FIGHT THE FLAB!
TOP 10 FATLOSS TIPS
LET MUSCLE BE THY GOAL
Learn to love strength training! Get lifting, pushing, pulling and make it HEAVY (build up to it gradually & safely). Not only will you become stronger, you will also develop lean muscle, definition and become a fat burning furnace. You may appear to burn more calories during a cardio workout but a decent resistance workout will dial up your metabolism and have you incinerating way more calories for up to 48 hours afterwards. Understand that the workout is the primer not the main event, ie the changes you want to happen to your body occur between workouts when the fat oxidation, protein synthesis and tissue repair etc happen. Train heavy, walk away, eat well and let the body weave its magic.
May protein rule! Protein is the one macronutrient that has yet to fall out of favour and with good reason. Most western diets include plenty but it still bears mention because protein really should be a staple part of each meal to enable muscle maintenance & growth (protein = amino acids = building blocks of muscle) and satiety (protein keeps you fuller for longer plus it requires more energy to digest than fats & carbs). Combined with effective strength training (see point 1) adequate protein consumption promotes a higher metabolic rate resulting in greater overall energy expenditure and setting light to those lurve handles. Be aware that we can only absorb a certain amount of protein in one hit (c. 30g) so stagger your intake throughout the day. You are aiming to consume 0.4 – 1g/kg bodyweight three times a day.
Photo by Ethan Sees
Let fat loss be your goal. If running a marathon is your goal then eat and train for that. If fat loss is your goal don’t eat and train for a marathon. Be specific and focused about what you want rather than randomly hoping lots of running is going to get you lean. It will eat into your hard earned muscle (see point 2) and your much-cherished time. You know there are no quick fixes but steady state cardio is truly the loooong way around.
The average human body consists of 60% water. It is necessary for all digestive & circulatory processes as well as regulating body temperature & providing energy. It is also essential for the regulation of hormones & emotions. If your body drops even 2% of its water storage you start to function poorly, feel fatigued & are more prone to health problems. In a nutshell, dehydration causes stress which in turn raises cortisol levels. Cortisol is our stress hormone (think fight or flight) and when levels rise too high it signals to the body to store rather than burn fat. Drink up!
DITCH STEADY STATE CARDIO
Photo by William Choquette
Do you rock up at the gym, hop on the treadmill or cross-trainer and idle away an hour eyeballing the calorie count, have a 10 second stretch, head home, scoff dinner and then sit on the couch all evening? If you have been doing the same workout for months or years (gulp) do not be surprised if you haven’t achieved the results you want. Mix it up by doing a 20 or 30 minute HIIT session instead. This can be on the treadmill, cross-trainer, with a medicine ball, bodyweight, dumbbells, anything! Get creative or get down to your local gym for one of their HIIT sessions. These are globally one of the most popular workouts currently because a) they are effective and b) they are time friendly. However, please note that, in order to reap the many rewards from a decent HIIT workout you need to perform at a high intensity. Perceived intensity is quite different to actual intensity. Shake it up, ramp it up to 11ty stupid and reap the fat loss rewards. Boom!
Photo by Alexey Demidov
Take a long hard, documented look at what and how you are eating. If you have children or are the main cook in your household, take a few minutes to think about how much unnecessary extra food & drink you consume whilst preparing and clearing up or in between meals. A snack bar here and some leftovers there can seriously add up over the course of a week, a month and a year so that, in spite of what you think you eat at a given meal, you may well be consuming well over and above on a daily level. Reverse the process and realize that by simply reducing this habit you could, without doing anything else, lose significant kilos. If you are struggling not to eat between meals then the content of those meals needs a makeover.
Photo by Jens Mahnke
Embrace incidental exercise. Go for a walk, even a 10 minute one each day. Walk to the shops and carry your shopping home (novel idea – cardio & strength training minus the gym membership….). Walk or cycle with your kids to school/kindergarten/university…?! Ok, maybe a step too far with that last one. Ditch the dryer and hang your washing out. Even cooking from scratch instead of microwaving an instant meal burns a considerable amount more calories. The little things do make a difference.
EAT YOUR CARBS
Photo by Mark Stebnicki
Whaaaat? Wait up! Carbs? CARBS? Grossly overlooked fact: all vegetables are carbohydrates. Let them be the mainstay of your meal with as much colour, i.e. variety, as you can muster to provide loads of nutrients and fibre to your diet. Fibre is vital for a healthy digestive system as these foods have a lower energy density, keep you fuller for longer and therefore protect you against over-eating and weight gain. The age old mantra of 2 and 5 fruit & veg a day is woefully outdated. Aim for 30-50 different foods in your diet per week (yes, that is the current recommendation) with a minimum of 30 different vegetables. This will significantly help your gut microbiome stay healthy. Diversity is the key. Get the kids involved by making a game of seeing how many different coloured vegetables they can find. Choose to try a different vegetable each week. May unprocessed carbs rule!
Poor sleep quality and quantity negatively impacts our well-being by, amongst other issues, raising our cortisol levels (see point 4) which has been proven to result in over-eating the following day, particularly processed &/or starchy carbs when signals of fatigue are misread for hunger. The more tired you are, the more likely you are to make poor food choices both of which will destroy your fat loss mission. Create a conducive bedtime environment and win on all counts.
Photo by MARIANNE RIXHON
Do you ever find yourself spending ages making a meal for the kids & then grabbing any old random thing & shovelling it down? Scoffing food on the go means your body will not uptake the nutrients in the meal no matter how healthy your plate appears. We need the central nervous system to be in a parasympathetic state, ie rest & digest, in order to nourish ourselves so that we may function optimally. Eating too quickly will result in poor digestion, over-eating & an inability to listen to your body’s hunger & satiety signals. Put your knife & fork down between mouthfuls & get chewing! Then chew some more. Pause. Taste your meal. Really taste it. If you eat the same few meals all the time you won’t really be tasting the food, you will have pre-empted what it tastes like. Our digestion begin before we’ve taken a single mouthful. If you want a healthy body & mind, savour your food.
Photo by Brett Jordan
In order to unlock the previous 10 fat loss strategies, here is the key – do not expect to tackle nor succeed with all of the above at once.
Photo by Kristina Paukshtite
Do that at your peril. You will fall off the fat loss wagon faster than a rat up a rhododendron. Focus on one or two points at a time and make them happen consistently for a few weeks. Then add another and another and so on. Just as you must train your body for fitness, strength and definition so must you train the muscle of the mind to make permanent change happen.
Accept your genetics and do the best you can with what you have.
The chief function of your body is to carry your brain around. Thomas A Edison
Your body is simply the space you inhabit so cherish it, try not to abuse it and start renovating. Then you get to re-decorate as well afterwards!