According to one of the most commonly held diet myths, in order to lose one pound of fat per week, you need to create a 3,500 weekly calorie deficit through diet and exercise. As simple as this sounds, fat loss doesn’t always work like that!
If the sheer reduction of calories, regardless of their source, was enough to make you lean, both competing bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts wouldn’t struggle so hard to shed the extra pounds. But as anyone who’s tried to diet for a contest would tell you, there’s actually more to slimming down than just cutting calories and if you want to get best results, you have to pay attention to other factors that contribute to reducing body fat.
Here are 6 less-known factors that influence fat loss and how you can manage them to achieve your physique goals!
#1. Your Body Is Great at Adapting
The body can easily adapt to reduced caloric intake, and this is one of the biggest problems for dieters. When you drop your caloric intake, you will start losing fat. But this won’t last forever – after a couple of weeks, your body will adapt to the change by slowing down the metabolism and burning fewer calories.
Of course, this depends on how much exercise you do, how much body fat you currently have and the foods you consume on your restricted diet. For example, low carb diets will cause the metabolism to slow down faster. In other words, you can’t ensure continual progress by simply cutting calories.
#2. Not All Calories Are Created Equal
Dietary fat more readily stores as fat, compared to carbs and protein, so we’d be right to call it the most fattening nutrient. The body burns the least calories to digest dietary fat – up to 10 times less than what it burns to metabolize protein!
Therefore, you can burn more fat by following a low-fat, high-protein diet plan rather than one high in fat, even if the total number of calories is the same. For example, if you eat 200 calories worth of protein, your body will use 20-35% of them in digestion, whereas if you get them from fat, only 5-10% of them will be used up during digestive processes.
#3. Protein Protects Muscle Mass
One of the major issues for bodybuilders who are trying to lean down is the risk of muscle catabolism, i.e. muscle breakdown for energy needs. If you eat a very low-calorie diet and work out regularly and intensely, your body will start burning muscle tissue as fuel, which is why it’s extremely hard to build muscle mass and burn body fat at the same time. The best way to prevent the wasting of lean muscle tissue is by making sure you consume enough protein.
Depending on training frequency, bodybuilders need to get about 30-40% of their daily calories from protein (think chicken, lean cuts of red meat and cold-water fish), and about 20% from unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which also help avoid catabolism. Eat plenty of protein within one hour of completing your training session.
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