Do you need supplements to lose fat?
“Want to burn more calories? Get results faster? Look shredded in just 10 days? All you need is to buy X product, and it’s going to give you this magic fat loss effect that nothing else has been able to do. This special guarana extract infused with green tea has been scientifically formulated to….”
I’m sure you’ve heard all of these type of claims before. It’s the magic potion that’s going to make all of your troubles go away while trying to lose fat. The famous fat burners that will get us results faster and easier. The question is: do we really need these fat burners to get results? I’m going to share with you today why you shouldn’t rely on supplements and what you should really focus on.
The magic pill
It’s our human nature to find out how to take shortcuts because we want to save as much energy and time as possible when doing anything because humans are naturally lazy. The problem with this is that it’s easy for us to get caught up in the hype, and we get marketed to and sold products that we don’t need. We want results now, and a lot of us pay money for products that don’t work or that don’t produce the results we’re after. We always are looking for that magic pill that will make things easier, faster and better. What can happen is that we buy that magic pill and expect amazing results, but they never come. The question is, does the product not work, or did it not work for you?
The fat loss pyramid
When it comes to fat loss, muscle gain or any other health result you’re after, there is a nutritional pyramid that has been created by Eric Helmes. It has been organised to show you the least important element at the top of the pyramid to most important at the bottom (the foundation). This pyramid shows an outline of where we need to place a majority of our focus. As you can see, supplements are at the very top. This means they should only be focused on if everything else is in check. Think of this pyramid like a checklist. Start from the very bottom and check one thing off at a time to make sure you’re covering what’s most important and then work your way up.
The most important thing when it comes to losing weight is calorie consumption. You need to be burning more calories than you’re consuming if you’re trying to lose fat — it’s just the law of physics. It doesn’t matter whether you’re taking a fat burner or not, if you’re eating more than you burn you’re not going to lose weight. This is the base of your pyramid. In order to start seeing any results you must first start tracking how much food you’re eating during the day. After tracking this for a week you’re going to be able to see how much you’re really eating during the day. If you aren’t losing weight then you need to reduce the amount of food you’re eating or you need to increase the amount of activity you’re doing.
After you’ve started tracking your calories, you then need to look at where your calories are coming from. Macronutrients are the second most important thing to focus on because this will determine how your body looks and feels. Macronutrients are what your foods are made up of. These are your proteins (meat, fish, etc.), carbohydrates (potatoes, rice, etc.) and fats (avocado, coconut oil, etc.)
Once you start to see how much of each macronutrient you’re consuming you will be able to make tweaks to these ratios in order to get a better outcome. For example, if you’re not eating enough protein during the day and you’re consuming too many carbs, this could affect how your body looks, how hungry you feel during the day and how you feel in general. For your macronutrients ratios I always recommend making sure that you are focusing on protein first and that you’re getting 1.5–2g of protein per KG of bodyweight in order to help with lean muscle growth and losing bodyfat.
You can use this calculator to determine how much of each macronutrient you need.
So now you know how much of each macronutrient you’re consuming during the day, it’s time to focus on the quality of your food. Micronutrients are all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs in order to allow for certain functions in your body. Hormone regulation, enzyme production, energy levels and a whole bunch of other things can be affected by your micronutrient consumption. This pretty much just means eat a whole lot of veggies ranging of different colours and types at every meal. You want to focus on consuming two fist- full size servings of vegetables at every meal (yes, even breakfast) to ensure you’re getting a good amount of micronutrients. If you’re eating a lot of different vegetables you’re most likely not going to have a deficiency in anything, but it’s always good to go and get this checked by going to a doctor and getting blood tests every few months just to be safe.
Meal timing and meal frequency
You’ve probably had people tell you that you need to eat 6 times during the day to “stoke your metabolism”, and that you must consume protein and carbs straight after a meal otherwise you will lose your hard progress that you put in today. The timing of your meals is highly irrelevant if you aren’t eating right. If you are eating too many calories during the day, and your diet in general isn’t on point, then you don’t need to worry about this at all. Like I’ve been saying, you need to focus on what’s most important first, and meal timing and frequency should be worried about once you’ve focused on the other 3 big areas I talked about earlier. When it comes to meal timing and meal frequency you also must focus on what’s going to work for you. If you can’t eat 4–6 meals during the day because of your job then you should not cause yourself stress over this. The thing you need to focus on is eating at the same time everyday regardless of when you eat or how many times you eat. If you can only eat breakfast, lunch and dinner then that’s absolutely fine.
Finally, we have reached the last thing to focus on that’s going to create that small minute difference. That last 5% of the pyramid to help us get results. Why are supplements all the way at the top? Because as the name suggests they’re called supplements, and not called essentials. Like I asked at the beginning of this blog post, have you ever brought a supplement and it hasn’t worked the way it said it should have? They probably didn’t tell you that it would most likely have worked if you had taken care of the rest of your diet first.
So to answer your question; do you need supplements to lose weight? NO
I personally don’t use supplements in my diet and I don’t recommend my clients use them UNLESS they aren’t getting enough protein in during the day. There’s nothing wrong with supplements, but I feel that they are an unnecessary expense and your money could be better spent on the other key factors listed above, which will get you better results. Why not save that $70 on pre-workout supplements and buy better quality food that will help you get better results.
Now that you know what’s going to get you the best results you should use this little checklist I’ve created to make sure you’re on track. Always start at the base of the pyramid and do not pass go until you have taken the appropriate action (reducing the amount of calories you’re eating, then looking at your macronutrient ratio etc)
- Track your food to see how much you’re consuming during the day
- Look at the types of food you’re consuming and in what amounts (proteins, fats, carbs)
- Two fist fulls of different coloured veggies at every meal
- Eat at the same time every day whether it be 4 or 6 meals
- Buy those magic pills OR spend money on better quality food.
The best way you can track your food is to use this app : www.myfitnesspal.com