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The First Step to Fat Loss

Fat loss advice that works.

Fat loss advice is always welcome. However, in a bid to satisfy the ‘shiny new thing syndrome’ we’re often fed fat loss advice that really won’t do anything for us if we don’t have the fundamentals in place. This article addresses the number one fundamental that governs whether any other nutritional strategy you employ to shift stubborn fat is effective or not. First though, I feel it’s important to outline some considerations to reflect upon before you embark upon a fat loss journey.

Before you arrived at this point; that is the point where you’re searching for answers to decrease your body fat percentage, you either did (or) didn’t do certain things that resulted in unwanted weight gain. Taking a moment to recognise the factors that have lead to this current point in time makes us aware of our own habits, both good and bad. Once we’re aware of these patterns and actions, we can develop tools and strategies to cope.

Let’s now take a moment and reflect on each of the dot points below. What factors are you predisposed to? Are your actions or habits promoting fat gain and/or lean muscle loss? Are there things that are out of our control or are not in our best interest to modify (such as medications)? Write each relevant dot point as a heading and identify within each category those actions, habits and lifestyle choices that are contributing to your weight gain.

  • Genetic Influences,
  • Psychological factors,
  • Medications,
  • Life stage,
  • Life events, and
  • Social.

And finally, the biggest question of all to reflect on: Are you truly motivated from within and comfortable in your readiness to change?


Step number one requires us to reduce calories so that we expend slightly more than we take in.

‘Is that it?’ you’re asking. Well, yes. And here’s why I’ve stated something that is so obvious to most of us. In the health and fitness space, we get caught up in our pre-workout drinks so we can hit the gym harder, our fat-burners so we can melt extra fat stores during each and every workout and our protein/carb/fat intake because one of them is evil and will ultimately be responsible for the downfall of the human race (ok a little dramatic, but you get the point).

While we’re concentrating so hard on hitting all these little ‘one percenters’, we’ve forgotten about the simplest thing available to us; knowing exactly how many calories we are consuming each and every day.

Before we put all this effort into macronutrient splits, macro and micro nutrient timing, supplements, meal timing and frequencies, let’s put effort into knowing our base numbers. Know exactly what calories it takes to maintain weight, then track them to ensure we fall just below that line. How far below? Well I usually recommend a maximum of about 200 calories per day below our maintenance goal, but in reality it’s entirely individual and a call should be made for each person independently.


We all know a calorie deficit is required to reduce body fat. Sometimes we just get so overcome by the sheer amount of fat loss information available, that we forget to action the simple things.

My philosophy is: go for the low-hanging fruit first. Just remember that consistently tracking your intake and nailing your energy goals means you’ll have to consider each relevant dot point featured earlier in this article and devise strategies to work through and/or with them.

So while a negative calorie balance is a simple, well-known fat loss strategy, it is perhaps more complex to implement than we first consider and that’s the reason why we end up looking elsewhere for answers. Remind yourself of that fact when the next ‘shiny new thing’ starts to look inviting and nail the fundamentals first!