There are well-known sayings that "you can't out-train a bad diet" and "abs are born in the kitchen, not the gym". If you're serious about getting lean and stripping off fat, no matter how much exercise you do, you have to accept that you must follow a carefully controlled diet.
To lose fat, you need to be in "negative energy" or calorie deficit. Put simply, you must burn more calories than you consume. A critical factor to this, is understanding exactly how many calories your body burns. Calculating your metabolic rate is notoriously difficult and online calculators use formulae to estimate this. However, our 15 years experience of testing metabolism has proved these calculators to be inaccurate. If you want to know exactly how many calories you burn, check out the Resting Metabolic Rate test.
Finally, you must carefully control the macronutrients (fat, carbs & protein) in your diet, the timing of each meal and their relationship to your training. A gramme of protein is metabolised differently to a gramme of carbohydrate and for successful fat loss, your diet must reflect this. Your body uses carbs and fat at different exercise intensities and Trainsmart matches your diet to your exercise and training schedule, yielding fantastic results. Read more about the benefits of a VO2max metabolic test to measure your maximum fat burning heart rate.
Lifting weights encourages your body to produce testosterone, which is an anabolic (muscle-building) hormone. Muscles give your body its structure and tone and we want to reveal these muscles as we strip off fat. It's a fact of life that for most people, following a calorie-restricted diet (negative energy) leads to a reduction in both muscle mass and fat mass. The goal is to minimise the loss of muscle mass and lifting weights helps to do this.
To get lean, you have to lift weights!
One of the most common concerns we hear from ladies is that lifting weights will make them big and bulky. Let me assure you that unless you are lifting seriously heavy weights, following a "positive energy" diet (calorie surplus) and taking drugs (testosterone and human growth hormone), it's impossible for you to look like this. On average, women only have 10% of male testosterone levels and find it difficult to gain even modest amounts of muscle.
You will be bored, eating the same foods day in, day out. You won't be able to eat what you want, when you want and many of the so-called "healthy" foods and convenience items will be banned or strictly controlled e.g. bread, pasta, rice, potato and fruit. Accept it and get over it.
Debate rages whether it's better to do low/medium intensity, steady-state cardio or High Intensity Training (HITT). Both have their advantages, disadvantages and a time and a place in your schedule. However, successful fat loss requires you to focus on the correct amount of each type, for a certain duration each week.
First of all, it's a fact that as exercise intensity increases, your body uses different amounts of fat and carbs for fuel, using predominantly fat for low/medium intensity training. As intensity rises, your body can't generate energy quickly enough from burning fat to meet the body's increased demand and must make up the difference by burning carbs. It reaches a point where the intensity is so high that your body can only fuel this by exclusively burning carbs.
Your body burns maximum fat during fasted, steady-state, sub-maximal exercise
Your body is a smart machine, responding and adapting to the stimulus (training) it's given. If you've not trained your body to have a well-developed aerobic base, then the intensity where your body stops burning fat can be surprisingly low. Most people think that "no pain, no gain" is the best way to do cardio and they're shocked when they discover that they're not burning any fat during their cardio sessions. Check out the VO2max Exercise Test to accurately measure your maximum fat burning intensity.
High Intensity training has its time and place in your training schedule. However, most people over-do this. The amount of aerobic and HIT training will vary depending on your goals. If your goal is fat loss, you should do at least 80% of your volume as fasted, sub-maximal, steady-state cardio.
First of all, you have to be realistic about how long it takes to lose a visible amount of fat. There's a saying "it takes 4 weeks for you to see a difference, for weeks for the mirror to see a difference and 4 weeks for your friends to see a difference". Each 1lb of fat contains 3,500 calories. Assuming you train at your max fat burn intensity and burn 500 calories/session in the gym, you need to train 7 hours/week to lose 1lb of fat. Of course, you also lose additional fat from following your nutrition plan. However, this simple example highlights that fat loss doesn't happen overnight and you have to be committed and invest the time for it to work.
You will have to plan what you are going to eat and shop accordingly. You will need to cook your food, instead of heating up fast food in the microwave. It's highly likely you'll have to take your food to work in tupperware, unless you have access to clean, healthy food. This will be inconvenient. You have to be disciplined. You may not be able to go out eating and drinking with your friends as much as you'd like, unless you possess amazing will power and not drink or eat the wrong things.