Truth Bombs and the F-word
Updated: May 12
I have been meaning to write this for a while but a recent conversation with an old client prompted me to do it sooner rather than later.
My client approached me to help him reduce his waistline and to obtain that elusive six-pack. He requested I do several training sessions a week concentrating on the abdominals to achieve this. I wanted to help but I had to be honest with him and drop a few truth bombs and eventually say the F word -FOOD
So here is the first Truth Bomb-exercise and activity is not the best strategy for losing body fat, though it is a great ADDITIONAL strategy. On the plus side, exercise has been shown to improve mood, sleep, reduce anxiety and enhance overall wellbeing but it’s a poor cousin to truth bomb number 2.
Truth Bomb 2 is that as a PRIMARY strategy for losing body fat, exercise is not nearly as effective as focusing on your diet, more importantly eating less than what is required to maintain your current body fat (giving your body less energy than it needs). This is called eating at a deficit. You must have heard the phrase- you cannot out-train a bad diet. Well, it’s not a myth but Truth bomb number 3. It takes a hell of a lot of exercise to burn even a relatively small number of calories, you only need to look at the calorimeter on a treadmill to see this (though notoriously inaccurate, it gives you a rough guide). Here is an example - an hour on a treadmill running at a relatively moderate pace may burn 400-600 calories. But consume a Big Mac and you have used up 565 calories (and I have not even counted the fries). Or how about a handful of almonds, they are ‘healthy’ right? Well everyone’s handfuls are different but 100g of almonds is 550 calories. So do you see what I am getting at? An hours hard work in the gym can be easily wiped out in just minutes. By doing exercise, we become fitter, stronger, more flexible and therefore burn more calories, which can contribute to an energy deficit over time. It’s that deficit which is essential for losing body fat.
It is far easier and quicker to reduce calorie intake by eating less food than it is to spend ages working out. Furthermore, if you are doing vigorous cardio, you may feel hungrier than if you had not. In that case, using exercise as your tool for body fat loss is truly counterproductive.
Here is Truth Bomb 4-there is a huge distinction between cardio and resistance training. Unlike my above statement about cardio being appetite-inducing, strength training has an appetite suppressing effect. Therefore, for optimal results, it is best to combine a calorie deficit diet with a strength training programme. An hour strength training might result in similar calorie burn to cardio but the effects of your workout extends far after you leave the gym. By adding muscles (lean mass), which is very metabolically active, you are burning calories as you are resting on your sofa watching Netflix.
I am not trying to discourage you from doing exercise-it is good for you! Whether you like going to the gym, play team sports, do Zumba or simply love to walk, exercise is good for body, mind and soul. But if you are looking to lose body fat, then use your FOOD to FUEL your FAT LOSS!