Professional bodybuilder and fitness coach Paul Revelia regularly shares advice for fat loss on his YouTube channel informed by his own experiences of getting ready for competitive physique shows, and in a new video, he explains the "do nothing" approach for cutting body fat that he uses with some of his clients.
"Weight loss is more complex than 'move more, eat less,'" he says. "Yes, all weight loss is derived from a caloric deficit, but what is a caloric deficit?"
He goes on to explain that knowing your basal metabolic rate (BMR) can be an incredibly useful tool if your goal is to lose fat. The BMR is the number of calories your body naturally burns through its ordinary functions each day, outside of any extra physical exercise. BMR calculators are available online, and once you have that number, it's easier to figure out what kind of realistic caloric deficit to introduce to your diet so that you can essentially lose weight without needing to up your physical activity.
"Your basal metabolic rate will actually decrease as you lose body fat, because your body doesn't require as much energy to run," says Revelia. "It's like driving a car down a highway and you've got a trailer attached to it... If you drop the thousand-pound trailer, your car is going to be efficient and require less fuel to run."
He also points out that as you continue in your caloric deficit and your BMR drops, you may find yourself feeling more tired and your body will burn fewer calories to try to conserve energy. This is called mitochondrial efficiency, where the body becomes more effective at everyday movement.
When you hit this sticking point, a common tactic is to add more cardio to your routine and drop some extra calories, but Revelia believes you'll see diminishing returns here. His advice is to introduce a "diet break" instead: as your BMR comes down, temporarily up the number of calories you're consuming, and increase energy expenditure through exercise.
"As much as most people want to go straight for the goal... the results that I see for people that take these diet breaks have been life-changing," he says, "because when we get to our goal weight, we haven't been dieting so hard for so long that we're basically in the crapper... My competitors get down to stage weight and can actually stay there with their calories up close to what they were before they started the diet."
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