What is the best exercise for fat loss?
Unfortunately, there is no single best exercise for fat loss. Fat loss occurs by creating a calorie deficit between your energy input versus your energy output. In my opinion the most effective way to achieve this is to calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), which is the total number of calories your body burns over the course of the day (includes all daily activities such as sleeping, working, exercising and digesting foods).
Once you have this number you then create a deficit between your TDEE and the number of calories you consume. I would recommend as a starting point to take off 10-15% off your TDEE number as your overall calorie goal for a sustainable weight loss. Try to ensure that your diet contains a sufficient level of each macronutrient (see question below for information on macros) which will vary on the type of exercise and activity you do.
It’s important to note that although generating a TDEE number will provide an initial figure, there is a limited amount of information that can be gained from a short questionnaire, so it will not be fool proof. Once you have your starting figure it’s a case of trial and error to see how your body reacts. I would advise that after 3 weeks of consistently hitting your calorie deficit number and still no fat loss occurs, review your programme to either adjust your calorie input or look at ways of increasing your output.
To calculate your TDEE there are a couple of methods. Using an online calculator such as: https://www.iifym.com/TDEE-calculator/ / http://iifym.teamrhfitness.com/macro-calculator.html (RH Fitness also a really good source of nutritional advice) or use a device such as a fitbit and taking an average number of total calorie expenditure over a normal week. I would recommend myfitnesspal for logging calories (from experience I would try to stay away from the apps recommended calorie input and use it just for tracking).
I feel very self-conscious in the gym to the extent that I fear going. Any advice?
It’s very common for people to feel self-conscious in the gym due to the variety of different shapes and sizes of the people inside and perhaps a lack of knowledge of how to use the equipment correctly. However, remember that everyone in the gym is there to fight their own battle and there is no battle that is more important than the other. If your fear is based on a lack of understanding don’t be scared to ask for help. Instructors will generally love to spend time talking you through how to use the equipment and having this knowledge will build your confidence in the gym. Sometimes having the social support of a class, a friend to go with or a Personal Trainer can also be a help overcome a fear of social anxiety or any feeling of isolation.
If you really do hate the gym and it makes you miserable, I would encourage you to think that exercise is not something that can only be done in the gym. There are so many different possible ways to train so if the gym is not for you don’t think that you can’t achieve your goals because of that.
What is a macro?
From a high level nutrients are components of food. To remain healthy a daily diet should contain a sufficient amount of all essential nutrients. These can be broken down into two broad classifications; macronutrients (normally shortened to macro) which are needed in large quantities and micronutrients which are required in smaller amounts.
Macronutrients include proteins, fats, carbohydrates and water while micronutrients are vitamins and minerals. Fibre although not classified as a nutrient (as it is not fully digested in the gut, absorbed by the body or utilised for energy) is also essential in a healthy diet.
Fat is essential in the body for protection of internal organs, temperature control, energy production, insulation of nerve cells and the development of body tissue.
Protein is found in every living cell and is essential for the growth, maintenance and repair of body tissue. It is used to form the structure of skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, hair and the core of bones and teeth.
The main function of carbohydrates is to provide energy. Most cells in the body use fat and carbohydrates for energy. When carbohydrates enter the body, they are converted to glucose prior to being used by the cells. The stored form of glucose is glycogen which is held in the muscles and liver, until it is required for use by the body.
Should I remove carbs from my diet to lose weight?
No. Carbohydrates are required for energy and should be consumed within an overall a balanced diet tailored to both your training and body composition goals. To lose fat the important point is to create a calorie deficit between your TDEE and the number of calories you eat. A number of fad diets’ which recommend going really low carb will only succeed in creating a weight loss because they have manipulated the number of calories consumed to create a deficit. However, there can be health consequences and severe energy slumps when removing carbs in their entirety.
If I lift weights will I become big and bulky? (question asked by female)
No. Due to the level of testosterone in the female body doing resistance training will not make you become big and bulky. Dependent on your training goals the type of resistance training you do should vary but incorporating weights into your training is a great way of improving muscle structure and assisting in fat loss.
Should I give up alcohol to achieve performance goal?
Alcohol is a major part of social culture so it’s about finding the balance for what works for you and weighing up the benefits of achieving a particular goal against the sacrifices to your overall life. I would say that as a rule if you want to continue drinking make sure it’s in moderation and track the calories along with all other food consumed.
It is important to note that alcohol is a depressant and over consumption is linked to a large number of mental and physical illnesses. At the extreme end this can include depression, anxiety, addiction, cancer and liver/kidney failure. As alcohol is a diuretic it will stimulate net fluid loss, creating a number of symptoms of dehydration such as headaches, nausea and dry mouth. In addition, as alcohol is very calorie dense at 7kcal per gram over consumption can lead to weight gain.
It is important to note that units can’t be saved to be consumed in one day and there are no real performance or health benefits that I am aware of from alcohol consumption.
For more information see https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/