We all want to have a slim, toned, sexy looking body. This is the holy grail of the fitness industry!
Our eternal quest for the perfect body is fuelled by the media who spin tales about the new potion, pill, exercise regime or superfood that will miraculously shed the body fat for us.
Unfortunately life is not that simple and in this article I present some tips you might want to adhere to if you want to lose body fat the correct way.
1. Consume less calories than you burn: To lose weight, we must take in less calories than our bodies use. It is a scientific fact. There are many ways to eat less calories. Eat smaller portions. Replace high calorie foods with lower ones. Eliminate junk food. Remove drink calories with water.
THIS IS BY FAR THE MOST IMPORTANT VARIABLE IN A WEIGHT LOSS PLAN. IF YOU DO NOT ADHERE TO THIS RULE YOU ARE LEAVING YOUR MOST IMPORTANT WEIGHT LOSS TOOL ON THE BENCH.
2. Keep a food diary: research has shown that people who write down everything they eat are more successful in their weight loss efforts than those who don’t. It can be tedious and time consuming but if you are serious about your weight loss efforts, it is a must.
3. Eat enough protein: Protein should be the first macronutrient on our plate. It is essential for basic bodily function, cell growth and repair, enzyme and hormone production. More importantly it is muscle sparing and reduces hunger enabling us to feel full especially when we are trying to diet. We should all be aiming to eat 1.5g to 2g per kg of bodyweight. Therefore if you weigh 60kg, you should be aiming to eat between 90g and 120g per day.
4. Resistance Training: Bodyweight exercises, weights, TRX, kettlebells are all examples. Resistance training will help build muscle. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat meaning that your body will be able to burn more calories at rest. A body with more muscle is far more efficient at burning fat and staying lean than a body with little muscle.
5. Eat enough plant foods. Plants are high in micronutrients and full of fibre. People who consume high quantities of fruits, vegetables and legumes are less likely to suffer illness and be overweight. Those who eat a plant rich diet have well regulated satiety mechanisms. The body is less likely to crave sugar and processed foods because of the high fibre and micronutrient content. Try to eat plant foods at each meal. Colourful vegetables should be consumed at lunch and dinner.
6. Carb count. It is important to look at overall carb intake especially if you have a lot of weight to lose. Your body may not be very efficient at using carbohydrates as a fuel. Someone who is very active and is lean will get away with eating a diet high in carbs but another who is sedentary and carrying a lot of fat will not be able to use those carbs efficiently and they will be more likely to be stored as fat. In this case, you may need to remove sugar and processed carbs from your diet, replace starch with vegetables and eat more healthy fat.
7. Sleep. We should all aim to get a minimum of 7-8 hours sleep per night. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can cause weight gain. People who do not get much sleep or get poor quality sleep will have impaired hormone function. The hormones which regulates our appetite and suppresses hunger is called leptin. This is reduced in people with poor sleep and the hormone Ghrelin which increases appetite is increased. If you sleep well on a regular basis it is shown that your hunger will be controlled and appetite will be easier to manage. So therefore get a good night sleep will help you control cravings and eat less!
Growth hormone is also released in large amounts when you sleep. This stimulates cell regeneration and growth. This helps in muscle growth and helps increase metabolism. With a higher metabolism, you burn energy faster which leads to easier fat loss. Don’t pass any heed on your housemate who wants to stay up talking rubbish, get to sleep, your body will thank you.
8. Eat sufficient Omega 3. Studies have shown that eating foods rich in omega 3 in conjunction with exercise has been shown to increase fat loss instead of just exercise alone. Diets rich in omega 3 have also massive benefits for disease prevention and brain health also. This can be consumed in the form of oily fish or as an omega 3 or cod liver oil supplement. If taking a supplement, aim to get a good quality supplement with over 1000mg of DHA an EPA.
9. Reduce Stress. Stress can have a huge effect on the body and reduce its ability to burn fat effectively. Stress on the body can manifest in many ways A) insomnia B) chronic infections C) inflammation D) environmental toxins E) dieting F) too much exercise.
The body releases cortisol to help battle these ‘fight or flight’ stressful situations. Over time this over production of cortisol can wreak havoc on the normal cortisol cycle. Cortisol is meant to be peak in the morning, preparing us for the day and gradually taper off and lower as the day progresses. If the body is churning out cortisol on a long term basis it can lead to huge many dysfunctions within the body.
– reduces your ability to burn fat, makes you hungry and crave sugar, increases the rate at which you store sugar, increases your belly fat, makes your cells less sensitive to insulin…the list goes on. BASICALLY CHRONIC PROLONGED STRESS MAKES YOU FAT!
NOTE: I did not mention anything about calorie counting. If you stick to the rules mentioned above you will not need to count calories. Your hormones should be regulated and appetite under control. If you are eating the right foods, counting calories will not be a problem.
10. Organisation: Are you prepared? Did you do your shopping? Do you have fresh healthy snacks in your home, plenty of fruit and vegetables in the fridge and lots of varied sources of protein and healthy fats? Do you have kitchen basics? Are you prepared to cook nutritious meals? Do you have lunch boxes to bring into work?
Do you have good intentions but are being let down by terrible organisation in your life? You will not have success in your weight loss journey if you are not prepared. As the old saying goes, ‘fail to prepare and prepare to fail’.