Body Fat Set Points – Part 2
Back to this fascinating topic regarding long term body composition changes. How do we minimise the effects of the environmental component on our body fat levels?
For those who haven’t read part 1, go ahead and read it here.
As we established previously, the goal is to minimise the impact of our lifestyle/environment on our body fat levels. Notice I didn’t say change your lifestyle, or limit its’ impact on our happiness.
You can virtually have your cake and eat it too, when it comes to lifestyle and body fat levels….literally. This means there are strategies that allow us to do this.
So a lot of older guys will say they don’t want to get down to their biological set-points and that they just want to lose “some weight”. I ask them why they wouldn’t want to get leaner than that. The answer is usually some variation of:
- “I still wanna eat/drink (insert calorific, tasty, micronutrient sparse food/drink) sometimes”
- “My wife wouldn’t let me” (Oh wow)
- “My social life wouldn’t allow it”
- “I don’t wanna be boring”
What if I told you that you are perfectly capable of getting down to 12-14% body fat whilst maintaining your social life? Would that change your goals/perspective a little?
I think it might do.
Why am I addressing older guys here as opposed to younger guys? Time. Specifically:
- Older guys have had more time being “societally conditioned“. Society makes it normal for people to get fat as they get older. This is generally a Western phenomenon, i.e it’s not worldwide, and therefore it’s a societal thing.
- Younger guys tend to have more free time to be active, mainly due to less “commitments” (liabilities). But this isn’t that important as 80% of body composition is energy balance. Your wife and kids aren’t forcing you to eat all this food, so stop making excuses.
I will do a part 3 later for guys who are already fairly lean, but want to get to the lower end of their set point range and stay there. This is what I have managed to do successfully, and I have to say, it’s great! 😉
I LOVE IT.
Getting back on track, energy balance (calories in vs calories out) is indeed king. Mess this up consistently and you mess your entire diet up.
The issue is that in the real world, most people struggle to keep the calorie deficit going for very long. This leads to guys concluding (incorrectly) that certain foods are bad, whilst others are good, certain cardio works better than others etc. No dumbass, you didn’t keep the deficit going!
I used to be the same, until I realised that this is primarily down to psychological dysfunctions that are “easily-ish” solvable.
For guys who struggle to maintain a calorie deficit, a small calorie deficit of 10% (MAXIMUM!) will decrease your long term dieting failure rate by 50%!!! This is the NUMBER 1 thing you can do to increase the likelihood of reducing your body fat for the rest of your life! I mean this literally: The MINUTE you try to cut any faster than this, your long term success rate plummets. By long term success rate, I mean permanent reductions in body fat.
There are scenarios whereby you may want to do a mini-cut, and this will be different. But I’m talking about lowering set-points (permanent changes) here. So unless you are cutting for less than 3 weeks, DON’T TRY TO CUT QUICKLY!
The second most important strategy is IF. This is particularly effective for those who:
- Struggle to maintain a calorie deficit
- Have an active social life
Successfully incorporating and adapting to an IF routine will decrease your long term dieting failure rate by a further 30%. This is assuming you are already doing the above correctly in terms of total calorie deficit. IF won’t help you if you slash your calories by 50% like most.
You will never be perfect, and should never aim to be. You will always have bad days. But if you do the 2 MAJOR points above successfully, your failure rate will fall by 80%!! It will take time to get used to an IF routine, but once you do, you’re on the path towards a complete life-changer!
IF allows you to fit your calorie intake around your social life and/or the times whereby you need the calories the most. You are not socialising 24 hours a day. Not every day. Therefore, the times in the day whereby you are socialising and/or may want to consume more calories, this is when you plan the majority of your consumption to take place.
My advice is:
- 70% of your daily calories consumed in the “socialising” period.
- 30% consumed elsewhere.
Normally this means 30% at lunchtime, 70% in the evening. So if your maintenance calories are 2600 and you are slowly getting leaner (as per my 10% reduction rule), your cutting calories are 2600*0.9=2340 calories.
You would start off the day with 1-2 cups of coffee, then eat a 700 calorie, nutrient-dense (clean) lunch. Then in the evening, assuming this was the time whereby you need to have more freedom, you would have 1640 calories to have fun with!
Just make sure you hit your needs first!
With IF, I advise you not to jump into this straightaway, and I deal with the specific steps you will need to take to do this in my book which will be coming out in the near future. Implement these things gradually. Completely shifting your eating plan overnight will obviously lead to screwed up hunger levels.
Don’t be that typical fool.
In terms of sustaining your progression over time once you’ve accustomed to IF, you need to simply reduce total calories as and when you need to. This means reducing your calorie intake by 5-10% OR increase your total weekly cardio slightly.
This calorie reduction should be from carbs, fats or both, assuming your protein isn’t ridiculously high to begin with. Many thanks to the supplement industry, a huge number of people do fall into this category.
As you start to get leaner, a diet break may be very useful. This normally means 2-3 weeks whereby you sit at maintenance calories and relax a little. You can gain a little strength, eat a little more crap and generally have a bit more fun. These are great for increasing motivation to get even leaner.
Assuming you follow my system properly, you WILL NOT feel the urge to binge and will feel quite satisfied with maintenance calories. A 10% calorie reduction with an 80/20 rule for clean vs junk food doesn’t allow the deprivation to build up enough in the first place.
I hope all this makes sense. Stay tuned for part 3 on how to stay at the lower end of your set point, and the likely costs/benefits you will need to weigh up before you go ahead with this decision.