Who doesn’t want to lose a few pounds of body fat?
Whether you’re looking to look better in a swimsuit or have general health and fitness goals, we’re frequently in search of ways to lose fat so we can get the body we’ve always wanted.
The problem is, losing body fat can be complicated, most notably because everyone’s body is different.
What works for you might not work for another. And what works for another only has a chance of working for you based on several, many of which are imperceptible, factors.
However, over the past decade research has shown countless ways to effectively lose body fat. Some are hard, depending on how you’re used to eating, but others aren’t so bad.
And, the best part is, there are a lot of options, so if you have the patience to experiment a little you can find the right balance of factors that are most suitable for you.
The first thing I would do for anyone who’s trying to lose body fat, for instance, would be to remove foods from the house that he or she would consume during lapses of self-control.
– Tim Ferriss
Here are 20 things you need to know to lose body fat:
1. Body fat is important and you need to maintain a certain amount
Body fat isn’t some invasive thing that’s polluting your body, it’s a necessary part of how your body functions.
So, how much body fat should you have? The general recommendation is 25-28% for women and 12-15% for men. However, that all depends on several different factors, so you should get together with your doctor to find your own ideal body fat percentage.
2. You need to reduce calories to lose fat, but carbs and other forms of calories also give your body energy
Too many calories cause fat gain, so you need to start getting an idea of how many calories you’re intaking each day.
However, too few calories and you won’t have enough energy to burn, which will leave you without the energy to go about your day effectively.
For that reason, you need to get a good balance of just enough calories to give your body the energy it needs to function while still maintaining a reduced caloric intake to burn your body fat away.
If it sounds like a careful science, it kind of is, and it can take time. However, if you’re willing to invest the time you can find your perfect balance.
3. You need to be conscious of your caloric intake
For reasons stated above, you need to know how many calories you’re intaking. And the best and most reliable way to do that is to track your calories with something like a calorie journal.
If you don’t track your caloric intake, it’s pretty much impossible to get that careful science down we talked about in the previous point, so do yourself a favor and start implementing systems to help you streamline the process of losing that body fat.
4. You also should be aware of your macronutrients
In addition to calories, it’s also useful to track your macronutrients with something like macronutrientcalculate.com. Why? Because just tracking your calories can still leave you lacking in some important areas.
For example, fat is far more filling than protein or carbs, the three forms of energy our body absorbs and the entire source of our calories.
What does this mean? If your calories aren’t made up of at least 20-30% fat, you’re probably not going to feel full, and that will make it very difficult to stick to your diet.
5. So yeah, don’t starve yourself
It should be obvious by now, however, it’s worth mentioning. Let me say it as clearly as possible:
Starving yourself will not help you lose body fat effectively, and it can destroy the rest of your body in the process.
Starving yourself will leave you weak and lacking the energy to do virtually anything, including work out. Plus, you risk breaking down the muscle in your body which will take much longer to build back up.
6. And don’t use a regular scale
A modern scale can be super useful because it can actually tell you your body fat percentage. However, you don’t want to bother looking at your weight.
First, our physical weight fluctuates so frequently that it will just as often discourage you as it will encourage you.
Second, our weight tells only part of the story because it doesn’t tell you how much of that is muscle, fat, etc. If you’re losing fat but gaining muscle, you might even be getting heavier all the while you’re looking slimmer and more toned.
7. Fiber is important
Fiber helps fight hunger pangs and lowers insulin levels which makes it incredibly useful if you’re trying to lose body fat.
How much fiber is enough? The basic suggestion is 25 to 35 grams of fiber a day.
8. Strength training actually helps burn fat
Most people aren’t aware that strength training actually helps burn fat away. As a result, they often focus only on cardio (oftentimes, doing too much cardio, and more is not always better).
Muscles use a ton of energy to do their thing, so anything you do that uses your muscles heavily is great for burning calories because it sends your resting metabolic rate up.
9. Creatine can help burn body fat
I’m not partial to supplements, however, creatine has long been accepted as an effective muscle builder, therefore, it can help you burn additional body fat by increasing your resting metabolic rate as we just touched on in the previous point.
How much you should take depends on your body size and workout load, so visit your local supplement store to get a better idea and see if that’s something up your alley.
10. Construct a meal plan and keep it simple
Sticking to a meal plan is really important for any form of diet and it helps streamline the process.
The cool thing is, virtually all nutrition experts tell you just to pick a few meals and stick to them, mixing it up only occasionally. Put together four healthy meals and alternate a new meal or two in every few weeks for a little variety.
This might sound a bit boring but it really simplifies the process, as preparing healthy meals can be hugely time-consuming otherwise.
11. Eat these foods
What exactly should you eat? There’s a lot you can eat, but these are some of your best options if you’re trying to lose body fat, even if you’re not working out:
- Proteins: Egg whites, chicken breast, beef (preferably organic), black beans
- Veggies: Spinach, peas, kale, asparagus (but you really can’t go wrong with most veggies)
12. Reduce white carbs
Don’t eat too many simple carbs with low nutritional value.
- Fried food of any kind
13. Drink lots of water
Water transfers nutrients throughout the body and keeps many important processes running smoothly.
If you’re not drinking enough water, your body won’t be able to function at maximum capacity and you’ll just be holding yourself back.
Plus, if you’re not drinking water, you’re probably quenching your thirst with another, less healthy drink…
Things like soda, juice, and that Starbucks you’re drinking every morning (if you’re getting it with creamer) are high in empty calories, so you want to stay away from these like the plague.
Aside from water, feel free to drink tea and coffee without white creamer, which are both low in calories.
15. Have a break or “cheat” day
Have one day out of the week where you go crazy.
Whatever it is that you love to eat, whether it’s Oreos, ice cream, or greasy cheeseburgers, indulge in it.
This might sound a little excessive, however, it turns out that it can actually help improve fat loss by maintaining your metabolic rate.
Over time, your calorie-restricted diet can “downgrade” your metabolism. However, with a cheat day such as this, you’re able to maintain that metabolic level, which helps improve fat loss. Go figure.
16. Find a workout method you enjoy
Actually enjoying your workout is important because it makes it easier to stick to the habit.
However, most don’t know that enjoying your workout actually helps create new connections in the brain, helping write new behaviors in a more substantial way than simply mental conditioning.
Healthy sleep habits are critical when it comes to burning fat.
In fact, many of the fat burning processes occur while we’re sleeping, which means if you’re not sleeping, you’re not giving your body enough time to burn that fat away.
Depending on your body, anywhere between 6 to 10 hours could be necessary. Try out 8 hours (if you’re not already) and notice how your body feels so you can adjust this as time goes on.
18. Cardio, but not too much cardio
Cardio is important because it can help burn fat. However, too much cardio and your body could shift to being catabolic. What the heck is that? Well, it means you’ll switch from burning fat to burning muscle. That’s right, you keep the fat and lose all the muscle. Worst case scenario.
General advice suggests keeping cardio to no more than three to four 30 to 40-minute sessions each week.
19. Remove temptations
Is there anything you keep around the house that is an unhealthy “temptation” food? Remove it.
If you want to take it a step further, replace that food with a healthier option in the exact same spot you usually would keep that unhealthy temptation, which can further help condition you to eat that healthier snack instead.
20. You have to be patient
There’s no exact science to this because, as we talked about in the beginning, everyone’s body is different. For that reason, it can take time just to find the right combination of carbs to protein and fat for your body, let alone sticking to that combination long enough to reach your body fat percentage goal.
So, be patient and make it a lifestyle change as opposed to a temporary goal that you’re looking to drop at first chance and you’ll be great.