In our previous article we discussed the reasons why your metabolism changes based on 1) how your body absorbs food, 2) how food labels are misleading and 3) the four factors that play a role in calorie expenditure. Today, we’re going to learn how to improve our ability to burn calories and put us in a caloric deficit….yes, the term “deficit” is good in this situation (unlike an “economic deficit”…that’s bad).
Want to lose fat/weight? Follow these 10 steps!
- Eat Your Protein!
The reasons should be obvious by now. Protein helps hold onto lean muscle mass which boosts resting metabolic rate. Even if you are trying to lose weight/fat it is imperative you maintain or increase your protein intake. In addition, protein reduces hunger and has a high thermic effect (meaning, it burns many calories to process it).
Want to know if you’re eating enough? Make sure at least 35% of your daily calories come from a source of lean protein (90% lean or higher). Pork belly is protein, but it’s also a boatload of fat.
- Fruits, Vegetables, Carbs, and Healthy Fats OH MY!
The key to ensuring a healthy body that aids in fat/weight loss is to ensure you’re getting a well rounded diet full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Healthy carbs provide you the energy you need throughout the day and physical activity (i.e. exercise). Fats improve hormone function, strengthen the immune system, and help reduce inflammation.
Stick with 6-8 handfuls of quality carbs (for active men) and 4-6 handfuls for active women. The same number in thumb sized servings for fat (6-8 for active men, 4-6 for active women).
- Hit Plateau? Re-Adjust
At some point your body will plateau and not lose any more fat/weight. I’ll repeat, your metabolism is NOT messed up. You lost weight and in turn your RMR adjusts to burn fewer calories. At this point you need to reduce your calorie intake further but only slightly.
Remove 1-2 handfuls of carbs and/or 1-2 thumbs of fat from your daily diet.
- Like Statistics, This Can Become Complex
What you eat, when you eat, how you eat, why you eat, where you eat are heavy influencers on your diet. A barrage of sociological, psychological, physiological, biological, economical, and lifestyle factors determine how healthy/lean you will be. It’s an avalanche of information to take in and try to control on your way to a healthy and fit version of where you are now.
What should you do? It’s quite simple actually: put yourself in situations that make eating healthy, nutritious food easier for you. If you hang around people who live a healthy lifestyle then it’s much easier to maintain your health and fitness goals.
- Carb Cycling (and Fat Cycling)
This is a MUCH higher level of nutrition programming than most of you need. However, if you feel so inclined, in order to get very low levels of body fat you will go through periods of cycling your carbs and fats based on 1) training cycle 2) training vs. non-training days 3) competition date.
You should only focus on this level of nutrition programming if you are trying to go below 10% in body fat (men) or below 20% in body fat (women).
- Stuff Your Face….Once In a While
Also known as “re-feeding” it’s when you give yourself an influx of carbohydrates every 3-4 days or every 1-2 weeks depending on your training cycle. This boosts insulin response and can help with nutrient absorption and energy expenditure in the days following a re-feed day.
Like “carb cycling” this is a more advanced level of nutrition programming. I would safely say 95% of you DON’T need a re-feed day more than once a month. Again, don’t bother trying this method unless you’re goal is to reach extremely low levels of body fat.
- Move, Move, MOVE!
I’m biased when it comes to the mixture of training programs but do what makes you happy (I’m an 80/20 guy…80% resistance, 20% cardio). Whatever you decide just make sure you ENJOY what you do every time. Something you enjoy daily is far better than a better program that you don’t enjoy.
Don’t forget to focus on recovery: walking, stretching, yoga, etc. This lowers cortisol that aids in fat loss. In other words, active rest!
- More NEAT = Less FAT
Taking the stairs, cleaning the house, and so many other activities can help with fat/weight loss. The more you move the more you burn. Make little, extra movements part of your day, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It all adds up.
- Develop a Solid Nightly Sleep Routine and Manage Your Stress
I cannot say this enough…GET YOUR SLEEP! It is arguably one of the most powerful hormone regulating activities one can do to improve mood, brain function, immune function, metabolic function, and hormone function. Think of it this way, you could go days, weeks even, without food. You will not be in the best of moods but you’re designed to last a long time and function without food (water is another story). However, try going more than a day without sleep. You will go nuts! If that isn’t enough to understand how important sleep is for your health then no magic pill, formula, diet, or training routine can help you.
Instead of asking your trainer for a good pre-workout supplement, instead ask yourself if you got a good nights rest. If the answers “no” then the trainers response will be “No, you don’t need a pre-workout. You need a good nights rest.”
- Don’t Beat Yourself Up When You Mess Up
You’re going to screw up; forgive yourself, move on. If you’ve done what you can on the majority of points listed above then you will be able to bounce back from a “not so ideal” meal. Dwelling on it will only make things worse and you’ll develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
STAY FIT MY FRIENDS!