Many of us were brought up to believe the mantra 'a second on your hips, a lifetime on your hips' but this really is just an old wives tale, and, more than that, it has led many of us to have a distorted view of food and the unhealthy attitude that food is the enemy and should be avoided at all costs.
Although drastic calorie restriction and 5am jogs in the rain are horrific (and absolutely NOT what I would advise you do if you want to lose fat), losing fat is really not as hard, or unpleasant, as everyone makes out.
But it does take time, commitment and persistence. Being 'really good' for a day, a week, a month, just isn't enough. That also doesn't mean you have to live like a marathon running vegan who never eats anything but vegetables or does anything but run though!
I always advise my clients to follow a 90/10 rule. 90% of the time eat well and exercise effectively, 10% of the time, do whatever you want.
And this approach works for whatever your goals are; building muscle, toning, or even losing fat.
And this is where today's post comes in. I specialise in helping women to lose fat in a practical, healthy and sustainable ways. No fad diets, no extreme exercise regimes, no weird vinegar, paprika, lemon drink combinations.
Because effective fat loss, and weight maintenance has to be a lifestyle choice. It has to be about creating a new way of eating, exercising, thinking and living. It can't be something you do for a month and then you go back to nightly pizzas, bacon sandwich lunches and skipping brekkie. The fat will return. Fast.
So, below I'm going to share five simple ways, five simple things that you can start doing today, that will help you to burn more fat immediately. But remember, if you want to see real, lasting results, these are changes that you need to make for the long-term, not just for tomorrow, next week, or next month.
Let's get going:
1) High Intensity Interval Training
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is brief bursts of high intensity exercise with either short rest periods, or, for the greatest results, brief bursts of cardio with bursts of resistance, or body weight exercises, rather than rest, in between.
An excellent format of HIIT is tabata. An example tabata set that I like to do with my clients involves exercise intervals of 20 seconds or even 40 seconds and rest or active rest intervals of half that time (so 10 seconds or 20 seconds). The same exercise, or two exercises, would be repeated eight times, so the set would last four minutes or eight minutes depending upon the interval length (four minutes if the exercise blast is 20 seconds long and eight minutes if the exercise interval is 40 seconds long). You would then move onto another exercise (or two) and continue for the full 40 minute - one hour training session.
Hard work. Fun. Possible to do anywhere. And highly highly effective.
2) Eat More Protein, More Fat and Fewer Carbs
I'm a massive fan of protein. It's crucial for the healthy functioning, maintenance and repair of all the cells in the body. What's more it's also a vital ingredient (pun intended!) for fat loss.
And that's because protein helps the body to build and maintain muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the more energy the body consumes, meaning the higher the metabolism (i.e the more calories the body burns at all times). It's also harder for the body to digest protein, so takes more calories and, it takes longer for protein to leave the stomach making you feel full for longer and less likely to overeat.
We have a plethora of studies to back this up. A great example is a study that gave one group of participants a high protein diet, where they consumed 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. The other group ate in accordance with the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). Both groups consumed the same number of calories per day. Unsurprisingly the high protein group had burned the most fat by the end of the trial.
There are lots of ways to add more protein to your diet. Eggs, lean meat, fish, lentils, nuts and seeds as well as specifically designed protein products (click here for some excellent options).
Many of us are still scared of fat, despite all the scientific studies and research which proves certain types are very healthy. 'Good' fats are an absolutely essential part of a optimal diet, helping to not only maintain brain health, heart health and normally functioning hormones but also helping you to build muscle, and lose fat.
Focus on increasing your intake of polyunsaturated fats like Omega 3's. These fats can be found in oily fish and nuts. The other fats you should be sure to include in your diet are of the monounsaturated variety, like olive oil, whole milk products, nuts and avocados.
Reducing your carb intake is also an important factor in fat loss. I'm not a believer in removing all carbs from the diet however eliminating simple carbohydrates and reducing even the quantity of complex carbohydrate that you eat (and replacing with more protein and fat) will definitely help.
Be sure to get the majority of your carbohydrates from sources such as sweet potatoes and vegetables. Also try and eat the majority of your daily carbohydrates before you workout, to help fuel your muscles, and in the morning and early afternoon.
3) Reduce your Calories Gradually
When wanting to lose fat people often, literally overnight, completely change their diets and half their calorie count. They go from 3000 kcals per day to 1400 kcals, for example, without thinking about the reality of how the body is going to react.
By drastically reducing your calorie level you shock the body into thinking something is wrong, that something is happening and that signals to the body to reduce the metabolism (the rate at which the body uses energy and burns calories), which, in turn, makes burning fat even more difficult.
So, if you want to burn fat, gradually decrease the calories that you consume and be sure to consume the right amount of calories for your goals. In order to lose fat, and not just water or muscle mass, you need to be consuming 500 kcals less per day than your resting metabolism (RMR).
This will amount to a 3500 kcal deficit per week, which results in a one- two lb fat loss. Cutting any more than 500 kcals from your body's needs may result in water and muscle loss, where your body literally starts eating away at it's own muscle stores. Not good.
Then, each week, reduce you calories a little more, to reflect your new weight and RMR.
4) Train with Weights
I am a passionate, passionate believer in the power and effect of weight training. This type of exercise is excellent for a huge number of reasons from helping to prevent osteoporosis, to helping raise our resting metabolism by increasing our body's muscle mass.
Weight training should be an integral part of any fat loss programme. The weight training exercises themselves will burn calories, what's more, studies show that this type of training helps the body to burn more calories at rest for up to 39 hours after you finish the workout.
5) Eat Six Small Rather Than Three Huge Meals
I'm a snacker. I believe in feeding my body whenever it asks me to. But I also believe in feeding my body with the right kinds of food: Food that supports my health and my training.
There are a number of reasons for changing your habits and your mindset around snacking, and breaking your three main meals into six smaller meals throughout the day.
Firstly but eating six smaller meals you are preventing yourself from getting to that 'absolutely starving' state where you stuff anything and everything as quickly as you possibly can into your mouth. This feeling of 'starvation' leads to unwise food choices as well as over-eating.
Secondly snacking helps to 'feed your metabolism' helping the body to know that food is plentiful and that it can burn the food you eat off as energy, rather than having to store it as fat. When your body goes too long between meals, it can cause the food you eat to be stored as fat and your muscles to be burned off and used as energy. Neither of which are good for fat loss!
Snacking isn't bad. If you snack correctly it's actually an excellent fat burning tool. Just be sure to snack on protein and healthy foods and to adjust the portion size of your main meals to reflect the snacks.
You can lose that extra fat you are carrying. It will be hard. It will take time. It will take courage, persistence and motivation. But you can do it. Follow these five simple steps, integrate them into your life, make them habits and you will automate fat burning and create that body you've always wanted.