Congratulations to Helen Hall and Rich Aitken, the winners of the June fat loss contest. Both had great results over the 4 weeks and saw a good drop in both fat percentage and pounds.
There were 40 entrants in total, so prize money was £400 to be split between the male and female winners. Everyone who took part and weighed in and out saw a drop in pounds and body fat.
The supplied nutritional guide emphasized getting protein and vegetables every time they eat, and came with recipes and suggestions,  doing this one strategy alone will give great results.
Rich had the best result of all the men, he started out at 21% BF and came down to 16.4%, and dropped 15 pounds total weight in the process. He had a close runner up, Graham Duncan, who dropped 13 pounds and went from 23.5% BF to 20.6%.
Helen already had fairly low body fat but even still went from 26% to 24% and dropped 5 pounds of total weight, which we can safely say was all body fat.
The difference between weight loss and fat loss
Weight loss comprises muscle, fat and water and is easily achieved through calorie restriction but is short lived as muscle loss results in a decline in metabolic rate and subsequently fat loss. Usually the first 5-7 pounds lost is water, and anything after that is a mixture of fat and muscle. By the end of week two or three no further weight loss is experienced.
Fat loss is what we want, we need to rid our bodies of the subcutaneous and visceral fat which is harmful to our health, whilst strength training and eating correctly to support or even increase lean tissue.
Kettlebell training is a great activity to engage in as it supports lean tissue growth whilst burning a ton of calories!
Find out more about how Rich and Helen achieved there results in the interviews below.
Helen Hall     
fat loss contest
PL – Congratulations on being the biggest loser of the women, you must be over the moon?
I’m delighted! I genuinely did not think I would win and entered purely to see if I could make some changes to my body shape. I’ve not been doing KB all that long so as a new member to the group figured I had nothing to lose…other than fat!
HH – Was the cash prize a big incentive for you?
Not at all, when I made the decision to enter I did it because I wanted to set myself the challenge to eat sensibly for a month and cut out the rubbish. My friends from Kettlebells also decided to enter so I figured we could all do it together and support each other along the way. I hoped I would see some changes in my body shape but really didn’t expect to see much happen in a month. However by week three I found I was having to tighten the belt on my jeans, so in myself I knew my body shape was changing which gave me the incentive to keep going and stick with it!
PL – Have you attempted fat loss before and if so what type of diet did you try?
HH – I have never attempted fat loss before and have always fallen into the trap of trying to lose weight. After the birth of my two boys I had over 2 stone to lose with each of them to get back to my pre pregnancy weight. In the past, in addition to running and swimming, I would reduce the amount I ate, calorie count and skip meals! I would end up feeling hungry and filling up on the wrong type of foods later in the day, normally at tea time when I was feeding the kids! 
PL –  Did you make a lot of changes to your diet too achieve such amazing results?
HH – Yes, the first thing I did was give my self permission to eat…but to eat the right food. It would be fair to say I have eaten more in the last month that I have eaten in ages but I made sure I was eating the right food. This meant cutting down the carbs to virtually nothing and making sure I increased the protein. I also made sure I had three proper meals a day. I virtually cut out tea and coffee and substituted it for fruit tea and made sure I was drinking plenty of water. I would make a jug of water up in the morning with lemon and lime slices in it and told myself it had to be empty by the end of the day. I also reduced my alcohol intake and when I did have the odd drink at the weekend I drank vodka with slimline tonic instead of my normal glass of wine or two!
PL  – Can you give us a brief snapshot of a what typical days food looked like?
HH – Breakfast normally consisted of eggs in some shape or form. I really like the pancake with banana and ground almonds that is on your blog so would often eat one of those for breakfast, along with a cup of lemon and ginger tea.
Lunch would be a salad with tuna, chicken or mackerel. I also did the tortilla pizza a few times which was delicious. If I didn’t eat eggs for breakfast I would have an omelette for lunch or poached eggs with beans and if I got peckish late afternoon and on the days when I was training I would have a chocolate protein shake.
For dinner I followed the recipes in the booklet you provided. In particular I loved the tilapia fish, satay prawns and mint and lamb burgers! I didn’t eat any pasta, rice of potatoes for the month but did substitute it for quinoa if I felt the meal needed bulking out. Another favourite meal was sausages and lentils and I ate a lot of chicken. I got into the habit of buying a cooked chicken and keeping it in the fridge so if I did get peckish during the day I could eat that instead of biscuits! I also added loads of vegetables including spinach, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, onion and carrots etc to every meal. 
One of the important things to achieving all of this was making sure I planned my weekly meals and bought everything in advance so there was no excuse for not making a proper meal. 
PL – Did you count or track calories at all? 
HH – No not at all, i just made sure I was eating plenty of protein and minimal carbs with no sugary snacks. 
PL – Were you hungry at any point, and if so how did you deal with that?
HH – Not really, because eating the right amount of protein at each meal meant i did not feel the need to snack, however if I did get hungry I would eat some chicken or have carrots and hummus, and I made sure I kept drinking water throughout the day. 
PL – Tell us about the exercise you did over the 4 weeks, was it just kettlebell? How often did you train?
I went to a minimum of three KB classes a week and tried to fit in a run or spin class in addition to this. Quite challenging to achieve when juggling all the family commitments! 
PL – Did the diet affect your exercise performance?
HH – I don’t think so, if anything I would say it helped as I had the energy to really go for it in the KB sessions. I’m also feeling fitter and stronger when I run.
PL – Are you glad you took part in the comp, and what have you learnt from the experience?
HH – Yes I’m glad I took part in the competition. I feel so much better in myself and have definitely lost fat around my waist and thighs along with starting to gain definition on my arms. Friends have noticed too, which is a real boost and clothes are fitting better. I’m feeling positive about my shape. It has changed the way I eat and I will continue to train as often as I can as I can feel myself becoming stronger. To be honest this was just the kick start I needed.
PL – What food or drink are you looking forward to consuming now the comp is over?
HH – The day the competition finished I had a big bowl of pasta, large glass of wine and bar of chocolate! Joking aside though I don’t think much will change and I plan to continue eating the way I did throughout the competition. However I won’t worry if I have the odd day or weekend where I come off the rails, because I’ll crack back on the following week!
PL – Very well done and congratulations! 
HH – Thank you

 Rich Aitken


fat loss contest


PL – Congratulations on being the biggest loser of the men Rich! 


RA – I’ve always been a loser so I’m indifferent really.  It was unexpected and a really nice ‘reward’ for a lot of hard work.


PL – Ha ha, was the cash prize a big incentive for you?


RA – No, it wasn’t, my incentive was a big desire to lose a lot of my fat around my stomach.  I figured if I could change my nutrition for 4 weeks, it should be relatively easy to continue a new approach after the contest had finished.


PL – Have you attempted fat loss before and if so what type of diet did you try?


RA – I have attempted both weight loss and fat loss before; I’ve got scales that show fat percentage and for around 10 years now I have recorded my results on a weekly basis.  From this I’m aware that both my weight and fat percentage tends to yo-yo a bit and that the fat percentage I have now reached, is 1% lower than my previous 10-year best, which was normally reached after a 4-5 month running programme leading up to a half marathon race.  I now feel more determined than ever to not ruin it this time.


PL –  To lose 15 pounds in 4 weeks is really good going, I’m assuming you made a lot of changes to these results?


RA – I did make a lot of changes.  In terms of sport and fitness, I upped it in terms of the amount of hours a week and the intensity level.  This wasn’t a massive step up for me compared to recent months, but it was relatively significant, with just 4 rest days within the 28 days and a few days where I chucked in two bits of fitness, i.e. a 10k run on the way home from a Saturday kettlebells session.  I kept a good variety of fitness, not least to keep me motivated and also to help with recovery, i.e. a bike ride is a good choice the day after a long run.  I upped kettlebells from twice a week to three times a week and also added in the odd swim.


In terms on nutrition, this is where I made the greatest adjustments.  I reduced my carb intake, including getting rid of bread, I got rid of sugar from coffee and moved to skimmed milk (I didn’t want to stop my coffee intake – too many sacrifices…), I upped my cereal intake (which I’m not a great fan of) and I cut out all treats and junk (crisps, chocolate…), replacing any desire for a snack with fruit, or nuts and dried fruit etc.


I cut out alcohol, apart from on two Saturday nights.  I upped my water intake and only really drank water (and coffee).  When I was bored of water, particularly on a warm weekend, I took Pete’s great tip and added lemon, lime and cucumber to a pint of water; add ice and keep topping up for a really nice drink.  I had the odd protein shake, perhaps twice a week and normally following a hard training session.


PL – Can you give us a brief snapshot of a what typical days food looked like?


RA – Not really, as I ensure I don’t have a typical day, as I’d get bored and then fall off the wagon.  But to give a flavour:

Breakfast: 2 or 3 Oatibix or Wheetabix, or a fry-up minus the high fat/carb items.

Lunch: Chicken salad, or soup

Snack: A ‘trek’ bar to get me home from work without hitting a wall – a 9-mile bike ride.

Tea: 3-egg mixed omelette and large salad, or chicken and roasted vegetables, or chillie and a smaller than usual portion of rice – brown rice for a change.


PL – Did you count or track calories at all? 


RA – Not at all, it doesn’t interest me.  I believe in trying my best to not overeat, by dishing up less than normal (cause I never leave anything on my plate, or my wife’s, or my kids’).  I also believe a bit of hunger for a short time each day is good for you and I believe in eating the right things at the right time to fuel sport.  For instance, I would eat quite a good amount of food, particularly carbs if I had a 1+ hour run planned.  Afterwards I would eat some carbs to refuel as well as a good amount of protein for quicker muscle recovery.


PL – Were you hungry at any point, and if so how did you deal with that?


RA – I wasn’t hungry very often, at least not for long periods of time, because I wasn’t really ‘dieting’.  However, as mentioned previously, I believe hunger for a short period of time is good and actually should be expected every day; surely we shouldn’t be eating when we’re not hungry (except to fuel sport)?


PL – Tell us about the exercise you did over the 4 weeks, was it just kettlebell? How often did you train?


RA – I trained 6 days a week, a typical week would look like:

Monday – ride to work AM (9 miles) and ride home PM (surprisingly another 9 miles!)

Tuesday – (2.5k run AM as I often park that distance from work), 2.5k PM and then kettlebells

Wednesday – run (around 60 mins) or badminton

Thursday – kettlebells

Friday – ride to work and back (changing the 9 mile ride home to a 17 mile), or perhaps a rest day, or swim

Saturday – kettlebells followed by a 45 minute ride or run

Sunday – rest, or a long run, around 60-80 minutes 


PL – Did the diet affect your exercise performance?


RA – I remember very vividly, from day 7-12 being extremely tired, I felt like a zombie.  I overslept my alarm (which is unheard of for me) and then couldn’t seem to wake up until the afternoon, usually once issues at work had beat me in to consciousness.  I believe the problem was a lack of carbs, considering the step up with the amount and duration of training.  From day 12 I increased my carbs, but at the right times to fuel training later that day etc.


I took the view that the whole challenge was about burning fat through exercise (rather than sitting on my arse and dieting), so I figured good and intelligent nutrition, to fuel the fat burning, exercise was key.



PL – Are you glad you took part in the comp, and what have you learnt from the experience?


RA – I’m very glad.  I’ve learned about much better nutrition (I’d recommend Gold Medal Nutrition by Glenn Cardwell) and that you need to ensure healthy eating the vast majority of the time.  I’m determined to keep the good to bad ratio at 80/20 or ideally 90/10, as opposed to the 95/5 I applied throughout the 28 days.  Note I had one night where I drank 5 pints, quite a bit of red wine, a huge 3-course meal, including 3 very large helpings of desert.  That was probably my 5% bad for the entire month but it shows that you don’t have to be a saint….


PL – What food or drink are you looking forward to consuming now the comp is over?


RA – On the weigh in evening last Thursday I had been on a 14k run in the afternoon and felt a bit too tired for a decent kettlebell session.  So I thought sod training and went straight to the chippie for fish and chips and cracked open a beer to wash it down.  I’m looking forward to an Indian takeaway soon, although I reckon I’ll be really conscious of the fat content as I wharf it down.  I’m also looking forward to more beer and red wine, but of course all within the 80/20 rule….


PL – Very well done mate, enjoy the cash! 


RA – Cheers


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