A few days ago I received an email with a question about body fat and how to achieve the ideal percentage we want. I thought the question was very good, it raises something that usually happens to all of us, when we reach a certain point where we get stuck. Here I show the email she sent me, so that you see her situation and I will respond from my experience in the best way I can.
I am following your ig.
I love every posts of your posts about exercising tips.
And you are also my exercise inspiration too.
I have been searching for answer of one question.
But can’t find it.
It is about losing body fat and gain muscle.
Some said if I am still on calories deficit but consume enough protein, you wont lose your muscle and also lose your fat.
I have been doing calories deficits for a year.
My %body fat is going down but
after I reached 25%, my body fat% stops moving.
As the measurement shown, my body fat still maintains at 25% for 2 months and muscle mass is going down a bit.
(I am 42 kg, 154cm, doing weightlifting 4 times a week 2 days for upper and lower each, consume 1200-1300kcal/day wt 80-100g of protein in a day)
My target is to reach 20% body fat.
I don’t know how i should fix or what I did wrong.
Do you have any suggestions?
Thank you in advance “
Reduce body fat without losing muscle:
If you have been working on defining and toning your muscles for some time, but you want to eliminate fat and lose some weight without reducing your muscle volume, you should know that 3 requirements must be met:
Create an energy deficit
Counting calories is a very good way of achieving an energy deficit that allows you to reduce accumulated fat.
And the formula is clear, if you consume excess calories, you will gain weight.
Therefore, reducing calories is the solution for your body to start burning fat faster as a method of obtaining energy.
To achieve this, you can calculate the basal metabolic rate (BMR), which are the daily calories necessary for a resting person’s body to carry out its basic functions.
Maintain intense muscle exercises
If in addition to reducing fat and losing weight, you want to tone and build muscle, then you should include intense muscle exercises in your training.
Increase current energy expenditure
What is the duration and intensity of the exercises that we must maintain to burn the calories consumed and not gain weight or accumulate fats that are not necessary?
It is difficult to know what that optimal level is, but we do know that your fat reduction training must include:
- A duration of activity that exceeds 30 minutes in order for the body to begin to obtain energy from fats.
- A moderate intensity in the case of untrained people (50-70%) or moderate-high in the case of athletes (60-85%).
- Strength and endurance programs that include exercises with weights carried out in the form of circuits or series with various repetitions and intensity, and thus increase energy consumption hours after exercise.
This happened to me too between 2016 and 2018. I was stuck in the same body fat percent, but I changed these things in 2018. If you feel like you’re trying your best and the fat is still ‘stuck’ in your body, some of these things are almost certainly happening to you:
- You eat too much sugar
Keep an eye on the sugar you consume, in drinks / soft drinks, in sweets, in your coffee / tea. Refined sugar is one of the most harmful (and addictive) nutritional ‘inventions’ for our body.
Most of the sugar we consume can be found in juices and processed products. Check the labels of the “healthy” products, always read the percentages of sugar that they contain.
You eat too many carbohydrates
Carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates and flours, have the same effect as sugar: high glucose levels, increased insulin and inhibition of fat burning processes. Reduce bread (and everything that contains flour), pasta and other cereals from your diet, and you will see how it improves your fat burning significantly.
Prioritise complex carbohydrates. (Wholemeal)
You sleep less than 7 hours
If you sleep less than 7 hours a day it will be difficult for you to lose fat. The body needs rest to recover. Additionally, there are many studies associating lack of sleep with low leptin levels, which launch satiety messages to your brain. If you sleep too little, it will take longer to feel full and you will eat more. This is just an example; Little sleep impacts multiple hormones and therefore your ability to maintain good health.
- You drink a lot of milk
If you’ve eliminated sugar and refined carbohydrates, and the fat still resists, the problem may be too many dairy products in your diet. Milk, despite having a relatively low glycemic index, generates insulin spikes in the blood beyond what would be explained by the lactose (sugar) or carbohydrate it contains.
This effect is generated with both whole and skim milk, and the explanation seems to be in certain enzymes in milk that enhance the insulin response. Considering that milk is a relatively recent addition to the human diet, there are many people who, despite not showing visible symptoms, have problems processing it, which causes inflammation in the body and a greater tendency to gain weight. My advice: try almond milk.
- You eat many processed products
Ignore the labels with ‘healthy’ messages you see on packaged products. If it comes in a nice container and has more than 4 ingredients, it is probably not good for your health. If the manufacturer has to spend millions on advertising to convince you of how healthy it is, it surely isn’t. Most of these products are based on refined carbohydrates and sugar, accompanied by flavourings and other additives.
Eat ‘real’ food that your grandparents would recognise, and forget about the ‘new’ packaged products.
- You are stressed
Being under continuous stress generates high levels of cortisol in the blood, which translates into a greater tendency to accumulate fat and greater difficulty in gaining muscle. This point is really important.
- You do too much cardio (aerobic exercise)
Following up with the previous point, many people think that the best way to lose fat is with long cardio workouts. Running for hours or watching movies on an elliptical machine. Long cardio sessions can raise your cortisol levels and sabotage your efforts to lose fat, apart from doing little to stop building your muscles (your fat burning ally). As an example, 10 minutes skipping rope is much more efficient in terms of burning fat than twice the time of ‘jogging’.
- our workouts are light
It has been proven that to burn fat, it is more efficient to carry out short and intense workouts than long and light workouts, using compound exercises that maximise the number of muscles that are exercised simultaneously. Exercises with kettlebells are also exceptional for burning fat, since by relying on ballistic movements they raise the heart rate while working on your strength. Lift heavy and follow your progress, try to modify the workout, you shouldn’t always repeat the same workout.
Another great way to lose fat is to sprint or perform high intensity interval trainings, that is, running at full speed for short periods (for example).
- You are okay
You may not lose fat simply because you have achieved a healthy level of homeostasis (balance) for yourself. I will be the first to encourage you, regardless of your state, to always try to go a little further.
It is very easy for a beginner to improve, but for someone in good condition, it is more difficult to see continuous progress. Comparing ourselves to another person’s photo (and in most cases not real), sometimes makes us set ourselves impossible targets. Trying to get to a 15% of body fat in a woman can cause disorders in her sexual hormones, even interfering with her menstruation.
Always try to improve, but learn to recognise where’s the limit. You are doing a great job, nothing is wrong, the progress is slower when you are already fit. 25% body fat for a female is amazing, you are healthy and fit.
I give you my advice from my experience: I have a different nutritional plan from yours, mine is 2,200 / 2,800 calories per day. But my goal is to stay at the weight and percentages I am at now. When I wasn’t able to lower my fat percentage I kept my same nutritional plan, but I changed those 9 points that I mentioned before. I think these 9 points that will help you reach that 20% body fat percentage you’re looking for.
I hope this helped you!