Body fat is a bit of a dirty word – well – 2 words really. What do you think when you step on the scales; What does that number mean to you? It can make your day – or break it.
If losing body fat is something you desire, you’re in the right place. In this article, we will teach you how to lose body fat with 5 simple fat loss tips, so you can say goodbye to that stubborn fat for good.
1. Understand body fat & healthy, essential fat
If you are looking for a clearer picture of what your weight really means in relation to your health, you need to look at something other than body fat.
Unfortunately, scales don’t tell you the whole story about how healthy (or unhealthy) you may be. You need to know exactly what percentage of your body is fat. You should also learn about your body composition, which refers to the proportion of fat tissue you have, relative to lean tissue (muscles, organs, etc.).
Before you go running for the hills at the thought of being told exactly how much fat you have, remember everyone will have some fat. Body fat is essential. We all require a minimal amount of fat to keep our central nervous system and organs (including our brains) functioning properly.
As a general rule – A healthy body fat percentage for a male is 10-15% and for a female is 18-25%.
|Classification||Women (% Fat)||Men (% Fat)|
Older men and women have on average 5-10% more fat than younger people.
The following table gives the classification of a healthy body fat range for a person’s age.
If you are truly committed to losing body fat, you first must learn your body composition. This will allow you to better understand what percentage of your body is healthy fat and what percent is unwanted, excess fat.
Dexa scans are the best way to quickly and accurately learn your body composition. In under 20 minutes you can be scanned, analysed and on your way to losing body fat. Metabolic Measures offer fast, affordable Dexa scans, so you can get the information you need to lose body fat.
2. Work out right
Resistance training is one of the best workouts for fat loss and muscle retention. ‘Resistance Training’ is another name for exercising your muscles using an opposing force, i.e. dumbbells or resistance bands. Resistance training, toning, and weight training are one in the same; they require the use of resistance to increase muscle size and strength. The most well known equipment used for resistance training is ‘weights’, more specifically dumbbells or barbells.
During resistance training, exercise muscle fibres are broken down and in the days following the work-out, the fibres repair and grow stronger to meet the demands that have been placed on them. Therefore, rest days are super important – and who doesn’t love rest days!
Get started on your workout program with 1-2 sessions per week, and gradually build up to 3-4 per week. Mix up your resistance training with HIIT training.
HIIT, short for high intensity interval training is another effective workout option for fat loss. HIIT consists of doing short bursts at your full effort (that’s the high intensity part) and then resting for either the same or slightly longer period of time (that’s the interval part; work then rest) and repeating; which can make for an exhausting session (that’s the training part).
You can do any kind of exercise during the work phase; ideally it should be something that gets your heart rate up just thinking about it, like sprinting or burpees. If you can complete the exercise at full effort without feeling nauseous, pick another one that makes you want to hurl!
If you want to get the most out of your workout, it’s important to know your cardiovascular fitness level, so you can track the progress you make as your fitness increases. A VO2 Max test is the best way to test cardiovascular fitness and learn how much you need to work out; it’s a crucial tool if you want to maximise your workouts. Learn more about VO2 Max and book an assessment today to start getting the most out of your workouts.
Focus on large muscle groups
Muscle is a hard working tissue – it is very metabolically active. This means that whatever your muscles are doing, from standing up and walking to the bathroom to doing a workout, they’re using a lot of energy to do it.
The more muscle you have, the more energy (calories) you burn doing the same activities. Any exercises that target the legs, back, and arms are best. Why? Because these exercises target the largest muscle groups in the body. Targeting these areas will build more muscle overall than doing thousands of sit-ups to build up only your abdominal muscles (which are small and require much less energy to function).
3. Eat right with portion control
80/20 rule (eat clean 80% of the time, indulge 20% of the time)
Did you know that the type and quality of calories you eat directly affect how many calories you eat. For example, if you eat whole foods that are unprocessed – think apples, chicken, broccoli, almonds – your hunger will be satisfied for longer than if you consume highly processed, high sugar foods like soft drinks, lollies, or cereal.
If you want to lose fat, you must eat fewer calories than you burn while satisfying your hunger. It’s all about controlling portions and focusing on eating whole, unprocessed foods that fill you up. Follow proper portion control guidelines and stick to foods with little to no artificial ingredients. The fewer ingredients a food has, the better. If you notice a certain food gives you a stomach ache, or makes you feel bloated – grains, milk, and beans, for example, can sometimes do this – then stop eating them.
Focus on doing this 80% of the time and, for the other 20% of the time, allow yourself to have a little slip up here or there. Maintaining this balance will stop you from going completely off track, and will allow your body to restore and energize itself.
Reduce carb intake
Carbs are important. They’re what the body uses for energy: carbs help us think, walk, and move. Before you get excited though – if you’re trying to lose fat, you don’t want to have too many carbs.
Consuming too many starchy carbs like potatoes, rice, pastas, and breads (especially in one sitting), provides your body with more than it needs for energy and glycogen stores; anything left over will be stored as fat.
Gradually eliminate refined sugars
Sugar is nasty, and it’s stopping you from getting results and losing excess fat. Try to cut out sugars completely, though gradual elimination may be an easier adjustment to make.
Start with cutting refined sugars – the obvious ones like soft drinks, lollies, chocolate, cakes, and biscuits. Then phase out foods with hidden sugars, like pasta sauces, tomato and BBQ sauces, pre-made soups, stir-in sauces, and ready meals. Check food packages before you buy; aim for products with less than 15g of sugar per 100g, though even less sugar is ideal.
You will see and feel the results rapidly, but beware of cravings – they will only be temporary, I promise!
Eat enough protein
Protein is essential to good health. You need it to make the bricks and mortar of the body, including muscle, bone, and blood. The body breaks the protein down into amino acids and, among other things, uses them to build muscle. Any protein left over is available to fuel energy needs.
Guidelines also say that the healthy range for protein extends up to 35% of daily calories. In practice, it can be difficult to consume that much protein every day without resorting to eating a lot of meat and other animal products or relying on protein supplements.
It is important to choose protein sources that are low in saturated fat. Protein powders and shakes provide amino acids but offer limited nutritional value. Ready-to-drink shakes may also contain added sugar and other caloric sweeteners, so make sure to read the nutrition labels.
Consume fewer calories than you burn, based on RMR
“How many calories should I eat?” is the million-dollar question and the question everyone wants to know the answer to. However, the number of calories you need on a daily basis for fat loss differs for every individual; it’s dependent upon your weight, height, body composition, and activity level.
The most accurate way to find out how many calories you need to intake depends on your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). Your RMR is the number of calories you burn daily while at rest and performing normal activities. Metabolic Measures offers accurate RMR testing, so you can find out how many calories you should intake to lose fat.
4. Take care of yourself
Unfortunately, water does not have some magical property that burns fat, but it definitely can help you with your weight-loss efforts.
First off, staying hydrated could help you avoid overeating. Before snacking, check that you’re not thirsty; many people confuse thirst for hunger. Drinking water also means you’re not drinking something else—such as sugary, caloric beverages like soft drinks, cordials or smoothies.
Water is a great tool for weight loss – it helps to maintain the body’s proper balance of body fluids and flush toxin build-up from your system. Consuming enough water is essential for replacing the large amounts lost each day.
Get enough high-quality sleep
Sleep is becoming a scarce commodity in our increasingly connected world. Aside from its health benefits, sleep is so important because the less you sleep, the harder it is to control your hunger and have enough energy to exercise.
There are two hormones that are particularly important for controlling your hunger:
- Leptin – is a hormone that acts as a fat thermostat, telling your body how much body fat you have to help regulate your hunger. More leptin = less hunger.
- Ghrelin – also referred to as “growling ghrelin” is a hormone released when you are hungry. More ghrelin = more hunger.
Lack of sleep affects these hormones by decreasing leptin and increasing ghrelin. Some studies have shown that sleep deprivation caused the desire for high carbohydrate, calorie-dense foods to increase by up to 45%.
In today’s world of constant connectivity getting more sleep is easier said than done, but it’s one of the simplest ways to improve your health and fitness. Consider implementing a rule of no electronics before bedtime, and then dim the lights in your bedroom. This allows your brain to wind down and sleep hormones to rise for a more restful, deeper sleep.
Give yourself a break (rest + recovery days)
As the saying goes, “It is not how hard you train, but how well you recover.” If you don’t recover well, you won’t get the results you’re aiming for. Without adequate recovery, your musculoskeletal system, nervous system, and immune system become compromised, which puts you at a greater risk for injury, illness, and bad form.
Your body’s hormonal response to the deterioration of these systems is often a state of sympathetic arousal—your “fight or flight” response—which floods your body with high levels of hormones like cortisol; none of which are good for fat loss.
Make sure you schedule rest and recovery days between workout sessions to get the best results.
The sooner you put these fat loss tips into practice, the sooner you will see results. Start slowly, then build up and work on progressively changing some of your bad habits for the better.
“Body fat” doesn’t have to be 2 dirty words, especially once you’ve made these lifestyle improvements and have begun to shed body fat.
For more help losing body fat, check out Metabolic Measures’ helpful blog, full of tips for getting in shape, losing fat, and everything in between.