The Shortest Fat-Loss Plan

After a few years of experimentation, primarily on myself, I believe that the book on losing body-fat can be summarised in just four words:

– Eat Less, Exercise More.

OK, there’s a whole lot more detail possible than that; there’s an entire diet, nutritionist and training industry to support after all – including me – but for 95% of people, for 95% of the time, those four words are all that is needed for you to make substantial improvements on the weight loss side. Indeed, if you take nothing else from my articles other than these four words, and decide to employ them in your daily life from now on, I will indeed be happy – and you will be too, I promise.

There are a few little bits I can add to those four words to give some suggestions as to how to apply this to your life, even if you want to go nowhere near a gym or exercise equipment, and ensure that is as effective as possible for you. But don’t worry if you don’t want to take it any further than this; just remember and follow those four words. Still reading? Good, let’s take it a little further.

Firstly note that what follows is far from a scientific explanation; it is designed to be easy to understand rather than being the full story. Further articles will go into more depth – but I suspect you don’t need that right now. Start by thinking of energy like a bank account – the currency is a calorie – a unit of energy. As you eat, calories are stored in the body – and as you move and exercise, they are used up. Any calories you consume that aren’t used are, in the main, stored as fat. If you are putting on weight as fat, you are banking more calories than you are spending.

Many people are suspicious when I tell them that just ‘Eating Less’ will work on the nutrition side, without further complications.  But consider this – think about what you ate for each meal yesterday; now, assume that each of those meals was doubled in size – rather than a bowl of cereal, you had two. Rather than two slices of bread, you had four. And so on, for the whole of yesterday day, every meal, every snack, doubled in size. Now imagine you did that for every day of last month, not just a day. So you’ve eaten twice the food, and twice the calories. Do you reckon you’d be fatter now than you were a month ago? Everyone says ‘yes’ to that, and I assume you did too, so the next ‘consider’ is: so, let’s think what would have happened had you had fewer calories than reality, rather than more. If more calories would make you fatter, then fewer calories would – do what, do you think?

People sometimes dread the word ‘exercise’. But for most of the time, for fat-loss, exercise as such isn’t needed – movement is. You don’t need to go near a gym – go anywhere in fact – but walk there, please. How about walking more quickly? If you walk 30% more quickly, you’ll use 30% more calories per hour.

Plus walking up escalators rather than standing still? Or, if you’re not going up too far, take the stairs rather than taking a lift? And if you are walking up stairs, you’ll use 40% more calories by taking them two at a time (and get a good legs workout too). A side benefit of these activities is that as well as using more calories, you’ll probably get to your destination more quickly so you get more time to do whatever it is you are off to do – a double benefit!

If you’re not in a rush, maybe walk rather than drive. And if you are waiting for anything, then even just standing and moving around a bit is going to use more calories than sitting.

Now that we have:

– Eat Less, Exercise More

I could add some numbers. How about:

– Eat 10% Less, Move 10% More

as an upgrade of the four words?

The 10% reduction of eating can come across the board – it’s not ideal, but it would be a start – just cut everything by 10%.

A practical example with numbers – if you normally have around 2500 calories per day, and your weight is stable (but you think its too much) then you can save 10% of that input by taking out a Mars bar or similar, or a couple of slices of bread with some spread. And spend an extra 250 by adding a 30-minute daily brisk walk.

That’s a net benefit of 500 per calories per day, which would typically result in around 1lb of body fat loss per week – doesn’t sound like much, but that’s almost four stone lost in a year. Again, a simplification.

Next, be patient – it took years for all that excess weight to go on, it’s not going to come off overnight. But try it for a month or two and see the difference at the end, as you head towards a renewed you.