With summer almost here, many people will have already been putting in place their plans to get a summer body and drop any excess winter ‘fluff’ they may have acquired. There are important rules we must follow to drop any unwanted body fat, and the most important of these is to put ourselves into a calorie deficit in order to tap into our fat reserves and promote weight loss.
Unfortunately, many people struggle in their weight loss endeavours and this can be for several reasons; it can be from simply ‘falling off the wagon’ due to hunger and cravings, or struggling to break through plateaus which can appear out of nowhere and for no apparent reason.
In this article, we will discuss some of the biggest barriers to people reaching their beach body goals and how to overcome them in the easiest way possible.
When dieting and being in a calorie deficit, two of the biggest issues are hunger and cravings. Hunger, unfortunately, is especially likely to take hold if we overly restrict our calorie intake, which makes dietary adherence hard. We can, however, combat this by using a higher protein diet and a majority of whole foods which keep the body feeling fuller1.
Making sure we choose less calorie dense foods, such as oats, rice and potatoes over more calorie dense ones such as bread are a great way to add volume and curb hunger, and using fibrous vegetables are also an excellent way to add bulk to a meal to help control hunger. Plus, added vegetables and whole foods are going to make fat loss so much healthier than if getting your daily calorie intake from more processed or junk foods.
Cravings can be a difficult one to manage, but as a starting point it is probably better to include a variety of foods in the diet and not overly restrict certain foods or macronutrients. This might seem a bit at odds with the idea of eating whole foods, but a little bit of what you fancy in a diet that is mostly balanced and full of whole, nutrient dense foods isn’t going to be a problem IF it helps with adherence and you fit them in your daily calorie budget.
The problem can be if you have certain foods you struggle to show restraint with, it is probably best not to tempt yourself as this can easily lead to binging episodes and undoing all your hard work.
Obviously, we can then adjust food intake as and when required to speed up fat loss by reducing calories, but always keep protein high. We do, however, have other options to create a calorie deficit and speed up the fat loss process.
The gym is where most people focus their attention, increasing training output, adding in extra cardio and it is certainly a good idea to increase output over focusing entirely on restricting food intake. This is because we tend to feel less hunger from increasing output than restricting calorie intake, plus the more food we can keep in the diet, the more food variety we have, the less boring dieting becomes.
One of the most important aspects of fat loss is non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT is the energy we use that isn’t our basal metabolic rate or exercise, so everything from walking the dog, doing the dishes and even fidgeting. Increasing NEAT can contribute massively to our total daily energy expenditure, helping with weight loss. So, try to be more active, walk to the shops, take more walks and do the gardening, and it adds up quickly.
BUT BEWARE, NEAT is also the first thing we will, often subconsciously, adjust when we restrict calorie intake. There is a natural drive to conserve energy when we restrict intake and it manifests itself mostly through reductions in NEAT. If you’re already on your fat loss plan and you’ve noticed you’ve hit a plateau, many people think their metabolism has slowed when in fact it is a reduction in NEAT which is the biggest compensation that people make to reducing their daily energy expenditure in response to calorie restriction… so make sure you’re keeping on top of this and monitoring it as best you can2.
Once we have our diet in place, eating the right foods and hopefully putting us in a calorie deficit with our combined exercise and NEAT, then we might consider using supplements to help support fat loss in a few different ways.
First and foremost, we might look to support fat loss by supporting performance, and this can be beneficial in two ways: firstly, by increasing our output we directly influence our calories used and secondly, dieting can make you feel fatigued so may help to alleviate fatigue and help support fat loss by maintaining performance in the gym. Supplements that contain caffeine are going to be effective in this situation, such as our ELEVATE™ and Complete Pre-Workout™ supplements, and as they contain other ingredients that boost mental and physical performance are useful weapon in our fight against fat and to maintain our strength and performance in the gym.
When it comes to weight loss supplements, we have two main areas where we can get benefit. Those supplements that make dieting a little easier, like our range of Zero Calorie Syrups™ and Active Seasonings™ will allow you to keep great taste and variety in the diet whilst saving calories, preventing food boredom and controlling cravings and those that can help support fat loss directly.
Our two most effective weight loss supplements are CUTTING EDGE™ and our Complete Thermogenic™. In both these supplements, caffeine plays a key role, helping support energy but it may also help stimulate metabolism and support weight loss3. It is also an excellent appetite suppressant helping to keep hunger at bay.
CUTTING EDGE™ also contains several extracts that may help in weight loss, such as cinnamon extract. This helps support metabolism and may even help convert our ‘white’ fat cells into ‘brown fat cells’ which promote increased energy expenditure4. It is important to stick to the recommended doses and, if using it separately, not to use excessive amounts of cinnamon in the diet as it can have some adverse effects.
In the Complete Thermogenic™, the two ‘stand out’ ingredients are green tea extract and L-carnitine. L-carnitine not only helps with mental performance but can boost physical performance as well by allowing more fat to be used as a fuel which may indirectly support weight loss. Green tea extract contains compounds called catechins which have shown to affect weight loss through similar pathways to caffeine, stimulating the breakdown of body fat and temporarily increasing metabolic rate3.
On a final note, it is important to realise that these supplements alone will not be enough to create weight loss unless the correct nutrition and exercise strategies are in place. Although they might only have a small impact directly on weight loss in terms of metabolic effects, the benefits in terms of regulating hunger, suppressing appetite and maintaining cognitive and physical performance are definitely something to consider as these can make dieting that little bit easier and help you get results that little bit quicker.
1: Holt et al. (1995). A satiety index of common foods. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 49:675-690
2: Donahoo et al. (2004). Variability in energy expenditure and its components. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care. 7(6):599-605
3: Astrup et al. (1990). Caffeine: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of its thermogenic, metabolic, and cardiovascular effects in healthy volunteers. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 51(5):759-67.
4: Kwan et al. (2017). Cinnamon induces browning in subcutaneous adipocytes. Scientific Reports. 7:2447
5: Maki et al. (2009). Green tea catechin consumption enhances exercise-induced abdominal fat loss in overweight and obese adults. Journal of Nutrition. 139(2):264-70