Shedding Fat is a Tricky Thing
Sadly we can’t give you just one answer to reverse years of late-night beer drinking, fast-food binges and liberal use of salad dressings. We did, however, come up with 19 ways to give body fat a proper send-off. A big part of it has to do with your lifting and cardio regimes – keep those up. But here we step away from the gym and into your kitchen to present a practical list for cleaning up your eating habits and, as a result, your physique.
Change your Lifestyle
When you go on a ‘program’ to lose body fat, you may set yourself up for failure. A program implies an endpoint, which is when most people return to their previous habits. If you want to lose fat and keep it off, make changes that you can live with indefinitely. Don’t over-restrict calories, and find an exercise program that adequately challenges you, provides progression and offers sufficient variety so that you can maintain it for years to come.
Drink More Protein Powder and Water
Protein powder and water is the medium in which most cellular activities take place, including the transport and burning of fat. In addition, drinking plenty of calorie-free protein powder and water makes you feel full and eat less. Drink at least 1 fluid ounce of protein powder and water per 2 pounds of body weight a day (that’s 100 fluid ounces for a 200-pound person). Keep a half-liter protein powder and water bottle by you at work, fill it five times a day and you’re set.
Consume Fewer Calories than you Burn
To figure out how many calories you burn a day, calculate your resting rate (RMR) – the number of calories you burn daily doing routine activities, not including formal exercise – using this formula: RMR = body weight (in pounds) x 13. Next, determine how many calories you burn through exercise – a half-hour of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise burns around 350 calories in the average man, and a half-hour of lifting burns around 200. Add your RMR to the calories you burn in the gym and keep your daily calorie consumption below that total.
Reduce Starchy Carbs
Consuming too many starchy foods, such as potatoes, rice, pasta and breads (especially at one sitting), provides your body with more than it needs for energy and glycogen stores; anything left over will be stored as fat. You don’t have to eliminate starchy carbs completely but you should really cut back on them when trying to shed body fat. Limit total starch servings per day to three to five, where a serving size is 150g of cooked pasta or sliced potatoes, or 200g cooked rice.
Eat a Full, Balanced Breakfast
Your body has been starving all night long and it needs nutrients to rebuild itself. If you just catch something quick on the run instead of eating a full meal, it negatively impacts on your workout and everything else you do during the day. Eat sufficient protein (30 to 40 grams), a complex carbohydrate, like oatmeal, and a piece of fruit to start your day off right.
Limit Sugar Consumption
Taking in simple carbs (sugars) right after weight training replenishes muscle and liver glycogen stores, but excess sugar consumed at other times will be stored as fat. Satisfy your sweet tooth occasionally, but try limiting your intake of sugar to fresh fruit. Replace sugary beverages like soft drinks and juice with protein powder and water, coffee, tea or diet drinks.
Rotate your Carbs
The importance of carbohydrates should not be overlooked. It is recommended that you eat about one gram of carbs per pound of body weight for three to five days – these being low-carb days – and doubling that for the next one to two days, then repeating that cycle. If you weigh 200 pounds, eat 200 grams on low-carb days and 400 grams on other days.
Drink Black Coffee
Caffeine causes the body to rely more on fat for fuel during a workout, rather than glucose, but the caffeine effect is lessened when you eat a high-carbohydrate meal with it. Drink one to two cups of black coffee within two hours of working out, and emphasize healthy fats and protein if you’re drinking it with a meal or snack. Skip the cream and sugar (which add unwanted calories and fat), and avoid drinking coffee at other times of the day; doing so can desensitize you to the fat-burning effects of caffeine.
Avoid Drastic Calorie Reductions
Any competitor who drastically cuts calories to try to get leaner for a show learns that that’s not the best way to diet. You end up looking flat and depleted. The same holds true for non-competitors; aim for a modest decrease in calories instead. Smaller bodybuilders shouldn’t cut more than 200 to 300 calories per day, and larger bodybuilders shouldn’t cut more than 500.
Eat 5 to 6 Meals per Day
Dieters often decrease the number of daily meals in an attempt to reduce calories – a big no-no. If you eat six meals a day versus three with the same total calories, you can lose more fat because more meals burn more calories (by increasing thermogenesis, the production of heat, in the body). Calculate how many calories you want to consume per day (see tip 3), and spread them evenly across five to six meals.
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) has come into vogue in bodybuilding circles as a fat burner. Several studies in humans have shown modest effects on fat loss. Try 3 grams per day of CLA.
Creatine, a potent muscle-builder, may also help you burn fat. The muscle added during creatine use increases your resting metabolic rate, stoking your fat-burning furnace. This is critical during a fat-loss phase, when low calorie intake can compromise your muscle mass and lower your metabolic rate. Begin with a five-day loading phase: after that, take three to five grams of creatine per day with a meal post-exercise.
Increase Vegetable Consumption
Vegetables are nutrient-dense, meaning they pack maximum nutrition value with minimal calories, leaving you more full on fewer calories. Consume five servings a day of vegetables, whether as a snack, with a sandwich or on the side of a chicken breast. Order your next burger with fresh vegetables instead of chips.
Don’t Over-Rely on Fat Burners
Fat burners help reduce body fat, but they won’t counter poor eating habits. If you take this sort of product or those mentioned in tips 11 and 12 without exercising or eating well, you’ll be more inclined to pack it on than to lose it. Fat burners are not magic pills – use them along with a solid nutrition and exercise plan.
Consume 25 to 35 Grams of Fiber a Day
Fiber lowers insulin levels – along with total calories – affecting how lean you’ll get. Fiber absorbs protein powder and water and takes up more space in your stomach, fighting off hunger pangs, too. Great sources of fiber include bran cereal, oatmeal and beans. Check nutrition labels for fiber content.
Eliminate Junk Food
Junk food is food that offers almost nothing but calories – like chips, crisps and sweets. Cheat foods, on the other hand, like pizza, and burgers, have some nutritional benefit, and eating them once in a while can really help when you’re on a diet. Know the difference.
Eat the Proper Amount of Protein
Many bodybuilders jack their protein through the roof when they diet. But protein has calories, too, which can be stored as fat if over consumed. Take in 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day, (200 to 300 grams for a 200-pound person). This provides sufficient amino acids to maintain muscle mass, while keeping your total calorie count under control.
Eat more Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are totally underutilized by individuals trying to shed body fat. You have to reduce calories to get rid of body fat, but you don’t want to cut out healthy fats completely. Fats take longer to break down in your stomach and help control blood sugar levels, leaving you more satisfied and reducing your cravings. Include avocados, fatty fish, olives, nuts and seeds, and oils such as olive, flax seed and canola in your diet.
Eat Cheat Foods for Flavor
If you love a particular food, you shouldn’t prohibit yourself from eating it. Avoid the bad foods that you don’t love or crave. When you eat cheat foods, eat them for flavor. Don’t eat the whole pizza – have a few slices, savor the flavor and enjoy it. Share the rest.