Fat loss is an emotional issue, complicated by body image issues, conflicting advice re: what works and what is healthful, and unrealistic media images of digitally altered bodies. Too often, the focus is on the end (losing fat), and not the means (changing habits). This doesn’t work because there is no end to weight issues until you’re dead. Unless a fat loss plan is the result of permanent behavioral change, the fat will come right back.
I’ve written about my own personal changes in body composition and metabolism here. During the years I was suffering from asthma symptoms, I read constantly and obsessively about human physiology in an all-out effort to find a way to cure myself and breathe normally again. I eventually succeeded, and on the way learned a thing or two about inflammation, metabolism, digestion, immunity, gut flora, mitochondria, and other factors that can influence body composition. Since so many people are interested in getting a bit leaner, I’ve attempted to synthesize what I’ve learned in this area in an easily digestible format, in this post.
The problem with most fat loss plans is that they require too much willpower to sustain on a long-term basis. Approaches that are harder to make work include:
- calorie counting with calorie restriction to the point of near-constant hunger
- extreme exercise regimens that stretch the body’s ability to naturally and easily recover
- “bizarro” or fad-diets with many difficult-to-remember rules that must be strictly followed (and often make socializing difficult or awkward)
Long-term fat loss can only be achieved with long-term behavioral change. Behavioral change that requires a large expenditure of willpower is difficult to maintain.
An easier, more effective approach is to shift habits in a direction that encourages consistent fat loss (or maintains a favorable body fat percentage).
But how do we know which habits to change?