Here is how to successfully lose body fat

Dan Donohue
Dan Donohue

Columnist Dan Donohue, of Fitness Formation, writes about balancing activity with counting calories to shift weight.

A new year normally brings a new mindset, and at the top of that agenda is always our fitness and our eating habits.

A period of indulgence is often enough to serve as a reminder to us all that we need to get back on the straight and narrow, so in this week’s column we’re going to give you some advice of how to safely lose that weight you may have gained recently, or that excess weight you’ve been longing to shift.

The most critical aspect of losing body fat is to ensure you are in a calorie deficit, which simply means you need to expend more calories than you consume.

There needs to be a negative energy balance, as opposed to a positive energy balance.

An essential factor in this is the need to ensure that we decrease our calories slowly and we’ll often begin with a five per cent to 10 per cent deficit, which in the long term leads to much more sustainability and adherence from the individual in question.

An example being that your daily calories are at 2,000kcals a day. A five per cent deficit would drop your calories by 100kcals, which is more than manageable.

Chopping a large percentage off that total straight away leads to an unsustainable diet and will often end in regression.

This is where many people fail and are doomed to failure from the start.

Cutting 500kcals, for example, from your daily calorie totals will soon become a struggle, so we elicit a small deficit.

Our total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) can be organised into four categories. The first is our basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is the amount of energy the body uses to support the function of organs and the various systems inside the body and accounts for the majority of the calories we burn.

Two other considerations to take into account are non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) and exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT).

Non-exercise activity is the amount of energy expended during anything that is not classed as exercise, such as doing the housework, working or going about your daily activity.

This can obviously have a positive effect on those people who have active jobs versus those who have a sedentary job.

Whilst it’s hard to measure in terms of actual energy output, movement is a good thing, so ensure that you’re moving as much as possible whenever the chances arise throughout the day.

Exercise activity thermogenesis refers to the calories we utilise or burn through actual exercise such as lifting weights, attending a clubbercise class or running.

One final consideration is the thermic effect of feeding (TEF). This is the response to the process of ingesting, absorbing and metabolising the foods we consume and this accounts for around 10 per cent of calories burned per day.

A point to note on this is the thermic effect of food is influenced by what we eat in terms of the quality and, of course, quantity.