The first couple of days of reasonably balmy weather, such as we have had, with a hint of a glint from the sun, naturally turns one's thought to the summer. Then there is the stark realisation summer really is fast approaching and with it comes, tops off time!
Then you remember the best time to start shredding some of those excess pounds, was about a month ago! I say shredding, fat loss now understandably being a dirty word as a result of all the negative stuff recently in the press.
So if you're still carrying excess blubber and haven't started doing anything about it, you're already two steps behind where you need to be.
But before you give up on revealing your best ever physique in time for holiday season, know that it's not too late. Sure, you'll have to work harder than the guys and girls who started shredding in March. But with enough dedication and know-how, you'll still be able to turn heads (in a good way) when you hit the beach.
The question is, are you willing to work for it? And are you willing to start TODAY?
If you answered 'no', I advise you stop reading now.
If you're still with me, here are 5 kick starts you can implement to your diet and lifestyle to fast track the dreaded F. L word [fat loss] and create a lean, shredded physique just in time for summer.
Naturally you need to read today's article in conjunction with what I have said before about getting fit and in shape. All my articles are here on the Huffington Post
#1 - Sprint
If you want to get lean, you HAVE to sprint.
The early stages of fat loss are pretty easy, especially if you're sitting at a higher level of body fat. Simply bring the calories in, lift heavy, and the fat will start to melt away.
However as your body fat drops into the 10% range, shifting the excess blubber can be a little more challenging. In order to continue to get leaner from this point, sprints become your best friend.
The science behind sprinting is no secret. The EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) that sprinting generates can spike fat burning for up to 72 hours afterwards. Sprint twice a week, and you'll keep your body in a state of elevated fat burning almost indefinitely.
The reason that most people DON'T sprint is because it's brutally hard work. No one wants to get up early in the cold to do hill sprints. But if you want to get lean fast, you've got to get them done.
It only takes 15 minutes twice per week. You have the time. Now make it count.
#2 - Employ workout finishers
Like sprints, workout finishers are not fun. But the results are worth the pain.
Also like sprints, workout finishers need not last any more than 10 - 15 minutes. These 10 - 15 minutes typically consist of a short series of high intensity exercises at the end of a strength training session, when your body is in an increased metabolic state. By doing so, we take advantage of an elevated capacity for calorie burning, thus torching fat faster than ever.
Visit www.jameshaskell.com to read an ancillary article under Fitness about seven workout finishers you can add to your programme to fast track fat loss.
#3 - Sleep more
Whether you want to build fat or burn muscle, it all starts in between the sheets.
Sleep is the most important factor for managing cortisol, a stress hormone that promotes fat storage. Most of us are already producing way more cortisol than we should be, and a lack of sleep is only going to make things worse.
If your cortisol levels are constantly elevated from inadequate sleep, you can forget about shifting that last bit of pesky body fat.
Aim for a minimum of 8 hours each night for proper rest and recovery. Sleep in a cool room with blackout blinds, and avoid electronics for an hour before bedtime to help you drift off faster.
#4 - Taper in your calories
When trying to shift body fat, most people drop their calories way too quickly. Whilst this may provide an initial spike in fat loss, the results will soon level off as your metabolism slows down to compensate for the lack of energy.
Don't cut your calories in half overnight and expect to get lean. The trick is to get yourself in a controlled calorie deficit, eating just enough to maintain muscle mass whilst burning through your fat stores at the same time.
Once you have worked out your daily maintenance calories, take away 200 to get into a healthy fat loss zone. For most people, especially in the first few weeks of fat loss, this is enough of a deficit to yield results.
If your fat loss is stalling, you can continue to drop the calories by 100 - 200 each week. Don't drop them any faster than this. It will wreck your metabolism, sacrifice your muscle mass, and you'll end up looking softer and more out of shape than ever before.
Remember when dropping calories to keep protein levels consistent. The calories you drop should come from carbohydrates and fat. Try and maintain at least 1.6g protein per kilo of bodyweight every day.
If your energy levels are really flagging, a structured refeed day after 2 - 3 weeks is a great way to get things back on track. A refeed day should consist of a spike in calories, mainly from extra carbs, to help reset your metabolism and replenish muscle glycogen.
#5 - Take a probiotic
Probiotics are essential for all round health, and I'd recommend them to virtually anyone. However, when you're dieting for fat loss, the benefits of probiotics are even further amplified.
When dieting, we consume less food than usual. Less food equals less nutrients, so it's more important than ever that you are absorbing them all efficiently. A healthy gut will help you do just that - lowering your risk of nutrient deficiencies when the calories are low.
Common nutrient deficiencies when cutting calories include B12, which is essential for energy production, and iodine, which helps maintain thyroid health. The last thing you need when dieting is an underactive thyroid, as this will just cause you to store more fat.
What's more, probiotics will help to reduce bloating and abdominal distension, which will make you look even leaner. Those washboard abs are in sight!
Be patient, work hard, and results will come. Employ these five tips to get there even faster!
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