How to look lean in the eye of a camera


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Pictures are very important in our lives because it captures memories. However, many people seem to be cameraphobic because they are afraid that they may not look good in the pictures. In case you are wondering why we often ask ourselves if how come we look fatter in the pictures, the answer is yes we do. Cameras can instantly add 10 lbs. to us in pictures because first, we live in a 3-dimensional environment while the camera creates a 2-dimensional photos which makes the images appear flat. In the future, maybe the technology can keep up especially now that 3-D cameras are now popularized in the market. The second reason why we appear thicker in the pictures is because of a matter of personal perception if how will our photos turn out in the pictures.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as the saying says so there’s really not much we can do to change our appearance but in the context of enhancing our image in the pictures, there is something we can do to convert those unflattering moments into a flattering one. I’m not talking about photoshopping the pictures or manipulating the camera angles or lighting effects.

Fat loss versus weight loss

I want you to carefully take a quick look at these pictures below.

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Sure, those were all fashion pictures but what I really want you to notice is that those people above all have low body fat levels. I didn’t used the word thin because being thin is different from being lean. Some people may appear as if they’re thin but they probably have this bulging belly while some people might have lost 10 lbs. or more yet they still have chubby faces. Lean people on the other hand got this toned look and have defined jaw lines and prominent cheekbones. While it’s true that these traits can be results of genetic factors, there are some things that are in our control to adapt the same effect by lowering our body fat levels. This applies to many of us who tries to diet down for an upcoming wedding, a reunion or any special event where we prepare ourselves to look best in the pictures.

You may have lost 10 or more lbs. through dieting or through doing plenty of cardio stuff yet you still look thick in the pictures. This is simply because you acquired the skinny fat syndrome. Skinny fat is a term used to define those thin looking people yet the bulk of their weight is mostly body fat. They may have experienced some weight loss but they must have lost both lean muscles and body fat in the process. In order to achieve that lean and toned look, people who are seeking weight loss should aim for fat loss instead. Many people often asks me regarding a specific diet or exercise that they should do in order for them to get rid of their belly fat. They often tells me that they don’t want to lose weight but they just want to lose their excess belly. Well, we cannot do any spot reduction but as we decrease our body fat stores, these troubled areas will start to shrink eventually. The only way to spot reduce is to undergo in a surgery through liposuction.

How to do a fat loss

In order to achieve fat loss, there should always be a calorie deficit. You can use the fat loss formula that I outlined here. To lose fat, we still need to lose weight only in the form of body fat while preserving the lean body mass or muscles to maintain strength, to give us the toned look and to keep our BMR as high as possible. Keep in mind however that as we lose total body weight, our metabolism also decreases it’s rate as a result of decreased body weight as I described here. Muscle tissues burns more calories(about 6-7 calories/ lb.)at rest than body fat(which burns about 2-3 calories/ lb.).

If you’re not doing any strength training program, you should start doing now to achieve that lean and toned look. You must have seen your favorite Hollywood celebs who have transformed their physique from flabby to lean and you probably think that they have put on tremendous amount of muscle mass but the truth is they probably add some muscle mass but they surely have lost a lot of body fat that’s why they appear more muscular and toned. This applies to both and women. Women shouldn’t fear lifting weights because training with weights will not make them big and bulky.

It’s also very important to eat adequate protein intake in order to maintain a positive nitrogen balance during a hypocaloric diet thus it creates an acute thermic effect advantage which can be beneficial for fat loss in the long run. Protein also keeps people satiated while on a hypocaloric diet.

For dietary fats intake, refer to my suggestion here. I’m not a fan of generic diets because I strongly believe that any diet regardless of the goal should be personalized accordingly. For carbohydrates needs, people have varying tolerance and individual needs that’s why you should read this article. Lyle McDonald is one of the best fitness source on the Internet. You can also check his books because you can find a lot of useful and reliable information.

As far as cardiovascular activities such as running, biking, swimming, or NEAT are concerned, it should only be used for supplemental calorie burn. For lighter individuals who needs lower calories to create a calorie deficit, it makes more sense to increase their activities instead rather than decreasing their calorie intake even further.

Now that we know the difference between weight loss and fat loss, we can now be more confident to participate on picture takings. We can now also wear some other colors other than black. Keep in mind that wearing something black only creates an illusion therefore, we are only fooling ourselves.

Enjoy the cheese.

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That photo of myself from above was a joke. I fattened myself up using an iPhone app called the fatbooth app.

Here’s what I really look like in the camera

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Decreasing body fat stores may also improve your facial features. Here’s a side by side comparison of my picture when I was 18 yrs. old (on the left) with higher body fat and now that I’m 30 yrs. old (on the right) with a lower body fat level.

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For men, decreasing your body fat level gives you that blocky face instead of the round, puffy look. For women, it creates an illusion of hollow cheeks while making your cheekbones more prominent. Women who are really good on applying makeup can pull this off by using bronzer I think. Why would you just rely on makeup alone if you can do this naturally?

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  1. This is pretty well written, and I think I agree with it. I still feel cardio is important for maintaining a good V02 max, which I do not feel is possible for most people without it.

  2. Thanks for dropping by Dr. J. I also agree that maintaining/ increasing VO2max is important. However, fitness for fashion and fitness for performance doesn’t go well together all the time so in most cases, something must be compromised.

  3. Looking natural in pictures is a great feat that one would definitely be proud of, so long as they comfortable with themselves and what they have. Yet how to look good in pictures will be an issue once a camera is focused on you.

    • I must agree that self-confidence or being comfortable in the front of the camera is a biggie in terms of producing a good picture; however, in this context, I specified why most of us appear to be heavier than what we really are in the pictures. Most people want to look lean in pictures 🙂

    • Jealene Sy
    • September 22nd, 2014

    Good day!

    I’m an old classmate of Aves G. I’ve seen his latest photos and it really shocked me. I figured you are his trainor and since I can’t able to leave you a personal message thru FB, I clicked one of your posted links and POOF! I’ve read your blogs.
    I’ve been dancing ever since I’m 12 but everytime, I just loose weights and not fats.
    I am really interested into trying your programs if ever you have one.
    Please do contact me at the email add given above.
    Thankyou, have a good day!
    -Jealene Sy

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