Having trained hundreds of clients, I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “how do I lose this?”, as they point to some particular area of their body they aren’t completely in love with. Listen up, whatever “this” is, it’s a part of you. Be kind to yourself. Instead of saying “how do I lose this?” like you’ve contemplated going to your local butcher to get it cut off, let’s say: “how do I make this stronger?” Cool? Cool.
Despite what you may have heard on social media or in tv infomercials, there is no particular exercise that will reduce fat in only one or two specific areas of your body. It doesn’t work like that. Fat burning pills are a hoax as well, so don’t throw your hard earned money away on those. We are born with genetic code that dictates where our bodies store fat. Other factors such as hormones, gender and age also play an important role. I mean, hip thrusts are a great exercise to build a strong tush but they aren’t going to burn away the fat around your thighs that you’re looking to get rid of. Not hip thrusts alone, anyways. Look, don’t get me wrong, you’re certainly capable of getting rid of these areas of unwanted body fat but, there is more to the picture, than the media and marketing companies lead us to believe. Let me further explain what body fat is, what it’s purpose is, and healthy ways to lose it.
What is body fat?
There are 3 types of fat within our bodies:
This type of body fat is probably what you think of when you hear the word fat. It sits on top of muscle tissue and underneath your skin. This makes up about 90% of our fat stores and is distributed throughout our bodies based primarily on genetics. Our bodies metabolize this fat for energy.
This type of fat sits deep inside the abdominal wall and surrounds our vital organs. Visceral fat is stress induced and builds up with a diet full of refined and processed food. Too much of this fat can cause many health issues, which is why, belly fat in particular, is an important indicator of our overall health. The good news is visceral also gets metabolized by our bodies for energy.
This type of fat actually helps burn calories to produce heat and keep us warm. Babies are born with a large amount of this type of fat. Unfortunately, adults have a very small percentage brown fat in our bodies.
So, how do we lose it?
Below, I have outlined 6 strategies to use in order to help lose fat and burn calories. If you implement 1 or 2 of these methods, you might see some small results. However, if you implement all of these methods and use them to create a healthy lifestyle, I promise that you will feel much better mentally and physically, and see some serious results that will change your life for the better.
1. Resistance Training
Resistance training helps build muscle. More muscle creates a higher energy expenditure. This means they will require more fuel and burn more calories, by tapping into stored body fat and glycogen for fuel.
By building more muscle through resistance training, you will increase your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), which will burn more calories over the long term. This is how long term fat loss occurs.
Consuming 1.6 – 2.2 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight mixed with resistance training is a recipe for building muscle. The extra protein will also help you stay full longer to prevent you from overeating.
2. Cardiovascular Training
Cardiovascular training elevates your heart rate for an extended period of time.
An elevated heart rate increases your rate of energy expenditure, primarily through glycogen (carbs) and fat oxidation (fats).
Cardio can also potentially produce EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption), which makes your body continue to burn calories well after your cardio session is over and done with.
3. Calorie Deficit
A calorie deficit occurs when your body is burning more calories than you are consuming over an extended period of time. Achieving a calorie deficit is easier than you think, as long as you’re mindful of what you’re eating and exercising regularly.
When exercising in a calorie deficit, your body usually has less glycogen stores to pull from for immediate energy, therefore, your body will typically rely on fat oxidation for energy.
Find out how many calories you’re burning by just living and breathing using this BMR Calculator to get a better idea of how to maintain a calorie deficit each day.
4. Quality Sleep
If your body doesn’t get 6-8 hours of quality sleep each night, your body releases a hormone called ghrelin that increases your appetite and leaves you hungrier throughout the day.
Your body’s ability to process insulin decreases, which means you don’t metabolize fat nearly as efficiently as if you had a good night’s sleep.
If you’re having difficulty sleeping, consider a night time ritual, like reading a book before bed or a digital detox at least 1 hour prior to bedtime.
5. Cut Out Processed Foods
These foods don’t contain fiber or protein to make us feel full, instead they are full of refined sugars that do not create the same feeling of satiety. Also, they almost always contain large amounts of calories that leave you feeling bloated and lethargic.
Put the Doritos back, reach for a healthy snack option like fruit, nuts (ironically full of fat…healthy fat) or veggies, think baby carrots or celery. Healthy snacks will fill you up without the extra calories and help kick the cravings.
6. Remove the “Stress” in Stress Eating
It’s not easy to relieve stress, however we should all be mindful of it as the damage stress places on our bodies increases the risk of illness and disease.
Stress causes the release of cortisol in our body, leading to a spike in insulin. The spike in insulin usually creates cravings for comfort food (aka sugar or fatty foods).
There are many ways to help relieve stress, for example, exercise helps alleviate stress by producing endorphins (the happy hormone), as well as burns calories and reduces fat (sex also does a pretty good job of this… and it’s even better with a partner).
Creating sustainable changes like the 6 listed above will not just help with fat loss but improve the overall quality of your life. Next time you are pointing to your body’s “flaws”, understand how your body actually works. Love your body for what it can do for you, and make the changes you have control over.