The Three Essential Habits To Getting Leaner

At Athletic Pursuit we like to make fitness simple, this has a way bigger impact on our clients getting leaner and seeing lasting results. We do this by prioritising key elements from our four health and fitness pillars. To make things easier and so you can come away from this post with actionable advice, these are the three essential habits that you need to be practicing in order to get lean and stay healthy…

  • Calorie deficit
  • Strength training
  • Sleep

Yes there are other factors that contribute to being the healthiest human being you possibly can, but the above three are the essentials, the holy grail, the three habits that are needed to get you leaner and maintain your results!

Make it easier to achieve your goals by practicing these three things…


  • Download my fitness pal, an app that is very useful to keep track of your calories and help you stay consistently in a calorie deficit.
  • Remember, don’t restrict yourself on the types of foods you eat, only restrict the amount of food.
  • Strive for the 80/20 method; 80% of your intake coming from nourishing foods and 20% coming from the foods you enjoy.
  • Maintain a good balance between carbs, fats and proteins (try 40% carb, 30% protein and 30% fat) to prevent hunger and provide you with optimum energy, so you can be productive and smash your workouts.
  • No carb = No life, so eat those glorious carbs.
  • Drink lots of water and strive to get your 5 fruit and veg everyday.

Calorie deficit, scientifically proven to be the only way to lose weight, create a deficit, track via MFP, stay in it consistently and see progress.


  • Three strength sessions per week.
  • Practice the key movement patters: Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge, Lunge and Rotate.
  • Progressively get stronger through the key movement patterns. This can be done be changing the variables, for example increasing the weight and adding more volume (sets, reps and exercises).
  • Hit all key movement patterns at least once each week.
  • Only use good form, check your ego at the door!

Increasing your strength will hugely change your body shape. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn, making it easier to maintain a lean physique. You’ll improve bone density and movement efficiency making  day to day activities that bit easier, which can also lower the chance of injuries/aches and pains.


  • Choose a bed time and stick to it.
  • Limit screen time, or if you are on your screen wear blue light blocking glasses.
  • Introduce a wind down activity like reading, stretching or taking a bath before you sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine or any big meals before bed.
  • Listen to binaural beats before you sleep, these songs give off delta frequencies that have been proven to aid better sleep.
  • Take a ZMA supplement that can also add in better sleep.

If you’re thinking I struggle to get half that per night due to kids, work etc then don’t worry, the above is to optimise results. You can still see results with less sleep but you can see amazing results with more. A lack of sleep can increase stress causing you to potentially make poor decisions such as missing sessions or ordering takeaway/over eating. At the end of the day, just do the best you can in your current situation.


If you’d like to have a chat about your situation and how you can implement these habits please email: info@athleticpursuit.co.uk


How To Eat Whatever You Want Without Feeling Guilty




Through this post we are going to take a look at how your body expends energy and how we can optimise this for fat loss. Training plays just a small part towards your daily calorie burn, but it’s what most people focus on the most and that’s why it’s useful to know where the rest of your calories are burnt, so you can optimise the other areas and potentially get to your goal quicker.

Generally working out your calories to cater for a certain goal is becoming well known and well practised through apps (check out our calorie intake for fat loss post) but what these apps fail to educate you on is exactly why they have come up with the calorie target. So let’s dive in and look at where your calories go…

The above graph gives you an insight to where your calories go at rest and at non-rest. You can see the majority is burnt at rest which is called your basal metabolic rate and the rest is burnt through our daily activities and through digestion. You can manipulate both resting and non-resting energy expenditure which would speed up your metabolism and allow you to burn more calories, keep reading to find out how…

(BMR) Basal metabolic rate

Energy required to sustain vital functions in the waking state, that includes the following:

  • Brain function
  • Respiration
  • Digestion
  • Reflects the bodies heat production marginally influenced by body composition

Greater muscle mass = Greater BMR

Each additional 1lb muscle = +7kcals burnt / day

Losing muscle can lower your daily calorie burn which can make it harder to lose body fat. This is why building/maintaining muscle should be a priority when in a calorie deficit and why strength training is a vital piece of the puzzle and should be apart of your weekly routine.

(NEAT) Non-exercise activity thermogenesis

Includes conscious/unconscious activity

  • 10k steps, shopping, gardening, cleaning etc

It accounts for 20% of your TDEE

A hugely overlooked and under-utilised tool for fat loss. 

Most people will overlook 10k steps per day, mainly because it’s not a sweaty workout that feels like you’re doing lots. 10,000 steps equates to on average around 5km. Imagine how many more calories you’d burn on average if you did keep up this simple but effective tool. This could be your secret weapon to not only getting to your goals but it can also free up some calories so you can eat more and maintain a solid physique.

(TEF) Thermic effect of food

Also know as DIT (diet-induced thermogenesis)

When you eat food, your body must expend some energy (i.e. calories) to digest, absorb, and store the nutrients in the food you’ve eaten, therefor you will see an Increase in metabolic rate after the ingestion of a meal.

TEF significantly increases as energy content of meal increases

TEF Differs with macronutrients

Protein > Alcohol > Carbohydrate > Fat

(EEE) Energy expended during exercise

Accounts for 10% of your daily calorie burn. It is the reason that the 23hrs you spend outside of the gym matter when it comes to body composition goals.

Metabolic equivalent tables (compendium) measure the intensity of an exercise/activity and can be tracked through following this method. 

Heart rate monitors/trackers can be unreliable in level of inaccuracy when tracking calories burnt, but can give you a rough estimate.


  • Building muscle will enable you to burn more daily calories. (Each additional 1lb muscle = +7kcals burnt / day).
  • Generally being more active will boost your overall calorie expenditure, don’t underestimate getting in your 10k steps.
  • Try to eat more protein in your diet to fully utilise the thermic effect of food, help build/maintain muscle and reduce hunger.
  • Exercise consistently with a mix of strength, aerobic and anaerobic work to build overall fitness and functionality.


CALORIE INTAKE FOR FAT LOSS 1747 1240 Athletic Pursuit

What are calories?

Calories are a unit of energy used to quantify energy in food.

What is energy?

Energy is a fuel source

  • Used for movement
  • Used for essential bodily functions
  • Intake through food consumption

Calorie intake – Calorie expenditure = Calorie balance

Weight gain

Calorie intake > Calorie expenditure = Weight gain

Excess energy will be stored for later use, this is primarily stored as body fat.

Weight Maintenance

Calorie intake = Calorie expenditure = Weight maintenance

No excess fuel available. No storage of tissue necessary.

Weight loss 

Calorie intake < Calorie expenditure = Weight loss

Stored tissue is used as fuel which primarily comes from body fat.

Assessing calore balance

Changes in bodyweight can be used to assess calorie balance.

  • Most direct indicator of long-term calorie balance
  • Most accurate way to assess calorie balance in the long-term

Weight vs Fat loss

Weight loss doesn’t specify what tissue is being lost

We want to maximise fat loss and minimise muscle loss

A calorie deficit is still necessary for significant weight loss to occur

Rate of weight loss

How fast should weight loss be?

  • Dependant on individual context
  • Slower weight loss generally results in greater muscle retention
  • Faster weight loss achieves fat loss faster


Time constraints: is there an event / occasion to lose weight for? May influence rate of weight loss.

If there are no time constraints you can lose weight at what ever rate you want. Slow and steady is something we would recommend.

How much weight to lose?

If trainee has a large amount of weight to lose then generally it’s wise to take things slower for sustainability. This is mainly because trainee needs to practice some key habits which can be tough to do, especially if they are unrealistic. For example if calorie deficit is set too large, trainee could yo-yo in weight due to being too hungry all the time.

If trainee has less weight to lose, they can probably get away with losing weight at a faster rate with less negative side effects.

Schedule and lifestyle

Weight loss may be constrained by individual schedule and lifestyle.

Determine time and energy available to commit to weight loss. Slower rate of weight loss is recommended if you don’t want to sacrifice parts of your lifestyle or your schedule is pretty busy with work, kids etc. On the other hand, if you have a lot of time on your hands and less commitments you could go all in and see a much faster rate of weight loss.


Faster wight loss = less sustainable

Slower weight loss = more sustainable

Generally most people can only handle a substantial calorie deficit for so long, this is why it can be very beneficial to perform calorie phases. For example phase one (3 weeks) could be a 200 calorie deficit, Phase two (3 weeks) could be a 500 calorie deficit and then you’d repeat.

We would always recommend a slower rate if there are no time constraints, this is because it gives you a chance to cement some key habits to enable you to keep the weight off, potentially forever.

Rate of weight loss recommendations

  • No minimum rate of weight loss
  • Maximum rate of 1% bodyweight per week