17 Lessons For Fat Loss

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The Precision Nutrition site just posted a great article on fat loss lessons called Why You’re Not Lean Yet. My first thought was – oh great, not another get lean list. But I really like this list for a few reasons.

  1. It was written by a CLIENT (Canada K), not the TRAINER.
  2. The author is a 37 years old chemical engineer that was able to get to 5% body fat. To me this is more relevant and inspiring than the magazine profiles of 25 year professional athletes that are ripped. I’d rather listen to an engineer than a running back.
  3. Never once was a supplement or service pushed.

I don’t want to go through every tip, but I want to highlight two themes: emotional eating and the fat loss dead zone.

Lessons 4 – 6 cover the importance of recognizing that all eating is emotional and learning how to direct those emotions to your benefit is extremely important. This is the psychology of eating and most dieters do nothing to mentally prepare themselves for fat loss. Canada K writes:

It is also nearly impossible to divorce the emotional aspect from eating and make it simply a re-fueling process. If it was, wed all eat nutritionally perfect gruel and be perfectly happy with it. Getting to an elite level of body comp and staying there requires wrapping your head around the FACT that the reason you reach for the bag of Doritos, or the cheesecake, or the Aero bar is emotional eating.

Its all the mental stuff tied up in eating that make it pretty much impossible for most of the world. Its the emotions around eating, the addiction to the taste and the feeling of food, the bonding that comes from sharing food with others, and the sense of belonging that comes from going with the flow. Most people fail not because they don’t have the right diet plan, not because they don’t have access to the right food, and not because they don’t know or understand exactly what they need to do. All the physiological elements are in place, and they work. Most people fail because they don’t consider the psychological aspect of the diet.

Amen! The body and the brain crave different foods. The body wants all the healthy stuff and the brain will often just want a simple source of sugar for that hit to please the emotions. The body doesn’t want a donut, the brain does. The book Mindless Eating references the book Think Thin, Be Thin in describing the two forms of hunger.

Physical Hunger:

  • builds gradually
  • strikes below the neck (growling stomach)
  • occurs several hours after a meal
  • goes away when full
  • eating leads to feeling of satisfaction

Emotional Hunger:

  • develops suddenly
  • above the neck (eg – a taste for ice cream)
  • unrelated to time
  • persists despite fullness
  • eating leads to guilt and shame

Reading and understanding those two lists on a regular basis will do more to lean you out than any treadmill. Advertisers peddle poison to appeal to your emotional hunger, not your physical hunger.

good advice

Photo by Jen Collins

The second theme that Canada K writes about, that was of interest to me, is something he named the Fat Loss Dead Zone (aka When Fat Loss Turns Invisible). He states any fat loss above 15% looks good (this is the male number).

Your shape improves, you get slimmer, clothes get smaller, and so on.

However, once you drop below 15% you enter the Fat Loss Dead Zone.

Once you slide below 15%, the returns really diminish. You can lose a boatload of fat and it seems invisible. Its not until you get below 10%, or even 8%, where abs start to appear, where your waistline starts to get really tight, and where veins really start to show up.

So basically, there is this giant dead zone in the middle where you’re making real gains but they’re incredibly unsatisfying. You must hang in there anyway. If you dont, youll never be lean.

I wish I would have learned this lesson 10 years ago. As soon as I’d start to get lean, I’d enter the Dead Zone, fear that I was losing muscle and then end the diet. This is only time in the past 10 years where I’ve felt comfortable in the Dead Zone.

Not every lesson will be relevant to every reader, but the entire article Why You’re Not Lean Yet is great.

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