Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat

Bonus Episode: 3 Simple Ways to Achieve a Fitter, Leaner Body in Midlife

April 13, 2024 Philip Pape, Nutrition Coach & Physique Engineer
Bonus Episode: 3 Simple Ways to Achieve a Fitter, Leaner Body in Midlife
Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat
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Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat
Bonus Episode: 3 Simple Ways to Achieve a Fitter, Leaner Body in Midlife
Apr 13, 2024
Philip Pape, Nutrition Coach & Physique Engineer

Have you ever chased the number on the scale only to find yourself back at square one?

This conversation is from my appearance on Megan Dahlman's podcast, Self Care Simplified.

Megan invited me on her podcast to dig into the strategies that actually work for sustainable fat loss, especially for those in midlife. We discussed the difference between weight loss and fat loss, and how to lose fat while maintaining muscle mass. I shared insights on why the approaches that worked in our 20s might not be as effective in our 40s, 50s, and beyond.

Throughout our conversation, we covered the importance of understanding body composition and its role in fat loss. I also shared 3 guiding principles for achieving true, sustainable fat loss and how to incorporate them into your life.

If you've ever felt frustrated, confused, or defeated in your pursuit of fat loss, this episode will break it down into simple, attainable steps.

Enjoy my conversation with Megan Dahlman on Self Care Simplified!

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🎓 Join Wits & Weights Physique University

👩‍💻 Schedule a FREE nutrition/training audit with Philip

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📱 Try MacroFactor for free with code WITSANDWEIGHTS. The only food logging app that adjusts to your metabolism!

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever chased the number on the scale only to find yourself back at square one?

This conversation is from my appearance on Megan Dahlman's podcast, Self Care Simplified.

Megan invited me on her podcast to dig into the strategies that actually work for sustainable fat loss, especially for those in midlife. We discussed the difference between weight loss and fat loss, and how to lose fat while maintaining muscle mass. I shared insights on why the approaches that worked in our 20s might not be as effective in our 40s, 50s, and beyond.

Throughout our conversation, we covered the importance of understanding body composition and its role in fat loss. I also shared 3 guiding principles for achieving true, sustainable fat loss and how to incorporate them into your life.

If you've ever felt frustrated, confused, or defeated in your pursuit of fat loss, this episode will break it down into simple, attainable steps.

Enjoy my conversation with Megan Dahlman on Self Care Simplified!

Episode Resources

Send me a question for Q&A!

Support the Show.


🎓 Join Wits & Weights Physique University

👩‍💻 Schedule a FREE nutrition/training audit with Philip

👥 Join our Facebook community for live Q&As & support

✉️ Join the FREE email list with insider strategies and bonus content!

📱 Try MacroFactor for free with code WITSANDWEIGHTS. The only food logging app that adjusts to your metabolism!

🩷 Enjoyed this episode? Share it on social and follow/tag @witsandweights

🤩 Love the podcast? Leave a 5-star review

📞 Send a Q&A voicemail

Philip Pape:

I would take a fairly heavy lifting program and just continue it into the fat loss phase, and you might even have to reduce the volume a little bit, which could be as simple as doing one less set on some of the exercises or doing one less movement for the session. And the goal here with all of fat loss is to keep the stress as low as possible in our body to allow that process to continue naturally, and if you're doing too much that could be a problem. Welcome to the Wits and Weights podcast. I'm your host, philip Pape, and this twice a week podcast is dedicated to helping you achieve physical self-mastery by getting stronger, optimizing your nutrition and upgrading your body composition. We'll uncover science-backed strategies for movement, metabolism, muscle and mindset, with a skeptical eye on the fitness industry, so you can look and feel your absolute best. Let's dive right in Wits and Weights community. Welcome to another bonus episode of the Wits and Weights podcast.

Philip Pape:

This conversation is from my appearance on Megan Dallman's podcast Self-Care Simplified. Megan invited me on her show to dig into the strategies that actually work for sustainable fat loss, especially for those in midlife. We discussed the difference between weight loss and fat loss and how to lose fat while maintaining muscle mass. I shared my insights on why the approaches that worked in our 20s might not be as effective in our 40s, 50s and beyond. Throughout our conversation, we covered the importance of understanding body composition and its role in fat loss. I also shared three guiding principles for achieving true, sustainable fat loss and how to incorporate them into your life. If you've ever felt frustrated, confused or defeated in your pursuit of fat loss, this episode will break it down into simple, attainable steps. Enjoy my conversation with Megan Dahlman on Self-Care Simplified.

Megan Dahlman:

Well, hey, philip, welcome to the podcast. I'm super excited to have you here with us, so thanks for being here, megan it's good to see you again.

Philip Pape:

Thanks for having me on to have you here with us. So thanks for being here.

Megan Dahlman:

Megan, it's good to see you again. Thanks for having me on. Well, I'm really excited about this conversation and I know everybody's leaning in a little bit. We're still towards the beginning of the year, you know February. We kind of still have some of those resolutions in our mind and I know I just know a lot of women listening right now had the goal of. You know, it would sure be great to lose some fat this year, to lose a little bit of weight and to feel a little trimmer, a little fitter, a little leaner. But it always feels like fat loss in general, like achieving that is kind of like finding the Holy Grail. It's difficult, it's confusing. There are a million strategies out there. A lot of them are wrong and I don't know if you've seen um at a grocery store, like just in the checkout stand, some of the magazines.

Philip Pape:

I just laugh. It's. It's an ongoing joke with my wife and I blast fat fast.

Megan Dahlman:

It's just like, no, that's not going to do it, not going to do it, and so I think, unfortunately, that's why a lot of people get so discouraged by the process. So I'm hoping today we can help to really clarify things and make it feel like, okay, this is not overwhelming, this is doable, if this is the goal. So, coming out of the gate, let's just start with just clarifying what we're talking about here. I know we use the words body composition a lot. Can you clarify for us what body composition actually means and then maybe the difference between weight loss and fat loss?

Philip Pape:

Oh, I love that one. I think that's core to everything, really. I did a whole episode about that a while back, called fat lossoss vs Weight Loss. The fitness industry is laser-focused on marketing based on the number on the scale. I've seen so many people gain a newfound freedom, not just on the food side but with their fitness and with their body image, by letting go of that number and embracing muscle, embracing what we call body composition, which is just the ratio of fat to muscle. And we have a lot of things in our body, right. We have tissue, water, bones, organs, all of that, but there's not a lot we have direct control of, as we do, skeletal muscle. And it's a beautiful thing, because from the age of 30, I think, to 70, we lose around 30 to 40% of our muscle mass if we are not doing something to hold onto it and to build it. Conversely, a recent study came out that showed 80 and 90 year olds can build brand new muscle tissue. So this is a very positive.

Megan Dahlman:

Say that a little louder for the people in the back that is so important to hear.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, no matter what age you are, because, let's be honest, most of us aren't going to make it past 100.

Philip Pape:

So, basically, your entire life, you can take an action and get a result that builds more muscle on your frame. And that's a beautiful thing, it really is. I used to be chasing the diets and chasing the scale myself for many years, insecure about my body, and it wasn't until I started training and gaining weight and building muscle that I realized oh, everything else gets a lot easier, including fat loss, when you build muscle first. And by the way, by first I just mean, unless it's an emergency that you lose weight, like for your health. Right now, if you have a little quote unquote weight to lose or you're a little fluffy kind of what we talked about on my show, I still am going to encourage you to build muscle first because you could, as a beginner, you can burn muscle or you can burn fat and build muscle at the same time pretty easily. So, yeah, body composition is just how much muscle you have, how much fat you have. We don't care about the number, we just care about moving it in the right direction.

Megan Dahlman:

Yeah. So then, when we're talking about the difference between weight loss and fat loss, it would really be so helpful in our minds to say, like I need to stop using the terminology of I need to lose weight because, like, really, when it comes down to us, we don't really want to lose weight at all costs. Like it's the fat, in particular, that that we want to lose. Like we should be wanting to gain other things, like gaining muscle, gaining bone density, gaining that muscle glycogen, gaining that other stuff, and I think that's why you know what you said. Like the scale is really confusing and it doesn't tell us the whole picture at all.

Philip Pape:

No, not at all, especially for a newer-ish lifter, and I know a lot of your listeners maybe listened to your recent episode about how to get started lifting weights. Of your listeners maybe listen to your recent episode about how to get started lifting weights. I'm envious of people who are in that phase because you can make so much progress fairly easily with just being a little consistent and what usually happens, at least when I work with my clients a lot of them have been lifting, but some haven't been lifting effectively, let's just say with progressive overload and I don't know how many terms the audience isn't familiar with. But that's just challenging your muscles more and more so that they grow. The first, let's say, one to three months, you don't have to lose any weight at all. You can just lift weights, dial in your nutrition, definitely get your pros, your protein, as Megan talks about, and stay the same scale weight but actually improve your body composition. Now at some point, everyone's listening here saying, well, I still have a little extra weight beyond that. I built it up over the years and I want to reveal that muscle that you're telling me to build.

Philip Pape:

Okay, then we would go into a deliberate fat loss phase. You might be thinking of bodybuilders and chicken and broccoli, or chicken and rice, chicken and broccoli and extreme leanness and all that. It doesn't have to be like that at all. We can actually sustainably lose fat at a reasonable rate while holding onto our muscle, so that it is fat that we lose right and come out the other side after three months and in the future when you do a fat loss phase, it may not take more than one or two months to where nine, 10, 12 months of the year you are not dieting right. And doesn't that sound great to not be dieting most of the time?

Megan Dahlman:

Yeah, I think it's great. So going into what you're saying is like really true, sustainable fat loss is what we want to achieve here, not like this extreme I'm going to just cut and like get rid of a ton of weight all at once, because we really are. We now know it's. It's really just the fat on our body that we want to improve that body composition of lowering the amount of fat that's on our frame while building at least the very minimum maintaining the muscle that we have on our frame. So what should be our three big guiding principles for this? I know you did a podcast recently on this on your show Wits and Weights the actual like simple strategies for fitter, leaner body, like everything you need to know about fat loss, and there was these three big guiding principles that you had. Can you share those with us?

Philip Pape:

If I get these right, Cause I, I, uh, I have a lot of threes. Um, I think these are.

Megan Dahlman:

I love number three too, as you know exactly. Um just magical.

Philip Pape:

So I think the first big one is building muscle, right, as we talked about to not only building but preserving muscle, because before fat loss you want to build as much muscle as possible which increases your basal metabolic rate, your metabolism. You burn more muscle just existing 24 hours around the clock. It's not an insane amount Like. Let's be realistic, let's be evidence-based here. For every pound of muscle it's probably six to nine calories. So if you gain 10 pounds of muscle, you might burn up to 100 extra calories. That's still meaningful, right? 100 calories is a good cushion. And then, beyond that, having that extra muscle, that metabolically flexible, expensive tissue, cascades into other things you can push harder in the gym, you have lower stress, you can sleep more, better recovery, better injury, lower inflammation, more bone density, on and on and on. Muscle is king, and so it just makes all the other decisions you make for fat loss easier, including the amount of calories you want to eat to go into that deficit.

Philip Pape:

So the other thing about muscle is when you're losing weight. I meant to say this earlier and I forgot to, but about a quarter of the weight you lose is muscle if you are not strength training. So get that into your head. If you lost 20 pounds on a diet, up to five of that could be muscle. When you gain the weight back which guess what 95% of people do within five years you're gaining all fat back.

Philip Pape:

And so if you're 140 pound female and you lose 20 pounds and then you gain it back and you lose it, and you gain it back, and you lose it and you gain it back, you are just worsening your body composition, even at the same scale weight. So the opposite of that is you're strength training while you're in a deficit and then your body is going to say well, your muscles are so important to you right now, I'm going to shuttle all those nutrients to rebuild them as I can, even if it's not new tissue, just to keep at status quo, and we're going to take the rest of the energy from your fat cells and that's how we lose fat. So that's the first one.

Megan Dahlman:

That's the first one First one is muscle. Yeah, building the muscle, and I think you said that. The other one is well, the principle is like building muscle makes fat loss easier and then preserving that muscle should be another guiding principle of doing everything we can right To keep that whatever muscle we have on our body.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, yeah, it's just focusing on the body composition.

Philip Pape:

And one of the mistakes people make during fat loss besides doing too much cardio, which is a mistake we can talk about is they think the training has to be more high rep training to burn fat.

Philip Pape:

That's the thought, and this is a really important point, because I will see someone who has kind of gotten their act together in the training department. They're doing the 6 to 12 reps or four to six or whatever heavy lifting, and then a switch goes on it's fat loss time and they start doing a six day a week 15 to 20 rep program on a YouTube influencer's program to burn fat. And that's not what we want to do. If anything, I would take a fairly heavy lifting program and just continue it into the fat loss phase, and you might even have to reduce the volume a little bit, which could be as simple as doing one less set on some of the exercises or doing one less movement for the session. And the goal here with all of fat loss, is to keep the stress as low as possible in our body to allow that process to continue naturally, and if you're doing too much, that could be a problem.

Megan Dahlman:

I agree with you 100%. It's so interesting. I overheard a conversation. I was in a parking lot waiting for my son to get done with soccer and it was a beautiful day, so the windows were opening and open. I was just sitting in the car and I overheard this guy in the car next to me that was having a conversation on his phone. He said I really have got to get this fat off. So like he was talking about like needing to lose weight and he's like so I've committed that I'm not going to strength train for the next three months and I'm only going to do cardio. And I just wanted to like jump through the window and be like no, you're doing this absolute opposite.

Megan Dahlman:

And I think we have it in our brains that like strength training and pushing heavy weights especially once we get to that point where we're actually lifting weights like that's the thing that makes us big, the thing that makes us smaller. Because often when our in our mind, we're like, when I want to lose weight, I want to be smaller. So the thing that makes me smaller is going to be the cardio or the high reps, low weight, because that's always what I've been told tones me and I want to tone like that sounds nice and we just kind of have it all backwards. So I'm so glad that you touched on that. And then I think the third guiding principle that you had is you can't once you get through this, you can't maintain what you've achieved if you're doing about it with something extreme.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, I think we're talking about having a more flexible, sustainable approach, right, a holistic, flexible, sustainable approach. Again, the diet switch goes on for a lot of people when they think of weight loss or fat loss, where all of a sudden they need to cut things out. And the easiest way people do this and by easy, that's not a compliment in this context is cutting out food groups, cutting out carbs, cutting something out. I like you to establish a solid nutrition approach with high protein, high fiber, like adding in all the good foods and learning how to have that skill of eating in a balanced way before you even do a fat loss phase. Have that set up for success, have the hydration, figure out, your supplementation, like all of that, and then the fat loss is just scaling things appropriately with that skillset, right. So it's not just cutting everything out.

Philip Pape:

Now, that's not to say there's not a form of restriction. Let's be honest To lose fat to go into calorie deficit, you are restricting calories. You are, but you can do it in a way that feels not restrictive compared to any other approach. So we just have to acknowledge that.

Megan Dahlman:

Let's definitely talk strategy now. So what do you believe? And I know you did an episode on this not long ago and you listed out like six or eight different strategies for fat loss, but I'd love to kind of park on the first three that you had mentioned, and those were strength training, protein and even the tracking piece. So let's talk a little bit more about strength training and we dabbled with it earlier but how is strength training connected to fat loss?

Philip Pape:

One purpose and one purpose alone, and that is maintain muscle mass. That's why we strength train. That's it. I alluded to the programming a little bit and, without getting too technical, there's different terms we use in lifting. One of those is intensity, and by intensity we mean the weight on the bar or the weight in the dumbbell or the load, not how hard you're working out or how much you're sweating, and so if you can prioritize that, it's going to be more important than anything else.

Philip Pape:

So what that gives you is, instead of what we talked about before, this high muscle endurance, burn fat approach. It may only be three days in the gym, two or three movements heavy, with very little time in the gym, to be honest, and that's enough to maintain that muscle mass. For some people it's even less than that. If you're older, if you've got joint issues you know you're dealing with, you know back issues, whatever it might be a quarter of the volume that you normally do when you're eating more food to maintain your mass, muscle mass, and that's enough. So just to simplify for everyone, it's not like you have to totally change everything to do that.

Megan Dahlman:

No, that's so good to know, because we have this in our minds, like, if I want to lose fat, I'm going to now have to, like work out for an hour and a half every single day. And and maybe that's the approach that would be required if your focus was not on the muscle piece, if it was strictly just burning calories, with no regard to the muscle component of it. Like, yeah, maybe that's what it would take. It wouldn't, though, but maybe. But when your focus is on the muscle, like, let me do everything I can to build and maintain muscle during this season where I'm trying to work on getting rid of some of this excess fat, it really is not. It's not that much. Like you don't have to do that much?

Philip Pape:

No, and we can measure this, like when you're building and you are not in a diet. How do you measure your muscle mass? Well, you measure it through your lifts, continuing to progress, and you could even take body measurements Like your biceps and thighs tend to go up in circumference more than, say, your waist, or your chest might go up as well During fat loss. How do you measure that you're not losing muscle mass? Well, chances are your strength will start to plateau, but it shouldn't really regress and your muscle mass shouldn't change very much in terms of your circumference measurements. So if you feel like you are actively building muscle, you may not be building new muscle, you're at least holding on to it. So that's just a little bit of what we track in addition to scale weight. Yeah, that's so good.

Megan Dahlman:

So is cardio ever okay in the picture here, when we're in this phase where we're like I want to be losing some body fat, where does cardio fit in? Should it never be part of our plan, or is there a specific point where it could be okay for us?

Philip Pape:

So this is what I like to say that you don't need cardio for fat loss. That's the first prerequisite, very important. So if you didn't do cardio at all, you can still lose fat. However, we know cardio has benefits cardiovascular benefits, hence the name and it also can bump the needle a little bit on your expenditure or your calorie burn.

Philip Pape:

I like to split cardio into the different modes. We've had very low intensity, steady state cardio, which would be like walking probably fits in there, or even moderate biking. We have medium intensity, which is what most people think of as the rat race type cardio, when you're on the treadmill and kind of running or whatever. And then you have high intensity. People know as hit right, which is short bursts, it could be Tabatas, it could be sprint runs, things like that. Um, any of that can work to a certain extent, as long as it doesn't impede your recovery, your stress, your joint health and your ability to build muscle. Now you're like well, how do I know all that?

Philip Pape:

I like a rule of thumb of no more than half the time you spend lifting weights you do as medium or high intensity cardio. So if you're in the gym three days a week for an hour, that's three hours. Don't do more than, say, an hour and a half a week of intense cardio, which is not that much. It's not that much. Low intensity cardio, though have at it. There's pretty much no limit to that.

Megan Dahlman:

We're talking walking and biking very low grade cardio, and that actually will burn a lot of calories if you step that up a bit during fat loss. Well, and that was the next question I was going to ask you is like how does extra movement fit in? And I know a lot of people and sometimes I'll get in. The trap of this too is like you get up, you have a really great workout in the morning and then you end up like sitting the rest of the day.

Megan Dahlman:

Yes, compensation If you're someone that is wanting to lose some body fat. How can extra movement throughout the day maybe it's just going for a walk, like a low intensity thing how does that play a role in our results that we're going to experience? I?

Philip Pape:

think it's a huge role For my clients. We usually try to step up the step count by like two to 4,000 steps a day as a proxy for that extra movement. However you get it, so that could just be walking around the house and doing chores, parking farther from the store, going upstairs and then deliberate walks that are part of your routine. I don't like targets just for the sake of targets. I like targets when you back them into habits and things that you enjoy. So if your goal is to get an extra 2000 steps, which is like a mile of walking, you're not getting an extra 2000 steps. You are getting a mile after lunch every day. That I put in my room you know my phone as a reminder and I'm doing it because it helps my digestion and my mood from the vitamin C and I can listen to a podcast or whatever you know like. It's a deliberate thing, not the end goal.

Megan Dahlman:

It's having your physical activity like that intentional physical activity, the workout. You know what we would call probably call the workout be the workout and then just being someone that, outside of that planned workout, is just someone that moves a lot during the day. We need to talk about your tight hips real quick. Did you know that not having adequate mobility in your hips can lead to a whole host of problems like low back pain and knee pain and, of course, hip pain like sciatica and SI joint problems? Well, for most of us, we sit a lot, which makes our hips really tight, and then we stand and walk around and we don't have good posture when we do all that, so that can make our hips tight too, and the biggest culprit for that hip tightness is usually your hip flexors. So I wanted to help you with this and so I put together a hip flexor stretching masterclass. In this masterclass, I teach you exactly how to properly stretch and mobilize your psoas and adductors and all those little muscles that connect in through the front of your hips. This relieves so much pressure off of your low back and makes your hips feel and move of your hips. This relieves so much pressure off of your low back and makes your hips feel and move so much better. This masterclass is totally free and you can start it today. Just go to VigeoFitcom slash hips, or I will drop the link in the notes. Go grab it.

Megan Dahlman:

Okay, back to the show. Well, let's talk a little bit more about the nutrition aspect. So biggest thing with nutrition nutrition when it comes to fat loss, what should be our primary focus?

Philip Pape:

Okay, and we can tie it in. I think the third, the third strategy we were going to talk about, is tracking. So I don't know, oh yeah. The second one is protein. Okay, got it. Yeah, let's do that. So, yeah, protein, I mean I know you and I are fully on the same page here. That is what's most efficient in people's diets, men and women, but especially women, who are probably under eating by 70 to 90%. I mean it's significant with the protein, right, because I do like numbers. So I like the target of 0.7 to one gram per pound to get to that.

Philip Pape:

Now, a lot of people I work with are already lifting and kind of nerding out on all this. You know the macro stuff, but I would start with are you eating protein in every meal? Right, are you eating protein every meal? Because most people aren't even doing that, and the reason we want protein is not just for building muscle and repairing muscle. That's the core reason for it. There are other benefits of protein that, if we acknowledge them, drive us to want to eat more. So one of those is satiety, fullness, right.

Philip Pape:

During fat loss, the biggest struggle people have is hunger. Hunger gets ramped up because of the hormonal response to this lack of energy in your body, right Low energy availability, which ramps up leptin and ghrelin and affects your thyroid and cortisol and everything else, and you just want to eat more and more. You get more and more hungry. So we can eliminate the hunger, but we can mitigate it, so we mitigate it with fiber hydration, protein Protein is the highest satiety macro, more than fats and carbs.

Philip Pape:

We also can use hard foods.

Philip Pape:

We can have broths, vegetable soups and broths. We can eat high volume berries and watermelon and other foods like that, even though they're fruit, not bad for you, it's okay, fruits have a lot fewer calories than you think, and so that's another reason for you. It's okay, fruits have a lot fewer calories than you think, and so that's another reason for protein. Protein also burns more calories when it gets digested than carbs and fat. So what you see, especially with women going from 40 grams a day to 140 grams a day, is not only are they getting fuller, their metabolism creeps up a little bit just from that, which is crazy, right, because you're like, great, I'm having my cake and eat it too, and then literally you can plan in cake if you'd like, because we can talk about that, and then finally, protein. If you're trying to prioritize protein and you go to the grocery store, it's hard not to get mostly whole foods right the plant-based proteins, animal sources, it's all whole foods. So it's just a great recipe for scaling to the rest of your nutrition.

Megan Dahlman:

That's so good, because I think earlier we were talking about trying to create a deficit, and I think sometimes, yes, on paper, that's what we need to experience some form of fat loss. There does need to be a deficit, and so our brains automatically go to I need to eat less. And I think what's so great about this approach is that actually, when you ramp up your protein and eat more protein, it ends up crowding out the other splurge you know, those splurge foods that really have a negative impact on your ability to lose fat so it ends up not feeling so restrictive, which is really cool, because I think so many people have that experience of like when they've tried to achieve fat loss in the past. It was such a negative experience because it was so restrictive right, especially on the food side, yeah, and it's in conjunction with the other things.

Philip Pape:

So, for example, the reason it probably felt restrictive is not just because you were cutting out all these foods you enjoy which is definitely a recipe for binging those later on but also because you were probably going so quickly trying to lose the weight that that, just like an exponential curve, it just ramped up all these hunger signals. The loss of muscle mass as well, when you dieted in the past, exacerbates it further, because loss of muscle creates an interesting side phenomenon I think it's called hyperphagia or something but it creates cravings for high energy sources like sugars, fats, carbs. So it all comes together. The funny thing is about fullness again, especially for women who weren't eating much protein before is before we even do fat loss.

Philip Pape:

I'm trying to get them to eat more food, because they're probably underfed to begin with, and when they add the protein in, they're like how can I eat more? I can't eat more. We'll titrate it up. We'll titrate it up and guess what? You're going to get a lot of that from carbs too, and that's always a big shock, like, oh, I could eat carbs and we get them to that maintenance level. That's actually quite a bit higher than they thought. And then when they go into the fat loss phase, it's like oh, this isn't so bad. We're just kind of cutting back down to the feeling I used to have eating normally, but now we're in a deficit. It really is a beautiful thing.

Megan Dahlman:

And I think one of the biggest fears too. Whenever you say like, fears to, whenever you say like, boost some, like eat more of something, and especially I get this pushback a lot of like how am I supposed to increase my protein and not gain weight? Like it doesn't make any sense to me. That like. Wouldn't this be counter counterintuitive? So I mean, apart from the fact that it could potentially crowd out other food on your plate that's not as healthy, like what's the best way to go about increasing our protein intake and ensure that we're not also simultaneously being counterproductive here and gaining weight at the same time?

Philip Pape:

It's a good one. I think of that in terms of protein density. One time because I'm a data nerd, I like spreadsheets I put together a huge list of protein sources, everything you can imagine Lean meats, dairies, even things that have a little protein, like nuts because those aren't protein sources per se and then ranked them by how much protein they have per 100 grams. And when you get that you start to realize oh okay, if I like steak, I could eat sirloin or I could eat ribeye. If you're educated on the fact ribeye has a lot more fat, you're going to go with sirloin during fat loss. They're still steak, they're still both delicious. It's not like you're swapping it out for tofu, right, nothing against tofu, just saying. And then same thing with dairy.

Philip Pape:

Dairy is a big one because for omnivores who have no intolerances, I love dairy as a source of protein. Cottage cheese, greek yogurt, skier, even like low fat type cheeses, like provolone and mozzarella, and Fairlife brand milk and things like that. But when you're in a fat loss phase, you got to watch out for the fat and you just have to go toward the 2% 1% fat-free versions. But we have modern food science which gets vilified. But there are brands like Oikos Zero that uses, I don't know, monk fruit and stevia to sweeten what's effectively almost all protein and a little bit of carbs. So that would be your answer on how we shift the protein in a fat loss phase just more protein-dense sources.

Megan Dahlman:

Yeah, I love that. It's basically taking your sources of protein and making sure like really it's just protein. There's a lot of foods that I say are line straddlers, like they've got one foot in one category and another foot in another category. I think beans are a great example of that. They're protein, but they're also a carbohydrate, and most proteins protein sources have one foot on the protein side of things and one foot on the fat side. So it's like let's find the protein sources that have pretty much only a foot in protein side, so lean sources of protein, and that's going to ensure that you're not getting excess calorie intake from that.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, and I'll be honest, it will feel a little bit not artificial, but it'll feel a little bit forced when you first learn that skill because it's so different from what you've had in the past and what the American kind of standard diet gives you. Right, Protein is more expensive. It's not profitable for the food industry, so they don't like putting protein in anything because it costs too much money, which is kind of an indication that it's maybe better and higher quality food. But the one thing I didn't mention was protein powders. I'm perfectly fine with protein powders. I think people need as much as somebody lifting weights needs probably will want to incorporate one or two scoops at least a day of some sort of protein powder. You don't have to. I encourage whole foods, but there's nothing wrong with it. It's just very mildly filtered milk.

Megan Dahlman:

Yeah, no, I totally agree. I think there's a really great benefit for someone who struggles to eat that much, and I think, as women are getting older, you kind of lose your appetite and you don't really want to be eating these giant meals and going about the day feeling so full on protein. And I think this is a great place where those protein supplements can really fill in the gaps and make sure that your body is getting as much protein as it needs. And so let's kind of wrap up with this final piece of the strategy plan and that's the tracking piece.

Megan Dahlman:

And I know that this can feel really hard for a lot of people that are coming from a place of, like that, highly restrictive or dieting background. So what are some easy ways that we can track our progress without triggering that dieting mindset? Maybe they spent years counting calories and they're like I don't want to go back there, but I do want to experience some fat loss. So what would be some helpful ways to do the tracking piece? And wait, let me start by just saying why would that even be helpful? Why is tracking helpful in the first place?

Philip Pape:

I mean that's a good premise. You can't measure anything that you don't track. It's as simple as that. Just like with your budget or your business right, Even your relationships. I mean, you can track different things and some things are more appropriate to track than others with numbers. So there are different levels of tracking to track than others with numbers. So there are different levels of tracking.

Philip Pape:

And I know on my podcast you were talking about developing habits and tracking checkmarks and things. That is a form of tracking tracking how often you get protein. For me, specifically with my clients, they know coming in I'm like the engineer and they're going to get the full-on tracking experience, but I like tools for tracking that have the least friction. So when you talk about counting calories being tedious, I was in that camp for years. I hated it because the apps were terrible. They required way too much time, they were cumbersome, they were inaccurate, and if you can have an app that's none of those things as a tool, then that eliminates those excuses and reasons that are not the real reasons. You know what I mean.

Philip Pape:

So for me, the tracking, even if you don't use it as a target, is awesome for awareness.

Philip Pape:

And if you just track for three weeks, even if you don't like it, track everything you eat, measure it just so you know what the macros are and take the information and learn from it, Even if you never want to track again.

Philip Pape:

You're going to have so much more agency and power over what you eat because you know, hey, I graze during the day, I eat off my kid's plate, I have more alcohol than I thought, the appetizers and desserts on the weekend really add up and then that's just information and guess what you find? A lot of people find that that information then becomes something they want more of because it empowers them, and then we're able to just do that for a while, especially during fat loss, where I want you to get it over with as quickly as possible and not have to quote, unquote, suffer, because it's not the most fun thing, even though we talked about all this making it as easy as possible. I want you to get it over within I don't know 12, 16 weeks max. If you're not tracking and you're trying to do it intuitively but you haven't developed the skill, it's going to be harder to kind of go down that trend line, get to that goal and get out of it efficiently.

Megan Dahlman:

It really is just that awareness tool. It's a great way to just keep things is just that awareness tool. It's a great way to just keep things top of mind. And I think the stats out there of how much people underestimate how much they actually consume and overestimate how much they actually move is really really kind of funny. And once you just start journaling it and just noticing what your behaviors actually are objectively not what you think they are, but what they actually are it can be really eyeopening. And, like you said, you can just do it for a short period of time as just like a, an awareness tool of like Whoa, I didn't realize it was like that. Okay, now this helps point me in a trajectory of like okay, I need to pay a little bit more attention to the alcohol that I consume or these treats that I continue to keep eating. I'm starting to see these patterns developing that I wasn't aware of before. So I think that's so helpful.

Megan Dahlman:

And I think you know, as we're talking about fat loss in general, I think a lot of women listening may not have been prepared to hear so much about, like weightlifting and protein, you know, and it can feel like this would be a plan for like a bodybuilder and that it wouldn't work for their you know, quote, unquote, their type of fat loss. So what would you say to that Like why? Why does this work for a woman that's in her forties, fifties, sixties, who's like I'm not a bodybuilder? What are you talking about? I don't want to be like lifting heavy weights and just chugging the protein. Why is this actually going to work for me?

Philip Pape:

I mean that's, that's a great question. Um, I mean, that's it's. It's how the body works, it's our physiology, right? Um, we know that muscle is. If you take out your bones and organs, all that's left is muscle, and that's what moves us, that's what makes us functional and interact with the world, and we're physical beings.

Philip Pape:

When you look at your parents or grandparents when they get into their 60s and 70s, what do you see walking around? You see people who are hunched over, who are frail, who easily get injured, who get put on lots of prescription medication. One thing leads to another, and the health span versus the lifespan is so far apart that our medical system is able to keep us alive for 30 more years. But you're not going to enjoy those 30 years unless you're strong. And then ladies with osteoporosis I mean women have a disadvantage in that from puberty, you have significantly less muscle as a baseline versus men. The positive thing is, you can grow that muscle as a percentage equally as effectively as men. And that surprises a lot of women because they think that because of this testosterone difference, they can't build muscles quickly. That's not true. You can build it as quickly as a percentage, which, again, you have less muscle to begin with. So I guess that that's why it's important, and the stuff that bodybuilders learned to build that muscle just tends to help everyone once you figure those out.

Megan Dahlman:

Yeah, and I love the side effects of this type of focus is that not only are you going to experience fat loss and, ultimately, a better body composition, but at the same time, like you said, you're improving your overall functionality and your longevity.

Megan Dahlman:

Because the worst thing to do would be, like, get to a point where, okay, you lose all the fat and now your body's in worse shape, you're more miserable, you don't have good function, your joints are a mess and, unfortunately, I think a lot of people go down that road of I'm going to lose a fat at all costs and I'm actually not all that much healthier after the fact. So this method is so much healthier in the long run and and I appreciate that that we're totally on the same page with that. Well, to round things out, I always like to leave people with just like one quick tip, one quick action step, and I I didn't prepare you for this, so I'm kind of throwing it at you. But what would you say to just the woman that's listening that's like okay, I'm, I know I'm embarking on wanting to lose some body fat, improving my body composition. I'm feeling nervous and discouraged with the process. What would you say to her? To just encourage her for the road.

Philip Pape:

This is. I mean you were listening to Megan here on this podcast and I think you have. You have the tools and the support you need, with others in your community, to make this happen. Thousands of women are doing this every day, even if it is not the norm and it's not what the industry tells you and the negativity around body image and all of that. If you want to be capable and strong and be able to take care of your family and be confident and all those things, it really does come down to just focusing on your body and treating it like a temple, like an athlete. You wouldn't starve your child. Don't starve yourself. Just build it up and you'll be your most beautiful self doing that, building that muscle.

Megan Dahlman:

So good.

Philip Pape:

Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Wits and Weights. If you found value in today's episode and know someone else who's looking to level up their wits or weights, please take a moment to share this episode with them and make sure to hit the follow button in your podcast platform right now to catch the next episode. Until then, stay strong.

Achieving Sustainable Fat Loss Principles
Fat Loss Strategies and Weight Training
Optimizing Fat Loss With Exercise
Optimizing Protein Intake for Fat Loss
Importance of Tracking for Fat Loss
Building Strength and Confidence Through Fitness

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