This article provides an overview of what to focus on. Stay tuned for a more in-depth piece on the what, when, whys and hows to achieve long term fat loss.
1. 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.
2. May protein rule!
Protein is the one macronutrient that has yet to fall out of favour and with good reason. Most 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. ‘nuff said.
3. Let fat loss be your goal
To state the bloomin’ obvious, 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.
4. Drink enough water
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!
5. Ditch steady state cardio
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 this same workout for months or years (gulp) you may as well not have gone to the gym in the first place other than to clear your head and maybe catch up with some mates. Brutal but honest. 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 check if your facility runs HIIT sessions. These are globally one of the most popular workouts currently because a) they are effective and b) they are time friendly. Shake it up, ramp up some short-term intensity and reap the fat loss rewards. Boom!
You wonder about the last five fat loss tips? Watch for our next post!
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Photo credits: Tumisu, Michael Taggart, Bhakti, EME, Geralt, Konstantin Stepanov, Alessandro Casella