Hey guys, Mitko here and today I’m coming at ya with a very special blog post. Special because I’m going to give you a very simple scientific overview of the process of weight (and fat) loss – and how to kick-start it and reveal your abs.
I decided to do this because through interactions with friends and acquaintances I’ve noticed that 99% of people lack a very basic understanding of how fat loss actually works.
So I thought, why not explain the science of weight loss in simple terms and plain language so maybe those of you that aren’t lazy-minded turds who think that bread is making them fat will benefit.
Anyway, when it comes to weight manipulation there is one very simple principle that you need to learn, and that is…
The principle of energy balance
The principle of energy balance refers to the balance between the energy that you take in (in the form of food) and the energy that you expend through movement along with other bodily processes.
Now, here’s the key to body weight manipulation (you can go ahead and tattoo it on your arm… or something):
- if you consume the same amount of calories that you burn on average, you will maintain your current body weight;
- if you consume more calories than you burn on average, you will gain weight;
- and if you consume less calories than you burn on average, you will lose weight.
Yes. It’s that simple.
IT IS THAT. SIMPLE.
If you want to lose weight the first thing you need to be preoccupied with is eating less calories than you’re burning.
Here’s the simple science behind the principle of energy balance: In school you learned about something called the First Law of Thermodynamics. It states that “energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed”.
MEANING that if you consume more energy (in the form of calories from food) than you burn, the excess energy cannot simply disappear. Instead, it’s stored in your body in some form (muscle, glycogen, fat). And as you probably realize, if you consume less energy than you burn, your body taps into those stores in order to provide the necessary fuel.
And that’s how weight loss occurs.
I want you to pause for a moment and realize the following: this is hard, cold science. Bodies cannot break the basic laws of physics. If you consume less calories than you burn on average for a prolonged period of time, you WILL lose weight.
Now, there is a caveat here: Your body does NOT like change. It’s main mission is to maintain homeostasis – it wants to stay the same.
So, when you lower your caloric intake, your body tries to preserve energy by down-regulating (i.e. lowering) something called Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (or NEAT) – the energy you expend for everything you do that does not involve sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. Basically, you somewhat instinctively start sitting more, moving less and expending less energy in general.
BUT the extent to which this happens IS NOT ALL TOO BIG.
In other words, you CAN indeed lower your caloric intake below your total daily energy expenditure even if your body down-regulates NEAT to some extent – so don’t worry, it is NOT a magical force keeping you away from your dream body and abs…
Another caveat: while you do want to eat less calories than you’re burning when your goal is to lose weight, you still need to make sure that you’re getting a sufficient amount of protein in your diet. This, along with resistance training (more on that below), will help you preserve lean muscle tissue while losing mainly fat. You also want to have a sufficient micronutrient intake. Even though micronutrients don’t provide energy, they have other vital roles in the body.
Anyway, if you’ve grasped the idea of energy balance and you want to go on a caloric deficit to lose fat but don’t want to count calories, I suggest you try out my free 2-Step nutrition process for fat loss.
The role of exercise for fat loss
So now you know that in order to lose fat you need to consume less calories than you’re burning (while still maintaining a sufficient protein and micronutrient intake).
Since energy balance is a function of energy intake and energy expenditure, it makes sense that in order to go into a caloric deficit (i.e. eating less calories than you’re burning), you can either eat less, burn more calories through exercise – or a mix of both.
And as faith would have it, a mix of both works best. Studies clearly show that a combination of being on a caloric deficit and regular resistance training leads to the greatest impact on fat loss compared to just diet OR training.
And as to why pick resistance training (i.e. lifting weights) over other methods, not only does it help you preserve lean muscle mass when you’re on a caloric deficit, but the more muscle you have the higher your BMR is.
BMR is an acronym for basal metabolic rate – the amount of calories you burn in a 24-hour period by doing absolutely nothing (i.e. just to exist).
Since muscle burns calories just to exist, increases in lean muscle mass lead to increases in your BMR. So the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn in a resting state.Thus by having a higher BMR, you won’t have to cut your caloric intake as much to get in a caloric deficit.
Plus keeping the muscle makes you look better (and makes you healthier).
When it comes to resistance training program design, what you want to do is focus on big compound lifts (squats, bench press, rows, military press, etc.) along with assistance exercises (usually isolation exercises) and some form of cardio (either HIIT, conditioning work or steady-state).
If you’re a beginner and you don’t know what I’m talking about your best bet is to jump on my free “Lean and Shredded” fat loss training routine which is designed to help you develop a lean, muscular physique and is beginner-friendly.
Congratulations! Now you know more about how weight loss works than 99% of the general population (plus you know that it’s not bread per se that’s making you fat, but rather a combination of a caloric surplus, lack of exercise and bad macronutrient ratios).
That wasn’t so hard, was it?
Anyway, hopefully you found the blog post and free resources helpful.
And, of course, if all of this training and nutrition stuff is making your head hurt and you’d love it if someone could just take out all of the guesswork and tell you exactly what to do to get the body you want… well, I’d be glad to lend a helping hand.