Most people talk about losing weight when really what you want to lose is body fat. You want that belly to disappear inwards, the thighs to stop wobbling or the bum to firm up. These are all good goals but there are some very important things to know and do if you really want to achieve it.
Understand Body Fat
Body fat is actually a needed tissue it our bodies and a certain percentage is absolutely vital for the overall health of your body and its organs. Fat is also needed to help your body cushion itself and for insulation.
When you start to get too much body fat it is not just your looks that can be affected but also your health, as excess body fat can be associated with diabetes, heart disease and other health problems and it is particularly the fat around your abdomen that can have these affects.
The ideal amount of body fat varies from person to person due to lifestyle, body shape and so on. But a guideline is that women should range between 25-28% and men 12-15%.
So understanding more about body fat can ensure you have the correct goals for a fit and healthy body!
Now if you want to get rid of some of that fat you are going to have to understand and make some changes in the amount of calories that you consume. A calorie is basically the energy value of food. Your normal body functions such as digestion, breathing etc. use up calories, as do any form of physical activity such as walking, running and so on. This is why the number of calories different people need to eat vary so widely.
If you have a sedentary lifestyle but are eating a large amount of calories, the body does not have anything to do with a lot of them and they will become fat stores for later. If you are more active, metabolism is higher and more of these calories will be used up meaning much less fat stores…you see?
So the first thing you need to do is try and work out how many calories are you averagely taking in? You can do this by doing a journal of what you eat for a few days, or if you know that’s just not going to happen there are some apps or online calculators that can help you work it out.
Once you know your intake you can look at what changes can be made to lesson it. Whether it is lessening your portion size or cutting back on fizzy drinks, with calories every little helps.
Understand Fat, Carbs and Do the Right Sort of Diet
When people want to get rid of fat they often mistakenly assume that a low fat diet is the way to go. Now it is true that fat has a higher calorie value than protein or carbohydrate but there is good reason to not go on a low-fat diet. The fat in your meals is the main thing that makes you feel full. If you cut out too much fat, you end up feeling hungry all the time and you won’t stick to it. With a healthy balanced diet there isn’t really anything more important than actually being able to stay with it for the long haul.
Now carbohydrates on the other hand you really should cut back on. You certainly need some carbohydrates as they are what give your body energy for thinking, walking, talking, exercising and everything else! So don’t cut it out entirely or go on an extreme low-carb diet.
There is one vital piece of information you need to know in relation to carbs and losing body fat: When your body needs energy it first starts burning the carbs that you eat, if that is not enough it turns to a carbohydrate storage called glycogen and only if there is not enough of that will it turn to the fat stores for energy and start burning them.
To lose that body fat you need the body to start burning it up, so the less carbohydrates in your body to burn, the faster it will get to burning those fat stores.
Give up Sugary Drinks
Sugary drinks are one of the worst things out there for losing body fat. This is because they do not fill you up or ease your hunger but give you a huge amount of carbohydrates that the body will then use instead of burning your fat. On top of that the vast quantities of sugar contained in them are not good for your blood sugar levels and extremely unhealthy.
So if you are craving a sugary treat stay away from those drinks and try a piece of fruit or piece of chocolate – much better for you!
Know What You’re Eating
When trying to lose body fat and do the right diet in terms, of fat, sugars and carbohydrates it is very important you take a moment to read the label on things you are eating. You may not think something has a lot of sugar in but check it out. What is its calorific value, how many carbs does it contain and so on. You don’t need to go extreme but if you want change your diet this is a key way of doing it. You may be surprised at what you see!
One tip: The point on the label that says carbohydrates is not actually the total amount your body will take in and use. This is because the fibre goes through your body and is not burned up. So minus the fibre figure from the carbohydrate figure and that is the important carbohydrate figure to know.
Get Enough Sleep
There are two vital reasons sleep is important for losing body fat and these are on top of the fact that sleep is an inherently indispensable part of your day which your body uses for various crucial activities and that of course you need a good night’s sleep to feel well and happy during the day.
These are: at night with a good sleep your body regulates your hormones, these hormones in balance are key for a well-regulated metabolism, something that is necessary for effective weight loss. The second point is that when you are tired it has been shown that you will start to crave high-calorie foods for some instant energy.
So get yourself a good night’s sleep, wake up feeling rested and you will be all set for the day of burning body fat!
Drink Enough Water
Drinking water is an important factor for a healthy body in all cases but it will also help you with losing weight because drinking sufficient water will make you feel fuller and you may find yourself not needing as large portion sizes, or as many snacks. Secondly the water is needed to keep your metabolism going efficiently. So enough water will ensure your body is able to burn that fat effectively.
Get High Intensity Cardio Workouts
Now once you are eating well the next very important thing is exercise. Any exercise is better than no exercise in terms of health and weight loss but there is a reason that high-intensity workouts are the most effective for burning fat.
As explained above, first carbs are burned, then glycogen and then the fat stores. With high intensity cardio, because it is so demanding the body works through the first two parts fast and quickly starts burning the fat. There is an added bonus that once the high-intensity work-out is complete the body continues to burn the fat stores for a period afterwards too!
2.5 hours a week (150 minutes) is the most recommended amount for this sort of exercise. Spilt it up whichever way works for you, whether it is five, 30 minute sessions; or ten, 15 minute sessions; just try and put in the time and you will see the results.
Build your Muscles
Muscles are an interesting sort of tissue, because they use a lot of effort they are very metabolically ‘alive’ and they use a huge amount of calories. Simply the more muscles you have the more calories get burned up by doing the same activity. If you take a 30 minute run normally but now add one more pound of muscle that same run will actually burn a higher quantity of calories – pretty great right!
It is also excellent because there is nothing better than losing body fat and replacing it with nice toned muscle. You will be looking better, feeling better and burning more calories while you do it.
Measure weight loss correctly
When trying to lose body fat, weighing yourself on a scales does not really give you enough information, did you lose fat, gain muscle, gain fat? You see the problem? It is a good base and you should weigh yourself occasionally but you should combine this with measuring yourself. If you measure your waist circumference with a tape you can see much more effectively if that fat is diminishing and being replaced by muscle. If you have goals to lose fat on your bum or thighs you can do the same there.
Don’t get stuck thinking about a goal of a figure on the scales but rather replace that with an image of how you want to look and feel. The mirror, scales and tape will help you keep an eye on it!
Give it a Go!
Good luck with losing that body fat. There is lots to think about but with these guidelines you should be ready to go!