It's why you dragged yourself to the gym in frigid winter weather. It's why you swapped those sugary juice drinks for water, even though it took some getting used to. Now the summer season is right around the corner, you're not quite feeling beach ready and the pressure is mounting.
Cheer up. We asked some of the best and brightest trainers and experts about the best ways to jumpstart fat loss. You'll work hard, but you'll look—and feel—your best when you see the results.
Hitting the weights isn't the only thing you have to do to lose fat faster. You need a solid balance of weight training, cardio and diet. “You need cardiovascular work to burn excess body fat,” says Mike Duffy, CPT and owner of MikeDuffysPT.com. “The body will burn primarily carbohydrates during the first twenty minutes of cardiovascular exercise. Right about minute twenty, the body shifts over and starts to burn stored body fat as the primary source of energy. You need a combination of both weight training and cardio to get fat off your body. Cardio alone will only train one type of muscle fiber and you’ll only be building one part of your fat-burning furnace. I see many people doing tons of cardio every day and not lifting weights. They never change the way they look,” Duffy says.
Lee Boyce, Owner of Lee Boyce Training Systems, agrees that sprinting can be a huge benefit to fat loss. “Sprinting,” Boyce said, “uses fast twitch muscles, which take more energy to utilize, and it also puts you in oxygen debt, so your body will have to play ‘catch up’ after the workout is done. This also increases the rate of metabolism to tap into more fat loss during and after the workout.” So ramp up your cardio with short bouts of sprints to see the fat really fall off.
Pick Up a Sport
Picking up a sport is a great way to burn extra calories, trim away the fat and still manage to have of a lot of fun doing it. Boyce is a huge proponent of sports in training as well: “Playing a sport involves cardio and lots of non-linear movement (jumping, back pedaling, side stepping) making it healthier than straight jogging,” he said. “Plus it keeps you having fun without getting bored.”
Reduce Stress with Yoga
Let go of the beach body stress breathing down the back of your neck. It might just be the key to slipping into your swimsuit and feeling great. Stress has been known to increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which promotes the storage of belly fat. So pair your gym treadmill training with some time of the yoga mat to ditch the stress in the name of a slimmer stomach. And, besides, who among us couldn’t use a little less stress and a little more relaxation, right?
Take Photos & Track Progress
Taking photos before, after and during a weight loss journey is a great way to stay motivated throughout the entire sweat-inducing ordeal. A lot of us, when we start a new diet or workout plan, don’t see dramatic changes in the bathroom scale, at least at first. But what would see—if we could freeze time—is the dramatic changes in the shape of our bodies. Pictures not only establish a baseline by which you can measure your progress without stepping on the scale (which can be tricky when you're talking about losing fat and building muscle), but also motivation as your skin tightens up, your face thins out and your body gets lean.
Change Up Your Workout Order
Ditch the routine. It will not only keep your time at the gym interesting, but also your calorie-burning furnace humming. Kurt Hester, TD1 National Director of Performance, recently sat down with us to explain why change can be a good thing. “Humans are creatures of habit,” said Hester. “Go into any gym in America and you can watch gym rats performing the exact same workout three times per week. Cardio for 30-60 minutes followed by a circuit trip around the weight room. You want results? Change it up! 30 minutes of high intensity lifting followed by 15 minutes of high intensity intervals will produce more results in two days than your standard 90-minute workout three days a week.”
Plan Meals Ahead of Time
We get it! Some nights, it's just impossible to cook something entirely homemade and healthy. That's where preparation comes in. If you have pre-made ingredients or healthy frozen items stocked for just such an occasion, you don't have to worry about resorting to instant (unhealthy) gratification from your pantry or fridge. (You threw out all the junk, anyway, right?)
Eat More Fish to Lower Your Leptin
Most people seem to understand that fish (and fish oil) is good for them, but do any of them know why? Hint: It's not just the protein. Fish is a power food that will help you lose fat because of its levels of leptin. People who eat fish regularly tend to have lower levels of the hormone leptin in their body. Since higher levels of leptin have often been associated with decreased rate of metabolism, fish has become an essential food for anyone trying to lose fat. So break out the wild salmon and tuna, squirt on some lemon, and enjoy a (mostly) guilt-free meal! When combined with the all-new Zero Belly Diet plan that can help you lose a a pound a day, participants who added more fish into their diets dropped 16 pounds in 14 days.
Walk More, Drive Less
This one is self-explanatory: Walk more and drive less. The more you walk, the more active you are. The more active you are, the more calories you burn, and the more weight you can potentially lose. Instead of driving up the street to grab your morning coffee, take a nice brisk walk up and back. Take a friend and take your dog (he'll love it). If you want to take the family to the park for an hour, slap on your favorite pair of sneakers instead of taking the car. You can walk there or take a bike ride. You'll save a few bucks on gas and your body will thank you for it.
Vary Your Caloric Intake
Here’s the thing about the human body: It’s much smarter than you think. It starts to get used to your dead-on 1500 calorie-a-day intake and your metabolism will start to plateau (so to speak). If you want to “trick” your body into jumpstarting your metabolism again, all you need to do is vary that daily caloric intake to keep it guessing. Try downing 1200 calories one day and 1800 the next. As long as your overall intake balances out, you should be fine and there’s a good chance your increased rate of metabolism should help you burn fat faster.
For more ways to shed those pesky pounds, get acquainted with these tips to help level up your slim-down success.
Eat More Protein
Did you know that you can burn calories without moving at all? In fact, you burn them every day just by staying alive—it’s called your basal metabolic rate (BMR), and it actually accounts for most of the calories you burn through in a day.
Simple changes to what you eat can help your BMR stay at its peak, helping you burn more fat. Your body has to work harder to digest protein than carbs or fat, so you'll burn more calories by skewing your meals protein-heavy. Bonus: Protein is also more satiating, meaning you're less likely to resort to your office stockpile of snacks. Hit your peak by aiming for at least one gram of protein per pound of your body weight every day.
Drink Green Tea
Before a workout, turbocharge the fat-blasting effects by sipping a cup of green tea. In a recent 12-week study, participants who combined a daily habit of 4-5 cups of green tea each day with a 25-minute sweat session lost an average of two more pounds than the non tea-drinking exercisers. You don't have to pair this habit with your workout schedule, though; drinking green tea helped research subjects burn more calories throughout the day and increased fat oxidation in a study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Green tea also improves insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, British researchers concluded, which enhances your body’s ability to store calories as muscle rather than fat.
Take Fish Oil
Fish oil is linked to so many health benefits it seems almost foolish not to take the supplement. Fish oil has been shown to generate more fat loss with the same amount of exercise—in addition to being linked to improved heart health, reduced arthritis and slowed growth of cancer cells.
A French study found that subjects supplementing with six grams of fish oil per day for just three weeks lost an extra two pounds of pure fat. Take it along with a healthy workout routine, and fish oil can also amplify the amount of fat you burn during your sweat session. Combining aerobic exercise with fish oil supplementation led to more fat loss than aerobic exercise alone, Australian researchers discovered.
Try Intermittent Fasting
No, you won't feel starving or hangry by the kind of fasting we're talking about. To see results, try closing your kitchen for 12 to 16 hours each day. You'll not only cut out that fattening late-night snacking habit, but also minimize the damage of some of the less-than-healthy meals you have during the day. In a recent study, a group of mice fed a high-fat, high-calorie diet stayed lean while mice on the same meal plan gained weight. The only difference? The mice that stayed slim could only eat within a designated window of time. By lengthening the time between meals, you can elevate your insulin sensitivity and burn more fat.
Eat Your Biggest Meal After Working Out
After an intense weight workout, your body craves carbs and starches to replenish glucose levels and stop the breakdown of muscle. This is also the time when your insulin sensitivity and metabolism are at their highest. Enjoying your biggest meal when your body is craving energy and cutting back on the rest of your meals throughout the day will minimize any unwanted fat gains.
Hydrate As Soon As You Wake Up
As soon as you wake up, you’re dehydrated. Yes, that quickly! You haven’t had any water since before you fell asleep. Dehydration cripples fat loss because your metabolism slows down to conserve fluids. The good news is, you can kick it back up as soon as you start drinking up again in the a.m. A The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism study found that drinking two cups of water increased metabolism by 30% after 30–40 minutes.
MELT UP TO 10 POUNDS IN ONE WEEK!
Courtesy of Men's Fitness