There are many times of the year where you hear people wanting to focus on fat loss. Of course, there always the New Years’ Resolutions in January but another really popular time is spring because people want to shred a few pounds to get ready for summer.
When it comes to fat loss, I like to prioritize a few simple things. I think it can be extremely overwhelming to try to follow a bazillion rules for fat loss. When things are overwhelming, you’re more likely to get frustrated and eventually quit.
That being said, I like to prioritize Nutrition, Strength Training, sleep, and lastly, cardio.
When it comes to fat loss, you obviously need to be in a calorie deficit. Now in the past, I was a strict macronutrient tracker. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s similar to counting calories but instead you track your carbohydrate, protein, and fat intake. Some people really enjoy tracking, and if that’s the case, I highly recommend tracking. I have had tons of success with this. However, some people hate the thought of tracking their food forever, and I totally understand that.
That being said, when it comes to fat loss and nutrition, you need to focus on the right things if you prefer not to track. Focus on adequate lean protein with each meal, lots of fibrous veggies, and also healthy fats to keep you full and satiated. You should also add in some carbs, particularly around your workout. Also, ensure that you are drinking lots of water.
But mostly importantly, listen to your body. Eat when you are genuinely hungry and stop when you are satisfied. You don’t need to eat until you feel stuffed. Not here’s the thing, when you are seeking fat loss, you will be hungry sometimes. That’s ok. Learn to be comfortable with being hungry sometimes. It’s part of the fat loss process.
2) Strength training
Strength training is great for fat loss. Sometimes people tend to want to do tons of cardio when they want to lose weight but strength training is far more effective. The reason being is that when you strength train, you are building muscle and also burning fat. Over time, you will develop more muscle and carry less body fat. You end up with a great, shapely physique when you reduce your body fat.
Additionally, the more lean muscle you have, the easier it is to maintain your weight. When you do hours upon hours of cardio each week, you have to keep doing that for as long as you want to maintain your physique. However, when you develop more lean muscle, you can maintain your weight with just 3 to 4 short workouts a week. If you strength train with high intensity circuits incorporating shorter breaks, you can maintain your weight with just a few 30-45 minutes sessions a week. Strength training beats cardio every time.
Believe it or not, adequate sleep is so important for fat loss. I learned this the hard way. A few years back, I was trying to lose a few pounds and I couldn’t get my fat to budge. I was training hard, hitting my daily macros, and adding in some cardio, and literally nothing was happening. I had no idea what was going on. I stumbled across this article that talked about how lack of sleep and stress could halt fat loss. At the time, I was only sleeping about 4 hours a night and I was also super stressed.
Well it turns out, lack of sleep and stress can wreak havoc on your cortisol levels and without getting too sciency (yes, I made that word up), it spells disaster for your fat loss efforts. That being said, prioritizing sleep and managing stress are equally if not more important that your nutrition and training efforts. Once I started getting more sleep and making efforts to manage my stress, I was able to start successfully reducing my body fat.
I put cardio last for a reason. While cardio does have it place when it comes to fat loss, it’s the least important. Don’t get me wrong cardio is definitely important but you don’t want to do it in excess. Doing excessive cardio can be extremely counter-productive. You want to hold on to the lean muscle you have so doing hours of cardio is not the best idea.
When it comes to fat loss, I recommend HIIT (high intensity interval training) for fat loss. Two to three 15 minutes sessions per week, is more than sufficient to help aid in your fat loss. My personal favorite is sprinting. Sprinting is arguably one of the most effective cardio methods to burn the most amount of fat in the least amount of time. However, there are lots of other options available is sprinting is not your thing.
Fat loss doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be torturous. Sure if will require some changes and a definitely a lot of mindfulness, but it doesn’t need to be unbearable. Remember also that slow and steady wins the race when it comes to fat loss. Losing 1-2 pounds (depending on how much weight you want to lose) should be the most you aim for each week. If you are already on the leaner side, you may even want to aim for .5 pounds per week. It’s not a race. Take it slow, follow these simple principles, and don’t stress about it!
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