1) Be in a Calorie Deficit.
You need to be in a calorie deficit to tighten up that bod. This would require you to work out what your maintenance calories are – that’s working out your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) which includes how active you are. The more active you are, the more calories you’ll need to maintain weight. Once you have figured this out, simply minus approximately 500 calories and that will be your starting daily calorie intake. Be sure to make the appropriate changes if your activity levels change.
2) Lift Weights.
Lifting weights is an extremely beneficial tool when looking to drop body fat. Not only does it create body shape by building muscle, it has positive metabolism-boosting effects. The famous “EPOC” or “oxygen debt” means an elevated metabolism and increased fat-burning effects. It will improve the efficiency of your metabolism over time and you will notice the benefits in how your body processes certain foods and with more muscle mass (and larger glycogen stores), you’ll be able to eat more without storing fat. High intensity exercise such as sprinting is another form of exercise which causes the after burn effect so could also be particularly helpful in the quest to burn fat.
3) Personalise It.
Essentially as mentioned above, being a calorie deficit is key and the reason why we lose fat. However, there are a million and one ways to do this and this is where plans must be catered to the individual. For example, I know what works for me – I’m better eating small but frequent meals through the day. I don’t like the idea of only having 3 meals because I’m a grazer by nature. I wake up hungry so I need breakfast. I keep protein high to support my training and I find it satiating BUT that might not be doable or desirable for somebody else. Somebody else might prefer to eat only twice a day but enjoy larger meals, they may have a job or a lifestyle which means they can only eat certain things at certain times. They may not feel hungry until midday. Your diet should be adapted to allow long term success and as long as you’re in a calorie deficit, you will still lose weight.
4) Protein Matters.
Once calorie count for fat loss has been calculated, the first step in my opinion should be protein quota. Again, this would need to be calculated for the individual but I think, for the multitude of benefits that protein has (growth, repair, metabolism, hormonal effects, satiety etc), 1.5g-2.0g per kg of bodyweight is a good generalised starting point. If the person is a competitive bodybuilder (where the aim is to build as much muscle as possible) or an elite athlete (that trains very intensively), they’ll need more. Once this has been factored in, the remaining calories can be split however is preferred as both fats and carbs can be used effectively as energy sources. Perhaps you could begin by splitting them 50/50 and then see how you change, trialling different methods as appropriate.
5) Health & Hydration.
Ensure you include a wide range of nutrients in your diet. Making sure you are topped up will make you feel better, improve energy levels and could even help with cravings. Lots of empty, highly processed foods which are devoid of nutritional goodness will leave you feeling lethargic and craving more of them. Figure out which foods keep you feeling fuller for longer AND are nutritionally-dense then pick these foods to make up the majority of your meals.
Hydration is very important, not only for health reasons and the fact that bodily processes require water (yes, that includes fat-burning!) but also because sometimes it’s satiating. Sometimes we feel we are hungry or craving when really all we need is water. Another good trick to use if you struggle with over-eating is drinking a large glass of water BEFORE you eat your meal. You’re much more likely to feel full by the end and it helps to really decipher how much is hunger and how much is thirst.
6) Be accountable.
Use a food tracker, set clear goals, hire a coach, announce it on social media. Do whatever you have to do to stay accountable. Introducing new lifestyle habits and continuing to repeat them can essentially ‘re-programme’ your behaviour. So this is precisely what you need to do. It may feel like hard work at first but as you see (and feel) the changes, you will WANT to carry on. Once this way of life becomes the norm, the difficulties of adherence and accountability lessen.
I hope these tips help you to really think about your own body and your own eating and exercise habits. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, change your body composition or simply improve your health, you should consider these points and make the appropriate adjustments to suit you and your lifestyle.
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