One of the most common fat loss mistakes is to be aggressive with caloric restriction in the very beginning. This is because many think that fat loss is faster in the beginning. When in reality, this is mostly weight loss, which is different from fat loss. In the start of a program, we tend to lose a lot of weight from water, bloat and the emptying of our glycogen stores.
We are going to go into more detail on fat loss, and why you should not cut calories drastically in the beginning. A lot of trainers and gym-goers alike, tend to be pretty aggressive when they start out. The problem with this, is that it causes a lot of other issues with our bodies, and only slows down the overall progress.
Unhealthy People Suck at Losing Fat
There is no doubt that we need to be in a caloric deficit when we want to lose fat. But the problem is that most of us are very bad at using fat for fuel. Especially if you have been eating very bad foods, not exercised much, and simply are in bad shape.
A conditioned person however, is very good at utilizing fat for fuel.
Such a person has great nutrient partitioning, their body mobilizes fat well, and the way their body uses energy at the mitochondrial level is great. This all comes from eating a healthy diet, combined with the correct amount of nutrition and training.
Therefore, if you are much more aggressive at the beginning of your fat loss journey, than in the later stages, you are technically shooting yourself in the foot. Which is one of the most common fat loss mistakes.
Because when most people begin a diet and training plan, they are very bad at fat loss. Meaning, there are several things we need to consider when we want to lose fat and improve body composition.
People Go Hard for the Mental Boost
Very often, we tend to see many people using various fat loss strategies to achieve a big weight drop in the beginning. Many trainers do this, so they can keep their client and make them believe they are great at their job, others for their own mental game. Some simply do not know better.
However, we need to understand that for the majority of people, their ability to lose fat should increase and improve over time.
That is, their ability to burn fat should get better as they get further into their program. Moreover, it is important to know that when we discuss caloric deficits it is not only the amount of calories you eat, but also the amount of training you do. In other words, your input and output.
Also, when we are in better shape, we can tolerate much greater deficits. When we are out of shape, a high deficit means a higher stress response from the body.
This puts more stress on your metabolism in a response to the huge deficit. In turn, this increases the amount of stress in our bodies tremendously, and a lot of energy is spent on trying to get back to baseline. Which is why being aggressive early is one of the most prominent fat loss mistakes.
Appropriate Training and Nutrition
Instead of going balls to the walls in the beginning, we should focus on choosing the right type of training our body can tolerate and recover from. With the first goal in mind simply being a healthy diet and getting rid of bloat.
Losing bloat should not be difficult with the right types of food, and does not require a big caloric deficit. And here is one way where “clean eating” becomes beneficial.
We can do that by first eliminating junk food, inflammatory oils, processed sugars and preservatives, and so on. In addition to sufficient exercise, enough water to ensure you are hydrated and good sources of fiber and quality food.
That should definitely be enough to lose bloat, and therefore some weight.
This way you can give yourself or your client a “mental win”, without having to drastically cut calories or carbs. Thus, avoiding unnecessary fat loss mistakes. Eventually though, you will have to start emptying your glycogen stores, unless you are following a high carb diet, which there is a time and place for as well.
Improvements in Health and Lifestyle
In most cases, if we want to achieve the best long-term goals in regards to fat loss and body composition, we should focus on getting health and lifestyle right in the beginning. Moreover, choosing the correct training stimulus that you or your client actually can recover from.
It is important that we begin with a stimulus that we can recover from, and that will not cause bloating, inflammation, and an increase in water weight. Rather, finding the right type of training so that you can nutrient partition properly and lose water.
Of course, an obese person who just starts out training, will have difficulties visually seeing their bloat disappear. A fat person who hydrates their muscle tissue, will not be able to see it well. However, they might notice a difference in their performance.
If you happen to be in this category, maybe there are some different ways you want to choose to approach a fat loss journey. Regardless, there is still a lot of bloat to lose for an overweight person.
We Have Many Different Strategies
On the whole, there are many different strategies we can follow to make some drastic changes to improve a person’s health and stress levels in the first couple of weeks of a fat loss journey. Of course, you must be in a caloric deficit, but we suggest you be less aggressive on the caloric restriction in the beginning.
As your overall health and conditioning improves, you can be more progressive with the caloric deficit. This is because your ability to burn fat increases as you get in better shape.
If you go too hard in the beginning, it can lead to many bad consequences. Not only is it much harder to follow an aggressive diet, but you are asking for a lot of will-power from yourself very early on. For most, this will lead to a burnout.
Without a doubt, there are going to be some sacrifices you have to make when you are going to lose fat. But, it does not make sense to make it harder than it has to be.
Understanding Your Body
Thus, understanding bodybuilding and nutrition becomes very important to avoid fat loss mistakes. More specifically, it is important to not restrict calories more than what your body can use body fat for. If you do not have the ability to burn 400 calories of body fat, and you are in a deficit higher than that, it only leads to more stress.
And with excessive stress hormones, we do not even usually burn much more body fat. In that state, your body actually starts to burn more carbohydrates and protein.
By being too aggressive with the caloric deficit in the beginning of a diet, we hurt the rest of our progress. At first we need to improve our ability to burn fat. If not, we only cut down on the progress we can achieve over the long-term.
We can see how important it is to go with a diet and training plan our body can adapt and recover from. Anything beyond this, only makes it so our body cannot recover. In turn, our performance goes down, cravings go up, and it can be an unnecessary nightmare.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
With this in mind, it becomes obvious why it is important to begin slow and steady. Instead of flooring it in the beginning, begin by focusing on improving your health. As you get in better shape, you can increase the caloric deficit accordingly.
In other words, we want to be as progressive as we can with the rate of fat loss for maximum efficiency. When our ability to burn fat increases, we can also be more aggressive and actually recover and adapt.
Of course, training is never going to be linear. But by working with all the tools we have available, we can ensure steady progress.
Training Is More Powerful When You Are Healthy
Another thing we need to keep in mind is that training becomes a much more effective instrument when you are in great shape. After all, all training is a stress to the body. When a person is not in great shape and is not healthy, training becomes extra stress.
If we add too much, the excessive volume will only slow down our progress because our body will not be able to recover from it. Out of this, we start seeing inflammation, depletion and a lot of other unnecessary responses that are slowing us down.
Not only that, but you will become more miserable as your mood and mental state is affected from the extra stress.
As we have discussed, it is important that we are not too aggressive with our caloric restriction in the beginning of a diet. Instead, we want to focus on optimizing our health and reduce overall stress. Eventually, as you get healthier and in better shape, you can begin to progress the caloric deficit and train harder. Ultimately, there is no point in a caloric deficit of 500, if your body can only handle burning 300 calories of body fat. It is important not only to understand your body, but bodybuilding and nutrition in general. This way, you can progress as effectively as possible and stay sane at the same time.
Thank you for reading our article!
– Terry Asher