If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I like to focus more on your percentage of body fat rather than weight. You want to ensure that you’re not just losing weight (which could be water, muscle, fat, etc.) but rather losing excess FAT. If you don’t know how to check your body fat, reach out and we can point you in the right direction (PS…those $30 handheld devices are NOT accurate).
There are several methods for checking body fat (Dexa, Evolt, BodPod, Some higher end bioelectrical impedance devices, etc.). None of them are perfect and all have a margin of error of roughly 1% or so. For this reason, it’s important to test regularly so you get a direction over time verses focusing on one specific point on the long-term graph.
Think about it…this is true in all areas of life. Ups and downs are inevitable, even if the overall trend is positive. It’s as true in your health as it is in your career, parenting, finances, etc. Life happens and sometimes there are dips. These are great times to be gentle with yourself and just do a little internal evaluation. It’s a great time for a re-set.
If your body fat is consistently going in the right direction, keep doing what you’re doing. When this is the case, you tend to feel great about your health program, clothes are fitting better, energy is up, etc.
When you do a body fat test and your current percentage has increased from your previous test, first, don’t panic! I know that no one likes to see this, but there’s always a reason so take a moment to reflect…
- If it’s up by less than 1% and you haven’t made any changes from before, it’s probably about the same. In this case, you can keep doing what you’re doing until your next test, or you can choose to make a minor tweak to your program to ensure your next test is better. But the bottom line is DO NOT QUIT just because it didn’t go your way.
- Although I LOVE using a good body fat test to mark progress, it’s best to use several different methods for tracking your progress. This could include a timed mile (run or walk), a 1 rep max on the bench press, a timed plank, measurements of the waist and/or hips, etc. This way, if you have a body fat test that’s not great, it’s likely that you can use some of these other tests to keep encouraged.
- Know that there are LOTS of factors that contribute to your body fat percentage. Besides just the obvious factor of exercise, there’s also, hydration, sleep, stress and macros (especially protein) that can make a big difference as well. Ask yourself what has changed? Have you been sick since the previous test? Has stress been higher? Are you getting enough sleep? Do you need more recovery between workouts? If there was a fluke…for example, if you missed a week of training because you were sick, just get back on track and re-test again in a few weeks.
- That said, it is best to do your body fat test at about the same time each time you re-test. Ideally, with about the same level of hydration, food, rest, etc. It may not be possible to do this perfectly but the closer you can come the better. This doesn’t normally make a huge difference, but it will be a factor.
- If you have one outlier of a test, I wouldn’t give it another thought (unless of course you know you have been off in some way). But if you have 2 tests in a row, going in the wrong direction, then it’s time to evaluate. Here are some of the most important things to consider and then make the appropriate changes:
- Are you eating too many or not enough calories? Either one can sabotage your results. The only way to know this is to record everything you eat for a few typical days and see where you’re at. I like to use the Cronometer or MyFitness Pal apps for this.
- Are you getting enough sleep, rest and recovery between workouts?
- Are you eating enough protein? You need ~20-30% to improve your body composition. Protein helps you lose fat as well as build and maintain lean tissue.1
- Are you doing the right type of workouts? Strength training is perhaps the most important exercise for building muscle and thereby losing fat.2 HIIT (high intensity interval training) can be a great form of cardio.
- Are you dehydrated? This isn’t just about drinking water but also about perhaps doing too much caffeine, alcohol or processed salty foods (chips, cheese, etc.). Staying hydrated helps with detoxification, satiety and fat loss.3
- Are you moving enough? Even if you’re exercising in the morning, if you sit for the next 12+ hours, it may prove helpful to do some short bouts of movement throughout the day. This could be even in the form of a couple of 10–15 minute walks throughout the day. Short bouts of walking can help supplement your workouts and help you further your fat loss results.4
3 Bonus fat loss hacks:
Supplements: Although they don’t normally produce results on their own, if you’re doing a lot of the right things but are looking for a boost, here are a few good options:
- A good protein powder can be powerful. I love Warrior Food (Natural ( 1.10 lb and 35.2 oz , Vanilla (1.10 lb and 35.2 oz) and PRL’s Plant Protein added to a smoothie.
- Green Tea ND is rich and polyphenols that have been found to have a favorable benefit on fat loss.5
- Lean Advantage is a combination that includes green coffee bean extract, bitter orange and raspberry ketones, all of which have been found to increase the metabolism.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid (60 caps and 120 caps) can also have a slight benefit for fat loss.6
- Magnesium (Magnesium Powder, Magnesium Buffered) levels that are optimal are associated with lower body fat.7
Please remember though, as I always say, these are supplements, meant to supplement a healthy lifestyle. If you’re not exercising, none of these supplements will take the place of that. If you’re struggling to lose fat because you have a thyroid condition, they won’t directly take care of that either. It’s important to deal with root causes to get optimal and lasting results.
Micronutrient testing: This is one of my favorite biohacks for getting to the root cause of any health challenge. This is a blood test that you do about every 6 months to see what nutrients you are deficient in, so you know exactly what to replete. Click here for more information.
Saunas: Full spectrum with red light is what I use. When used consistently, this can be a great way to support your fat loss efforts. Click here for more info.
If you’re not sure where to start or you just want some support along your fat loss journey, we’d love to help! Call the clinic today 269-204-6525.
1. Moon J, Koh G. Clinical evidence and mechanisms of high-protein diet-induced weight loss. J Obes Metab Syndr. 2021;29(3). doi:10.7570/jomes20028
2. Wewege MA, Desai I, Honey C, et al. The Effect of Resistance Training in Healthy Adults on Body Fat Percentage, Fat Mass and Visceral Fat: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine. 2022;52(2). doi:10.1007/s40279-021-01562-2
3. Vij VAK, Joshi AS. Effect of excessive water intake on body weight, body mass index, body fat, and appetite of overweight female participants. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2014;5(2). doi:10.4103/0976-9668.136180
4. New JML, Borer KT. Effects of Walking Speed on Total and Regional Body Fat in Healthy Postmenopausal Women. Nutrients. 2022;14(3). doi:10.3390/nu14030627
5. Ohishi T, Fukutomi R, Shoji Y, Goto S, Isemura M. The beneficial effects of principal polyphenols from green tea, coffee, wine, and curry on obesity. Molecules. 2021;26(2). doi:10.3390/molecules26020453
6. Kucukgoncu S, Zhou E, Lucas KB, Tek C. Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) as a supplementation for weight loss: results from a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Obesity Reviews. 2017;18(5). doi:10.1111/obr.12528
7. Castellanos-Gutiérrez A, Sánchez-Pimienta TG, Carriquiry A, Da Costa THM, Ariza AC. Higher dietary magnesium intake is associated with lower body mass index, waist circumference and serum glucose in Mexican adults. Nutr J. 2018;17(1). doi:10.1186/s12937-018-0422-2
Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease. It does not take the place of a qualified health care practitioner and is intended for educational purposes only.