10 reasons why you're not losing fat

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1 - You only do cardio training

Cardio burns fat, weights build muscle. That’s the simplistic, misguided premise upon which countless men have built their exercise regimes. ‘You can’t put them together,’ these men say.

In fact, weight training is an important element of any fat-loss fitness plan. Firstly, weight training itself can burn over 400 calories per hour (running burns upwards of 600) and it also increases your resting metabolic rate (RMR).


Your RMR is basically the number of calories that your body burns when you’re sat on your backside watching Family Fortunes. So, lift weights and you’ll burn more calories for longer after you’ve stopped exercising.

On top of that, any weight-loss eating plan means you will lose muscle as well as fat. If you’re lifting weights to gain muscle, a greater proportion of your weight loss will come from fat.

Weight training will also make you stronger and this will, in turn, improve your cardio performance. So if you are a runner, strengthening your legs by doing squats and lunges in the gym will help you run faster – and therefore burn more calories.

2 - You’ve heard that low-intensity training burns more fat

This is probably because you’ve heard of something known as the ‘fat-burning zone’. The theory is that relatively low-intensity exercise, where you work out at around 60 per cent of your maximum heart rate (MHR), burns more fat than high-intensity exercise, where you work out at around 80 per cent of your MHR. (To calculate your MHR, subtract your age from 220.) The truth is that low-intensity exercise burns a greater proportion of fat, but high-intensity exercise burns more calories overall and raises your RMR for longer. This makes it a more effective way of shedding weight.

Here’s the maths: if you walk for 60 minutes, you burn around 270 calories, of which 60 per cent comes from fat. That’s 160 fat calories you’ve just burned from low-intensity exercise. If you run for the same length of time, only 40 per cent of the calories you burn comes from fat – but you burn around 680 calories in total, which means you’ve burned 270 calories of fat.

The lesson? Don’t plod along on the treadmill for an hour in the belief the fat will fall off – you can achieve the same results in less time (and get fitter into the bargain). Introduce some high-intensity cardio workouts into your regime and try interval training, where you mix short bursts of maximum effort (up to 90 per cent of MHR) with lower-intensity recovery periods.

3 - You’re always dieting

You diet, therefore you lose weight, right? Well, yes, that’s true – up to a point. The problem is that diets are, by their very nature, restrictive and therefore unsustainable. Ultimately it doesn’t matter whether you do Atkins, SlimFast or the Holistic Standing On Your Head Eating Nothing But Figs Diet – any weight-loss plan operates by limiting what you eat, whether it’s by slashing calories, removing entire food groups or forcing you to live on milk shakes.

In the short term, of course, the weight falls off, you can tighten your belt an extra notch and your shirt buttons no longer pop. ‘Great,’ you think, ‘I’ve lost weight, so I can go back to eating normally again.’ And before you know it the weight has piled back on and you’re back where you started. This is known as ‘yo yo dieting’. The real secret to losing weight is not to give up fast food and beer for two weeks. It’s to make long-term, sustainable changes to your diet. The weight will take longer to come off, but if you do it this way it will stay off.

4 - You eat ‘low-fat’ meals

Supermarkets aren’t stupid – that’s why they’re so big and wealthy. A few years ago, faced with the accusation that ready meals were fattening, they began introducing ‘low-fat’ versions in an attempt to make us all think we were being really healthy.

Unfortunately, ‘low fat’ is not the same as ‘low calorie’. To lose fat without neutralising taste, the manufacturers use extra salt, sugar and additives. So eating a low-fat ready meal doesn’t mean you’re not taking in unnecessary, useless calories.

It helps if you remember that, for example, the Sainsbury’s Be Good To Yourself range should actually be called Be Slightly Better To Yourself Than Eating The Full-Fat Range But Still Don’t Expect To See The Weight Fall Off range. To be fair, pressure resulting from rising obesity levels has prompted supermarkets to take further steps to reduce salt content in ready meals, but there is no question that you will be healthier and more likely to lose weight if you make the effort to cook your own meals using fresh ingredients.

Consider: when was the last time you saw a ‘low-fat’ banana? ‘Healthy living’ broccoli? ‘Light’ pasta? No. Natural, unprocessed food is precisely that – natural – so it doesn’t need to have bad stuff taken out of it and a fancy label slapped on it. That’s why it’s good for you….so long as it’s eaten in moderation!

5 - You don’t eat any fat

Fat makes you fat. Not eating fat makes you less fat. Eat no fat and eventually you won’t have any fat at all. Right? Wrong, wrong - If only life were that simple.

There’s no doubt that fat is the most calorific of the nutrients we eat. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, whereas carbohydrates and protein contain 4 and even alcohol contains 7. And the saturated fats present in processed foods such as biscuits, cakes and sweets, as well as the junk food we cram down our sozzled throats on Friday nights, will cause weight gain and clog your arteries into the bargain.

But not all fat is bad. The unsaturated fats found in oily fish, nuts and pulses are good for your heart and cholesterol levels. Research also shows that health fats, such as Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) and CLA actually help burn fat, as they assist in transporting oxygen to the body’s tissues. So don’t dodge fat altogether because omitting an entire food group is little more than a fad diet – and it’s bound to end in failure when you get bored of it after three weeks, you can also suffer from extreme tiredness. Instead, ensure you eat a balanced diet, of which between 20 and 30 per cent of your intake comes from healthy fats. It won’t affect your long-term weight loss, but it will affect your health for the better.

The real key to losing weight is to cut calories, rather than stop eating fat or doing the silly ‘one meal a day’ plan. The average man consumes 2,000-2,500 calories a day, depending on height and weight, but can survive perfectly adequately on 1,500, especilly if those calories come from foods that are high in protein or fibre and therefore fill you up, ie; apples, porridge, whey protein, vegetables. You also need to calculate how many calories you burn each day.

First you need to work out your RMR (remember point 1?). Multiply your bodyweight in kilos by 29. Then add the number of calories you burn through exercise (the average man might burn 250-300 calories through 30 minutes of cardio training or 200 calories for 30 minutes of intensive weight training) to give you your grand total. One pound (or half a kilo) of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories, so if you cut your intake by 500 calories per day you will lose a pound a week. Simple as that. Just remember you need to eat to fuel your workouts, so you may have to up your calorie intake on the days you do plan to exercise.

Confused by all this…just got to this link and it will do it for you within 10 seconds:

6 - You only have coffee for breakfast

Coffee, that is, and nothing else. The chances are you think you don’t have time for breakfast and that you’re saving up calories for later by not eating until lunchtime. But this will not help you burn fat. The best tactic for losing weight is to eat little and often. Aim to eat a combination of meals and snacks between four and six times a day at times that suit you, depending on your schedule. You should also aim to eat foods with a low glycaemic index (GI) score. The carbohydrate in these foods is digested slowly, which means they fuel your body with a steady, constant supply of energy, thus avoiding the blood sugar crashes that send you to the biscuit tin.

Fibre is important, too – it slows down the digestion process, which means you feel fuller for longer, and has a low GI. Fibre is, of course, present in the wholegrains and wholemeal bread that make up many breakfast options. The very best breakfast is a whey protein shake, as it triggers of the CCK hormone which tell your body that you are full, allowing you not to feel hungry until lunch time. I always have a protein shake, such as Promax, along with some carbohydrates for energy, ie: a piece of fruit (tangerine or banana) or slice of toast. This only takes 2 minutes to make and there is no excuse not to. Remember you need the whey protein to help fuel muscle growth, now you are lifting weights to help build new muscle and tone up.

7 - You don’t eat after 8pm

The theory that you should not eat in the evening gained popularity a few years ago when some nutritionists claimed eating at night results in weight gain because you don’t do any physical activity afterwards to burn off the calories – they will be stored as fat while you sleep. In fact, it doesn’t really matter when you eat so long as you consume the right number of calories over a day. Food is digested and metabolised in the same way, whatever time it’s eaten.

Perhaps this tactic seems to work because most of what we eat at night is comfort food – it’s the classic time to slump in front of the TV and nibble on crisps or chocolates. How often have you found yourself overeating carrot sticks? Equally, if you set yourself a cut-off time of 8pm the temptation is to overeat before you reach that point, so you may have a larger dinner in an attempt to stave off hunger pangs later on, especially if you’ve been to the gym after work and your energy and protein levels need replenishing. Even worse, there will be times when you shatter the rule by devouring a bumper pack of Kettle Chips at 11pm. That’s the trouble with rules – the more you have and the stricter they are, the more likely you are to break them.

Allow yourself an evening snack if you want one, but factor it into your daily calorie allowance and try to make sure it fits it does not end up being a food binge. It’s also a good time to cram in an extra portion of fruit. High fibre fruit such as apples, or porridge are great bedtime snacks, as they fill you up and help you sleep well. A little tip is to eat pickles or gherkins (if you like them). Did you know that an entire can only contains 3 calories!

8 - You do endless sit-ups

Did you know that for every 100 sit-ups you do, you lose ten pounds of fat? No you didn’t, because we made it up, it’s rubbish. But the way some people insist on crunching up and down for hours on end, you’d think this basic exercise was a miracle fat-loss technique…Nothing is worse than those late night ‘celeb’ featured shopping channels, where they go from a size 20 to a size 8 in 4 weeks, by doing 5 mins of crunches each day, don’t believe it - it’s a total scam.

It’s not that sit-ups are bad for you, they are great at strenghening your abs and giving you a nice six pack, along with leg raises, but…. if you have a layer of fat covering them - you’ll never see them, and trust me doing 5000 situps every day will not ‘burn’ fat from your stomach.

You simply cannot ‘spot burn’ fat from one part of your body. You lose weight evenly from all over, so the places with the greatest amount of fat will be the last to slim.

We’ve already explained that mixing cardio and weight training will shed fat, but it’s worth reiterating. The resistance element of a weights workout burns far more calories than the repetitive motion of a sit-up. Abs exercises should be added to your workout only so that when you do lose the fat, you’ll have a six-pack lurking underneath.

9 - You blame your genes

Genetics give us a shedload of excuses, including metabolism, ‘big bones’ and an underactive thyroid. In fact, only around one per cent of people have a fault in their DNA – a hormone, glandular or chromosomal disorder – that means their metabolism does not function normally. Being overweight is more about bad eating habits and learned behaviour. If you’re overweight, the chances are that your parents are, too. But don’t assume this is genetic – it’s far more likely that you have inherited their eating habits and lifestyle.

Your genes do have a certain influence on your figure – for example, the body shape scientists call ‘endomorph’ is more prone to collecting weight around the abdomen – but they don’t make you overweight in the first place, if you don’t eat the food. ‘Underactive thyroid’, meanwhile, is a load of codswallop. If you are aware you have an underactive thyroid your GP, which is a serious medical condition, he will have put you on medication to counter it, so it’s no excuse for stuffing your face with cakes.

Remember that being overweight is about what you eat, not the DNA that made you. Chances are you eat more than you realise, which leads us on to…

10 - You don’t keep track of what you eat

You may think you’re eating healthily, only to discover you haven’t lost any weight when you step on the scales. Maybe you’ve forgotten that sneaky biscuit that you had with your morning coffee or you’ve discounted last night’s ice cream on the basis that it was ‘low fat’, and the ten pints of Kronenbourg you drank last weekend don’t count because, well, it was the weekend and you deserved a treat. It’s hardly surprising. Research has shown that most people who are attempting to lose weight underestimate how much they eat.

The way around this is to keep a food diary. If the truth about what you eat is there in black and white, you’ll be less likely to sneak in sugary, high-calorie treats. You should also buy a pocket calorie counter from any good bookshop to tell you precisely how many calories you’re consuming. In a surprisingly short time you’ll know the calorie content of your favourite foods off the top of your head and it won’t seem like such a chore.

If you want the very best online calorie counter and meal planner, these links are the best:
Meal Planner

and a link to ready made meal plans:
Diet Plans

and again the calorie calculator link:
Calorie Calculator

Now you’re ready to start losing weight. How many calories you need to eat, depends on your body composition, exercise regime and metabolism, so it is vital you use the links above to help you work it all out easily. Once you know what calories your body needs and what calories you are eating, you will be amazed at how quickly the weight drops off and stays off.

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john whitelock   |.
thanks for the usefull information i have put on over a stone,mainly a round my
hips and chest,in over 7 months mainly due to having spent over a month on hols
abroad and now i am focused to loose the weight i have put on plus to loose
G Man   |.
Great article. Useful for anyone wanting advice on reducing body fat and
keeping it off!
Gap Tran   |.
Everything written here is precise. Follow the advice closely if you want to
lose your "chubba chub".

Check out the following site to see how I
achieved it! www.gaptran.com
fran   |.

what could be the perfect diet for...?
a footballer?
a goalkeeper who
want to lose weigth,be faster,more flexibility,power jump etc...?

and a gym
training program for him?for five days a week.

Steve M   |.
You only do cardio training: following all the advice in your thread if you were
to be undertaking the deficit of 500 calories a day then using exercise for
calorie burn is pretty irrelevant. Most guys will average out their weightloss
at 1lb a week as they move away from the glory early days. Structure the
weights routine appropriate and you can get all the CV benefit you need and
efficiently. More would benefit from a non static weekly approach to their diet
ie reducing calorie intake sustainably in line with fat loss.

As for the meal
planners and diet plans they are just pimping supplements and certainly probably
some of the worst examples of meal plans I can honestly say I have ever seen
Tom   |.
Can I build muscle and loose the beginnings of a beer belly at the same
I’m doing a 2 day a week weight session about one and a half
hours. And a small amount of cardio
Using Cyclone at the moment.

Damien. Adderley   |.
Hi thank you so much for all the info, just like to add that weight training
mixed with bag work and skipping maybe alternate them is a great way to get fit
and build at the same time
ps please do not send anymore mail to my above
address as it is my job and send them to beechmountadder@iolfree.ie instead
thank you so much.
Swainy   |.
I often read this argument against low intensity to high intensity cardio and
they always focus on the fat burn. My question is where are the calories
"burnt" from? In High Intensity cardio, yes you burn a lot more fat but
you are also burning a lot more something else!.. What is that - Muscle? In the
example... 270 calories - 60 percent comes from fat 160 calories so the other
110 came from ..what Muscle? Okay, in the HIT cardio you burn 680 - 270 from fat
BUT 410 from elsewhere - Muscle? Thats almost 4 times as much energy from
non-fat source...which I suspect is muscle?

Where is this additional energy
created from if not fat?
Perry   |.
I agree with Swainy. The reason for low intensity cardio has always been that
you lose less muscle than when performing the high intensity. Has this changed ?
Robbo   |.
I absolutely DON'T agree with Swainy. It would seem to me that your assumption
is, that the human body is made up of two components: fat and muscle, and that
if your not using one as energy then you must be using the other? Ridiculous!
Most energy expenditure - particularly that used during higher-intensity
activity - is derived from carbohydrates, stored within the muscle as glycogen.
Localised stores of glycogen are tapped in order to fuel localised activity, but
ultimately all stored glycogen, proximal and distal, contributes towards the
energy demand. A fundamental part of muscle catabolism (breakdown - as required
in order to promote an anabolic phase) is the depletion of glycogen stores; this
allows for an increased re-fuelling capacity following activity and therefore
promotes the development of muscle tissue (I'm sure you've all heard of the
'window of opportunity' following an intense workout? The optimal re-fuelling
Tom   |.
At the moment I am wanting to bulk up, lose muscle and repair my muscle damaged
when I broke my back. So without really seeking any advice I am just watching
what I eat and not eating any crap like fast food, not drinking.

Am also on a
lot of supplements (thermabol, maxi-efa, cyclone, ZMA, NO2 and Ache free) for
various things and going to the gym 5 days a week. Absolutly love the rowing
machine as I feel I get a better workout and notice a much larger increase in
muscle size when I have used it. Mainly using a large amount of weights, however
having not lost a great deal of fat, have decided that for a week to use very
very intense cardio (fairly low effort levels for very long periods of time at
high speed) and then go back to my normal routine of weights afterwards. I would
like to say that the results are immense and people have really noticed a

Also very nearly completed a very good database that I use to<...
Jay   |.
Will drinking alcohol stop you from lossing weight
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