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Two Keys to Fat Loss

With so much information on the subject of "weight loss" (even on this site), it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Add to that the vast amount of disinformation and misinformation that we are all bombarded with, and the situation can seem hopeless to those who are struggling to reduce their body fat.

There are all kinds of things that work and all kinds of good tips. These range in effectiveness from very effective to minimally effective. Wouldn't it be nice if someone would just tell you what a couple of the most effective ones are?

OK, you've got it. Here are two keys, which we'll explain in more detail:

  1. Reduce portion size.

  2. Reduce calorie content.

Most people who hear these things don't understand what they really mean or how to implement them. So, let's look at each one and how to make it easy for you to do.

Reduce portion size.

This is the single most important thing you can do to reduce the amount of fat you are carrying around. Portion oversizing is the main difference between American meals and European meals. And it's why the normal American is obese and the normal European is not.

There are many ways to reduce portion size. I'll present some of them here. You can pick and choose from these, and you can think about other ways that work for you.

  • Plan your meals. This is the approach recommended by Bill Phillips and his Body For Life program. It's also the approach used by professional athletes, movie stars, and serious bodybuilders. Simply make your meals in advance, plan when you will eat them, and don't deviate from the plan.

  • Cut your meals. Meals in American restaurants tend to be about 3 times the size they should be. If you go out to eat, ask for a second plate. When it's brought to you, simply remove 2/3 of each item that you were served and put it on that second plate. Then, ask the waiter/waitress to remove that plate. Sound wasteful? It's not nearly as wasteful as paying for the extra fuel to lug around a fat body, and then paying for the medical supplies needed due to obesity-related diseases.

    An alternative to this approach is to cut the meal in half. That is, order one meal and share it with a dining partner. Then, budget your other meals for the day--that is, eat less for your other meals to make up for the larger meal.
    In many cases, you can order a child's portion--which may be sized about right for an adult.

  •  Buy smaller plates. If you are consistently overeating and your are serving your meals on 10-inch plates, you can solve that problem easily. Assuming you aren't going back for seconds, just use smaller plates. Replace your 10-inch plates with 7-inch plates.

    An alternative to this is to alternate your plate usage. Have the 10-inch plates for meal #2 and then use "teacup" plates (which may be 4 inches) for meals #3 and #5--or some combination thereof. Note that we are assuming you eat 6 meals a day, not 3.

  • Eat smaller shakes. Many people today are eating Meal Replacement Powder (MRP) drinks or protein shakes in addition to whole food meals. This is a good idea, but you have to be careful that you aren't just adding three big shake meals to three big whole food meals. Read the container and look at the calorie count. If it says two scoops will give you 300 calories, then don't make a 4-scoop shake. Adding in fruit, oats, and anything else is increasing your portion size and your calorie count, so take that into consideration as well.

    One thing that happens is people get carried away with the blender. Use a shaker cup or a glass and spoon, if this is your problem.

    Another thing that happens is people think they have to get "X" grams of protein each day, and they count only the protein from the shakes. Consequently, they are eating shakes that are too big.

Reduce calorie content.

This is the second most important thing you can do to reduce the amount of fat you are carrying around. There are many ways to reduce the calorie content of your meals. I'll present some of them here. You can pick and choose from these, and you can think about other ways that work for you. You can also read our article on hidden calories.

  • Eat green, not grain. People in general, and Americans in particular, eat way too much grain. Where the Food Pyramid says "grain," make that "green." The pounds of fat will "magically" melt off your body.

  • Eliminate refined sugars. Read your labels, and don't buy or eat things with high fructose corn syrup and other things that everyone by now knows is sugar. Simply avoiding boxed and canned items is generally a good strategy, but do note that very good foods such as beans come in cans (canned kidney beans, however, are soaked in sugar--read the label). If the can or box contains that food without stuff added, then it's fine. Otherwise, be suspicious that sugar is being sneaked in under some name designed to fool you.

  • Don't drink "fat fuel." Limit your beverages to coffee, tea, and water--with no additions of such calorie bombs as sugar or cream. If you are drinking soft drinks, stop. What about drinking milk? That's controversial--the pros and cons on that are beyond the scope of this article. If you do drink milk, just remember that it's a high-calorie beverage.

  • Go light on meat, cheese, nuts, butter, oils, and other calorie-dense foods. Meat, nuts, and oils contain important nutrients and can be a valuable part of your diet. Just keep in mind that they need to be a small part of your diet because they bring a lot of calories in a small package. Eating handfuls of "healthy" nuts is unhealthy. Similarly, overdoing the health benefits of olive oil isn't healthy.

Someone will no doubt ask, "What about exercise? You didn't mention that at all!" That is correct. Remember, this article was about the two most effective things you can do to reduce your body fat. Great bodies are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.

There are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. You can exercise off only so many calories a day before you exceed the design limits of your joints, connective tissues, and other bodily structures. If you are consistently taking in too many calories, then you are fighting a losing battle--no matter how much time you spend on a treadmill or whatever.

Therefore, you must start with reducing the number of calories you take in. This is why reducing portion size and reducing the caloric density of what you do eat are the two most effective means of losing fat.

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Article Authorship

The articles on this site are authoritative, because:

  • Every contributor is an expert in his or her field.
  • The articles comply with the accepted principles of the bodybuilder literature.
  • The articles comply with the teachings of such luminaries as 8-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney.

 Where an article is not bylined with a specific author's name, it was written by Mark Lamendola (see photos on home page and elsewhere on this site). Mark is a 4th degree blackbelt, has not been sick since 1971, and has not missed a workout since 1977. Just an example of how Mark knows what he's talking about: In his early 50s, Mark demonstrated a biceps curl using half his body weight. That's a Jack LaLanne level stunt. Few people can even come close. If you want to know how to build a strong, beautiful body, read the articles here.

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