Matt Roberts

Personal trainer and fitness coach to the stars

Fuelling Fat Loss

Good eating is half of the battle in any programme that is designed to improve your health and fitness. Whether someone has a goal of weight-loss, weight-gain or weight-maintenance, half of the effort is within what you consume and its relevance to your requirements.

Weight-loss does occur from eating very little food, excluding food groups from your diet and you sit in a sauna for several hours without drinking. While the third of these examples might seem absurd and obvious, it is no less dangerous to you than the first two. By comparison, successful eating programmes can only evolve around structured, controlled and measured eating. When training any significant deficit of calories from your body is going to make it impossible for you to do all of the work required to bring about change.

Simply put, muscles require energy in the same way that a car’s engine needs petrol. When starved of food, your muscles begin to stall and become unable to function, just like a car starved of fuel. The trick is to get the balance of your requirements, your food intake and your energy reserves that can be converted when you need them. A small percentage calorie deficit between your requirements and your intake will make your body need to draw on its own reserves successfully, whilst a large calorie deficit will make your body gradually slow down as it is unable to cope, and in turn it will burn less calories as your basal metabolic rate (BMR, the amount of calories you burn simply to exist) will drop.

Yes, some people lose weight by drastically cutting calorie intake, but let’s be honest, almost all of the people that lose weight this way will have ended up putting it back on again within around six months. We need to establish what your BMR is, and by knowing what is required we will be able to set a level of intake that leaves you in a minor, but significant, calorie deficit.

BMR is the amount of calories that your body requires simply to generate basic physiological and biological processes. This is determined by your gender, age and weight. The average UK female requires a total of 2,000 calories per day and the average UK male requires 2,500 calories per day. However, your BMR is only part of this total requirement, as your activity levels will add a further calorie demand. Therefore, any activity over and above your average daily output will further increase your calorific deficit and therefore ability to burn calories.

However, do not think that simply counting calories is the key to a healthy diet. Ensure that you have a well balanced intake with the right levels of all your macronutrients (10-30% Protein, 45-65% Carbohydrate and Fat, no more than 30%) ensuring you stay low on refined sugars and high on fruits, vegetables and lean meats such as chicken and fish.