We tell you how to explain to your father how to lose fat. We assure you that it will help you achieve this goal!
Should your father lose fat?
Body fat is nothing more than a tissue that increases its size and/or density in response to calorie consumption which generates an energy surplus that can be stored in a comfortable and simple way in the form of fat.
Epidemiologically, body weight follows a “J” shaped curve, where the curve increases at the same rate as risk of mortality.
Figure I. Graphic description of the relationship between BMI and mortality risk with 1.0 as a cut-off point.
Figure II. Systemic effects of lipotoxicity.
Why should your father lose fat?
If your father is a person with pronounced excess weight/obesity, especially characterised by a FFM/FM relationship (sarcopenia and visceral adiposity), losing weight is a good strategy to:
- Improve his health.
- Increase his quality of life.
- Prevent the development of comorbidities, like diabetes or hypertension.
Fundamentals of losing fat
To lose fat we must consume fewer calories than we exert in our day-to-day, period.
If we maintain this over time we will lose fat; then there are more variables to control to optimize the process: training, protein consumption, relative energy deficiency…
But that’s for another day.
This will not work.
Foundations of fat loss in older people
An older person, even if not strictly a member of this group, does not have to be over 65 years.
If we think about it from a holistic standpoint, and we move away from the reductionism of nutrients and calories, we see that there are factors like the environment that affect how we feed ourselves and ultimately our state of health.
Figure III. Graphic representation of the “holistic/reductionist” dichotomy and its approach.
And there is a complex interrelationship between a multitude of factors that affect the host-environment-agent, and they feed one another, catalysed by vectors that seem “silly” such as the use of an elevator or the consumption of chips.
Figure IV. Triangle that interrelates factors affecting the environment and the host with the agent multi-directionally.
Are you keeping up with me?…
Small changes will cause your father to lose weight and improve his life taking into account the logic of the holistic model.
In case you haven’t understood fully so far, imagine a country where all of a sudden all fast food chains were banned, what do you think would happen to BMI or the average body fat % of that country’s population?
Exercise is a powerful body weight modulator (in addition to many other factors such as the structural functionality of our bone tissue, musculo-skeletal structure, cardiorespiratory fitness, etc.).
Figure V. Effects of physical exercise on body weight over a period of weeks.
And walking is not enough!
This depends on the case, but if your father has not taken two steps outdoors in the last 20 years, walking is the best starting point, but we shouldn’t stop there.
Figure VI. Body weight loss after 12 months without intervention (control), exercise, diet or both.
Using physical exercise as the only modified factor in a person’s lifestyle results in a moderate reduction in body weight in 12 months, much less than that of diet of course, but still significant.
The changes in body weight that we can expect after implementing physical exercise on our parents’ day-to-day life can be:
|Form||Weight Loss||Clinical or medical significance|
|Step targets (walking)||From 0 to 1kg||It doesn’t seem like|
|Aerobic training alone||From 0 to 2kg||It is possible but only with extremely high volumes of physical exercise|
|Only strength training||Nothing||It doesn’t seem to|
|Concurrent training||From 0 to 2kg||Possible but only with high volume|
|Caloric restriction combined with aerobic training||From 9 to 13kg||Possible|
The impact of strength training on body composition, which we explained is also an important predictor of the health status of the person in question, is not being assessed, but we can see one thing:
If your father enjoys tracking macros, excellent, do it!
But in most cases it isn’t going to be like this, your father will not be willing to weigh the food nor will he eat the same thing every day. What do we do then?
Nutrition Table + My Plate
I propose a a diet system for your parents to lose weight effectively, and it is also recommended by the FDA itself as an effective proposal.
Figure VII. FDA Proposal of FDA proposal for control of labelling information + MyPlate.
Firstly, you have to show your parents how to read the labels on food, in general, and not to glaze over the following:
- Really long lists of ingredients, it’s better to avoid this as much as possible
- Food with high energy density (>300kcal/100g), it’s best to reduce these.
- Foods very rich in carbohydrates best to control them.
- Prioritise mono- and polyunsaturated fats, unrefined vegetable oils or quality animal fats in moderate quantities.
- 5g of salt per day – dad, you’ll see if you want to eat those fries.
If your father drinks a glass of wine a day, or likes to have some biscuits with coffee for breakfast, don’t take away these small pleasures because in two days he will quit.
Remember: holistic approach.
It is also not a good idea to obsess over product labels, but consider them as a reference when choosing what to buy at the supermarket.
My plate is a food system designed by the USDA to improve the diets of their citizens.
The system is simple, and consists of dividing the plate we are going to eat into vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins (preferably lean) and a ration of dairy.
The USDA propose selecting rations according to amount of calories you want to consume:
Figure VIII. Page 1 of the self-generated report of the “MyPlate Plan” for a 2200 kcal diet.
It also gives you a small diary to keep track of whether you’re heading in the right direction or not:
Figure IX. Page 2 of the self-generated report of the “MyPlate Plan” for a 2200 kcal diet.
Does this work?
Again, although it may not be optimal for a young athlete looking to lose fat to compete in a bodybuilding category of 6% body fat.
For your father it may be:
- Helpful to eliminate stress over picking foods.
In addition, small changes in food selection produce interesting variations in body weight:
- Replacing 1% of dietary fats with carbohydrates means an average loss of 0.15kg in 6 months.
- Replacing 1% of dietary fats with proteins means an average loss of 0.33kg in 6 months.
- Replacing 1% of dietary carbohydrates with protein means an average loss of 0.18kg in 6 months.
And also with foods:
- Adding a portion of fruits or vegetables to the diet means an average loss of 0.29kg in 6 months.
- Adding a portion of low-fat dairy to the diet means an average loss of -0.18kg in 6 months.
So as we already suspected, but Champagne et al. (2012) have confirmed:
Get your father to move, do strength training or aerobic exercise, little by little but you must start gradually progressing.
Get your father to start a diet, he doesn’t need to be keto, or paleo, or walk around counting calories and macronutrients:
- Mediterranean diet.
- Control portion size by measuring them on the plate.
- Quality foods.
- Small treats that will help to stick to the diet and continue sticking with it into the future.
In a couple of months your father will be overtaking you, wait and see! 😉
- Burd, N. A., McKenna, C. F., Salvador, A. F., Paulussen, K. J. M., & Moore, D. R. (2019). Dietary protein quantity, quality, and exercise are key to healthy living: A muscle-centric perspective across the lifespan. Frontiers in Nutrition, Vol. 6, p. 83.
- Champagne, C. M., Broyles, S. T., Moran, L. D., Cash, K. C., Levy, E. J., Lin, P. H., … Myers, V. H. (2011). Dietary Intakes Associated with Successful Weight Loss and Maintenance during the Weight Loss Maintenance Trial. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 111(12), 1826–1835.
- DiPietro L, Stachenfeld NS. Exercise Treatment of Obesity. [Updated 2017 Aug 9]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-.
- Gardner, C. D., Trepanowski, J. F., Gobbo, L. C. D., Hauser, M. E., Rigdon, J., Ioannidis, J. P. A., … King, A. C. (2018). Effect of low-fat VS low-carbohydrate diet on 12-month weight loss in overweight adults and the association with genotype pattern or insulin secretion the DIETFITS randomized clinical trial. JAMA – Journal of the American Medical Association, 319(7), 667–679.
- Koliaki, C., Spinos, T., Spinou, Μ., Brinia, Μ.-E., Mitsopoulou, D., & Katsilambros, N. (2018). Defining the Optimal Dietary Approach for Safe, Effective and Sustainable Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults. Healthcare, 6(3), 73.
- Kyrou I, Randeva HS, Tsigos C, et al. Clinical Problems Caused by Obesity. [Updated 2018 Jan 11]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-.
- Nishi, H., Higashihara, T., & Inagi, R. (2019). Lipotoxicity in kidney, heart, and skeletal muscle dysfunction. Nutrients, 11(7).
- Swift, D. L., Johannsen, N. M., Lavie, C. J., Earnest, C. P., & Church, T. S. (2014). The role of exercise and physical activity in weight loss and maintenance. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 56(4), 441–447.
- Swift, D. L., McGee, J. E., Earnest, C. P., Carlisle, E., Nygard, M., & Johannsen, N. M. (2018). The Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Weight Loss and Maintenance. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 61(2), 206–213.
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