If you’re consistently hitting the weight rack and scheduling cardio kickboxing classes at your local gym, you’re already on your way to losing your gut. But stepping into your workout space isn’t the only way to ensure you’re getting the most out of that sweat sesh. If you’ve been sticking to your exercise regimen and not seeing the waist-trimming results you’d hoped for, don’t sweat it; we’ve got some science-backed ways to improve your fat-burning capacity and make every sweat droplet count.
Below, you’ll find expert tips on how to increase your performance and rev fat loss pre- and post-workout. Check out our helpful hacks below and then don’t miss The 29 Best-Ever Proteins for Weight Loss for when you’re looking to refuel.
Guzzle a Whey-Based Protein Shake
Make sure to follow up leg day with a muscle-replenishing protein shake. According to a study published in the journal Sports Medicine, supplementing resistance training with whey protein helps your body build lean muscle. And the more metabolism-boosting muscle mass you pack on, the more fat you’ll burn, even at rest. What’s more, the study showed that the whey and resistance workout combo also improved upper and lower body strength. Want to kick up the fat-loss a notch? Researchers noticed that these glorious benefits were enhanced when whey is combined with creatine.
Try a Fasted Workout
If you’re looking to get lean, working out before you sit down to sunny-side-up eggs and toast may be your best bet. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that doing cardio on an empty stomach results in significantly higher fat oxidation, or fat loss, than exercise performed after you’ve eaten. Try hitting the elliptical or Stairmaster before breakfast, and make sure to bring a small snack with you to the gym to keep your blood sugar in check. To follow up your workout, check out these 16 Post-Workout Snacks Fitness Experts Swear By.
Brew a Cup
“Research has shown that [drinking caffeine] before exercise can enhance athletic performance,” Jim White, RD, ACSM, dietitian, personal trainer, and owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios tells us in What to Drink Before a Workout for Optimal Fat Loss. Plus, a study published in the journal Sports Medicine reveals that the natural energy source can help you train stronger for longer in workouts ranging from 60 seconds to even two hours. Just remember to skip the added sugar and creamer in your coffee to avoid packing pounds onto your frame.
Nosh on Almonds
You likely keep almonds stocked in your pantry because they’re brimming with healthy fats that keep you slim and satiated. So what if we told you that swapping your sugary pre-workout snack with your favorite nut can help skyrocket your workout’s effectiveness? According to a study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, popping about 2.6 ounces of whole almonds increased cyclists’ endurance performance and improved oxygen utilization more than cookies did. Researchers suspect that almonds’ nutrients arginine and quercetin may contribute to these fat-burning effects.
High-intensity interval training (or HIIT) boosts your metabolism, burns calories, and builds muscle: a triple threat belly fat cannot reckon with. “High-intensity interval training is when you perform an exercise at or close to your maximum ability for a short period of time and then take a brief respite and do it again. HIIT should usually be done on a 2:1 interval, meaning if you did an exercise for one minute, you rest for 30 seconds and then repeat,” explains Dr. Alex Tauberg, DC, CSCS, EMR. “This can be a great way to flatten that stomach when you don’t have too much time to work out.”
In fact, a study in BMC Endocrine Disorders found that just 12 15-minute HIIT sessions improved the insulin sensitivity of overweight participants by 23 percent. What does this meal for fat loss? Making sure your insulin sensitivity is in check can increase your ability to break down fat and can lower your risk of diabetes, cancer, and metabolism-affecting thyroid issues.