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Fat Loss Diets: The 3 Rules You Must Follow

There are dozens of different diets (and we’ll talk about some of those below) that can help you lose weight. Remember, we've said before the diets that work all share one common trait: help you create a calorie deficit that you can maintain for a long period of time.

No matter what dietary strategy you choose (low-carb, counting macros and calories, etc.) or workout plan you follow, you can’t escape the physics of fat loss. To lose fat, you need to consume fewer calories than your body burns every day. This is called a “calorie deficit.” It’s like gravity.

And, while that could feel stressful, it should be freeing. It means you don’t need to swear off pasta, pizza, or other foods you love.

Do you need to adjust how much you eat of those foods? Sure. But, knowing that every effect fat loss diet has some flexibility is a game-changer. If you are on a diet that is overly restrictive, or avoids some of the foods you like, you're unlikely to stick at it for very long.

Importantly, you just need the one that fits you.

Radical, dramatic diet methods and workouts lead to burnout and falling off your diet once again. You need a plan that is stable and sustainable.

The truth is, there are only 3 fat loss rules that matter. Focus on these 3 rules (and you don’t have to be perfect) and you will lose fat.

Rule 1: Adjust Your Diet

Fat loss doesn’t have to be painfully hard, but it does require changes that result in you eating few enough calories so your body can burn fat.

While many diets will suggest there’s another barrier — whether it’s carbohydrates and insulin, or gluten and inflammation, or lectins and toxins — science has shown over and over again that you need a caloric deficit to lose weight.

Your belly comes from eating too many unused calories, whether that be alcohol, food or something else. If you overeat, you’ll store fat, regardless of what foods those calories come from.

Now, that’s not to say some people don’t need to avoid certain foods or ingredients due to food allergies (which is an entirely different, super-interesting topic), but the truth is most people are overreacting and cutting foods from their diet because they’ve been tricked into believing these “bad foods” are a health problem. They’re not.

We need to stop trying to blame individual foods. They are not the problem. Certain tactics — like eating fruits and vegetables — might help with weight loss and maintenance. But, at the end of the day, controlling weight gain is more about total calorie balance than any particular food.

If you can make that your focus, you will go a long way towards ending the vicious cycle of going on (and off) diets and feel more in control of the entire fat loss process.

Rule 2: Prioritize Strength Training

You’ve probably heard that you can’t “out-train” (or out-cardio) your diet?

And that’s true. How much you eat will dictate the majority of your fat loss efforts, no matter how hard you work in the gym.

Here’s why: you don’t actually burn that many calories during your workout. A hard 30-minute strength training session will burn anywhere from 180-266 calories for most people.

That’s not a lot. A small Latte is 120 calories, a standard 100ml glass of wine is 90 calories and a stubby of beer 135 calories.

Here’s why: When you’re eating in a calorie deficit, your body has to find energy somewhere. Ideally, you want your body to pull this energy from your fat stores.

But, your body can also break down existing muscle for energy depending on how you’re training.

And that’s no good because when you start to lose hard-earned muscle, your body will begin burning less and less calories each day. This makes it harder for you to keep losing fat.

That’s why “weight loss” shouldn’t be your goal. The goal is to reduce your body fat while keeping (or even increasing) the amount of muscle you have.

And the best way to do that is by training hard during your diet. This signals your body to hold on for dear life to that muscle — because it needs it.

Also there’s an added bonus: when you add resistance training to your routine, it can speed up the weight loss process by making your muscles more efficient fat-burning furnaces.

When the now-more-muscular you (but trust me, you won't look like a body builder) exercises, you’re able to do more work, which will help you burn more calories during the workout and your day-to-day life.

Rule 3: Don’t Underestimate Sleep

It's quite possible you’re not sleeping enough.

Not sleeping enough can make you hungrier, desire bigger portions, and crave higher-calorie foods.

As well, it can cause you to lose muscle instead of fat during your diet.

Sleeping less than six hours triggers the area of your brain that increases your need for food while also depressing leptin and stimulating hormones that help control or stimulate your appetite.

If that’s not enough, sleep loss also creates an internal battle that makes it feel almost impossible to lose fat.

When you don’t sleep enough, your cortisol levels rise. This is the stress hormone that is frequently associated with fat gain. Cortisol also activates reward centres in your brain that make you want food.

And, it gets worse.

When you’re sleepy (as little as 1-2 hours of missed sleep), you’re much more likely to eat foods you would typically be able to resist.

The bottom line: Not enough sleep means you’re likely to feel hungry, reach for bigger portions, and desire every type of food that is bad for you—and you don’t have the proper brain functioning to tell yourself, “No!”


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