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.