Time to overhaul your lifestyle and create long-lasting results....
There’s a whole bunch of reasons people wanna slim down, lose weight and get rid of a little belly fat. Some do it for the undeniable health reasons, others do it because they want an energy boost, and then there’s those that simply want to feel more confident, even if that just means wiggling back into your favourite pair of jeans that probably just shrunk in the wash.
Whatever your reasons, though, the next stage of your fitness journey needs to start with a little dollop of scientific know-how, patience, dedication and a side of body positivity. After all, before you can start to burn any unwanted jiggly parts, you need to understand how to. So if you’re ready? Let’s do this:
The Basics of Burning Fat
We All Need Some Fat
Here’s something you don’t hear too often: we all need a little body fat. It’s what experts call “essential fat” and it allows us to function properly. What that means is, we all need to maintain a body fat percentage of no less than 10% to 13% for women and 2% to 5% for men.
Not only will this prevent you from feeling the pretty nasty effects of vitamin deficiencies, a weakened immune system and an increased risk of heart disease (to name just a few), but without this essential fat, your body will look to break down your muscle mass too, which will leave you feeling fifty shades of weak and exhausted.
Stop Obsessing Over Calories
The more muscle mass you have, the faster your body will be able to burn fat. That’s why fast fat loss almost-always results in fast muscle-loss too, when what you really want is gradual weight loss.
That’s why you need to slow down, take the focus away from calorie counting and fat loss, and focus just as much on maintaining your muscle mass. That includes taking the number your scale shows with a large handful of salt. Simply put, a little bit of muscle weighs more than a lot of fat.
Scientifically-Proven Ways To Burn Fat
Show ‘Em How Strong You Are
Before you start picturing powerlifters and bodybuilders in crop tops on Venice Beach, strength training simply refers to you contracting your muscles against a resisting force, which could be weight in the gym of holding up your body while doing yoga. Of course, the alternatives are almost endless. Think exercise bands, pilates, bodyweight exercises or even just moving the furniture around your living room.
This kind of strength training has been shown to burn off visceral fat (you know, that unhealthy belly fat that forms around your organs), while also increasing your muscle mass and helping your body to burn more calories while resting. What’s not to celebrate?!
Time To HIIT The Training
In case you’ve heard this term but never had the courage to ask questions, HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, which is a type of workout that goes from really intense bursts to short periods of rest before repeating. And it works too.
In fact, studies show that HIIT training is seriously effective at amping up your fat burning needs, crushing those calories at the speed of light and improving your overall fitness.
Cardio is Your Best Friend
We know the word cardio conjures up images of boring workouts filled with pained expressions, but it doesn’t have to. Dancing around your kitchen, running with your dog, nattering with your bestie while on a walk, boxing, kickboxing, swimming and playing football with your niece – they are all forms of cardio, a type of exercise that improves your heart and lungs.
But here’s the real kicker: doing just 20 to 40 minutes of cardio each day is a surefire way to kickstart your fat loss journey.
Get Out The Whey
If the aim is to burn that visceral fat, reduce your appetite and maintain your muscle mass, then it’s time to add a little more protein to your diet. In fact, studies have shown that eating a high-protein diet not only leaves you feeling fuller for longer, but also helps your body boost its metabolism and retain its muscle mass.
And the best part: protein can be found in a bunch of delicious foods (and not just powdered supplements you mix with water). We’re talking eggs, chicken, broccoli, almonds, quinoa, fish, oats and lean beef. Basically, enough to keep your weekly meal plan exciting.
Not All Fats Were Born Equal
There’s a pretty big chance you’re pulling a weird, scrunched up face right now and we get it. The term “fatty foods” feels seriously negative, especially when it comes to fat loss. But the truth is, in the wonderful world of nutrition, there are actually bad fats and good fats.
Avocados, nuts, all types of seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, these are all fats that are good for you, which is partly because they are packed full of goodness and partly because they take a little longer to digest, keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
Say Bye-Bye To Booze
If life is about the simple pleasures, then sipping on a glass of rosé while indulging in your Love Island addiction ticks all the boxes. The problem is, alcohol contains more calories than your favourite contestants do empty promises. But the real problem comes from alcohol’s ability to reduce your inhibitions, which is why you feel so ready to snack on this and chow down on that, none of it healthy. And if that’s not enough, alcohol has also been heavily linked to an increase in belly fat.
Thankfully, there are a bunch of healthy alternatives out there for you to enjoy on a weeknight in front of the telly, lemon water and green tea being the most body positive options, although even switching to a single glass of red has certain heart benefits.
Enjoy More Zzzz’s
Some of us are night owls and others are early-birds. Either way, getting enough sleep is about as important as it gets. Read that again. Getting enough sleep matters… a lot. In fact, the results from a recent study show you’re 35% more likely to succeed in your weight loss attempts when you consistently get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
Flip that metaphorical coin over, though, and you’ll find not getting enough sleep will trick your hunger hormones in a way that actually increases your weight gain. So if you’re serious about losing fat – and keeping it off – make sure you develop a sleep schedule that you can stick to.
Indulge in Iron
Iron is epic. Like, seriously epic. It’s that essential mineral your body needs to create healthy blood cells, and not getting enough can mess with your thyroid, which is the gland that keeps your metabolism firing on all cylinders. Translation: low iron levels can lead to tiredness, weakness, low energy and, yepp, you guessed it, weight gain.
Luckily, it’s pretty to avoid all this by simply adding more iron-rich foods to your diet. Meats, fish, fortified grains, leafy greens, dried fruits or, if that’s not always doable, you can try adding a daily supplement to your morning routine.