When fat loss is the name of the game, there are important components that need to be taken into consideration, my friend. Many people want to achieve that “toned” look and more “defined” physique. Here’s a spoiler alert, though, being “toned” isn’t even really a thing. The term “toned” simply means building muscle and losing fat to allow that muscle to show through. And despite popular belief, it’s not achieved through starving yourself and more cardio. Let’s dive into two of the main reasons why you are probably struggling to achieve your goals.
Reason #1: You’re Not Eating Nearly Enough.
For fat loss, science has shown us time and time again that we must be in a calorie deficit. BUT, when we under-eat and restrict calories, especially for long periods, our bodies experience several negative physiological adaptations. These adaptations together are known as “metabolic adaptation”. Our bodies become extremely efficient at burning fewer calories per pound. Our metabolic rate begins to “decrease” to adapt to the low number of calories we’re consuming and due to a down-regulation of certain hormones such as leptin and thyroid hormones (both extremely important in fat loss) that stimulate the metabolic rate. Also, due to a decrease in energy intake (food consumption), we experience a decrease in training intensity and non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).
This is the daily activity we do outside of exercising. Therefore, we’re burning fewer calories throughout the day. All of this together actually leads to an overall reduction in daily calories burnt, decreased ability to lose fat, increased hunger, and puts our bodies in a not-so-optimal place for fat loss. Not to mention, constantly restricting calories is very unsustainable. So, moral of the story here? EAT ENOUGH.
Reason #3: You’re Not Exercising in a Way That’s Conducive to Your Goals.
You’re overdoing cardio and afraid to touch heavy weights. Weight training is the more efficient way of burning fat and will ultimately help you build the physique you want. Weight training is more efficient at burning fat than cardio due to the EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) effect of weight training. Basically, after a single intense weight training session, your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is raised much longer than after a cardio session. Weight training causes a higher EPOC effect, which means that your body is burning more calories in the multiple hours and sometimes even up to multiple days after a weight training session. Also, a progressive overload style of weight training (increasing weight, reps, etc. over time), allows us to build more muscle. The more muscle we have on our bodies, the more calories our bodies can burn at rest. This is why we want to focus on weight training as our main component for fat loss, with some cardio “sprinkled in” if you will.
The only way for our bodies to be able to change is if we’re pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones and forcing it to adapt to a new stimulus. Also, endless amounts of cardio can harm our progress and our overall metabolism. Much like our bodies adapt to dieting, they also adapt to the amount of cardio we do, making our cardio sessions less and less efficient toward our goals. To see results, sometimes the answer is doing LESS cardio.
Did these reasons shock you? I know, they surprised me too whenever I truly started to understand just why I couldn’t see those dang results that I wanted. So, next time diet culture tries to tell you to eat less and do more… well, now you know better.