Why “How To Lose Body Fat” is Such a Confusing Question
With all of the myths, gimmicks, pills, powders, and quick fixes available for fat loss, it’s no wonder that, “How do I lose body fat?” is one of the most common questions we receive from our community.
Women are so confused about the best way to lose body fat, and with good reason.
First, let’s be clear that losing weight and losing body fat are not the same thing. To lose weight, you can: chop off your arm, go 24 hours without eating, or sit in the sauna and sweat for an hour, but what you’re looking for when you say you want to lose weight is most likely fat loss.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move on to the king of fat loss, which is energy balance. That is, how many calories you’re taking in and how many you are expending. You cannot lose fat if you’re taking in more calories than you’re expending over a consistent period of time. However, the seemingly simple equation of calories in – calories out = fat loss, doesn’t quite cut it for women who want to look good, feel good, and feel healthy and strong over the long haul. There are other things to consider, which we will discuss below.
If energy balance is the king of fat loss, hormones are the queen. Total calories determine if you’re gaining or losing mass, but hormones determine what the makeup of that mass is (i.e. fat, muscle, bone, etc.). Because hormones control metabolism, and both hormones and metabolism are dynamic, fat loss isn’t quite as simple as, “eat less and move more.”
As Girls Gone Strong Advisory Board Member Dr. Brooke Kalanick explains in her article, “Is Metabolic Damage A Real Thing?”:
“We’ve been told to think of our metabolism as a simple math equation: calories in – calories out = fat loss. It makes more sense to acknowledge that our metabolism and hormones are fluid, dynamic, and adaptive. More like a rubber band. You can pull or push, but only to a point, then it snaps back.
Calories matter, and so do hormones like insulin and cortisol when it comes to losing weight. But let those ideas go for a moment and just think of the rubber band analogy. In order to get a result, fat loss in this case, you have to put just enough stress on it to get movement without it snapping back.
The key is just enough. Not enough stress and you stay stuck. Too much stress, and like the rubber band, the metabolism springs back.”
So we know that the key to fat loss is a combination of energy balance + a healthy hormone profile. But the question is, how do we achieve that?