As a fitness and health professional, it is a crucial must to know everything there is to help guide the fat loss process. Because lets face it, everyone wants less fat. Theres the average guy who wants to look ripped or buff, but he’ll need to lean out so he can tolerate the calories needed to build muscle and also to be able to even see his abs. Theres the average women who wants to get back in that dress or bikini and theres also the athlete who needs to get in shape for a meet or to get the starting position. The point I’m trying to make here is that no matter what your true goal is, it can easily revolve around getting lean and burning fat.
The hardest part about accomplishing our fat loss goals for most people is simply finding what works and sticking too it. I know tons of people that do every little thing you could imagine to burn extra fat and have tried just about every diet you could think of, but somehow they are still not at their goal and they’ve been working towards it for quite some time. I also know tons of people who found a plan, figured out how to work it into their life, and stuck with it for a good amount of time and they have killer results from that. Whats the difference here? The second person I described just stuck to the plan. Thats it. Which is the first and most important rule when it comes to my tips and secrets to fat loss.
- Consistency– This is always my first and biggest thing I make clear to a client when they start a program, for many reasons. One of the hardest parts about the journey to fat loss it just that, its a JOURNEY! Journeys aren’t a walk in the park or a short distance, have you ever read or seen The Hobbit?! Thats a journey and its long as hell! But in all seriousness thats a very true statement, fat loss is a long process that changes your life. When changing a life do you think its going to be easy? Didn’t think so. Now before you can be consistent with anything, you need to find a great program to be consistent with. A program is a workout routine and a diet plan, you cannot just have one or the other because they only work great when put together. They biggest key is doing every single thing in that program, no questions asked. If that means eat a certain type of food post workout, only eat at certain times or training at the same time every day, then you do just that all the way through. You should have the same routine every single week for at least 6-12 weeks before deciding it does not work. Sometimes it does take your body a while to get used to the program and start shedding that fat off like you planned, so stick with it and if you plan to switch it up then talk to your coach or trainer first.
Consistency is always the biggest thing when it comes to fat loss, but I also see it as one of the simplest things. Alls there is too it, is sticking to a plan. This also means no guessing on how or what to do, which makes life a bit easier if you ask me. It really comes down to self discipline, you can let your mind take control and talk you into the bad things you don’t/can’t do or you can stay strong and realize you don’t NEED that thing. This next rule goes hand in hand with consistency..
- Self Discipline- This is huge when it comes to fat loss and it should be obvious to realize. Most times I get a new client their already in fear of the “Can’t haves”, I’m going to give them. This is because most trainers are known for being strict right off the bat and telling them they cannot have anything but water, chicken and broccoli all day every day! But thats actually a horrible route to go with a new client, who’s going to stick with that plan/trainer? Not me. Anyway, even though you may not get a crazy list of no’s right at the beginning you will still have many things you can’t do or many things you must stick too. This is where self discipline comes in more than ever and most people do not realize how hard it may be until you take things away. Lets say your on a plan that calls for no sugar, for example. This will mean all drinks pretty much must be water or tea, no dressings on salads, only organic/natural brands, must be picky when going out, protein powders are even limited, and the list goes on. Most people say they can do it and stick with it for about a week, until they must go out to eat with friends and at this point their either embarrassed about being picky or they just give in because their friends give them shit. But one of the most important things about self discipline is owning up to your diet and your choices. If someone gives you shit its as simple as this, “I’m on a diet because I wanna lose weight and feel better. Do you not want that for me?”. If they say anything besides yes and I agree, then you should probably revaluate your friends. Its also good just to get it out there to everyone, if everyone knows what your doing then you will not be embarrassed about any part of being on this program. So when it comes down to the choices you make every day, remember what your doing and why your doing it. Evaluate how hard you’ve been working and how hard your willing to work to get there and I guarantee you will not make the bad choice.
If you know you have trouble with that last rule you might like these, www.selfdiscipline.com. This site has a lot of different products, but my favorite is the bands. Every time I reach for something or look at my hand I see the words SELF DISCIPLINE and which reminds me what I’m striving for.
This next topic is probably the one people over examine in most cases because they think this is all that matters when it comes to losing fat and getting fit; training. Training is a staple in the process without a doubt, but you need everything else that comes along with it to complete the process.
- Training– The funny thing about training is that the most important aspect of getting results through training is my first rule, consistency. If your not consistent with your program then nothing will change, its as simple as that. But lets be honest it does help quite a bit to have a solid training program. The best way to achieve results through training is by hiring a fitness professional to either write you a program for you to perform on your own or to train with them personally. Training by yourself and just winging it when you go to the gym will not cut it. I even tell trainers themselves to have someone else write their programs, rather than themselves. For great results it is ideal for you to be training between 3-6 days a week and you must be consistent with that for a long period of time to reach your goal, remember this is a journey and a process. Now theres still more to training and I will break them down here:
- Strength Training should be about half of the training your performing each week. Whether your a female or male you need to lift weights to really burn fat and build muscle. I understand most women do not want to “Get Big”, but it is proven that only a small percentage of women even have the hormone ratios to build muscle like men do and on top of that you must build muscle to burn fat. Strength/weight training puts stress on the body and muscles causing it to break down and repair; which in turns burns calories, makes you stronger, leaner, and more muscular. This is something that cardio will not do for you, therefore it is extremely important to get weight training in consistently. Weight training also puts a bigger effect of whats called EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) on your body. This just means that you will burn more calories after training than you would with regular cardio or no training. It adds a small amount extra but over a 36 hour period which adds up to be a lot of extra calories burned.
- Conditioning is the next big part of your training that needs to be included and this should also add up to about half of your training sessions each week. Notice that I said “Conditioning” and not “Cardio”, this is because what people usually think of as cardio is not as helpful for fat loss as athletic like conditioning. Most people jog, walk, or use the elliptical when performing cardio. But conditioning such as sprints, stairs, running hills, circuit training, etc. is what gets you shredded and cutting a lot of fat. This is for a couple reasons but mainly because steady state cardio causes muscle atrophy if performed too much and takes a long period of time to actually burn fat. So the fat you could burn in an hour of jogging, you can burn more of in 30 min of circuit training and on top of that you’ll actually build more muscle and burn more calories after training because of the EPOC effect. This is also a great way for active recovery between strength/weight training days.
- Two-A-Days are what I’m going to talk about next. The first thing I must point out about these is that they are not for everyone and they must be done properly and built up correctly to actually get results from without over training. What most people get wrong is that they just think they can workout twice a day and it’ll make them get better results, when really they become over trained. Once they are over trained it can cause immune problems, shut down the Central Nervous System, cause fat gain, muscle loss, depression, etc. The point is that over training leads to things that suck and you just flat out don’t want to get to that point. To perform two-a-days without this you must perform exercises that are not to hard on the CNS and that will not destroy your energy for your afternoon training session, which is more important. Examples of good sessions for a two-a-day would be:
- Hill Sprints 30-40 yards in length, perform 6 sets and add 2 sets per week but never exceed 12-14 sets. At that point you would take a week off to give yourself a break and go back to 6 sets. These are great because the extension of the hip is not drastic, which means the hamstrings and glutes are almost taken out of the equation. Those are big muscles you should be using in your afternoon heavy sessions, so save them for that!
- Tabatas (20/10 intervals, 8 rounds). This is a 4 min workout that you can repeat twice if desired. Best exercises for these would be burpees, jump squats, or push ups.
- Running stairs, sprint up and walk down for about 8-10 sets. Similar to the hill sprints in length and duration.
The next topic is something that is pretty obvious as a must when it comes to fat loss and honestly you will not get far if it isn’t on point, NUTRITION! As much as I would like to do so, I cannot give you meal plans and diet programs through this article. But what I can do is break it down for you to make things a little simpler and help you find the right program for you.
- Nutrition– This is one of the biggest factors of losing fat/weight and its actually one of the big factors of gaining muscle/weight for those hardgainers trying to get big. Most peoples problem is finding a program to stick to, which actually is so much easier then people make it out to be. If you have a trainer or coach, just ask them what they think and they will give you a plan to follow (if their a good trainer). If your on your own with this you’re not out of luck, but you’ll have to do some work to figure out whats best for you. Diet plans are everywhere out there but not all of them are great so pick yours wisely. The best way to know if its a good choice is to check out reviews or actually know somebody who has gone through the diet themselves. There are plans that can give you fast results that put you through 30-60 day cycles, which work great but you must follow everything 100%. There are also plans that are more lifestyle based that you can use for longer periods of time without worrying about the cycle ending. Both great options and I definitely suggest trying a cycle diet because it will kick start you into a great fat loss, but then you must immediately start a lifestyle based diet afterwards so your results don’t suffer.
- Carbs- This is the tricky nutrient that people usually over think and do not know what to do with. The most important things to remember are what kind of carbs your eating and when your eating them. As long as most people can remember the smart thing to do is to have carbs for energy, which is true to an extent. This turned into carbs all day for the average American and usually the carb choice is horrible on top of the fact that they’re eating too many. Think about the average American breakfast for example, usually has toast, oats, fruit, cereal, granola, or some form of starchy carb. This is because you want energy right when you wake up, right?! False! Not the best choice at all. Carbs spike your insulin and put your nervous system into whats called parasympathetic, AKA rest and digest. So what these carbs actually end up doing is slowing you down a bit and make your body think its time to rest and start digesting/absorbing the food you just ate. This is why its important to save carbs for after training and stick with fats and proteins throughout the day. If you workout early morning then you are fine to eat carbs in the day, as long as its after training because then your glycogen system is taking in the carbs properly for your muscles rather than your body storing them as fat. The other big thing with carbs is choosing the right sources of carbs, which is not the simply sugars and starches most people choose. Your main source should come from fruit, potato starch, oats, rice, quinoa, and depending on the person whole grain bread. Now remember this is for typical fat loss, if your the skinny hard gainer the rules completely change but I’ll save that for a separate article. That is a short breakdown of carbs and there is much more to it, which is why I highly suggest checking out my post “The Battle Against Carbs“, which is more in depth.
- Macronutrients- Keeping your macro’s in check is a great way to stay lean or lose fat and can easily pass as a lifestyle diet because you can really do it forever. Alls this means is that you watch your ratio of proteins, fats, and carbs to make sure they are at a certain percentage on a daily basis. This usually requires a calorie limit, which will change a bit depending on the type of training your doing that day or if your training at all that day. It also requires you to record your diet daily, usually best to do with an app that has the nutrient ratio option such as MyFitnessPal. A good ratio to follow would be 40% protein, 25-35% carbs, and 25-35% fats. This means on a strength day your carbs would be closer to 35% while your fat would be closer to 25% and on rest/conditioning days vise versa. This is simply because you need the carbs after breaking down your muscles the way you do while strength training. This is my diet for choice when it comes to long term because its easy, works great, and you get a choice of what you would like to eat as long as its clean and fits in your macro’s.
- Intermittent Fasting- This type of diet is another great one that can be considered a lifestyle diet and theres a lot of choices when it comes to IF. You can do the weekly 24 hour fast, the daily 16 hour fast, or the monthly 48 hour fast. It depends on a lot of different things about yourself when choosing the right fasting programs, for example most women do better with the weekly or monthly fast simply because hormone differences and levels compared to men. Men do great with the 16 hour fast because of the way it regulates testosterone and the growth hormone. It can have many benefits such as helping metabolism, detoxing liver, stimulates growth hormone, boosting testosterone, and even helps boosts energy levels and mental clarity. This is a great diet for men to get lean and build a lot of muscle simultaneously. As for women the weekly or monthly fast is great to help clean the system a bit and help regulate hormones . Just like I said with the carbs, there is a lot more info I could share on this topic so I suggest checking out my post “Intermittent Fasting”.
Now obviously these are not your only choices when it comes to diet plans and as much as I wish I could supply all my readers with a specific plan, I simply cannot. So take these guidelines and use it as a baseline and start researching diet plans and talk to your trainer about what you should be doing. Some people do not even need a strict plan to follow, they can use the rule on carbs and apply it with clean eating and have great results. Some people can take my advice on the fasting and run with that also, but if these don’t work and your hitting a big plateau then you should look into cycle diets to boost you past that plateau first.
I hope this was a big help for many of you looking for the simple answers on fat loss or those of you who just needed some good tips to help your results come along. Remember that fat loss is a journey and a process, but it is a life changing process. It is not easy but it is worth it so never give up on your goals and just know that you will get to your goal in time and hard work. Never forget your goals, always keep them in mind so that you do not slow down but keep moving forward towards them.
“When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place.”