50 Ways to Be Less Fat
Several years ago I decided to be “not fat” anymore and lost 20KG (44lbs). Ish. During that time I have read a lot of books. A lot. Watched a shedload of videos, ate a lot of chicken and in the process accidentally became an “enthusiastic amateur” into the how and why. I meet a lot of people who knew me before I lost the weight and they all (seemingly slack jawed) ask me the “how” so I decided to try and distill all I have read and watched into a list of SIMPLE tips, guidance and advice. They all worked for me.
Here we go — not at 50 yet but will keep adding until I am. There is some repetition and it’s a bit raggy, but slowing working on fixing that.
1 There is no diet to help you lose weight. There are though plenty of diets to help you go hungry. STOP DIETING. Any diet that is a “no doughnut’ diet will help you lose some weight in the short term. But only that. Do you want to be less fat for 3 months or not fat for life?
2 Don’t diet — change your eating habits instead. Cut out ALL processed food, ESPECIALLY processed carbs and sugar. These two alone will help you lose most of the weight you need. Rule of thumb — is it white? It’s generally processed then. That includes bread, rice & pasta.
3 Exercise. Move. More. Enough to create a calorie deficit daily or weekly. What does this mean? The average adult male needs 2500 calories a day (woman 2000). Max. Eat 2500 a day and dont move, you will stay the same weight, whatever that is. 80KG or 100KG. Eat less and you will lose weight. Eat more and you will get fat, however healthy the food is. So — create a deficit with either exercise or less food. Eat 2500 a day and exercise for 500 — you will loose approx one lb a week. Eat 2000 a day. Same effect but less food. It’s that simple. Want more food AND to get toned and leaner? Get off your ass.
4 Work on the 80/20 rule WHEN AT YOUR TARGET WEIGHT. Don’t know what your target is? My non scientific suggestion — look at someone your age, build and height. Build is important because we are all different shapes. Right — do they look good? Go up and ask how much they weigh. That’s now your target. Until then — live on 100% compliance to if you can, 90% at worst. Whats 80/20? Thats 80% good healthy non processed fresh food. 20% not so good. Stick to this. For life. Yes. For life.
5 It’s not eat less move more — it’s eat better, move propely. Less will have you hungry. Less does not take into account 300 calories of chicken vs a 300 calories Mars Bar. Move properly means not walking the dog or walking to the shops. How many thin healthy people do you see walking dogs? Right. So — it’s moving properly and enough in the day to create a 500 calorie deficit. Got it?
6 Inside your 80% don’t eat anything you dont visually recognise. What’s in a pie crust? I have no idea either. So don’t eat it. What’s in a doghnut? Don’t know. Chemicals. Processed carbs. Sugar. Not a lot else. Only eat food you can look at, name and recognise as “food”.
7 HIIT is amazing and time efficient. Most of the science is twaddle and handed down claims from exercises gurus unproven or less than insinuated. EPOC and all that stuff. I read the white papers so you don’t have to. The science is sketchy on why it works, but we know it does. I did it. Do for a minimum of 20 minutes. MINIMUM. None of this 7 minute rubbish. I’ll not bore you with the heart rate technicality on why a 7 minute one does not work. Any HIIT will do. There are dozens on YT. Jumping up and down ones. Kettlebell ones. One exercise on a bike ones. Doesn’t matter. 20 minutes flat out is the rule. 40s on, 20s off. 20 minutes. Simple. 4–5 times a week.
8 Running is better. I do both. Why? First — calorie deficit. A 4 mile 35 minute run is appox 500–600 calories. Wow. Thats great! It also helps your cardio, gets you all round fitter and out in the fresh air. A run and a HIIT a day 5 times a week for me is a 700–800 calorie deficit a day. Result! Should you do cardio before or after HIIT? To be honest, if you are worried about that you likely need to be in an Olympic training camp.
9 Don’t run in headphones. Personal preference but I prefer to think. You will too. Don’t take a phone with you. Do your selfies when you get back. Get away from it all. You will be surprised how many things you work through in your head.
10 Reduce bread, pasta and (white) potatoes. Sorry. These are carb killers. I’m not advocating Atkins style abstinence but these three carb sources are the worst for you. Eat sparingly, if at all. Especially potatoes. Sorry. Thats chips too. If you’re going to eat carbs, eat few and within 2 hours of working out. Brown rice great. Brown anything. Unprocessed you see. If you havent worked out? Avoid carbs. Especially when moving towards your target weight (see 80/20 rule).
11 Workout 4–5 times a week. Take 2 days off. Concecutive or seperately. It doesn’t matter.
12 If you body tells you to rest then rest. Take a day off. You will know when it says this. Don’t mistake this for that feeling of laziness or aching muscles — it’s not the same.
13 Measure more than weigh. That’s yourself. Waist. Hips. Chest. Thighs. Neck. Biceps. Track them. Monthly. Weight will follow. At some point your measurements will continue to go down, especially waist, and your weight up. Thats when you’re more muscle than fat.
14 BMI is mostly garbage. Follow the simpler half your height rule instead. Your waist should be less than half your height. Male or female. It’s simpler and works better. Is your waist more than half your height? Then you’re overweight. It’s not complex.
15 You dont get fat eating fat. You get fat eating too many carbs and lots of sugar which are converted to fat. I’ll not bore you with the science. Go to YouTube. Trim fat by all means, I do, but dont confuse the two. It’s science fiction. Fat is high in calories. See my calorie deficit point. Most of us are fat because we have trained our bodies to take all the carbs and sugar we shove into them and efficiently turn the excess into fat thats stored on us. You need to untrain that and the easiest way until at your target weight is to cut both these to a bare minimum. Note PROCESSED carbs. Not carbs overall.
16 Buy some low carb recipe books. The Joe Wicks ones are great. Loads of others. They will help you eat the right food.
17 When following recipes find a half dozen you really like and stick to them 80% of the time. Else it gets very really expensive and tedious. The other 20% mix it up with some of the other recipes. See note about high and low carb meals. Haven’t worked out? Low carb. work out — carbs, but within 2 hours.
18 Shop more often. Best way to get fresher food for eating. Dont buy processed foods. Just whole foods that you will cook with. Veg. Fruit. White meat, fish. Eggs. I eat LOTS of eggs.
19 Eat fruit. Whole fruit. Don’t blend the fibre. Eat it. You can’t eat 20 oranges but you can drink them. Then it’s just sugar and water though. You have lost the fibre. Scientifically there is no maximum amount. I eat a piece a day, sometimes two!
20 Buy dark chocolate. +80%. Calorie wise it’s the same as milk. You cant eat as much though — it’s too rich. It’s great to have a square with a cup of tea on an evening. Treat time.
21 Drink more water. This less about “flushing toxins”. Again — the science is out on that one. But most of us dont hydrate enough anyway and it stops you feeling hungry. Be prepared to wee. A lot. Look at the colour of it to see if you’re drinking enough. Dark. Not enough. Straw. You’re fine.
22 Only you can choose to be fat or thin. No-one else. It’s a personal choice. You choose to be the shape you are. You cant be told to lose weight — never works. You have to choose.
23 Everyones shape is different. Dont mistake fat/thin for shape and build. You can be super thin or super broad. Hippy or not hippy. Small bum, big bum. It’s not the same as fat and thin. Fat is when you’re overweight. Look in a mirror. Easiest way to tell.
24 Protein powder, unless you’re a bodybuilder, is a placebo. Use it, thats fine — it can help you mentally — but remember it’s calories. A protein shake between meals with berries and fruit. It’s still 300–500 calories. See deficit.
25 Train when works best for you. Morning and fasted for me on HIIT and later in the day for a run. You body will tell you what works. I feel sick doing HIIT after eating. I can’t run first thing in the morning. I run out of energy fast. We are all different. Experiment. You have all your life to get it right.
26 Keep some snacks handy. Bear in mind calories per day though. Handful of nuts great. A rice cracker and some peatnut butter is good. A small pot of greek 0%, some crushed nuts, a banana and some grated dark choc works. Again — CALORIE DEFICIT. If you go over, you go over and wont lose weight.
27 When you’re ready invest in some weights. It’s about lean muscle not becoming Arnie. It’s also helping your calorie deficit. Mix some simple weights routines into your routine. Kettle bells are best. Kettlebell HIITS kill two birds with one stone.
28 The first 2–4 weeks when reducing carbs and sugar is a killer. I wont pretend it’s not. I still have a sweet tooth. So I run. Push through it — once you have weaned your body off these and it’s burning fat it gets A LOT easier. 2–4 weeks. Promise.
29 There is no shortcut. No magic recipe book. No one month box you can buy. No 3 month plan. No cabbage diet. It’s hard work, sweat and dedication. Dedication to working out 5 times a week. Dedication to choose the right food, day in and out. There is always a healthy option on the menu. Choose it. Only you can make that decision every day to stay not fat. Not me. It took me 6 months to lose the bulk and 18 months to get to target. 1lb at a time. It will take a lifetime of choices to maintain. Accept that and thrown away anything that says otherwise.
30 You are the shape you eat and posture of how you exercise. There are big (active) people with great posture and thin people all hunched up. Thats why I prefer food management AND exercise. You get thin and move great. Win win.
31 I talk a lot about calories. Note — I do not and have never counted calories. I just bear them in mind and am VERY honest with myself about what I eat — even on my 20% days.
32 Alcohol. It’s not great news. Sorry. Deal with it. Remember that sugar = bad. Well, alcohol = sugar, mainly. In the 80/20% — it’s possible every so often but in the main, keep away from beer and white wine. Drink sparingly. If you have to drink wine, drink red, the tanins better for your gut. If you have to drink at all, keep to white spirits and diet mixers. Mine a gin and slimline tonic. Thanks.
33 There are whole new sciences popping up around gut microbes. I read a book on them. Its baffling. In the main I took this away. When you eat better more recognisable food, your gut performs better. When you dont, and fill it full of processed carbs, chemicals and sugar, it doesnt. Actually, sounds obvious now doesn't it…
34 While we talk about microbes lets talk about pills and potions. Don’t bother. Vitamins, bacteria drinks, etc. If you eat right there are plenty in your food (of both). You will just pee excess vitamins out anyway. Want to pee out all that money you spend on them? See my note on protien powder. I use mine in pancakes mainly for taste and a little breakfast protien. I am honest with myself about that. In the main all these things are just expensive placebos. Eat better and you will get all the good stuff that nature already has for you. I read a whole book on gut microbes. Summary. They are good. They work, at best, for 25% due to microbe specificties. They are also in non processed cheese and red wine anyway.
35 Tomorrow never comes. Live (your health) for today. Everyone seems to be starting a diet tomorrow/next week/after this holiday/after this weekend. They never seem to. They never will. See the point about changing lifestyle. Don’t start a diet. Change the way you eat and think today. Again — no amount of slogans will do that for you. You have to do it for yourself. Feel better and lose weight today, or live for today (and more tomorrows)? The choice, as always, is yours. There are always a million excxuses to not start. There is generally only one reason. You.
36 I read up on IF (intermittent fasting) and things like the 5/2 principles. I’m not sold. The science, as always, is very superficial and anecdotal. My view is that they just create windows to ingest your food and thefore create a focus and artificially allow you to eat “less”. If they work for you, that’s fine, and it helps you focus, that’s also fine. The body in general though does not care when you eat and when you work out. Within reason. Dont eat a full meal at midnight and go to bed. I eat 3 meals a day, several snacks, one mid afternoon and one on the evening. I HIIT first thing and run late afternoon and early evening. Its all back to creating calorie deficits and getting the body buring fuel in the right way once you have shed those processed carb and sugar pounds you converted to fat.
37 You are not a bodybuilder or athelete. A lot of what you read will be taking tips and techniques that these people use. Some are time worn and great — these are the big ones. Exercise, duration and main food stuffs. The rest will be pills, potions and whether you do cardio before or after a workout. While I think all of this is well meaning, and again, can be a great placebo (or justify a profession) its the game of tiny incrmemental gains that professionals play. Looking for the 1 or 2% gains and differences. You are not playing that game. Your playing the lose 1/2/3 or more stone game. Follow the gernal advice and you’re fine. The day you become a pro, play a different game.
38 If you have to choose between food and exercise on any given day then choose diet. Its said, and I would agree, that 75% of weigh loss is diet. Back to all the points made about getting your body buring proper fuel in the right way. Not storing processed carbs or sugar as fat. The other 25% is exercise but the incremental benefits of exercise are greater than just “fat” loss and help you live longer, be healthier and do more. Ideally, do both, virtually every day, all your life.
39 Losing weight will not change who you are. It may change how you feel about yourself and will certainly change the way some think about you, which I find very sad. You are who you are though and you will find the eyes looking back at you on the mirror are exactly the same. Do it to be healthy. To feel better. To live longer. To set an example to your family. DO NOT diet to change who you are. It wont.
40 Learn how to say no. Losing weight and getting fit is about learning to say no to others and sometimes yourself. No does not mean missing out, it just means saying no to desert, to a bottle of wine, to a biscuit, to bread, to a chocolate bar. When you’re in your 80% time and when you’re in the zone to lose weight (see point on only you can make the decisioon) then saying no is all about making a choice. Many will try and get you to say yes — but it will be for them, not for you. Look after yourself. Still have fun, but don’t pig out or fall over drunk while you do it.
41 Fit is exercise, food is weight. You can lose weight with just your food choices (see calorie deficit point). You can be fit and still fat. The common wisdon is that 75% of any “regime” is your food and 25% is exercise. Thats probably right but ignores many things. The combined effects on making you feel good, the way it changes how you hold yourself (you are the shape you move) and how it allows you to eat better without starving yourself by allowing you to eat more. Just dont mistake more with a Kit Kat!
42 Meals — Keep it simple & stupid. KISS. Its very easy to buy a load of receipe books (I have a pile, including all three Lean in 15 ones) and throw yourself into a different meal every night. I think there are 150 in just those books. Fact — its going to get tedious AND expensive very quickly. I found it better to find 4 or 5 recipes I like for main meals and stick to two breakfasts. Yes, its very samey, but honestly, its easier, you can do a few meals in a row, buy the ingredients in bulk and be done a lot faster. Iwould have two main meals one week, two the other and so on. Lunch I generally just grab salad and some meat, or soup, breakfast always either protien pancakes or scrambled egg on sourdough with avocado. Simple.
42 — Cheat. Once a fortnight. I aim for one cheat meal once every 2 weeks — usually a whole Dominos pizza (pepperoni since you ask) and half a tub of Ben & Jerrys. Why? It basically gives you a goal, light at the end of the tunnel. Its not easy staying on plan with so many tempatations around you, but it is a lot easier if you know that your favourite cheat meal is just aeround thge corner and not too far away. Back to my 80/20. Its not going to kill your “fit for life” plan, and will help your motivation no end.
43 — I have developed a very rough (but works for me) rule of thumb for calories and exercise. Evidence shows two things — first is that people over estimate how many calories they burn and second they then wolf down in shakes and protein bars more than they lost. See point on creating deficits. So, a HIIT is about 75 calories per 10 minutes. Yes — its not as many as you thing but HIIT works different to calorie deficits. A bike ride is around 100 calories per 10 minutes. A run is around 150 calories per 10 minutes. I combine a kettlebell HIIT for 20 minutes with a run 4–5 times a week. That burns for me, weekly, about 4,000 calories. Easily creates the room for my Pizza treat!
Will keep adding until I get to 50. It’s actually pretty simple. It’s everyone and everything else that makes it hard.
Bonus. I get asked a lot as well about the “protein” pancakes I make and slap all over instagram. Recipe, per person:
One scoop protein powder (I use vanilla PHD Diet Whey. Just because I like the taste, no science reasons)
One teaspoon baking powder
One Medium banana
Dash of Oats (probably about 15-20g)
Whizz it all together. If you can, leave to sit for 10 or 20 mins, I make before a workout, then use after. Helps the baking powder get to work.
Fry on a low heat. Flip when you see bubbles. You can also sprinkle some chopped Pecans in before you flip. Or a couple of blueberries.
Serve and eat. I put a dollop of Feige 0% on — about 75G and a drizzle of honey. Its no more than a teaspoon.