The simple science behind fat loss

by Rishi Haria
science behind fat exercise using a ball ft

I started off as that fat kid in school for the majority of my teens before deciding to elevate my fitness lifestyle to what it is today. My body had to endure years of trial and error before I was content with my knowledge on training and nutrition. Anyone’s brain would scramble with all the misconceptions and the contradicting information there is out there on fat loss and creating that perfect body.

Fat loss can be made to look overly complicated by all the latest diet trends and fads that come and go year after year. I’m not saying it’s necessarily easy, but it is quite straightforward. There are scientifically proven methods that will help you achieve your fat loss goal if executed correctly.

In order lose fat it is essential that your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) exceeds how many calories you consume – creating a calorie deficit. In other words, you need to eat less and do more. Obvious you might think. However, it’s the finer details within this concept that will help you get leaner.

This is going to get a little bit scientific but fear not, I will break it down as simply and digestible as possible. The energy your body uses to digest nutrients is the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF), or the increase in metabolic rate after ingestion of a meal. This thermic breakdown of a meal is produced by the energy required for the consumption, digestion, metabolism, and storage of food.

There are 3 macro nutrients in foods (proteins, fats, carbs), and all 3 have different thermic rates. Macro ratios are important and necessary considerations to burn fat, followed by the total calories you consume. Your body uses the most energy to break down protein, followed by carbs, and then dietary fats. That’s why during a fat loss phase, a relatively high protein diet is effective to help you lean down while preserving muscle mass. This preserving effect is great because it reduces the risk of becoming too scrawny. Most of us want our abs to pop and our backsides to stay perky rather than being wafer thin.

Not only is protein great for your metabolism but it’s highly satiating and suppresses your hunger for longer. I could easily eat a whole box sugary cereal in one sitting. My stomach will just absorb carbs like water to a sponge. That’s the fat kid in me. However, give me a couple of chicken breasts and then I can barely finish one without starting to feel full. It’s always a struggle when you’re trying to lose fat to stop yourself feeling hungry. So try attributing a solid amount of your daily calories to protein every meal, and reap the fat loss benefits from it.

Now we have the nutrition side of things covered, let’s move on to the exercise side of things. Active Energy Expenditure (AEE) can be divided into Physical Activity (PA) and Spontaneous Physical Activity (SPA). Both are ways that we use up the calories from the foods we eat on a day to day basis. PA includes forms of exercising both anaerobic (weight training) and aerobic (cardio). SPA involves activities that might not be a direct form of exercise.

Whether it’s walking to the BTS station, cleaning your room, or helping your friend move apartment, you burn through calories because you are physically doing something. If you are cooped up in an office from 9-5 it’s likely that your SPA will be lower than someone doing manual labour. The calories burned through SPA really does accumulate more than you might think. We all need to make the effort to be as active as possible, both in and out of the gym.

The fitness scene in Thailand is noticeably growing every year and I don’t see this trend ending any time soon. There are more and more commercial and boutique gyms popping up around Bangkok over the past few years. Even the latest gadgets such as Fit Bit and Apple watches help us stay more active by counting our steps and calories burned.

Weight training/resistance training has been proven to increase Excess Post Exercise Energy Consumption (EPOC), or the “after-burn”, more than simply doing cardio. This basically means your body becomes more efficient at burning calories after a lifting session for up to 2 days. Our muscles require calories to maintain and rebuild itself. If you increase your muscle mass then your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) will improve too – meaning you will burn through calories quicker than before.

You might plough through more calories in 1 hour of cardio vs 1 hour of strength training, but that doesn’t mean weight training is not an essential part of shedding those excess kilos. The combination of weight training and cardio will not only enhance your fat loss results, but also your cardiovascular health. You can afford to eat more food and still stay in a calorie deficit if you do both cardio and strength training. Hopefully by this point I’m motivating you to start pumping iron.

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The fitness scene in Thailand is noticeably growing every year and I don’t see this trend ending any time soon

More woman are beginning to realise the benefits of weight training when it comes to staying trim. Your muscles won’t immediately bulge through your shirt simply by staring at a dumbbell. Woman will generally have less potential for muscle growth than compared to men as they have lower levels of testosterone. Weight training will help you sculpt your body in ways that cardio and dieting alone cannot. Other benefits of weight training include better posture, healthier bones, and disease prevention. You will only get that bulky look if combine weight training with eating a lot. When we overeat, our belly’s expand regardless of the training anyway!

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Starting our own body transformation journeys can be daunting without expert help. My advice would be to set clear short and long term goals with a realistic timeline for achieving it. Track your food intake using apps such as My Fitness Pal as well as keeping a record of your gym performance and general level of physical activity. We can all make the effort to be more active and eat better. Even those of us with busy lifestyles can rely on clean meal delivery services to help keep us on track. Above everything else, it’s important to enjoy the journey to a healthier, happier, and fitter version of yourself!


rishi cropped

Rishi is a strength coach and takes a holistic approach to training and body transformations. He holds a Sports Science BSc from Brunel University (UK) and has also competed in Men’s Physique and Strongman competitions. He believes that training should be, progressive, enjoyable and goal oriented.
[email protected]

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