Endeavouring to transform your body is journey that requires both physical and mental endurance. With the right method and outlook your journey can be fairly non-invasive on your lifestyle. However, if you don’t have the strategy and mindset ‘prerequisites’ in check before commencing your journey can be both disruptive and toxic to your lifestyle and wellbeing. So in this article, we’ll explore the ‘pre body transformation checklist’ and some of the downfalls that poor results and adherence arise due to. Get these pointers in order and you’ll be on the way to achieving your goals in the most sustainable method possible with a positive and strong mindset - all in all the key to success.
Our Equalution client's fat loss results achieved through consistently adhering to the strategised intake requirements set by our team. Each week his protein, carbs and fats were strategised based on progress and an unrestricted range of foods selected according to preference to meet these.
1. A science-based strategy: Your calories and macronutrients
Quite simply if you want to lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit (eating less than you're expending energy wise). If you want to gain weight then you need to be in a calorie surplus (eating more than you're expending energy wise). If you want to maintain your weight then you need to be consuming the same energy (calories) as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure - which is what you burn on a daily basis inclusive of your activity.
Be aware of these intake requirement goals and don’t wing it beginning to ‘eat healthily’. There’s far too much cloudy information out there in the health and fitness industry regarding cutting and eliminating food and food groups, fad diets and largely ‘clean’ and restrive eating as the way to drop body fat. Truth is, if your Total Daily Energy Expenditure is 1800 calories and you eat 2000 calories a day of tuna, rice, chicken and broccoli you will progressively gain body fat despite your food choice.
Calories aren’t only important though, macronutrients - so protein, fat and carbohydrate are too. Rule of thumb is protein will amount to about 0.85-1.15g per pound of body weight (for our more intricate calculation check out ‘Your Guide To Protein’), fat between 20-30% of total daily intake and carbs will make up the remainder. Each macronutrient has a vital purpose and shouldn’t be cut or compromised at the expense of another macronutrient.
You need to ensure you get enough protein every day to preserve muscle - losing muscle and water will give an unfavourable body composition, commonly referred to as ‘skinny fat’.
You need to ensure you eat enough carbohydrates, which provide your muscles with the glycogen stores needed to maintain training intensity, and energy levels, and you need to ensure you eat enough fats, which play an important role in hormone synthesis.
This is why macronutrient intake is as important as caloric consumption given the role that macros play in your body composition. At the end of the day though, calories in vs calories out will always be the equation of fat loss or fat gain, however to do this optimally macros need close attention too. The reality is the carbs in lollies turn into glucose and glycogen just like the carbs in broccoli. The protein in a Big Mac burger is made up of the same amino acids as trimmed chicken breast. But that being said, lollies are not the same as broccoli and eating a Big Mac burgers meat patties every day is not encouraged.
Just because you can eat a box of Pop-Tarts every day and lose weight doesn’t mean you should. Food is beyond a mere source of protein, carbohydrate, and fat and is also a source of vital micronutrients which support the body’s many physiological functions. A lot of stereotypical ‘junk food’ lacks in these micronutrients and the deficiency in these requirements is why even when dieting flexibly you can’t fulfil the essentials by just eating ‘junk foods’ alone. Is it possible to eat only junk in a calorie deficit and still lose body fat? Yes, and it’s scientifically proven(1). Does that mean you should? Absolutely not.
2. A method proportionate to your lifestyle
There’s no reason to revolve your lifestyle around meal consumption and cut and eliminate foods and food groups. This is what turns a dieter’s world’s upside down and causes ineffective adherence most of the time. What science has shown us is that meal timing and frequency is irrelevant to achieving results and isn’t necessary for, nor enhances, the ‘fat-burning’ process(2). As well as this macronutrient ratios are not responsible for fat loss(3), a calorie deficit is. Instead, give yourself a 24-hour window and consume your required intake for your goals within this time period using foods that are of preference, fit your requirements and are convenient and accessible for you.
The gas station diet is a good example of a study that was conducted to show the necessity of a calorie deficit for fat loss and lack of effect of ‘food quality’ in light of lifestyle choices given the subject consumed only food purchased from a gas station (petrol station)(4). Instead of tying yourself down with regulations and requirements to eat every few hours, endeavour to approach your body transformation with a realistically and scientifically supported expectation to instead meet an intake goal within each 24 hour period. Ensure the foods you select to meet those requirements with and when you consume that food is up to you, anything that deviates too far from can realistically be practiced given your lifestyle will ultimately fail.
3. Mental readiness
You need to ensure you’re in a sound frame of mind to commit to changing your body. Don’t embark on a body transformation to band-aid other issues that may act as a deadweight while you’re in the process of trying to move forward with your goals. A good example of this is suffering from an eating disorder like binge eating while trying to lose weight. In this circumstance, you may want to look at dealing with your eating disorder and progressively improving your relationship with food prior to a goal like fat loss. Dealing with the two in conjunction may mean that you forgo adequately dealing with one objective at the expense of perusing another. How you may choose to prioritise in a circumstance like this is through starting on a higher caloric intake giving you more flexibility ultimately reducing those urges to binge before looking at reducing your intake for fat loss after a good streak and confidence in your mentality after being on a higher intake.
4. Determination and certainty
You can’t just ‘sort of want to change’ or ‘kind of want to do something about your health and fitness’, you need to want it and be sure you're going to give your full effort to get there. Take counting macros and tracking your intake for instance. One bad day or essentially a couple of days in a calorie surplus through not counting can counteract your calorie deficit and hinder your fat loss.
If your TDEE is 1800 calories so 12,600 weekly and you place yourself in a calorie deficit of 1600 calories sticking to that for 5 days a week and have two uncounted days hitting around 2600 each day then your weekly intake will be 13,200 counteracting your 5 day deficit and putting you in a surplus. There are opportunities within your journey for more leniency go wreck particularly in the early stages you need to be willing to do your time to earn that flexibility. This means that at some point or another for a consistent period of time you need to adhere diligently to attain optimum results.
5. A goal
Whether you start small and just aim for incremental goals like adhering to your plan for a week or walking 3 times in the week, realistic goal setting can make you more focused on ‘completing your goal’ rather than thinking it’s all too hard and being prone to giving up. There’s no point floundering your way to nowhere, and without a goal you're likely to do just that, the best way to maintain direction and focus is to have a goal. Big or small, setting yourself milestones can help you in achieving what you set your mind to and aid in staying on track.
Reassess your goal throughout your journey and adjust according to your lifestyle and success rate of adherence. If you’ve struggled with sticking to your goal then take it down a notch and take baby steps as all achievements will eventuate into reaching your bigger goal. The easier your commitments are to adhere to the more sustainable your method for long term success. If you’re happy with plotting along at a less rapid pace for the sake of maintaining your lifestyle and sanity then it's recommended you reevaluate your milestones and adjust accordingly if you’ve set the bar too high.
6. Damage control
Identify your weaknesses and where your health and fitness goals have been let down in the past and be on your toes to combat those situations this time round. If you think it's something like dining out for example that always leads you astray and writing days off here and there then implement management strategies to reduce the severity of - or occurrence of - a deviationism your journey. If you have a tendency to have blow out days or uncontrolled cheat meals then identify the root cause of the lack of control so you can nip it in the bud before it arises. Don't let the same mistakes occur time and time again, identify what let's you down and take action to ensure its severity is minimised or it doesn't occur altogether.
Ensure you have PLENTY of time and you're in no rush. You have to remember FAT LOSS is different to WEIGHT LOSS. Weight on the scale (water, muscle and minimal fat) comes off far quicker than body fat but is not aesthetically favourable. What you want to ensure is that you're aiming for fat loss which means you're retaining muscle mass and reducing body fat ultimately changing your body composition. Drastically reducing your intake not only hinders this body composition change and can cause muscle loss and a ‘soft’ and ‘skinny fat’ look but also cause metabolic adaptation and plateaus in your fat loss. In turn you want to ensure you have sufficient time to reduce your calories and progressively reverse them to maintenance for a favourable outcome both aesthetically, physiologically and metabolically.
8. A good support network
Before you embark on any body transformation ensure you're surrounded by people who ‘get it’ and if they don't then have the chat prior to commencing to ensure that they do. There are many occasions where dieters will slip up or deviate off their plan because a close friend or family member ‘fed them’ or made them feel uncomfortable about turning food down. Whether it be a partner, close family or even friends, it won't hurt just to let people know what you're doing to gain that sense of understanding. Saying it out aloud and having your inner circle aware can also make you extremely motivated to adhere and show them some results to be proud of!
It's not always going to be easy, there are going to be occasions here and there where you're just going to have to be prepped with enough willpower to say no and stick up your guns. Even though it's supported by science, often flexible dieters get a bad rap for incorporating daily treats as opposed to clean eaters who eliminate ‘processed’ and ‘non-lean meat fruit and veggie products entirely. However, flexible dieters have amazing willpower to be able to draw the line at recommended servings, small controlled portions and just what fits as opposed to a crazy cheat meal or entire blow out day.
Have you ever opened a block of chocolate and taken just two pieces for yourself? That's willpower! So despite dieting with flexible and sustainable methods you have to be prepared within your journey to call on all your inner strengths and willpower on those days you want more food than your allowance and those days that you just want to bury your head in a big block of chocolate.
When work colleagues are all having an excess of food that you aren't able to fit more than just a small serving into your intake or family/friends offer you bites and pieces of food, a successful body transformation journey will always have good foundations and in that the individual can always stick to their guns and plan. That's not to say you're always going to miss out, you will just have some limitations which you'll need to adhere to.
Body changes don't happen overnight. Physically and mentally you have to be prepared to be in it for the long haul. If you’re someone who has started over and over again a goal of longevity will be much more successful than wanting a quick fix both in the short and long term. Fat loss travels at a pace of about: 200g- 1kg per weekly basis.
This is totally dependant upon the individual’s body composition, gender, goal, previous dieting history and aggression in caloric decrease. However a lot of females will set themselves a kilo a week target which for most is an unrealistic expectation so you need to be willing to mentally accept the longer process when deviating from WEIGHT LOSS and moving towards FAT LOSS and able to ‘see it out’. Some weeks may be disheartening not seeing a shift in the scales and being in a calorie deficit it’s normal to feel less energised at times however you must be in a position to pull through the downward slopes and be motivated by the upward rises in progress.
You don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great but before you do so make sure for a successful body transformation journey you’re in a favourable position to give yourself the best outcome. If you’d like to know what your body requires in terms of protein, fats and carbs and use foods of your choice to meet these requirements with results, contact us today for a customised nutrition plan. Great coaching will always equip you with the best tools to succeed despite your preconceived hurdles.
Yours in Health & Fitness,
The Equalution Team