Those among us who compete in weight based contact sports have weight cutting and loss to a fine art, but for many it can remain a tightly kept secret held by few and for those that can attain it, a temporary victory won by pain and denial. Losing weight is hard, and as you get older, more and more difficult to achieve. Firstly, men lose eight percent of their muscle mass each decade after their 20’s. As we’ve written before here, reductions in testosterone also play a huge part, and maintaining and cutting weight requires a base level of understanding of how the body works, how it reacts to water, proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and a realistic view of what exercise can achieve. In short, we simply don’t bounce back like we did from a few months in the gutter.
So lets start at the beginning. Why do we even care about this? Well, we aren’t starting from a great position. Right now, 64% of United States, UK and Australian adults age 20 years and over are overweight or obese, and 30% are obese. This costs the United States health system alone $117Bn each year, paid by the taxes of hard working people all over the States. Let’s also start by saying that we live longer when we have a lower percentage of body fat. Literally…the higher a persons body fat percentage, the lower their life expectancy.
Being overweight means an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and type 2 diabetes. There is a relationship between obesity and risk of stroke – basically the risk of stroke increases from 10% to 30% with an increase of 3 kg/m2 in BMI. A sustained 10% weight loss among the obese reduced the expected lifetime incidence of coronary heart disease and stroke by 12 to 38 cases per 1000 and 1 to 13 cases per 1000, respectively.
Ok, so the big stuff matters. But the small stuff matters too. Losing weight increases mood, positive thinking, gives food much more and richer taste, helps libido and basically makes your body work better.
We want to be up front about this. This article isn’t for guys cutting weights for fights, BJJ or competition; this is for the guys starting out where the food industry has played a sleight of hand. We’ll cover you more advanced guys in a later blog. For now, for those guys starting out, there are just five steps.
Go to Sleep
Yes, we are serious. This is number 1 and it matters. One study found that when dieters cut back on sleep over a 14-day period, the amount of weight they lost from fat dropped by 55%, even though their calories stayed equal. Not enough sleep and you won’t lose weight, and everything we say from now won’t matter. So cut the coffee and the late night movies, and hit the hay.
Cut the simple sugars out
Lets not get into a whole “carbs are better than fats” discussion here. Bread is a meal, so don’t eat more than a few slices a day. Cut the soft drinks out, and take out the simple carbs – chips, milk chocolate, white pasta and white rice. If you want it, take it brown and take it slow release. You’ll be thirsty and so drink a lot of water, but remember this; there isn’t a sedentary person out there who eats a loaf of bread a day, pastries, chips and drinks soft drinks, and weighs less than 220 pounds. Just saying. Fill that gap with vegetables. They will not kill you.
Watch the overall calories
The days of getting strong on a pizza diet are gone, guys. It’s a game of prioritisation. While the game is really won with egg white omelettes, protein sources and vegetables, it doesn’t need to start that way in the early days. It does need to start however with a clear view of what you need, what you can’t afford and the choices you need to make each day. You can’t work off that pizza anymore – that went with your 22nd birthday. Download the MyFitness App or whatever works for you, and don’t worry about the percentages of protein, carbs and fat until you get your weight down a little but first. Just hit your overall number, every day. If you go over, wake up, take a deep breath, and make it up with a long walk. There are no cheat days when you are starting out.
Lifting more weight makes your metabolism go faster, and adding 1kg of muscle to your body adds around 800 calories to your weekly requirement. Put simply, stronger people burn more energy. If you can’t join a gym, make sure you lift your own weight. 20 press ups in the morning and 20 at night is a good goal. If you can’t do 20, do 10. If you can’t do 10, do 5. You get the point. If you can crawl, crawl. Later, there are three words you will need in your vocabulary. Bench press, squat and deadlift. But that’s for later.
The need for speed
Unfortunately, and we are sorry about this, cardio is required. 75 minutes minimum per week, to be precise but every day is fine too. We don’t care if you walk, run or skip. At this point, just work the heart. You’ll know when to step it up. Go for a walk every day for an hour and you’ll take off 300 calories minimum. Combined with hitting your number, watching the simple sugars, lifting, and getting a good night’s sleep, life is going to get a whole lot better.