What is the best way to decrease body fat? It is a pretty fair assumption that if I can drop 10-20 lbs, I should be abe to perform better because I am lighter. I have to think that is a bit more complicated than calories in and calories out; is it?
Yes, a fair assumption, especially if the excess weight is non-productive (a nice way of saying fat). Losing it can be as simple or as complicated as one chooses to make it, or has the energy to devote to it. Simple works, and if the plan is simple then one is more likely to follow it, and it doesn't cause a weird relationship with food.
But losing fat requires one to challenge his or her assumptions about what causes the body to store fat, and which dietary components are responsible. Find a book titled "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes. It's a bit laborious in some parts but quite valuable.
Eat less than 500 calories per meal (a greater quantity causes more insulin secretion - no matter the macronutrient make-up - so you store more fat). You may need to eat 5-6x per day (or more) to get enough calories, depending on BMR and activity level.
Eat more fat and protein, and fewer carbohydrates. Don't worry about being too precise with the ratio. This is the first, simple step and it can get into counting, and weighing and all sorts of silliness when taken too far. If all you can do is eat an equal number of calories from carbs, fat, protein every time you put something in your mouth you will be ahead of the game.
Eat more fiber. Learn to love vegetables. Look into a raw, healthy cereal. We like Dee's because it's local (http://www.deescereal.net). Just check the ingredient list and find something similar at Trader Joes or Whole Foods or the local grocer.
Eating fat doesn't make you fat. In fact, the more fat one eats the more the body begins to prefer it as a fuel. Avoid hydrogenated fats. Notice but don't avoid saturated fats entirely (you need some). However, get most of the fat from mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated sources: nuts, avocado, olive oil, etc.
Take an Omega 3 supplement, fish oil is common and cheap, though a blend of vegetable oils (Udo's Oil) is more heat-stable if you are going overseas.
Don't drink calories. Drink water. Liquid calories are rapidly absorbed, triggering an insulin response, which signals the body to store excess calories as fat and also supresses fat metabolism. Diet sodas are not the answer because just the taste of sweetness can cause the body to secrete insulin (based on rat studies), and looking around us it is clear that diet soda doesn't help people lose weight ...
Limit alcohol intake (see the article in the Knowledge section though it only tells part of the tale).
Finally, decide how you want to approach the issue. Intensity is
inverse to duration.
You can get radical with something like the Velocity Diet:
Or try a stint of Intermittent Fasting if your work/family/training schedule allows it:
http://www.fast-5.com (there's an e-boof to download that explains the premise and you can find many other sources of info on it elsewhere if it resonates)
Or go the chronic calorie-restriction route though to be effective it should be cycled three weeks on, one week off to keep the body from adapting to the lower caloric intake, which it will do.
Get more sleep. HGH is released during sleep, which stimulates fat metabolism.
Finally, change up the training: short, high-intensity intervals, and whole body movements with heavy loads in the gym will jack up post-excercise energy consumption. More muscle means higher caloric cost to getting through the day and if it is fueled by fat you will lose it. Big lifts cause a strong hormonal response, triggering testosterone and HGH secretion both of which boost fat metabolism. Long, slow endruance-pace efforts have a function (in tuning the body to prefer fat over carbs as fuel) but this type of work is often misused or used exclusively to drive fat loss but combining it with high-intensity effort is far more effective.