Are you Sure you Want Less Body fat?

In this article, our man from FITISM reveals what it takes to look a certain way, it’s all about the “trade off”

Fitness column by Matt Kay

Last week one of my business partners and I were interviewed on a new Manchester based broadcasting show called Media Sound Wave. We were talking around the topic of ‘How to strip body fat?’ You can watch the full interview here. Even though we got some key points across, it was very difficult to directly answer the question ‘how do you strip body fat’ without giving listeners more context.

Whenever I am asked the question ‘How do you strip body fat?’ the answer is always… ‘It depends…’ I understand, more than anyone, how frustrating that answer is. Before being able to address ‘how can I strip body fat?’ you need to first answer the question ’What are you prepared to sacrifice?’ The body shape you have now and the body shape you will have in the future is determined by the habits you choose and that begins in the mind. It is what is in your head that will determine what you really want and what you are prepared to do to get there.

I am going to let you into a little FITISM secret… Before we start writing exercise and nutrition programmes for a client, we first get to the bottom of one fundamental factor; what is the client’s likely attitude towards exercise and nutrition adherence.

Here is the thing. I could present every client that walks through our doors with the perfect nutrition and exercise programme but if that client finds that programme boring or too hard, they will resent every second of it and give up. The perfect programme is inevitably far from perfect for them. So before setting a specific body fat goal for a client, we first help them to understand the sacrifices they will have to make in order to look a certain way, and determine if they are willing to commit to what it takes to achieve it.

To help our clients make this decision we have put together the following table.

It is this table that can help you directly address the question ‘how can I strip body fat?’ by considering what you will have to do to achieve it. We call this the Trade-Off.



body fat


body fat

Natural Eating (LIFE foods only)2 x weight training sessions per/wk

1 x HIIT session per week

Slightly larger


One roll of fat on tummy when sitting down

Improved sleep, improved health, enjoyable exerciseRequires some planning, won’t ever look ‘ripped’, will need to be mindful about food not to lose your shape

body fat


body fat

Natural Eating

(6 week course)

2 x weight training sessions per/wk

1/2 x HIIT sessions per/wk

Flat stomach


Slightly toned muscle

Easy to maintain, energy levels will be improved, reduced reliance on many medicationsMinor social sacrifices, requires education around nutrition, will need improved food tracking

body fat


body fat

Calories & Macro’s

(4-6 weeks)


Intuitive Eating

3 x weight training sessions per/wk

1/2 x HIIT sessions per/wk

Ab definition showing


Muscles starting to show

Fit appearance, relatively easy to maintain once practiced lifestyle habits become establishedRequires planning and attention to diet, Will need to weigh food/track portions/prep food

body fat


body fat

Calories & Macro’s


4 x weight training sessions per/wk

1/2 x HIIT sessions per/wk

Six pack


Great muscle definition

Look extremely lean, good stamina, overall health benefitsRequires strict tracking, may struggle eating out, all food and drink will need to be tracked


The Trade-Off Table Explained
Here is a breakdown of the basics of the nutrition approaches listed in the table required to achieve the various different body fat percentages listed.

This is referencing a very simple nutrition approach we use at FITISM consisting of a diet free from processed foods, refined sugar and alcohol (apart from 1/2 ‘cheat’ nights per week). Instead you must focus on consuming a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, gains (limited), dairy (limited), poultry, fish, meat, nuts, seeds and plenty of water.

NATURAL EATING: 6 week course
Our ‘Natural Eating’ approach is based around a six week course broken down into three parts: Elimination (two weeks), Balance (four weeks), Life (ongoing for the rest of your life). To achieve the next level of body fat in the table we recommend you focus on the full six week course. Here are the basics of the course:

Elimination (two weeks): Remove caffeine, sugar (including most fruit), processed foods, grain, dairy, alcohol. Eat: meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, nuts, seeds exclusively for two weeks and lots of water

Balance (four weeks): Add back in berries and English fruits (week three), brown, red and black rice (week 4), new potatoes, root vegetables, oats, quinoa (week five), bio-yogurt, goats cheese/milk, sheep’s cheese/milk and mozzarella (week six)

Life (ongoing): Continue to eat all the foods that you have done throughout the six week course 85 – 90 per cent of the time. For 10/15 per cent relax and eat the foods/drink you enjoy that are not part of the six week course.

CALORIES & MACRO’S: 4 – 6 weeks
To drop body fat you must be in a calorie deficit of around 10 per cent below that of your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). There are apps like MpFitnessPal that can help you work this out.

To ensure you are achieving this you must track your calories (kcal) daily and macronutrients made up of protein (2g per kg of body weight), fat (30 per cent of total kcal) and carbohydrates (make up the remaining kcal). Use the MyFitnessPal app to track this. Do this for four to six weeks or until you have hit your desired body fat percentage and then move to an ‘Intuitive Eating approach (see below).

CALORIES & MACRO’S: Exclusively
Repeat the above but instead of moving to an intuitive eating approach after four to six weeks you continue to track your calories and macro’s to ensure you remain in a deficit. There will be a point when your body stagnates (metabolic adaptation). There are many ways to break metabolic adaptation but one of the most effective ways is to take a ‘diet break’. This basically means to move your calories back up to maintenance (your TDEE) for a minimum of 1 week before dropping back into a deficit (10 per cent below TDEE). There are other methods to consider but without complicating matters I recommend you start here.

Intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy based on the premise that becoming more attuned to your body’s natural hunger signals is a more realistic way to attain a healthy weight for most people, rather than keeping track of the amounts of energy, protein, carbohydrates and fats in foods. With that said, it is important to first set your barometer as to what it feels like and looks like to eat according to a diet that is best suited to your goals. This is why we recommend adopting an Intuitive eating approach four to six weeks after following the ‘Calories & Macro’s’ approach.

Ultimately it is possible for anyone to drop body fat but the amount of body fat you will be able to lose is directly determined by what you are prepared to do.

It’s all about the trade-off. riddle_stop 2

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