Fat Loss – How is it done?
A Few Top Tips To Help You On Your Fat Loss Journey
by Josh Ciechanowski
As a personal trainer, I get asked about fat loss all the time. The funny thing is, I think most people know what to do to burn fat, but they’re asking me in the vain hope that I know some secret that’s going to make things heaps easier. A shortcut if you will. The others may actually have no idea how to lose fat but I’d say that’s the minority.
Many fitness professionals say that fat loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. Whilst I think there is some truth to this, it’s really not that simple. I think both are 100% key to fat loss. It’s true that it’s near impossible to out-workout a bad diet, but it’s also true that the type, intensity, frequency, order & duration of exercise can make the 20% actually anywhere between 10%-50% of the fat loss equation.
You’re all busy and you just want some handy chunks of information you can take and run with so here are my top tips for losing fat.
I’m talking about actual, filtered water and not the water in your instant coffee or fruit juice drink. Most people I know would pay a lot of money for a magic pill that would boost energy, keep skin youthful, boost metabolism, decrease blood pressure and burn fat. A lot of money. But the truth is, this magic pill is free. It’s called WATER! Drink around 350ml of water per 10kg of body weight. So a 60kg person should drink 350 x 6 = 2100ml or 2.1 litres of water per day. Staying hydrated will maximise your body’s capacity to fulfill all its key biological functions including burning fat. A great tip is to drink as much water as you can first thing in the morning to boost your metabolism after the dehydrating affects sweating, breathing and going to the toilet at night during sleep.
Most of us don’t need anywhere near the amount of calories we consume. Our portions are too big and we eat and drink too many of the wrong things. Don’t cut your calories down overnight, but aim to reduce your portion size over time and don’t go back for seconds. It takes around 20 mins for the brain to register the food in your stomach and release the hormones that trigger feelings of fullness. If you wolf your food down and stop when you’re 100% full, then 20 mins later you’re 120% full and you’ve just slowed your metabolic rate to a standstill. So eat slower, chew more and if after 20 mins you’re still hungry, then eat some more, but most of the time you’ll find you won’t need to.
Eat smaller meals more frequently (5 meals every 3 hours) or skip breakfast and morning tea completely and have 3 meals. One at 12pm, 4pm and 8pm. This technique is a form of intermittent fasting and is very effective for fat loss if you are in normal health.
Increase protein intake and ensure that every meal and snack contains some form of protein. Protein is key to boosting metabolism and burning fat. It is also more satiating that carbohydrate and will not product the fat retentive effects of insulin that carbohydrates will.
Eat more vegies and in particular green vegies.
Eat mainly (if not completely) single ingredient foods, or in other words, whole foods from the fresh produce area of the market or supermarket.
Eat more healthy fats and oils like olives, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, flax, wild fish oil, coconut oil, raw nuts and seeds.
Don’t consume this
Decrease your carbohydrate consumption. In particular, avoid highly processed, white, starchy carbs like rice, white potatoes, anything made from wheat like bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, cereals, cakes, muffins, donuts (basically anything from a bakery) or anything with sugar in it. Yes they’re tasty and make you feel like you’ve just been cuddles by grandma but they will turn your body into a fat storing machine that you will not be able to train off unless you run a marathon every day.
Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is not only made from sugar (your worst fat burning enemy) but it’s a toxin. Your body will try to metabolise the toxin first and ignore everything else in your stomach until it’s done so, bringing your metabolic rate to grinding halt. Sure, a glass of red wine a day won’t kill you and yes it’s full of antioxidants, but it’s still alcohol, it’s still a toxin and you will get way more antioxidants from vegetables and in season fruit (preferably organic).
Avoid anything processed, anything that’s in a box or a wrapper because it will be filled with sugar or carbs which will become sugar when digested and bad fats which your body will not know how to process.
Eat your biggest meal immediately after training
Your body is least insulin sensitive and most efficient at burning calories and using them to build lean muscle immediately post workout. Aim to eat within an hour of training. The sooner the better.
Never diet. Just follow sound nutritional habits
Diets are temporary. They tend to be unsustainable, stress you and your body and often lead to weight loss via loss of water and precious fat burning muscle. When you inevitably end the diet, you will more often than not gain more weight back than before you started. Good sound nutritional principles however will become your habit and will produce fantastic results by becoming simply what you do.
Sleep and relax
Stress is not only a killer but a fat storage demon. Stress releases stress hormones (namely cortisol) that in small doses are fine but when constantly being produces have an annoying habit of making fat store around the belly. Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Actively do things to relax. The lower your cortisol levels, the faster you’ll burn fat. Avoid other cortisol producing activities like smoking, drinking alcohol, eating empty calories and being dehydrated.
Avoid long bouts of low intensity cardio
Please. Please. Please get off the treadmill, elliptical trainer, rower, bike or step machine unless you are going hell for leather or engaging in high intensity interval training (HIIT).
Train with resistance
Either use weights, your body weight or any form of bands, suspension trainer or free weights. Focus on compound movements that use multiple muscles and multiple joints like squats, lunges, deadlifts, pullups/chin ups/lat pulldown and push-ups/chest press rather than isolation exercises like bicep curls or calf raises.
Don’t train too long and train with intensity
Fat burning hormones like testosterone and growth hormone peak at around 30-45 minutes. Training for longer than an hour can produce cortisol and lead to fat storage. Training intensely can either mean working with heavy weights or training fast/explosively with short to no rest. You need to sweat, get out of breath and feel the burn of lactic acid if you want to build muscle and burn fat. Don’t train with a book, magazine or smartphone. Get to gym, beach or park, work your butt off and then do whatever you like afterwards. This type of training will create a huge afterburn effect know as EPOC or Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption.
High intensity training has been shown to burn calories at elevated rates as though you are still training for up to 20 hours post exercise. This is in stark contrast to low intensity training which has your metabolic rate down to baseline levels almost immediately after finishing training. Therefore in total, high intensity exercise burns many, many times more calories.
Try some fat burning supplements
If you want to take your fat burn to the next level there are a range of supplements designed to assist you. ND has some great ones like Hydroxy Citric Acid, Carnitine and ND Hydroxyshred. Go to Nutrient Direct’s goals section and take a look at the list of recommended supps for weight loss and toning and start your journey with the best supplements for weight loss.
Naturally you can go to much deeper levels of detail and complexity, but these principles will hold you in great stead and get you into habits that will allow you to burn fat more often and do it sustainably. Not exactly shortcuts but much more of a shortcut than what you’re probably doing now.
Yours in strength.