Fat Loss Hacks 101

Personal Trainer Celbridge, personal, trainer, gym

In this article personal trainer and founder of Sphere Fitness, John Lark outlines 5 key behaviours that you must do on a consistent basis to see results with your fat loss efforts.

So, you are a beginner? And want to lose some body fat? And have a fair old bit to lose? Well do not despair. At this point in your journey this is not as complex as most folks would make it out to be.

But it does need you to be consistent.

Consistent with habits and behaviours that are lining up in the right direction towards your ultimate goal : in this case fat loss.

The problem comes when we look away from the obvious, layering confusion, details that don’t matter and ‘paralysis by analysis’.

Like worrying about gluten when you eat too much in the first place. Or worrying about the ‘best’ type of exercise to be doing when ‘anything more than you are currently doing’ is equally a great start.

So which ones?

Over the past 14 years of working with folks just like yourself I have identified the following.

Become a consistent machine with the below, turning up just as much you would with your training towards your efforts at home.

Hit a daily protein goal

This one is important because a higher protein intake has proven time and time again to help people drop body fat (amongst other things). There are so many mechanisms at play.

One rather cool effect includes the Thermic Effect or ‘TE’.

Basically it takes calories to digest, absorb and assimilate your chicken, fish and meat more so than any other nutrient. That lump of steak that you burnt is not just tough to chew but is also as tough when it comes to digesting and using it in the body.

How much?

As much as 15% of your daily caloric intake. Just by eating a little more protein could mean an extra 150-200 calories burnt by your body in dealing with that steak, eggs, fish and chicken you ate over the course of the day. Not bad eh? The trick is to have a bit with each meal.

Ideally you should be shooting for 0.8g per lb of protein per day and 1-1.2g per lb of protein per day for males. Use your lean muscle mass weight. This means if you are 100kg and 25% body fat your lean weight would be 100kg less 25% or 75kg. In this case 75kg/165lbs would mean 165g per day.

Hack: Don’t get too bogged down in the numbers.

An easy way, I learnt off Precision Nutrition in this stage of your journey, is to use your palms. 1 palm size serving is about 20-30g. 2 palms represents double that.

Consumer fewer carbohydrates overall

You would be best served lowering your carbohydrate intake significantly. We know that doing this not only lowers your calories overall,without all the number crunching, but more importantly is healthier.

A lower carbohydrate intake has been beneficial in improving health markers such as glucose control, metabolic disorders and  heart disease. In fact give me a study where it has done nothing!

These refined carbohydrates tend to be irritable to our health across the board. Some, but not everyone, feel better without gluten, dairy and sugar. These are the biggies.

50-100g per day seems to be the sweet spot taken in after you have trained or at night.

Hack: This is easily done by substituting your bread, sugar, processed foods, pasta and spuds for rice, sweet potato, quinoa, and berries. One-two palms depending on whether you are male or female does the trick.

Be in calorific deficit

Which leads me onto being in a calorie deficit or in better terms taking in less energy than you are expending.

Point 2 makes this easy. You are reducing a food group quite considerably which will mean you dropping your calories too.

It is why these liquid meal replacement diets are so successful too. You know the ones. Drink two of these for breakfast and lunch and have a meal in the evening. Well I am not surprised you lose weight. You have dropped your calorific intake very significantly and forced yourself into this deficit.

Of course you will lose weight. What happens with this though there is an emotional conection made between this super shake working its magic when in reality you have just been drawn in to a simple way of eating less.

Hack: Stick to veggies, protein and a little bit of good fats at each meal. Use your palm sizes as a guide and you will more than likely reach your calorie deficit goal without being hungry either.

Consume good fats with each meal

Good fats are important because everyone of our bodily cells depend on their presence in our diet. Becoming a fat phobe is not a good idea. Yes – they are dense on calories (twice as much as protein and carbs per gram) but their role is so important in terms of FUNCTION.

Think of our trillions of cells that up us like our home and the walls of our home like our cells membrane or the outer portion.

We wouldn’t do great if our walls were made up of shoddy materials. Right? Think how cold, miserable, fragile and derelict our home would be and become.

Those cell walls are made up of good fats. We determine then through our diet how well they function.

That means including in our diet things like coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, avocado, good quality butter and the omega 3 oils found in fish and some plant oils.

Sometimes they can be found in the food alone or you can use them as a dressing or cook with them. In this case the best are butter and coconut oil as they are stable at higher temperatures.

Hack: Add 1-2 tbsp of good fats to your meals. 1 can be used in the cooking and 1 can be used a dressing or added after cooking. Butter on vegetables for example. This handy little trick also helps you absorb more of the good stuff from your veggies.


When you think every one of our bodily process is driven by water you can see how important this is.

Hack: Stay hydrated with 1 -2 litres of water a day. Start the day with a large glass with some lemon juice freshly squeezed. It makes hitting this target easier when you have this one out of the way.

Eat vegetables with every meal

Going back to that house analogy the vitamins, minerals and  phytonutrients found in vegetables are like the cement binding our home together.

Quite simply fibre and in particular leafy green vegetables are crucial tool to anyone looking to get leaner and should feature in most if not every meal.

The staples should things like broccoli, spinach, kale, cauliflower, rocket, leafy green salad bags, cucumber, asparagus.

If you can eat in season then even better!

Arrange your plate so at least half of it is covered with greens.

Hack: Have a washed bowl ready to go in the fridge or batch cook a load of stir fry veggies. Some supermarkets carry a few handy bag of frozen stir fry mixes.

Weight train 3-4 times per week

We know that weight training is the most effective way to change our body for the better. 3-4 sessions per week are best.

This does not include bootcamp style sessions and other cardio type activities. Whilst effective from the outset (as you are simply moving and expending energy) after about 6-8 weeks there tends to be a plateau. Why? The body has adapted. You are fitter and hopefully feel better but at this stage there needs to be a new challenge.

This is the beauty of a structured and progressively thought out programme geared towards your needs. Your body doesn’t get time to stagnate.

Hack : Invest in your results by getting someone to work out a programme for you. Due tot the plethora of information out there on the internet it is easy to pull off a template. My experience – you have a 50/50 chance of this working for you. Why not drive that up to 100% and invest €50-100 and get someone to design it for you saving you time and money.

What next…

Having implemented all of this you may hit a cross roads and need to tighten things up. But ask yourself this first.

How compliant are you with all of the above? 90%? Great then think about (in no particular order)

  • Tracking your calories accurately
  • Ketogenic dieting
  • Upping your training regime
  • Monitoring your stress levels
  • Monitoring your sleep patterns
  • Monitoring your emotional status

If you aren’t then back to the drawing board young padwun. Keep working at it and enjoy the journey.

John Lark is owner and founder of Sphere Fitness based in Maynooth, Co.Kildare

Check out his online training programme here