This article deals with extremely important but often neglected basics of Fat loss. The fact that there is more research evidence and academic literature available catering to fat loss than any other
physiological/metabolic change and yet most of the people and “diet-gurus” are clueless/misinformed about the fundamentals baffles me. I admit that fat loss is indeed a huge field of study, with
more variables and probabilities of fuck ups, but it isn’t complex if you really know what you’re doing. This guide will draw a clear, concise and complete picture of all that there is to know
about losing fat as fast and safely as possible.
Well, the basics are really basic, create a calorie deficit and wait for fat loss to happen. As established in the BMR – DEE series, long term calorie deficit/surplus determines whether tissues (both fat and muscle) are being utilized as energy sources or being synthesized and getting stored.
If there is an excess of energy, Glycogen stores get filled, fat gets stored in fat cells,
muscle tissues and Organs get repaired. If there is more energy expenditure than energy
intake the difference comes out from our energy stores
(fat cells/glycogen/lean tissue) i.e. we lose tissue/fat/weight.
I suggest read that three part bmr-dee series in full(the quote is from there). Concepts and calculations from there will be used in every guide on this website. Since we’re going to deal with Fat loss aka tissue loss aka burning of energy stores for fuel in a state of energy crisis/calorie deficit, we first have to understand the nature of energy crisis and its physiological effects.
Weight loss is simply controlled starvation to death. All the knowledge and expertise only helps in making this process less miserable and safer while staving off the destruction of biochemical pathways, vital organs and our hormonal profiles. Let’s embark on a journey of absolute starvation and see what happens with a hypothetical candidate named "X" with stats of 180 lbs BW(body weight) at 20% bf. On the first day of a zero calorie “diet” considering he didn’t move much, his Liver glycogen stores would empty up trying to maintain blood sugar levels.
In lack of any carbohydrate intake his pancreas wouldn’t secrete any Insulin (the anabolic hormone) resulting in body wide catabolism. Now don’t get scared of the sound of it. Mainstream bodybuilding resources use the term “catabolism” as a scare tactic. Catabolism is simply breaking down of tissues for energy requirements of our bodies, mostly of the vital organs considering they consume as much as 65% of our RMR.
As the subject being starved isn’t moving, the glycogen stored in his muscles will not be used but the fat cells being the most energy dense and efficient sources of energy would burn like crazy. Increased norepinephrine & epinephrine levels, a result of prolonged starvation sending an emergency signal along with minimal insulin levels (around 10% of the initial) after two days of fasting puts the fat burning process in an overdrive.(A series on hormones will cover insulin in depth) How fast if you ask. Let's calculate.
X's Fat mass = (bw x bf%)/100 = 180 x 0.20 = 36 lbs.
His LBW = 180 – 36 = 144.
the weight of
your muscles, internal vital organs, bones, connective tissue, blood, water and glycogen, skin...nails...well EVERYTHING except Fat.
Calculating the DEE now = 144(LBW) x 13 = 1870 calories. In two days, 1872 x 2 = 3744 calories worth of energy is to be extracted from the body itself.
Considering 80% fat loss and 20% lean tissue loss, 3744 x .80 = 3000 calories from Fat and the remaining 744 calories from muscle tissues is to be extracted. 3000/3500 = 0.85 pounds of fat and 744/700 = 1.0 pounds of muscle mass would be catabolized. that 700 calorie/pound figure for lean tissue is extracted from Thomas DM et. al. Can a weight loss of one pound a week be achieved with a 3500-kcal deficit? Commentary on a commonly accepted rule.Int J Obes (Lond). 2013 Dec;37(12):1611-3..
Funny how even generic medical textbooks apply the 3500 calorie deficit for one pound weight loss formula everywhere. That would be accurate only if 100% fat is being burned, which is ideal but never the case. You can see I’ve used the 3500 calorie/pound for 80% fat loss in the calculation above, 80% Fat loss is a common/usual figure, leaner individuals burn less fat and more lean tissue and morbidly obese ones burn around 95% of fat and 5% lean tissue. The larger the store, the easier our bodies can access it for oxidation. Say if someone as ripped as Helmut strebl goes on to starve themselves, without the steroids as much as 95% of lean tissue and only 5% fat would be burned because there isn't any fat to catabolize.
Such a candidate will rival anorexics in a matter of weeks, if the starvation continues eventually the organ will decay resulting into death soon enough.
Just to make it clear that i'm not talking out of my ass when i say that someone like Helmut Strebl would die in a matter of weeks on complete starvation. Here are the numbers.
He is 6’3 tall and weighs 200 lbs. at 4% body fat, he is carrying only 200 x 0.04 = 8 lbs of fat and rest 192 lbs is lean tissue! Considering zero activity, using the formula from bmr-dee his DEE is 192 x 12 = 2300 calories. From the lack of any fat to burn his body would run on 95% lean tissue daily.
To provide 2300 calories from burning muscle tissue at the rate of 700 calories/lbs; he would lose 2300/700 = 3.3 lbs lean tissue daily. Now, with the loss of lean tissue, DEE would reduce as well. You can recalculate the DEE for every day with the reduced LBW and so on, but for simplicity, let’s assume he’s losing 3 lbs of lean mass on avg till he has none left.
On average, 40% of our LBW is the muscle mass, 192 x 0.4 = 77 lbs of muscle mass is to be burned at a rate of 3 lbs daily.
So, 77/3 = in 25 days = in 3.4 weeks. Say, in 4 weeks he would have no muscle mass left whatsoever. How the body will survive now? By catabolizing up (read eating up for dramatic effect) the internal organs such as liver, intestines, connective tissues. Maybe a week more, death is inevitable.
Anyway, in the next part we would contiue the starvation journey of X and find out why we lose muscle mass at all even in the adundance of fat and how to prevent it.
Check out the Part 2 of this series. If you liked this Article, help a brother out by sharing on Facebook