Every few months, I take a body fat test at my gym, to see how I’m doing. Consistent assessment is important—it’s tough to know if your exercise routine and nutrition plan is working if you aren’t getting tested regularly.
Body Fat Increase
This last time I got tested, I noticed my body fat percentage had increased a bit. I was a little surprised, because I had been very consistent with my exercise over the past few months. I was also a bit discouraged—I felt like I had been working hard, and my numbers had gone in the wrong direction.
The Importance of Nutrition
I think my experience illustrates an important point to keep in mind: If you want to lose body fat, you can’t just focus on exercise. You have to have your nutrition locked in and on point as well. I wasn’t necessarily eating a lot of junk food, but I also hadn’t been disciplined about limiting my carb and sugar intake.
The Primal Blueprint
The nutrition plan that has worked best for me is The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. It’s similar to Paleo, but not as rigid. The encouragement is to eat mostly plants and animals, and avoid processed foods, sugars, and grains. Sisson also says that if you’re adhering to the Primal Blueprint nutrition guidelines 80% of the time, that’s good enough. There’s an acknowledgement that life happens—it’s impossible to stick to a nutrition plan 100% of the time.
That said, even though I think the Primal Blueprint is a reasonable nutrition plan that isn’t too limiting overall, it still takes a good amount of discipline to follow it. And the reality was that I hadn’t been following any nutrition plan lately. Hence, the rise in body fat.
You Can’t Just Exercise
Exercise is super-important to overall health. If you aren’t exercising regularly, I would absolutely encourage you to start an exercise program. However, if the goal is to get leaner and reduce body fat, exercise alone isn’t going to be enough. Adhering to a nutrition plan is critical. If you want to succeed, make sure you do both.