A potentially better way to lose fat

written by Philip Stefanov  |  JULY 18, 2023

Like most people, you’ve probably had to lose fat at some point. What did you do? Chances are, you reduced your calorie intake, cleaned up your nutrition, and got more serious about your training.

Months later, you were lean and happy. And also hungry. (But who cares about hunger when you have abs, right?)

The problem is that, before you knew it, your calorie intake had crept up, causing you to gradually lose the muscle definition you worked so hard to achieve.

Does this sound familiar? If so, read on because I’m about to present a potentially better way to lose fat.

Let’s Begin With an Example

Let’s take a pair of twins looking to lose fat––John and Dave. Like most people, they start by calculating their TDEE, or the calories they burn every day. That comes out to be approximately 2700 calories.

John cuts his calorie intake to 2200 to create a 500-calorie deficit, whereas Dave increases his physical activity to burn an extra 500 calories and create the same deficit without eating less food.

Now, which of the two would you say is going to see better results? If your answer is that both would lose the same amount of weight because of calories in vs. calories out, you are correct.

However, given how complex the human body is, that equation alone should not guide our decisions, as there is more to optimal fat loss than calorie intake. 

G-Flux That Science Concept Most People Ignore

G-flux, or energy flux, refers to the balance between the energy we consume and expend. We consume energy through foods and drinks. We then expend it through (1):

  • Basal metabolic rate (BMR) - your body expends energy to carry out its many internal processes that keep you alive

  • Thermic effect of food (TEF) - each time you eat food, you burn calories to break it down and absorb its nutrients

  • Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) - you burn calories to brush your teeth, walk up a flight of stairs, get dressed in the morning, stand in line, and every other way you can think of

  • Exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT) - you burn calories each time you have a workout, be it a lifting session at the gym, a jog in the park, or a bodyweight routine at home

Most people see energy balance as this stagnant thing that never changes. In truth, your metabolism is highly adaptive and often changes in response to external stimuli, such as caloric restriction (1).

A high g-flux simply means burning and consuming more calories each day. In other words, you’re turning over more energy. In contrast, a lower g-flux means burning and consuming fewer calories.

A Higher G-Flux is Likely Better For Fat Loss

A few years ago, James Krieger did an experiment with one of his bodybuilding clients who needed to prepare for a competition. I won’t go over all the details from the case study because James did a fantastic job outlining it for us. I highly recommend you read it.

The experiment was straightforward. Eric had to diet for 15 weeks and lose about 0.5 percent body weight weekly. He began dieting on 2,300 calories per day and walked 9,500 steps daily.

Four weeks into the diet, Eric had lost roughly 6.5 lbs, and it was time to reduce his calorie intake further. But, instead of doing that, he began to wear a 12-lb weight vest to increase his calorie expenditure and maintain the deficit. The vest stayed on for the majority of each day.

Eric swapped the 12-lb weight vest for a 20-lb one eight weeks into the diet. The objective was the same: carry an external load for the majority of each day to boost calorie burning and not have to reduce calorie intake for further fat loss.

At week twelve, Eric added a 4-lb ankle weight on top of the 20-lb vest to maintain high body weight and expend more energy throughout the day. He kept taking 9,500 daily steps.

After 15 weeks of dieting (and keeping his calories at the initial 2,300), Eric had lost 19 lbs, which came out to 0.7 percent of his body weight per week, slightly higher than the initial target but still within the recommended range (2). But, regardless of that, Eric got ripped and won his contest without experiencing the common adverse effects of contest preparation:

  • Brain fog
  • Fatigue
  • Extreme hunger
  • Irritability
  • Etc.

So, What Does All of This Mean For You?

Most notably, try to see fat loss in a new way. Instead of thinking about dietary restrictions to create a deficit, consider ways to move more and expend more energy. Doing so can be an effective way to get leaner without experiencing the same adverse effects––excessive hunger, fatigue, mental fog, loss of libido, performance decline, etc.

I’d say the best approach is to try increasing your NEAT with less demanding activities like walking. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Park your car farther from destinations
  • Use stairs instead of elevators
  • Go for morning and evening neighborhood walks
  • Take regular walking breaks during work
  • Incorporate walks into lunch breaks
  • Swap car/bus for walking commute
  • Use the treadmill while watching TV (walk)
  • Grocery shop in-person, not online
  • Walk to complete errands
  • Use a standing desk and pace

Doing extra cardio is likely unsustainable because burning an additional 400-500 calories every day on the treadmill or elliptical can lead to excessive fatigue and cause overtraining.

Thanks for sticking around. I'll catch you next week!



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