If you’re like 75%+ of the Dads who read this blog, then it’s safe to say that losing the five to ten kilograms that have crept up on you since your heyday is top of your fitness agenda.
But given that the newfound bulk is stubborn as hell, what are the best tactics for speedy weight loss?
Here are some of the most effective, speedy and healthy ways I’ve employed or seen employed.
And if you’re a skinny ectomorph like me you’re not off the hook just yet.
These tips apply to general fat loss and overall body composition for Dads of all sizes. After all (and I’m speaking from experience here) there’s nothing worse than being skinny and fat at the same time.
Onto the tips. Enjoy.
1. Skip Breakfast
The number of people banging on about breakfast being the most important meal of the day seems to be dwindling.
There are still a few die-hards, desperately hanging onto this idea and, you know what, depending on your age and your goals, this may be right.
If you’re a strength competitor or trying to bulk or are 14 years old, then, yes, you need the calories to burn off.
But if you’re on the wrong side of 30 or even older, there seems to be a growing weight of evidence to suggest you just don’t need the extra food first thing.
But, even more importantly, and especially if you have weight loss aspirations, avoiding food first thing can be really helpful.
Firstly, if you had your last meal at 7pm the previous evening, eating breakfast at 7am means you’ve had a 12 hour food-free window.
By avoiding food until 11am, however, you’ve stretched that out to 16 hours.
In terms of fasting and the body starting to utilise fat for energy instead of carbs, this is significant.
Sure, you’ll have hunger pangs initially but if you can get through them – and maybe medicate with a coffee (as I do) if necessary – it’s actually surprisingly easy to get to 11am.
Additionally, and obviously, by skipping breakfast you’re reducing your meals from 3 to 2 (or 4 to 3) and maintaining an exercise regime, you’re torching more calories than you’re consuming, which is the foundation of weight loss.
Action: Skip breakfast (apart from coffee) for 1 week. Record how you feel. If good, go for another week.
2. Intermittent Fast
Linked pretty closely to #1 above, most people associate intermittent fasting with the 5:2 Diet popularised by Dr Michael Mosley.
This involves eating “normally” five days per week and then eating 500-600 calories on two days of each week. These can be done together or, preferably, spaced out across the week.
I’ve never done this, namely because the idea of subsisting on 500 calories scares the heck out of me but my friend Jimmy has stuck to it religiously for a couple of years and has lost 12kg or more during that period.
Sure, it requires some strong discipline and a little planning but, as with the other version of IF outlined above, it seems to yield the best bang for your weight-loss buck, in terms of results versus impact on life.
The added side effect is that whilst you’re allowed to eat normally or even “whatever you want” on your non-fast days, the attention to task fostered on your fast days rolls over, so you actually benefit from better eating practises all week.
Action: Set days (2 per week) and meals for two week trial of 5:2 diet. Buy all ingredients for first week of fast days.
Here are some recipes ideas courtesy of www.gethtegloss.com
3. 2 HIIT Workouts Per Day
There’s no two ways about it. You’re going to have to put in a shift to ditch the kegs.
And who in today’s world has time to be spending hours working out? Well, maybe the single guys.
If you’re a Dad or just a busy guy, then it’s wishful thinking as work, life, friends get in the way.
But, and I think it was from Dan John that I read / stole this quote, “if something’s important to you, do it every day.”
Exercise is so important to my general health and wellbeing that I don’t dare NOT do it everyday. It’s now just an ingrained habit.
And the key is to forge the habit and become a man of action when it comes to your exercising. But this doesn’t mean hours in the gym and sacrificing other stuff.
Set aside 5 minutes in the morning, before you shower, to do a quick workout.
Ideally you want the joints to be a little oiled before you jump right in and bang out a 5 minute HIIT workout so you could do 30 seconds each of 1) jogging on spot, 2) jumping jacks, 3) mountain climbers, 4) air squats.
That’s your warm-up covered.
Then 30 seconds of work / rest for 5 minutes doing, I dunno, something like: squats into push-ups into sit-ups into burpees into jumping squats.
And that’s it…go have your shower and get after the day.
Do the same in the evening with a little variation in the exercises if you get bored.
Do this for a week and you’re on the road to creating a daily exercise habit.
They key is doing it. Rinse and repeat. Miss a morning session, do it in the park at lunchtime. Or when you get home from work and are taking the suit off.
It’s 5 minutes and you’re only working for half of it.
As you build and develop your habit and, importantly, as your body adapts to it, you’ll be able to start ramping up the duration, especially in the evenings. But as you adapt you’ll also start enjoying it more as the endorphins released during exercise start to kick in and you get your ‘exercise high’.
Action: 2 short HIIT workouts per day for 28 days (1 if new to training or coming back after a lengthy break.
4. Ditch / Reduce The Grog
Yep, I know. This can be a little tricky. Especially with work events in Australia where there seems to be no obvious alternative to hitting the turps.
If going cold turkey is too much to face, then start with two or three booze-free nights per week or limit your drinking to only at bars and restaurants i.e. not at home.
As with the workouts, we can start small on this. It’s about breaking old habits (such as not exercising or drinking every night) and forging news ones which we’re in control of.
If you can’t give me something on this, then it’s possible you have some kind of dependency issue.
Action: No alcohol during the week for 2 weeks
5. Load Up On Fat
High-fat, low-carb diets are all the rage right now.
And when people want to channel their inner scientist, they start banging on about ketosis or the ketogenic diet, usually abbreviated to plain old ‘keto’.
Tim Ferriss has conducted several podcasts with keto advocates like Dom D’Agostino and Peter Attia, both lauded scientists with impeccable credentials. Ferriss, himself, is no slouch when it comes to synthesising scientist insights to aid his performance.
Here’s a couple of links to the keto podcasts, if you’re interested. The science can get a bit dense at time but it’s interesting listening.
And now a whole new segment of the supplement industry has emerged spruiking exogenous ketones which aid brain function, abet weight loss, fight terminal diseases like cancer and epilepsy.
They’re also pretty expensive.
To be honest, I’m a little overwhelmed with all the arguments for and against, and don’t know enough about it.
However, when I did dabbled with my own low-brow version of a ketogenic diet, basically high protein and fat and modest carbs, I did notice the following benefits:
- Improved mental clarity and sharpness
- Increased energy
Increased productivity (because I only ate two, large fat-heavy meals per day)
A Typical Day:
- 8am Coffee
- 11am Eggs, sausage, steamed greens, grated cheese, avocado
- 4pm Peanut butter and apple, glass of full-fat milk
- 7pm Chicken, broccoli cooked in butter, avocado
The problem with this kind of diet is that it’s pretty anti-social so, whilst perfect for single guys, might not be so handy for family guys.
6. Bonus Hack: Get A Body Composition Scan
If you want to manage it, you’ve got to measure it is a mantra attributed to Peter Drucker, and it’s spot on.
I’ve been there. It’s humbling.
But through the pain and humiliation (and questioning the accuracy of the machine) comes something to focus on that can really drive discipline.
These scans don’t just measure weight accurately, they tell you you’re body fat percentage, how much lean muscle mass you’re carrying and even which parts of your body are heavy or not. Don’t worry, though, it’s not that granular so focuses on quadrants rather than actual anatomy or appendages.
Whilst weight loss may be the main objective, actually maintaining body weight whilst increasing lean muscle mass equates to an actual reduction in body fat and is , therefore, still a big win for most of us.
Weight loss (or fat loss) seems to me to be something that’s really difficult to start with and becomes easy with the momentum that improved daily habits and discipline bring. Like most things in life, I guess, but, for some reason, a little harder, or more complex.
If all of this is too daunting, I suggest you pick off one of these (or possibly two) and go at it like a dog with a favourite bone for 2 weeks and record your results. Gradually, over time, add in additional items and suddenly losing those 5 kgs will seem much easier.
p.s. If your objective is bulking up, read this post about my attempt to gain 5kg in 4 weeks.