The point of this blog is NOT for you to drop yourself into any one category. You could very well have several different habits from each “type” of client. As always, we all have different genetics and varying levels of effort that play a role in the results we see and the habits we need to implement. The main takeaway here is that to be different you must do different. What works for your initial ten-pound loss may not get you a six pack. You can’t jump from A-Z, getting very lean is not the same as losing a couple pounds and sacrifices will be made.
Before we get started why don’t we just throw out there that you cannot target fat loss on any part of the body. Sadly, because I know we all have those spots where genetically, our body likes to hold fat. If you want to lose fat in this particular area you do so by losing fat anywhere else! Create a CALORIE DEFICIT and in turn lose body fat. Still sticking in that hard to lose area? You need to dive deeper into a deficit create new and different habits and reach new levels of leanness. Hard truths but again science/facts are the only thing I am dealing with here. Truthfully reaching or finding that level of leanness may not be worth it for you. Practicing a little self-love and accepting your body and genetics for what they are works well so long as your health is 100%, but for the sake of this blog let’s talk about different levels of lean.
Level 1 clients: No muscle definition at all, for women body fat over 30%, Men over 20%. You are heading towards obesity and risking metabolic syndromes. Most likely no exercise routine is present and your diet consists of mostly processed foods.
What works on this level? Habit changes. Committing to walking or very light aerobic activity. Slowly replacing 1-2 meals with more single ingredient whole foods. Eliminating any calories from drinks. Basically, small habit changes here and there can produce good change at this level, assuming you have never dieted before. Things get more complicated the more you have lost/gained/lost/gained more… You lose some weight with new habits but likely eventually plateau. More habits need to be implemented to continue with fat loss, possibly adding calorie tracking.
Level 2 clients- Average leanness in America. Men: 15–20%, Women: 25% body fat. You likely exercise up to 3-4 times a week for enjoyment or health, no real structure to your program. Still not much visible muscle definition. You could appear “soft.” How to get here? You now have a workout routine you stick to 80% of the time. You only eat outside of your house a handful of times per week. You focus on having veggies and protein daily. To get to this level you may have tracked your food/macros for at least a short period of time. Eventually, boom, you plateau again. All things considered if your blood markers are healthy you may be comfortable staying here and having a more relaxed approach to food choices.
Level 3 clients: Men below 12% Women under 22% You are considered by gen pop to be very lean and fit here. You can flex and likely have muscle definition. The top abdominals are likely always visible but nothing lower than that. How to live here? Exercise is likely a big part of your life. You could even be committed to some structured programming or weight lifting. You more than likely track your intake 70% of the time and have definitely committed to longer bouts of tracking 100% of the time to get to this place. You likely only partake in drinking 1-3 times per month, if that and rarely eat out, maybe 1-3 times a month.
Level 4 clients: Men under 11% Women under 19%. You have a visible 6 pack for sure and there is definite muscle definition without flexing. You are likely committed to a lifting program that focuses on progressive overload. You possibly enjoy cardio 2-3 times a week. Exercise is a massive part of your life. You may not drink at all here, one time per month if that. You rarely ever eat out of your house, 1 time per month if that. 90% of your diet is comprised of whole single ingredient foods. You may even lean in hard on keeping your sugar intake low. This is a lean but sustainable level of leanness for MOST. It takes real habit change and sacrifice. You definitely tracked for a long period of time 100% of the time nailing your macros. You took your calorie deficit low enough to experience real hunger, possible sleep disruption, and fatigue in your workouts while getting to this level.
Level 5 is really stage/competition lean and I won’t dive in here as anyone looking to get on stage should work closely with a body building coach. Key takeaway here: major sacrifice and not even remotely sustainable long term. Also, you better have an exit plan because these results are next to impossible to maintain.
Takeaways here, plateaus are normal and to be expected. You may just need to implement more changes in your life to continue with fat loss, if that is the goal.
Start where you are with the minimum effective dose. Do not go HAM at the gym 6 times per week and try to go paleo at level 1 (unless for medical reasons) start where you are and build on SUSTAINBLE small changes.
You CANNOT target fat loss, if you want to remove body fat from any tough areas you will have to dive deeper into a deficit and change things in your daily routines.
Decide early on what is sustable for you long term. What is the point of reaching level 4 if you cannot sustain some of those lifestyle changes?
Expect hunger during a cut, expect to be tired and feel that fatigue in the gym. To get to level 4 you will be uncomfortable, accept that now or move on from the idea of getting there.
Pack your patience. This will take time to get past each level and obviously, you can’t live in a calorie deficit indefinitely. You will need to practice diet breaks, re feeds, and even reverse diets in between to continue on from level 1 -4. This will take TIME and patience.