Fat loss is one of the most common goals people set when they start training. They want to lose weight because their doctor or their spouse told them they need to. Usually, they start off very eagerly – they get on the treadmill or stationary bike for hours on end, limit their calories each day, and go all-out on the fitness lifestyle. Two weeks later, they are burned out – they’re sore, they’re hungry, and they don’t have much to show for all that effort.
They are still looking at the fat loss game with the simplistic calories in vs calories out perspective. This is the hard truth – if you want to lose fat, you should be looking to build muscle first, and control your carbohydrate intake appropriately. Calories are still part
of the picture, but the equation actually includes having a diet rich in healthy foods and giving your body the recovery support it needs to change the way you want it to.
You need to build muscle first simply because the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn by just sitting around. Here is an article on the concept of metabolic rate and resting energy expenditure. An intense cardio session burns about the same amount of calories as an intense weight session, but weight training actually requires more calories post-workout since your body will be using it to rebuild damaged muscles.
Building muscle is also arguably more fun than doing endless sessions on the treadmill. Getting stronger and adding more weight to the bar each time you hit the gym is also a lot of fun. It could be enough motivation in itself to actually make you change your habits so that you can recover well from your workouts and make progress on your lifts. It could get to a point that the number you’re looking at to determine progress is no longer your weight, but the weight you use on the dead lift.
Controlling your carbohydrate intake is an equally important part of the fat loss equation. A lot of the excess calories overweight people are eating are in the form of carbohydrates. Low carbohydrate diets allow you to control your appetite more effectively since protein and fat are very filling. If you are looking to control calories, the easiest way to do it is to limit carbohydrates. For starters, you can limit carbohydrate meals to breakfast and post-workout only, so that you have fuel at the start of the day and an immediate dose for recovery after a workout.
Losing fat or changing your body dramatically really only requires the necessary changes to your lifestyle. You should be exercising regularly, at least three times a week. You should be eating whole food, eliminating junk food and any kind of soda or sugar-laden beverage, limiting carbohydrate intake to appropriate levels, and getting lots of protein. And you should be getting lots of sleep. Doing these things will guarantee visible changes in your physique in as little as three months.