserable. It’s degrading and embarrassing. Absolutely NO ONE enjoys working out like this, and the vast majority never keep it up.

25 lbs of fat lost, no fat burner pills used

25 lbs of fat lost back in 2018, no cardio or HIIT done. Just strength training. Chocolate was eaten regularly.

I’m yet to meet someone who’s said to me “do you know what I owe my transformation to? Yes, that’s right. Bootcamp style workouts with an instructor shouting at me.”

People try this kind of thing for a bit, and they inevitably leave. If these people ever transform it’s because:

  1. They got the diet side of things right.
  2. They found another style of training that they loved and was sustainable, be that Crossfit, Olympic lifting, calisthenics, bodybuilding, powerlifting or some other form of resistance training.

You do not “blast fat” in the gym

Here’s a secret you’ll be delighted to be let in on:

Fat loss workouts are a lie. That’s NOT how you lose fat (I mean, it can work, but for most people it’s not going to and it’s definitely not what you NEED to do).

Let’s go back to TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) again. Quick recap – your body expends a certain amount of energy per day. Eat foods containing less energy than this and you’ll lose weight.

There’s several different ways your body uses energy, and together they make up your TDEE.

They are:

  • BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) – energy used by your body just to keep everything ticking over, even if you are in a coma. This makes up a significant portion of TDEE.
  • EAT (exercise activity thermogenesis) – this is what you burn through physical activity like cardio, weightlifting workouts, bootcamps, HIIT etc. This actually isn’t that much.
  • NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis) – this is what you burn through all your other activity that is NOT exercise. This is stuff like generally moving around during the day, doing chores around the house, walking on your commute to work, fidgeting while you’re on the phone, etc. This is usually a more significant portion of TDEE than what you expend through structured exercise.
  • TEF (Thermic Effect of Food). This is the energy your body uses to digest the foods you’re eating. Different foods actually affect this differently. This isn’t a significant part of TDEE but it is important and you can use it to your advantage! We’ll cover this more in another email.

To lose fat, you need to take in less energy (via food) than your body expends (TDEE) – get a ballpark figure of your TDEE here.

When you are trying to lose fat by doing “fat loss workouts”, you’re just attempting to get your TDEE above your energy intake by increasing the EAT (exercise activity thermogenesis) portion of TDEE. In other words, you’re trying to make “calories out” more than “calories in”, instead of the other way round.

Trying to Attack Fat Loss from The Exercise Side is Doomed to Failure

Here’s a visual representation of calorie balance (showing TDEE, maintenance and a calorie deficit):

How to lose fat, lower intake below tdee

This is quite a typical breakdown of how much energy is expended by the various parts of TDEE.

You can see that exercise isn’t making up a very significant a part of TDEE. Only people doing serious amounts of training (like triathletes, people who go on long runs all the time, do loads of swimming etc.) will have a huge amount of energy being expended through exercise. I’m going to guess that you’re not one of these people.

People who go to the gym a few times a week don’t expend that much energy while they’re there.

If Energy intake is matching TDEE, no fat loss will occur (as shown by the central blue column) .

If energy intake is dropped (eat less food) as with the lighter blue column on the right, there is now a gap between TDEE and energy intake. In other words, there’s a calorie deficit and fat loss will occur.

Trying to Raise Your TDEE Above Your Intake is the Wrong Way Round!

What “bootcamps”, “booty blasters”, “fat loss workouts” and the rest are trying to get you to do is expend enough calories through exercise that it pushes your TDEE above your energy intake.

However, these workouts don’t actually burn anywhere near as many calories as people think. 30 minutes of HIIT (high intensity interval training) will burn somewhere between 250 – 400 calories. However, it will also make you very hungry and likely to want to eat those calories back again!

It’s far easier to create a calorie deficit by removing things from your diet and replacing them with lower calorie, more filling foods.

Most people are eating far more than they realise. Tracking can highlight huge areas of opportunity that make it easy to find hundreds of extra calories that are being needlessly consumed.

It could be liquid calories in alcohol, soft drinks or caramel lattes. It could be too much oil or butter used in cooking. Maybe it’s high calorie food choices, condiments or spreads. It could just simply be eating too much food, meaning better portion control is required.

Start changing your mindset about the gym and exercise. The gym is not a place to punish yourself for eating food. Exercise is not “your penance”.

Treat foods usually contain more calories than you would expect, and exercise burns woefully less than you might expect. If you eat a large, triple chocolate muffin for 500 calories, you would have to run about 5 miles to burn that off.

Hopefully that one example shows you just how unsustainable it is to attack fat loss from the exercise side of the equation. You have to attack it from the diet side whilst letting exercise help out.

Today’s Action Number 1 – Have (or plan) a rest day!

If you started yesterday, then today is a rest day. If you’re doing the first workout today, then tomorrow should be a rest day.

This might feel weird to not be in the gym again “crushing it” and “burning off all that fat”, but as you now know, that’s not what gets you the results anyway. It CAN, but it usually leads to burnout. You don’t NEED to do it. Smarter nutritional choices and a sustainable workout plan (that you actually enjoy and doesn’t make you want to throw up) is a far better idea.

You don’t have to do nothing on your rest day. You can do an active rest day if you like. This will help.

Look at the image above again. See that part of the TDEE that says “NEAT”? That means Non-Exercise Thermogenesis Activity!

Basically, the calories you expend day to day through movement when you’re not exercising!

Walking, talking, making dinner, doing the dishes, yard-work, etc.

For many people, NEAT can actually be significantly higher than actual exercise for expending calories!

So, if you want to do something today that will help your fat loss, go on a big walk, but stay out of the gym!

And generally, just try to move more. Spend less time sitting in front of the TV and more time up and about. Park farther away. Walk to the shop round the corner instead of driving. It all adds up, and it DOES help!

Today’s Action Number 2 – Eat Some Crap!

I want you to eat something “unhealthy” today, but track all of your foods and still come in on your target calories for fat loss.

There is nothing wrong with doing this occasionally. You don’t have to set yourself an impossible standard to try to avoid anything fun, ever.

Don’t go crazy. Just have something small, like a small chocolate bar or a couple of small cookies. Track it, along with all of your other foods.

You might find this keeps you sane. I did this every night while losing fat for several months once.

Your body doesn’t go “oh that’s a vegetable, that goes on the ‘burn for energy” pile'” and “oh, that’s a bit of chocolate, send it straight to the fat stores!”

Either can be burned for energy or stored as fat. It all depends on how much energy your body needs and how much you’re giving it.

If you eat a bit too much one day, you don’t have to go for a run or do an extra long gym session to burn it off. You’ll never be able to keep up with that approach.

Stop being so hard on yourself!

If you overeat, let it go. Try to figure out why it happened, and try not to do it too regularly.

Don’t starve yourself the next day either.

If you have a bad day, just get back on track the next day.

If you eat 1,000 calories more than you were supposed to, you’ll be right back where you were with 2-3 days of a moderate calorie deficit. That’s nothing.

You don’t ruin everything with one day. It takes months and years of eating badly to get out of shape.

That’s all for today.

Speak again tomorrow,