Key Performance Indicators for Fat loss
A key performance indicator (KPI) is a quantifiable measurement used to track success or lack thereof, against a set of goals or standards. KPI’s in business or finance can include revenue, profit, employee turnover rates, foot traffic, etc. KPI’s are also valuable in sports and can consist of: 40m dash for 100m sprinters, passing yards/efficiency in football, and time spent dribbling and efficiency of two-point shooting in basketball to name a few. Success in these metrics will lead to victory in sports or success in business, otherwise they would not be considered a KPI.
You may be wondering “what does this have to do with fat loss”? Well fat loss is a quantifiable goal just like sports and business, so there are some key factors that lead to long term weight loss and continued maintenance of the new weight. I will discuss four key performance indicators of fat loss, all of which are arguably equal in importance. Disregarding one of these factors will likely have a negative affect on other indicators, sabotaging your fat loss efforts.
The first KPI I will discuss is sleep. A reduction in sleep can increase the hormone ghrelin, which can stimulate hunger, increased food intake, decreased caloric expenditure (how many calories are burned), and promotes the retention of fat. Sleep deprivation will also decrease the hormone leptin, which signals to the body that you are full. Reduced amounts of leptin can lead to over consumption resulting in increased fat storage in the body. While it is possible to lose weight while sleep deprived, most of the weight loss will come from muscle and not fat. Sleep deprivation is under 5.5 hours per night, and these changes can be seen within 14 days of sleep reduction.
The second KPI is stress and is probably the are people pay the least amount of attention to when they’re beginning their fat loss journey. Stress is something that we all experience in varying degrees and times in our lives, and depending on our reaction to it, can lead to growth and personal development. The issue is that many people are chronically stressed, leading to high amounts of cortisol. High cortisol levels increase fat storage in the abdominal region (which is worse than fat around the hips) that can lead to many adverse health conditions. When people are stressed, they tend to eat more palatable foods, which are normally high in fat, sugar, and/or salt. These foods appear to decrease the feelings of stress, so a viscous cycle of stress and consumption of unhealthy foods develops to cope and leads to increased fat or obesity. Some other side effects of stress (as well as highly palatable foods) include: headaches, constipation, smoking, alcohol abuse, and sleep disturbance. There are many stress management methods out there and finding the ones that work is imperative for fat loss and overall health.
The third KPI is Nutrition, or what you’re consuming from food and beverages. Many people have difficulties in this area with all the different diets, supplements, and nutritional information out there, so I will try to make this as simple as possible. There are two key principles I will address: total caloric intake (how many calories you consume) and types of food you consume. As you’ve probably already heard, you need to reduce the number of calories you eat per day to lose weight/fat (# of calories varies per person). This doesn’t mean that you can eat whatever you want as long as your calories stay under a certain number, which leads to the second principle.
What you consume is probably the most important factor for fat loss (when it comes to nutrition). It is possible to be in a caloric deficit on a diet of processed and fast foods, but you will be malnourished, with health problems and high levels of body fat. A simple but effective method to fat loss is to derive 80% of your meals from whole/natural foods (home-cooked would be best). If you eat three meals a day, this would mean that 17 out of your 21 meals would be from whole foods and cooked at home. With this method, it doesn’t really matter what percentage of your diet comes from carbs or fat, and the timing of your meals will not matter much either. This way of eating is more sustainable and effective for long term fat loss. There are plenty of cookbooks and online recipes for those who are not as confident in their cooking abilities.
The fourth KPI would be exercise, specifically strength/resistance training. While nutrition will help decrease weight/fat, strength training will build muscle to tone and sculpt the body, along with many other health benefits. Resistance training should be performed at least three times a week, and should progressive in nature, meaning that weights and maybe reps should increase over time. Walking, running/cycling (if that’s what you like) can also be done in between strength training sessions for active recovery and to get in some form of exercise.
Sleep, stress, nutrition, and exercise are the four key performance indicators that will lead to a successful fat loss journey. Try to make small improvements in each category every week, and overtime I’m sure you will be satisfied with your results.
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment or share!
Josh Gray BS, CSCS, NASM CES, USATF 1
Owner of Gray's Academy