Your body doesn’t want to lose weight.
Yes, you did read that correctly.
That statement might be a tough pill to swallow, but it’s a truth that we can’t in good conscience ignore:
As far as we know, humans as a species haven’t had any notable genetic evolutions over the last few hundred years.
This means our bodies for the most part, function the exact same way as they did when we were required to hunt and gather our food rather than order it online and wait for delivery.
In our more hunting & gathering times, we could never be sure when the next meal was coming, and as such it made sense from a ‘not-starving-to-death’ perspective that we store the food we aren’t using for energy as fat, so we can live off said stores should our mealtimes drop in frequency.
Yes I’m afraid to say that our physiology hasn’t quite caught up to our desire for rock hard abs.
Because of this, our body has a few sneaky ways to ensure we don’t lose that precious fat as fast as we’d like….
But don’t worry – we’ll give you the sneaky cheats to side step your self-sabotage, and keep your weight fat loss going strong 😉
Your Body Will Adapt To Stimulus To Use Less Energy
I don’t mean to cause offence, but in case you weren’t aware; you are naturally lazy.
Now I don’t mean this in a motivation sense (the fact you’ve gone out of your way to read this blog tells me you’re willing to put in the work). I mean from a purely physiological sense.
I suppose a better way to word it would be that your body is naturally lazy.
For example, if you were to go to the gym and perform a barbell back squat with a 40 kilogram weight for 3 sets of 10 reps, you’ll create a certain (beneficial) amount of muscle damage, and burn a certain amount of calories.
If you repeat that exact same exercise and load every week for a further 6 weeks, the muscle damage and calories burnt from the session will be far lower than when you first performed the exercise.
There are a couple of reasons for this.
Number one, is that you’ll become more technically efficient at the exercise the more often you perform it.
Now that might sound like a great thing, however ‘technically proficient’ really means your body has learned how to perform the movement using the fewest amount of calories possible. Not great if you’re looking to drop body fat.
The second reason the exercise will become less effective is because of the SAID principle: the premise that your body will have Specific Adaptations To Imposed Demands. Or to put it another way – the first time you lift the weight for 3 sets of 10, your body will recognise the need to build enough muscle and develop the strength to lift that load for that amount of volume in the future.
If you repeat the exact same stimulus a few weeks in a row your body will notice you aren’t taxing it any further, so it doesn’t need to adapt any further (that is to say, it doesn’t need to build any more metabolism -boosting muscle mass)!
Damn that lazy body of yours, hey?
So how can you ensure you continue to progress if your body is always trying to do the least amount of work possible?
Firstly, ensure that if the movement you’re performing is consistent week to week, slowly increase either the volume or intensity (that is to say, total reps, or total weight).
Or, as your body adjusts to the stimulus of a certain movement pattern you can alter the mechanics slightly. For example performing a front squat instead of back squat, or a dumbbell press instead of a bench press.
Your Body Will Adjust To Restricted Diets
Not only will your own physiology attempt to sabotage your strength and training progression, it will also try and slow the results of your diet!
Let’s say for example you’ve restricted your eating to 2 meals a day, totalling 1000 calories (conveniently). If your required energy intake is 2000 calories, then you’re going to lose weight.
But, as your body realises the calories you’re consuming aren’t sufficient, it will start shutting down certain internal functions, and searching for sources other than body fat for fuel.
Does losing muscle mass and having a decreased immune function sound like a great time? If not, you’ll want to steer clear of allowing your calories to drop too low.
Even More Sensible Approaches Will Eventually Stall
Yes, it’s true – even if you’ve side-stepped the really low calorie trap, and instead are eating a balanced diet just below your energy requirements (the generally accepted stimulus for weight loss), there will still come a point where your progress will stall.
Why? Most often because of two pesky hormones: Leptin and Ghrelin.
Without getting too ‘sciencey’ (because who enjoys doing that?)…
Leptin is a hormone that decreases your hunger levels, and is secreted from fat cells.
Ghrelin is a hormone that increases your hunger levels, and is mostly produced in the lining of your stomach.
If you’re following a restricted diet (which to a certain extent, weight loss requires), then your leptin will decrease, and your ghrelin will increase.
Figured out what that means?
As you begin to lose weight, your body will actually tell you to start eating more – how rude is that?!
Now the best way to avoid this response is to make sure you’re listening to your hunger and fullness cues carefully whilst dropping body fat. That is you’re ensuring you eat when hungry, and stop as you get full (or at around 80% full).
If you ignore these signals and restrict your diet to the extent where you’re hungry all the time, then the leptin and ghrelin response will be even more exaggerated.
Another method to offset these cheeky hormones messing with your fat loss is to have a ‘re-feed meal’.
This is a meal that most often would involve a larger amount of carbohydrates than your normal fat-loss diet may allow, and you’d eat to a point of complete satisfaction.
The introduction of such a meal has been proven to help regulate your hormones and stop your body from further impacting your weight loss attempts.
These are often referred to as ‘cheat meals’, and Instagram is littered with them.
But honestly, despite what social media might be making you think, a ‘cheat meal’, doesn’t have to be unhealthy. In fact you’ll get the same benefits from eating an extra large portion of sweet potato with dinner, instead of gorging on pizza and ice cream. And in fact, when you take into account inflammation and other factors, the former is clearly a better choice.
That being said, having an actual ‘cheat meal’ isn’t such a bad thing, as we’ll cover within the next point…
You Don’t Have To Be Strict 100% Of The Time
One of the biggest downfalls I see when people are attempting to drop body fat, is that they go with the ‘all-or-nothing’ approach that is so often perpetuated by shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’.
Such an intense approach to both diet and exercise more often than not, creates an unhealthy relationship with food and training, and results in the willing participant of such practices ‘falling off the wagon’ within a fortnight.
This is one of the most important realisations you can make for long term weight loss success:
You don’t have to eat and train like a nun preparing for the Olympics 24/7 in order to make progress.
And in fact trying to do so will result in the yo-yo results approach we so often fall prey to when attempting to go all-in on fitness.
Instead, try and stick with an 80% rule on ‘clean eating’, and don’t beat yourself up for eating a doughnut.
A single salad isn’t going to get you shredded, the same way one slice of cake won’t undo a week of hard training and good nutrition; allow yourself to be human to make your fat-loss journey that little bit easier.
Losing Weight Is An Admirable Challenge
And by taking it on, you’ve set yourself apart as an action taker.
It’s not an easy task, but it also doesn’t have to be an unpleasant one.
Surround yourself with people that support your goals, ensure your training gets progressively more challenging as your fitness improves (meaning you can’t start out going at 110%!), eat a balanced diet without dropping your calories too low, and above all, don’t become discouraged when you ‘slip up’.
Because you’re doing this for a reason. Hell, you must be, because you just read through an entire blog on how to. That’s not an action that an unmotivated person will take.
And now you’re armed with a few extra ‘cheats’ to keep your progression going, or to jump-start it should you plateau, that journey got just a little bit easier.
Because let’s be real for a second- anything worth doing has to be a least a little challenging, right? 😉
Believe us when we say we completely understand how difficult weight loss can be. The Luke Bremner Fitness team have worked with hundreds of clients who initially found weight loss difficult challenging, as you may be now.
If you are currently struggling to lose weight and are unsure where you’re going wrong, perhaps we can help. We appreciate losing weight and improving your health can be overwhelming and confusing. By breaking it down in to simple, actionable steps that are achieveable, we can help, just like we have with the hundreds of clients we’ve worked with – many of whom you can read about here.
We offer a complimentary consultation so you can find out more about what we do and how we can help you lose weight, improve your health and fitness, and live a happier life.