For many people fat loss can seem like this obscure and magical thing only dreamt about in fairytales, but the reality is that fat loss is simple when you know what to do. This doesn’t mean that it’s always easy. Luckily, knowledge is power (as long as you use it), and there are a few simple fat loss rules which will make getting that lean, sexy body much easier.
Fat Loss vs. Weight Loss
First, to clear up a common misconception. When people talk about losing weight, what they’re usually after is fat loss – they’re not the same: your weight includes, muscles, bones, organs as well as body fat. Which is precisely why you can get a sexier, leaner body and actually weigh more than when you started – you’ve lost body fat, but gained muscle.
This also means that the weight scale is a poor indicator of fat loss; fat calipers or even just seeing body composition changes in the mirror are much better indicators of fat loss. So step away from the scales, they are not your friend! Get some body fat calipers and learn how to use them.
So, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to fat-burning business…
7 Golden Rules of Fat Loss
Fat loss happens in the kitchen.
Your kitchen is the go-to place for fat loss. You’ve probably heard it said before that getting the lean, sexy body you want is 80% diet and 20% exercise. While these statistics may be debatable, it underscores the importance of healthy eating when it comes to getting the results you want. This doesn’t undermine the importance of exercise, because you need an enough exercise with enough intensity to burn fat and build muscle, but when it comes to fat-loss, the first place you need to look is at what you’re eating.
Some guidelines to follow for healthy eating:
- Lean protein with every meal.
- Lots of vegetables.
- Enough healthy fats.
- Less complex carbohydrates.
- Little or no refined products.
Protein is an essential building block of the body, and it also keeps hunger at bay by making you feel satiated (by lowering ghrelin levels – the hormone which stimulates appetite).
Especially, cruciferous and dark, green leafy veggies.
Healthy fats don’t make you fat, they’re critical to health and well-being – so make sure you’re getting enough of them with every meal.
You need to eat enough complex carbs to fulfill your energy requirements; however, when it comes to fat-loss, one strategy is to have fewer servings of carbohydrates, while still having enough lean protein, healthy fats and lots of non-starchy vegetables, to ensure your macro- and micro-nutrient requirements are being met.
Yes, that means you sugar (usually the biggest offender)! A good strategy is to replace refined sugars with fruit; however, you still need to eat fruit in moderation, because fruits contain high amounts of natural sugars.
The basic idea is to stick to healthy eating 90% of the time, with allowances for ‘treat’ meals every so often. Note, some people find it easier to cut out ‘treat’ meals entirely, so it depends on what works best for you.
Burn more calories than you consume.
Fat-loss requires a calorie deficit, i.e. burning more calories than you consume. There are essentially 3 ways you can do this: eat fewer calories, increase your physical activity, or a combination of the two. Most people are going to have the best results by combining a reduced caloric intake and increasing the amount or intensity of the exercise they do. A good level for healthy, sustained fat loss is to aim for a deficit of about 500 calories per day.
Build more muscle.
Not only does lifting weights increase the muscle you have, giving you that sexy, toned look, but also increases you resting metabolic rate – i.e. the calories you burn at rest. Granted, it may not be a massive increase, but you’ll still burn more than by doing cardio alone. By incorporating resistance training, you’ll loose fat and retain muscle that you worked hard for.
Don’t skimp on sleep.
Lack of sleep increases cortisol levels, and cortisol can lead to increased fat storage (especially around the midsection). In addition, when you’re doing cardio and weight training, you need to get enough sleep so that your body can rest, recover and repair. More than this, a sleep study found that sleepers who got more than 8.5 hours sleep, had greater fat loss than those who got 5 hours of sleep.
Ditch the scale.
As you saw earlier, the scales are not your friend when it comes to fat loss. If you want to measure fat loss, the mirror is a better indicator than the scales. Ideally, you’ll want to invest in a pair of body fat calipers and learn how to use them – even better (but more costly) is to get professional measurements done. While it’s good to track your progress, there is a point where you’re measuring too frequently – remember, healthy fat loss takes time, so measuring once every week, or even two weeks should be enough.
Don’t drink your calories.
One of the biggest hidden sources of calories is what you drink! Soda is the worst, but even a 20oz glass of freshly squeezed orange juice contains about 220 calories. In fact, some scientists are now saying that the calories you get from drinking fruit juice outweigh the benefits. The bottom-line: drink water, tea or coffee for hydration, and get your calories from healthy, nutrient dense foods.
Maximize cardio with HIIT.
Cardio definitely has its place when it comes to fat loss; however, the results are maximized when it’s combined with resistance training. One of the best ways to burn more calories in less time, is to use a HIIT (high intensity, interval training) protocol, which doesn’t need to be limited to the treadmill – you can use it with a jump rope, or even in the weight room.
Remember, fat loss isn’t always easy, as many can attest it can be pretty difficult at times. But just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing – in fact, it’s worth doing because it’s hard, and when you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen. The good news is that it gets easier once you’ve created new healthy habits for yourself, and as soon as you start seeing the results – the lean, sexy body, the increased vitality – you’ll have all the motivation you need to get it done.