Whether you're on your fat loss journey or you'd like to start, it can be difficult.
There are many factors that come into play such as stress, sleep quality, genetics, and more that could lead you to gain weight, but since you came here, I know you're ready to take your health into your own hands.
To help you on your journey, here are 5 tips for your fat loss journey!
1. Start with resistance training
When starting your fat loss journey, a regular resistance training regiment will streamline your efforts.
Before cutting out all of your favorite foods, studies indicate that resistance training produces more consistent fat loss than a strict diet. Even without losing a single lb of weight, studies have shown that participating in resistance training 2-3 days a week for 40 minutes can produce 1 lb of lean weight while eliminating a 1.5 lb of body fat a month! Cutting calories may be an effective means for short-term weight loss, but more than 90% of dieters return to their original body weight within a year after completing their program.
Additionally, as you build more lean muscle, your metabolism will improve substantially! Studies show that every lb of untrained muscle uses 5-6 calories a day for protein breakdown and synthesis, while a lb of trained muscle uses approximately 9 calories to rebuild and repair muscles.
Some examples of resistance training are:
2. Do your cardio
On top of regular resistance training, cardio is an excellent addition to not only burn more calories but also improve your cardiovascular health. For the sake of fat loss, we will discuss two cardio options: Low-Intensity Steady State and High-Intensity Interval Training.
Low-Intensity Steady State (LISS) is perfect for those that have had an exhausting day, just beginning their exercise journey, or would like to do some cardio after their rigorous resistance training routine. LISS involves participating in cardiovascular activities that maintain a heart rate anywhere between 60-70% of their maximum heart rate (MHR) (To calculate your recommended heart rate, click here).
Within the LISS heart rate zone is within the fat-burning zone. In this heart rate zone, you are burning an equal amount of fat storage and carbs as energy, leading to more fat loss. Because LISS is low impact it is recommended you exercise between 30-60 minutes a day and a minimum of 150 minutes a week according to the Mayo Clinic. Some examples of LISS activities you can enjoy are:
For more in-shape individuals or if you're looking for a challenge, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is an exceptional option. As the name implies, HIIT is an exercise performed at short intervals that place your heart rate within 85-95% of your MHR. Within this heart rate, you begin using more carbohydrates than fat. Don't let this turn you off from HIIT though.
HIIT training is just as effective if not more efficient than LISS. As HIIT is more intense, it requires less time commitment. It is recommended to perform no more than two 15-30 minute sessions a week while giving yourself about 48 hours of rest in between sessions. Additionally, HIIT is an excellent way you burn calories quickly. In a study posted in The Journal of Strength and Condition Research, HIIT training burns about 15 calories per minute as opposed to LISS which burns 11 calories per minute. This is not a statement saying that HIIT is inherently better than LISS especially if you're considering that LISS does burn more fat than HIIT, but HIIT is an excellent option for more conditioned individuals.
Some examples of HIIT training are:
Sprint training through running or cycling
Circuit Training that employs full-body movements
3. Eat more protein
You've probably heard it enough from your friendly neighborhood gym rat, "Eat more protein." Although it is cliché, there is merit to the statement.
Outside of protein consumption's importance for rebuilding and repairing your muscles, protein also serves to boost your metabolism. According to the National Library of Medicine, your body requires more calories to break down protein than carbohydrates or fats. This will help boost your metabolism, leading to easier weight and bodyfat maintenance
Not only will protein help you build muscle and boost your metabolism, but the protein will also help you feel more satiated between meals. By feeling more satiety, you will be less likely to indulge in additional snacks and meals that could impact your health goals.
If your goal is fat-loss, then you should strive to eat between 1.2-2.4g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
4. Maintain a caloric deficit
Exercising may be the most consistent method for fat loss, but that doesn't mean you can't help speed up the process. As stated above, without any change to nutrition you could potentially lose 1.5lbs of fat a month, but if you have a more intentional weight loss goal, a caloric deficit will help you reach your goals faster.
A caloric deficit is intentionally eating less than the recommended calories to maintain your weight. By eating less than your maintenance calories, you will push your body into losing weight. If you'd like to know what your maintenance calories and recommended caloric deficit are, check out the calculator linked here.
As you enter your caloric deficit, it is important to do so safely and intelligently. Studies have shown that losing weight too quickly can result in the following:
To avoid these, it is recommended that most people limit their caloric deficit to 500 calories a day/week (1lb of weight a week).
5. Get more sleep
If your goal is fat-loss, the quality and quantity of your sleep should not be overlooked.
According to a peer-reviewed article posted in Annals of Internal Medicine, insufficient sleep can lead to a disproportionate amount of weight loss in fat-free body mass. Participants that slept only 5.5-hours as opposed to their 8.5-hour counterparts saw that they lost 55% less mass in fat and increased the loss of fat-free body mass by 60%.
Lack of sleep can also derail you from your dietary and nutrition goals. According to a peer-reviewed article posted on the National Library of Medicine, lack of sleep plays a role in increasing an individual's desire to eat high-fat and high-sugar foods as well as their ability to store fat.
Not only does sleep feel great, but sleep will also help you with your fat loss goals. It is recommended to sleep between 7-9 hours a day for maximal results in the gym and your health goals.
Losing body fat and getting in the best shape does not have to be hard, but you must be consistent. To effectively lose fat, staying active, eating well, and getting proper sleep are the cornerstone to success.