[For people who don't like to read, they can go directly to the "My Scientific Fat Loss Program in a Nutshell" section at the bottom.]
Over the Christmas break of 2005, I went back to Hong Kong to visit my parents. I was told by my mom that I have a tummy and I need to lose weight. I looked at my tummy and agreed. As a result, I decided to lose weight when I return to the States.
During January 2006, I spent a lot of time doing research on weight loss. At the first glance, there are many different ways to lose weight. I noticed some of them appear to base on incompatible assumptions, e.g. the low-fat high-carb diet versus the low-carb high-protein diet.
As a result, I decided to study the underlying biochemistry and see if I can use my newly acquired knowledge to determine the effective way to lose weight. It turns out that it is possible to derive a diet and an exercise regime that is sound on fundamental science. I would like to share my findings here. I hope it will also benefit you.
I am going to share my findings with you in five web pages. The first web page is Introduction. It tells you whether you need to lose weight, an quick outline of the program and finally what you can expect from this program. The second web page is about Diet. It tells you what to eat to lose fat. The third web page is about Cardiovascular Exercises. It tells you the right way to lose fat using cardiovascular exercise. The fourth web page is Weight Training. It explains how weight training can contribute to fat losing and the right way to do it. The fifth one will be about Nutrition. It will help you choose the nutrient rich food to make you healthy in addition to thin! There may be an optional sixth web page to deal with some side information, fun facts and so on.
First of all, I have to say that for the majority of people who say they would like to lose weight, they actually wants to look better instead of losing weight. For the guys, they may want to get rid of the tummy and have big muscles. For the ladies, they may want to have a curvy body, no tummy, smaller hip, thinner thighs and so on.
For guys, most fat are stored in the tummy area. So it is very common to see obese men with a huge belly. In contrast, for the women, most fat goes to the hip and thighs and not to mention the tummy as well. So obviously, if you can lose fat, you will look very good no matter you are a man or a woman.
Before you start a fat loss program, you should first check whether you need to lose fat. And if you need to lose fat, what should be your goal? To find out the answers to these two questions, you need to calculate your body fat percentage which is defined as the percentage of your body weight that is fat. For example, if you weigh 70kg and have 20% of body fat, that means 14kg of your body is fat.
Even if you think you are thin, have you wondered why some people got a six-pack of abominal muscle at their stomach but no matter how many abs crunch or sit-up you do, you never seems to be able to get the six-pack? The reason even if you think you are thin, there might still be fat deposited on top of your abominal muscle. The sit-ups you did trained the muscle but you can't see it because of fat on top. To see it, you need to lose more fat. When you reach a certain body fat percentage, you will see the six-pack!
To calculate the percentage of body fat approximately, you can try this US Navy Body Fat Calculator, you need to input your various measurements to obtain your body fat percentage. To measure accurately, please put yourself in a relaxed exhalation condition (ie don't flatten your belly and flex the chest) and do the measurement the first thing you get off your bed in the morning: (You can also calculate your approximate Daily Calories Need here but this topic will be explored more in the Diet page.)
It should be noted that while the above Calculator is used by US Navy to measure the body fat percentage of their new recruits. It is just an approximation and its accuracy varies among different people. A more accurate approach is to buy a body fat caliper to measure your bf%. For the most accurate way to calculate bf%, you can try DEXA (Duel Energy X-ray Absortiometry). You should be able to find DEXA machines in big hospitals that will let you measure bf% in addition to bone density at a price.
To see what body fat % means, you can refer to these two charts:
If you are in the average range, you should be fine health-wise. To look athletic, you only need to fall into the ideal range. If you want to have the legendary six-pack, your body fat percentage should be at the boundary of lean and ideal. If you fall too much to the lean range (like three boxes to the left of lean-ideal boundary), you might not have enough fat for your body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins which can result in serious health issues.
For ladies before menopause, research showed that body fat % up to 17% is healthy for most females. However, when you go to 13-17%, then it is possible that some ladies will experience delayed menstrual cycle. Anything below 13%, most female will experience menstrual cycle irregularities. If you do experience problems with your menstrual cycle, please eat more fat to increase your body fat percentage. [EPP00]
I think now you should be able to decide whether you need to lose fat and if you do need to lose fat, you know how much you need to lose.
Note that as in most human endeavors, whether you can arrive at your destination B from A depends on: 1) the knowledge of how to get from A to B; 2) the innate/ acquried abilities you have when you want to go from A to B; 3) your desire to go from A to B; and 4) anything that you can't control that might impede or aid your journey from A to B, ie luck.
These web pages will provide you the knowledge to lose fat. It is up to you to have the desire and determination to carry it out.
Another thing you have to realize is that we are all born from different genetics. It is possible that you are born to have a slower metabolic rate or faster nutrient absorption rate such that you have a hard time to lose fat. In that case, you have two choices: you can either give in to the bad genetics or you can try your best to do something about it. Your choice will literally make you into what you are. The choice is yours to make.
Anyway, Happy Fat Losing! :)
Based on my intensive research in weight loss related literature, the conclusion is that if you take in more calories than you expend, then you gain fat (not necessarily weight though but I will expand this in the Diet page), you lose fat if you expend more calories than you take in. It is just this simple.
Okay, it is not that simple, you do need to make sure your food intake to have enough protein and enough carbohydrates to maintain your metabolic rate, prevent your body from wasting away your muscle, and prevent yourself from being tired, irritable and unmotivated.
There are three stages in this program. The first stage is the investigative stage. In this stage, you will adjust your diet and exercise level to find out the optimal diet/exercise balance to maximize fat loss. Once you find the balance, you enter the fat loss stage In this stage, you just maintain the fat loss lifestyle you discovered at the end of the investigative stage. Maintain this lifestyle until you reached your body fat percentage goal
Once you attain your desired body fat percentage, you enter the final fat maintenance stage. Here you adjust the program gradually (less exercise or eat more) such that your calories intake and expenditure comes to about the same level. Then you should be able to maintain your desired level of body fat.
The good thing about my program is that it doesn't need you to starve and it will keep your healthy. If you follow my program, you should be a fully functional human being at all time.