Everyone wants to lose fat, but most people mistakenly indicate “weight loss” as their goal. As I will explain, this is not necessarily the same thing. Reducing body fat and improving one’s body composition is a common goal for both serious athletes and the general fitness enthusiasts. With such a strong interest in “battling the bulge”, fat loss has become a huge industry, with new fad diets, weight loss plans, abdominal toning products, and fat burning supplements popping up on the market every day!
Unfortunately, despite all of the attention directed at this subject, obesity is still on the rise. The purpose of this article is to outline some basic and effective principles for attaining permanent “fat loss” and a transformation of your physical appearance.
We are inundated with so many different diet and exercise programs and there are so many weight loss myths floating around that it becomes difficult to know what to believe. Let me assure you that proper nutrition and exercise (along with certain lifestyle changes) are STILL the solution to losing fat permanently and getting that lean, cut-looking physique. The following 3 Fat Loss Tips will help you achieve your “Fat Loss” goals.
Cutting too many calories, pushes the body to conserve calories rather than burn them. It also forces your body to break down muscle tissue to fuel its vital operations. But muscle tissue is the key to your metabolism (the speed at which you burn calories).
When you go on an extremely low calorie diet, your body goes into starvation mode. This leads to several negatives consequences, including fewer fat-burning enzymes in your body, lower levels of fat burning hormones, muscle wasting, greater appetite, and low energy. The bottom line is that it’s physiologically impossible to achieve permanent fat loss on a “starvation” type diet.
In the short term very low calorie programs may get you some results, but in the long run they can actually make you fatter. You will almost certainly regain additional body fat once your diet ends! Don’t trust a diet plan that recommends the same calories for everyone. If you are more active you will need more energy.
This ties in nicely with the first principle. The key to long term fat loss is to focus on burning the fat, not starving the fat. To metabolize more body fat while only cutting calories slightly below maintenance, you will need to burn more calories by increasing your activity level. I know it sounds obvious, but you would be surprised by how many people look for ways around this, and search for quick fixes in order to avoid putting the extra effort into getting results!
Your physical activity plan for fat loss should focus primarily on resistance training with weights. Whereas you will burn fat as a fuel source during cardiovascular, resistance training will not only metabolize body fat during your workout, but it will stimulate your body to continue eating up your fat stores after exercise as well. This is sometimes referred to as the double-reducing effect, or “after-burn”. This effect is caused by raising your basal metabolic rate: essentially, weight training boosts your metabolism!
Not only will strength training get you “Jacked”, but the more lean tissue you have on your body, and the more active your muscle tissue becomes, the higher your metabolism is. This is why I say it’s a mistake to focus on losing weight, rather than reducing body fat. Muscle weighs much more than fat, but because it is also much denser it takes up less space on your body. So think about “reshaping” your body, rather than shrinking it.
Circuit training involves a single set of each exercise one after another, with minimal rest between sets. An effective way to increase your metabolism in a circuit training workout is to perform a series of exercises alternating between lower body, upper body, and core movements. This can be accomplished using minimal equipment, or by performing bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, pushups, dips, and abdominal exercise variations.
Interval training involves alternating periods of low intensity cardiovascular activity with higher intensity sprint intervals. This not only burns more calories in a shorter amount of time, but it will help to stimulate and preserve your hard-earned lean muscle tissue. An example of an interval training workout could be alternating periods of jogging for 4 minutes and running hard for 1 minute, repeating these intervals for a 20 minute workout.
Exercise alone won’t make you leaner. You can still gain fat due to poor eating habits. Here are some important nutritional habits you can adopt to help you lose body fat while maintaining your lean muscle tissue:
This may sound contrary to your objective, but by eating more frequently your metabolism is increased and your portion sizes will be smaller. Controlling portion size is absolutely essential to reducing your body fat. View it as throwing wood chips on the fire (your metabolism) all day long to keep the flames high, rather than smothering it with a log once a day. Try to eat 5 to 6 smaller healthy meals or snacks throughout the day. Eating every 3 hours will help regulate your blood sugar levels and keep your metabolism roaring.
Fat is a misunderstood nutrient. Many people still believe that all fats are “bad”, and think that eating fat makes you fat. However, not all fats are created equal and consuming the right type of fat is not only essential for good health, but it will aid in the metabolism of even more body fat. The good fats are called essential fatty acids (EFA’s) and include the Omega 3, 6, and 9 oils. Foods containing these healthy fats include fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil, among others. Flaxseed oil and fish oil are common sources and are popular in supplement form as well.
Water is the most important nutrient, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. You need it to flush the waste products your body makes when it breaks down fat for energy, or when it processes protein. To stay well hydrated, let water and green tea be your main beverages. Fruit juices, sodas and other beverages contain calories and often have added sugar. Therefore, avoid juice, pop, and sports drinks and focus on drinking plain water and green tea instead. A good guideline for water intake is to drink one liter for every fifty pounds of your bodyweight per day.
Sugar is the enemy if your goal is to lose fat! Sugar contains empty calories (minimal nutrient value), which provide a quick release of energy without actually feeding your body, and then a rapid energy slump soon afterwards. Sugar also interferes with fat loss, because your body will prefer to metabolize the sugar before getting into using fat stores. By including foods high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats you can control this rapid fluctuation in blood sugar. Foods rich in fiber help control blood glucose and insulin levels. Reduce consumption of most processed, low-fiber breads, cereals, breakfast bars, potatoes, and pasta.