“Exercise induces a whole host of changes that provide both short term and long term benefit, such as: improved cardiac function, improved muscle metabolism, improved metabolic flexibility, increased resting metabolic rate, decreased resting heart rate, improved heart rate variability, lower stress, increased bone density, etc., etc. Dieting doesn’t really give you robust results like that.”
Moreover, old-fashioned strength training still needs to be prioritised to maintain muscle, even if fat-loss is the goal.
This generally means implementing multi-joint, compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses with low to moderate rep ranges (3 to 6 reps).
In doing so, your body is nudged to keep muscle, as low(er) rep ranges tend to target more of the actual muscle fibres themselves in addition to providing the neural stimulus needed for the central nervous system to maintain strength levels.
High(er) rep, metabolic-style training, while still important and still very much a crucial component of any fat-loss program, tends to target endurance capacity more.
Both approaches are important. However, low-rep, strength-based protocols, designed to keep muscle, tend to be vastly undervalued as fat-loss strategies.
Additionally, “fat-loss” programs (and dieting in general) tend to be abused. Many guys end up caught in a seemingly vicious, perpetual fat-loss phase abyss.
As Dieter notes, “most people would be far better off spending more time being well fed, and using that food to maximise training that improves their strength, power, balance, endurance, and conditioning and then using short, smart, dieting cycles to focus on fat loss.”
All of those things mentioned above - strength, endurance, conditioning, etc. - are hard to improve upon when your calorie deficit is too high for too long. That high-deficit approach tends to backfire long-term because many people neglect to appreciate the importance of fuelling their exercise for better performance.
1. Less, more purposeful exercise may be the key for fat loss.
2. Dieting, especially for fat-loss, should be more of a brief, targeted endeavour. Not a year-round war.