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How to not end up skinny fat?

Skinny fat is the outcome nobody wants to see after putting hours of work in at the gym and in the kitchen. Nevertheless, it happens again and again! Seemingly, no matter what you do, you end up achieving a skinny bod, but not necessarily a well toned, curvilicious bod you aspired to have. So where did you go wrong?

How to not end up skinny fat?

Old habits and beliefs die hard and there are three in particular that are not serving you right:

1. Lifting weights will make you bulky.

2. Running burns more calories than lifting does, so that means I’ll lose more weight running than lifting.

3. I need to be on a low calorie diet to lose weight.

1. I think every fitness professional must have spoken about this one. I’m going to start by agreeing with you, lifting CAN make you bulky, BUT there are some conditions that should be met (presumably you’re a woman, can’t see many guys concerning themselves with this :-D).

             Number 1: Diet – consistent calorie surplus, with very high protein – not something that many women do naturally, even those of you who overeat, don’t tend to eat much protein.

             Number 2: Training Volume – You need to train a lot! Bodybuilders and powerlifters don’t train twice a week for 1 hour.

             Number 3: Progressive Overload – You need to train a lot, heavy and consistently go heavier or add more volume.

             Number 4: Time – It doesn’t happen overnight. Female bodybuilders take years to develop their physiques.

             Number 5 (optional): Drugs – not all muscular women, but some do take performance enhancing drugs.

As you can see, a lot of things have to fall into place before you get ‘bulky’. Even then, if you do all these things (drugs aside), it still takes time, a lot of it! You can stop when you’re happy with your physique and just maintain it. Let me tell you, that toned look that a lot of you are after is muscle mass revealed by a low body fat level. To achieve that you need some muscle!

2. Running does burn more calories than lifting does, you’re right, and you are gonna lose more weight running rather than lifting, that’s true as well. What you might not realise is the weight that you are losing is the one you want to keep and that is muscle. See, if you don’t challenge your muscles regularly with weight-bearing activities (e.g. resistance training, weight lifting, calisthenics, etc.), strictly speaking your body has no reason to keep them, providing you’re on a calorie deficit with low protein intake.  So every time you go for a long run, your body burns muscle before it gets to the fat. That results in a skinny, flabby look or skinny fat.

If you want to know more about muscle loss on a calorie deficit and how to avoid it, read this article.

3. You need to consume less than you expend. The problem is that a lot of people are impatient with their weight loss and they drop their calories by too much too quickly. Do that long enough with no solid plan for after the diet and you’ll quickly end up where you started with more fat and a few metabolic issues as a bonus.

To progressively lose all the unwanted body fat, you need o consume a high protein diet(to preserve the muscle) and the most amount of calories possible while still losing weight. What do I mean by that? Make a realistic goal you can hit every week without starving yourself and hating life (1lb a week seems to be the comfortable rate for most people at a healthy weight). If you’re overweight or obese, you can aim for as much as 1% bodyweight a week. Calculate how many calories you’d need to be in deficit by, according to your goal, estimate how much you exercise and drop the calories accordingly, it can be 100-500 calorie deficit a day. Don’t go crazy and drop it by 1000! It’ll come back biting you in the ass!

Check out my video on how to calculate your calories here.

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