Before we start, it’s important to remember that fat loss and weight loss do not always go hand in hand. Body composition, the ratio between body fat and lean mass, is a more important metric of success than weight loss. As the old saying goes, “muscle weighs more than fat” so often times you will build muscle and lose fat simultaneously. This means you’ll be looking and feeling better, even though the scale may not be able to show your progress. So enough of the cheesy informercials and unrealistic results, here are the seven best ways to lose fat:
1. Stop “Dieting”: Change the Type of Calories You Consume
“Quality over quantity”, we’ve heard it a million times for a million different situations. Well it’s no different when it comes to nutrition. So often the term “diet” is only associated with eating less. While reducing your overall calorie intake is important when trying to lose weight, it is also important to change the type of calories you are consuming. Have you ever heard the expression “abs are made in the kitchen”?… it holds a lot of truth. If you’re trying to decrease your body fat, it will come with a combination of proper nutrition, exercise and overall lifestyle change. This means avoiding the refined carbs,sugars and other processed foods and swapping them out for more greens, lean meats, and healthy fats. Some easy tricks for this are: 1. Try to only shop the outer ring of the market (where they keep produce and perishables) to avoid the refined foods. 2. A good rule of thumb is, if it has a TV commercial and and/or a catchy jingle, it’s probably not good for you. 3. Shop closer to the food source e.g. try to get produce and meats from local butchers, farmers markets, etc.
2. Get to Know Fats
While popular media and TV health experts will have you believe that fat is the enemy of waste lines, some fats are actually your friend. Food items like avocados, coconut oil, fish oils and nuts are great sources of healthy fats. When you eat dair and meat, opt for grass-fed options like grass-fed beef and butter.
3. Cook Your Own Food
Restaurants do not always disclose how their food is prepared and what ingredients are used. While more and more restaurants are becoming more open about their food sources, it’s always best to ask your server. The best alternative is to cook your own meals. While eating out for lunch every day at work is convenient and easy, pre-cooking and bringing your own lunch every day is a better option in the long run. It will take extra time and effort, but your wallet and belly will thank you.
4. Decrease Stress
High cortisol (stress hormone) levels cause your body to store fat. Therefore, decrease your stress levels to allow your body to burn fat more efficiently. Try taking a mid day walk if you’re having a stressful day at work. Another great stress release is meditation. Try short, 5-10 minute bouts of meditation everyday. Lastly, separate yourself from work and technology when you get home. This means no checking work emails in the evening or tinkering on your smart phone in bed.
5. High Intensity Cardio
You will burn more fat and teach your body to burn fat more efficiently by using short, intense bouts of exercise versus long steady state cardio. This means stop doing 40 minutes on the treadmill at one speed. Instead, try 10-15 minutes of 30 second sprints with 30 seconds to a minute rest in between. Interval training will get you a better beach-body than long boring runs.
6. Maintaining Muscle Mass
Plain and simple, the more muscle mass your body has, the more efficient your metabolism will be. This means pick up the weights.
7. Compound Lifts
In regards to weight training, if your main goal is to burn fat and change your body composition, you should center your weight training sessions around large, multi-joint (compound) exercises. For example, squats, lunges, bench press, etc. You will burn more fat performing a big move like a deadlift that taxes large muscle groups compared to an isolated movement like a bicep curl or tricep extension.