Losing the Last Few Stubborn Pounds of Body Fat

Losing body fat has to be one of the most challenging , if not most misunderstood, endeavors that any fitness aficionado can undertake.

Losing body fat is not rocket science, although in our society you’d think it was, with the legion of rip-off infomercial shape-up gizmos, the monthly “diet of the month” book releases at national bookstore chains, and the abundance of weight loss products being pushed by companies through grocery stores and drug stores.

Losing body fat is easy once you know the simple rules, but it does take a little discipline, often more than the hapless, average soul possesses. Those who are incapable of applying a discipline to their eating habits are condemned to fail time after time, wandering from one weightloss quick-fix to the next. Frustration builds, leading to resignation or worse, cynicism.

This is why I hate deceiving, heartless marketers selling false hope to naive people. Their diet and exercise gizmo infomercials are the worst. They prey on people desperate to try anything to alleviate their deplorable, overweight condition. I delight every time the Federal Trade Commission jumps all over one of these companies. Chalk one up for the consumer.

Misinformation rears its ugly head in many forms. To a ruthless marketer, weightloss product consumers are the dream target market; consumers who are willing to shell out big bucks, then all too willing to blame themselves, and not the product they purchase, when they don’t lose weight. Imagine buying a refrigerator, having its motor burn out the first week, then throwing it away, figuring “I must not have set it up right!” Insanity.

My disdain for misinformation, and worse, misinformation fabricated to deceive consumers, stems from the fact that every time someone gets burned by a weightloss quick-fix, it makes it that much harder for me to get through to that person with the “real deal,” the correct information, the key that will turn their life around.

And what is the “real deal”?

Let’s start by defining fat loss and weightloss. They ARE NOT one and the same. You’ll note that I began this letter with the mention of fat loss, then went on about weight loss and the ugly state of the weightloss products market.

Fat loss, as the name implies, is the loss of, or reduction of, body fat. Fat loss may, or may not, result in weight loss. For example, if you lose three pounds of fat and gain four pounds of muscle at the same time, you experience a net weight gain of one pound.

Weightloss, on the other hand, is the loss of body weight, irrespective of whether it is fat weight or lean tissue (read “muscle”) weight. <–VERY IMPORTANT…READ AGAIN.

Lean muscle tissue is the body’s metabolic engine. It is the most energy-intensive tissue in the body, requiring more calories for maintenance than fat tissue. There is a direct correlation between the amount of muscle you have and the number of calories you burn at rest (basal metabolic rate). Loss of any muscle tissue results in a loss of metabolism, making it harder to burn fat.

Achieving fat loss while preserving lean muscle tissue should be the overriding concern of any individual wanting to lose fat and unwanted inches without destroying his/her metabolism.

The bottom line on body fat (adipose tissue) is that it is a storehouse of excess calories. To get rid of fat, you must burn more calories each day than you take in that day. So being in a caloric deficit is important. Being in a caloric deficit is the one thing that both fat loss and weight loss programs have in common, but that’s where the similarities end.

While weight loss programs focus on caloric restriction to the exclusion of all else, fat loss programs go further, addressing the composition of the food calories in the diet, and the needs of the body’s metabolic engine…muscle. This is vital to the proper nourishment of that all-important lean muscle tissue.

Here are some guidelines to follow on a fat loss program:

1) Do not restrict total dietary intake by more than 500 calories per day. This is particularly important because you do not want to lose weight so fast that you alarm the body into thinking it is in a starvation mode. Severely restricting calories will cause your body to respond by slowing its metabolism to conserve energy. A pound of fat contains 3500 calories. A daily caloric deficit of 500 calories per day will result in a weekly caloric deficit of 3500, or the equivalent of one pound of fat. Keep in mind that simply cutting calories does not guarantee that the weight loss is coming from stored fat; to ensure that the loss comes from fat, other considerations must be addressed, including food composition, meal frequency and exercise.

2) Do not lose more than two pounds of body fat per week. This is yet another good rule of thumb to ensure that no lean muscle tissue is lost during the dieting phase and that the metabolism is not slowed. Restricting calories so severely that you drop more than two pounds of fat per week could result in a loss of muscle tissue, because it is easier for your body to break down muscle tissue for energy than fat tissue. The rate of weight loss is an important factor to watch. You do not want to reduce too fast! This flies in the face of most weight loss systems.

3) Take in at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. Repeat after me, “Feed the muscle first.” You must feed muscle tissue with high quality protein to nourish it and protect it from breakdown, especially when you are in caloric deprivation. (Ladies – muscle is what gives you the curves and toned body you are looking for so this applies to everyone). Protein is the most energy-intensive macronutrient to digest. That means it takes more calories to digest a gram of protein than either a gram of carbohydrate or fat. For protein to be converted to fat, it must first be broken down into amino acids, converted to glucose (blood sugar) in the liver, and then to fatty acids. What all this means is that it’s hard to get fat by over-eating protein! Protein intake should make up about 30-40% of your daily calories.

4) Restrict bad fat intake. While protein is the most energy intensive macronutrient for your body to digest, fat is the least energy intensive. When you eat fat, your body will either immediately use it for energy, or deposit it as body fat. While this is a very simple, very efficient mechanism from an evolutionary, and a survival viewpoint, it’s very bad for modern man trying to maintain a lean body! Minimize fat in your diet. Forget what the zero carb proponents of this world are saying; high fat intake (more than 20-30% of daily calories) is unhealthy, not to mention unproductive, for body fat loss. Most proponents of the higher fat, lower carbohydrate diets preach management of insulin, an important hormone produced by your pancreas, which amongst other things, helps to control blood sugar levels. There are healthier ways to control blood sugar, than raising the fat intake in the diet. Higher protein intake is one. Eating only complex carbohydrates (not simple or refined carbohydrates and sugars) with your protein to reduce the glycemic index (rate at which a meal/food is broken down into blood sugar) of the meal is another. Do not misinterpret this as an outright condemnation of all fats. There are fats that are not only essential for life, but helpful for fat loss. These are called essential fatty acid (EFA’s). You can get your EFA’s by supplementing your diet with two to three tablespoons of fish oils daily. Other healthy fats include olive oil and avocadoes. Stay away from foods that are high in saturated animal fats: bacon, ham, steaks, etc. I suggest that you keep your good fat intake to around 20% of calories.

5) Restrict simple carbohydrate intake, focusing on complex carbs for energy. This is one of the most common areas in which dieters mess up. Not all carbohydrates are created equal. While all carbohydrates are broken down to blood sugar, the point of differentiation is the rate at which they are converted to glucose. Simple sugars like sucrose (table sugar) are quickly broken down to glucose, eliciting a massive insulin discharge from the pancreas. Glucose that is not immediately used for energy is converted to triglycerides and deposited as fat. Insulin “spikes” bring fat breakdown to a grinding halt, and signals the body to deposit fat. Complex carbohydrates such as starches take much longer to be broken down to blood sugar. Even longer when combined with protein in a meal. Even longer, when a fibrous vegetable and a healthy fat is added! This more gradual conversion of complex carbohydrates to glucose gives your body a chance to use the glucose for energy; it also minimizes the insulin spikes that are anathema to fat loss. Carbohydrate intake should be kept to 40-50% of calories.

6) Eat five to six small meals per day. Every time you eat, your metabolism is stimulated, especially when your meals contain protein. Frequent feeding also eliminates over eating, helps in the management of insulin levels (read, “keeps blood sugar steady and insulin levels low”), and provides a steady stream of muscle nourishing amino acids and nutrients. Each meal should contain protein, carbs, and fat in the same ratio as the overall daily ratio of protein, carbs, and fat. A good meal replacement like Lean Body® or the Lean Body RTDs is an ideal way to ensure compliance with a rigorous 5-6 meal per day program.

7) Train with weights… but of course, you are already doing that, otherwise you wouldn’t be receiving my tips. (You better not be skipping your workouts!) If you need a good workout plan, check out my weekly workouts here.

8) Be consistent. Dieting for fat loss is not an on again, off again thing. For your program to work, you must be consistent with it. It is a life-long commitment. This is where discipline comes in. You must want to lower your body fat strongly enough to stick with your program. Set short term and longer term goals, and measure your body fat composition to gauge your progress and give yourself that invaluable feedback that is necessary to keep you motivated. They don’t sell willpower in a can yet! But remember, we discussed things you can do to minimize and learn from mistakes, and motivate yourself to succeed in recent tips. You now have access to all of these tips so re-read them as many times as you wish!

This program comprises the “real deal” that I spoke about before. It is the only way to lower, and more importantly control, body composition and keep body fat in check over the long haul. Simple, powerful, and effective!

These powerful ideas should give you a good foundation to build your diet and nutrition program on.

If you want an example of what a good diet program looks like, please take a look at it here:

Sample Diet Plans <== Sample Diet Plan Page

If you desire a more in-depth, step-by-step, “no-brainer” program to follow in “connect the dots” fashion to achieve and maintain fat loss while preserving lean muscle, I strongly suggest that you pick up a copy of my Get Lean Kit , which I co-authored with world-renown sports nutritionist Keith Klein. It includes a comprehensive manual, two videotapes, and body composition calipers to gauge your progress.

Get Lean Kit => https://www.labrada.com/store/PM-0821.html

Losing body fat and controlling your body composition can be easy once you have mastered these basic concepts. I firmly believe that it is possible for nearly everyone to maintain a lean healthy body throughout their lifetime, if they are willing to put forth a little effort.

Until next time, I am

Your Lean Body Coach™
Houston, Texas


One Response for Losing the Last Few Stubborn Pounds of Body Fat

  1. Luis Gutierrez


    January 15, 2013 7:40 pm

    Great article Lee!! So many people are mislead, which is honestly a terrible thing. Because it feels so good when all your hardwork actually produces results. Thanks for the time you spend giving us some really good truthfull information. Take Care!!