Updated: Sep 8, 2018
For the record, diet/nutrition and exercise are and always will be two of the most important factors in your overall pursuit of physical fitness and fat loss. Nutrition, particularly, runs away with the distinction of being the single most important determining factor, creating the fitness foundation upon which all other progress must be built. Exercise sits solidly in second place, mainly because of the hormonal, metabolic, and adaptive effects it renders, and in a very small way because of the caloric and energy expenditure it entails (emphasis on small). But everyone knows that these two components of fitness are important. “I need to hit the gym more” or “The diet starts tomorrow", these two sentiments are pretty much universal among those who have an interest in improving their fitness or body composition. They may not know what to do with either or have the proper motivation, but the value of them is patently obvious.
There are, however, a few sneaky and not-so-intuitive behaviors we engage in that can actually have a very significant collective impact on our fitness success; I would like to discuss these components of fat loss, because they are not given enough consideration by most people and are not even known at all by some. They have literally nothing to do with diet or exercise, calorie burn or restriction, or any of the other behaviors that the majority of people associate with body transformation--I am referring to four of the biggest overlooked factors in fat loss: sleep, hydration, stress management, and daily activity. The combined effect of these four behaviors is as impactful as anything else a person can do in the gym or in the kitchen, and they have the power to completely derail any progress achieved by these two more commonly regarded factors. I think it’s safe to say that people know these habits are important—you don’t need a blog to tell you that proper hydration is good for you, or that it’s important to get the right amount of sleep—but I don’t think it is generally understood just how vital all of these are, even from the very one-dimensional standpoint of fat loss and body composition.