What I Look For Before Okaying a Fat Loss PhaseSep 04, 2023
Weight loss and fat loss is probably what I am asked about more than anything else. I don't talk about about this topic, or dwell on it very often, because I don't think it should be the top priority for many people. Instead, the focus should be overall health and a healthy body image. But with that said, I'm not against weight loss/fat loss/body recomposition, or whatever you want to call it. But there are some pre-requisites I look for before okaying a fat loss phase if that is the client's desire.
Most people know and agree that fat loss can be done in healthy or unhealthy ways and in sustainable and unsustainable ways. Because of this many women are afraid to enter a fat loss phase because they worry about the potential stress it could place on their body and others are so eager to loose fat that they will enter one too early or perform it in a way that is detrimental to their health.
I will never encourage my clients to focus on fat loss, but when desire is expressed there are a few things I look for before giving guidance and support throughout the process. In this blog post I'm going to be sharing those with you and explaining why they are important if you have weight loss as a goal.
1: A High Metabolic Rate
The reason it is important to look at this is because most people have been off and on dieting their whole life without taking time to up regulate their metabolism. If you aren't able to eat much good without putting on pounds, this is a sign work needs to be done in the metabolic area. The way I see if you have a higher metabolic rate is by how much you're able to eat on a day to day basis without gaining weight. We want you to be able to enter a fat loss phase eating as much as possible. We don't want you to be hungry or malnourished. The metabolic rate we're looking for will vary person to person depending on size, sex, activity level, muscle mass, age, and genetics CAN play a role but are not a sole determinant.
I would like to see most women able to eat at least 2,000 calories a day if not more. Some I would want to eat upwards of 2,500. For men it would be even more. This might sound high if you've been calorie counting off and on your whole life, but our bodies SHOULD be to eat this much food without gaining weight.
2: Weight Maintenance For at Least 3 Months
Weight Maintenance is the biggest flex when it comes to body recomposition. If you can't maintain your weight now, you won't be able to maintain it when you lose weight. It's easy to lose and gain weight. It's harder to maintain your weight. Another reason I look for this is because if you're eating a reasonable amount of food or less than and still gaining weight, this means that your metabolism needs to up-regulate. And it does this when you eat more food. Giving your body less food teaches it to get by with less food. It adapts.
3: Sleeping Well
The reason sleeping well is important is because sleep is the number one way your body repairs and mitigates stress. Eating in a calorie deficit places stress on the body and if you're not sleeping well on top of that it's not only going to be more stressful metabolically, but it will also be more difficult psychologically because (1) you didn't sleep well and (2) a lack of sleep or poor quality sleep increased the body's need for glucose (aka carbs and sugar). This is why you are hungrier than normal when you don't sleep well! When my clients going through a fat loss phase have nights here and there of poor sleep, they will not eat in a deficit the following day. You need to give your body what it needs.
I want you to be sleeping through the night and sleeping AT LEAST 7 hours/night (preferably 8). This is going to keep your stress bucket from overflowing, allow you to be in a calorie deficit for a longer period of time, and make the process much easier.
4: Lots of Muscle
I want you to be able to squat at least your body weight. This means if you weight 160lb I want you to be able to squat 160lb. This will vary person to person. When someone has a significantly higher fat percentage it will be harder to squat bodyweight, so I may not require it all the time, but for most people it will be highly encouraged.
The reason for this is because more muscle = higher metabolic rate. This means you'll be able to eat more and feel less fatigued when you go in to a calorie deficit. Another reason it is important is because when you loose fat, you will most likely lose muscle too. Most women say they want to look "toned" and assume they just need to lose some fat. But the fact is that if you don't have enough muscle, you could lose all the fat in the world and still not look toned. "Toned" means you have low enough body fat AND high enough muscle mass. Build muscle first, then loose fat, if you still want to.
5: Regular and Nearly Painless Periods
Obviously this only applies to biological women who have not gone through menopause yet. The reason I look for this is because it is the ultimate sign of healthy. Your monthly period is like a report card on your health. If your periods are irregular or painful, this is a sign that something is off hormonally and in turn, metabolically. Resolving this needs to be a priority.
I don't look for perfection here. If you have SOME pain I may still okay a fat loss phase, but I should not be any debilitating or that you have to take pain mediation for. Birth control is also not a solution to regulating one's period as it masks the problem and creates a fake period.
6: Relatively Good Body Image
I say "relatively" because I think to an extent everyone will struggle with this because we all have bodies and consume media. I look for this because I don't want you to focus on fat loss simply to make yourself more valuable in your mind. It's one thing to consciously know that fat loss won't change your value, but subconsciously is another thing. The majority of people still place so much value on aesthetics.
Other people may want to lose fat because they can't move the way they used to and daily activity is becoming more challenging and they just don't feel as healthy. It's not solely because they don't love what they see in the mirror. You can be not in love with what you see in the mirror and still appreciate your, show it care, and prioritize your health.
Is your thought process: "How many calories can I burn? How much fat can I get rid of?"
Or is it: "How can I lift more weight? How many more steps can I climb? Can my body move better?"
Can you be objective?
I will never encourage people to lose weight because I am neutral towards weight loss. Just like anything else in life, it has consequences and I want you to fully understand what those are for your body.
For guidance preparing for and going through a fat loss phase in the healthiest way possible for yourself, you can apply for personal training with me. HERE is the link to read more and apply.
Join Estelle's email list to receive weekly tips, inspiration, and latest podcast episodes!
P.S. I even have a gift for you to help you become more consistent with exercise!
No SPAM allowed! Your information will never be sold or shared for any reason.