By Sam Davis, BHS, CPT, FNS
The key to healthy fat loss isn’t the program. It’s not the amount of calories you should restrict or how hard you work out in the gym. Instead, it’s about the habits you establish in order to create and then maintain a healthy level of body fat. So, stop falling for the empty promises of fad dieting and 8-week programs. While those may reduce your fat levels, they are usually too restrictive to maintain for the rest of your life. Instead, try these fat loss tips to learn and establish healthy habits that maintain those results.
With so many options out there and tempting programs popping up everywhere you look, many people give up even before starting. After all, that’s the hardest part—the start.
Following these guidelines below is the best way to start your weight loss journey. By getting rid of what your body doesn’t need, and by starting to move the way your body was meant to move, you will be well on your way to a maintainable, healthy lifestyle that will not only benefit your body, but also improve your confidence, boost your mood, and increase your overall quality of life.
Eating a well-rounded meal every time you eat is a perfect way to begin your health and fat loss journey. Luckily, there are many ways to do so. You want to eat a mix of lean protein, vegetables, complex carbs, and good fats every time you eat a full meal.
The amount of protein on your plate should be around the size of your closed fist, your fats should be about half your palm, complex carbs should sit in the palm of your hand, and the rest of the plate (about half) should be veggies.
The great thing about loading your plate with veggies is they are low carb, and you can eat a massive amount of them without adding too many calories to your daily intake. They also help you get the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber for the day. Most well-rounded, maintainable fat loss diets look identical to this one, and you don’t need to spend big bucks to get it.
I’ve worked with clients before that really needed to stop drinking so much coffee. They would consume so much caffeine in the morning that their appetite would be gone. Consequently, they wouldn’t eat until 1 pm or so in the afternoon. Then they would get a surge of energy and crash by 3 or 4. It’s a very common story, but it’s important to make sure your body stays high in energy all day while maintaining a sense of clarity. It all starts with establishing a few healthy habits in the morning.
This fat loss tip isn’t rocket science. It’s amazing how just shifting a few habits creates a life-long impact on your weight loss efforts. Most people wake up, drink their coffee, leave for work, and then don’t actually eat breakfast until around 10 am, or maybe they don’t eat breakfast at all.
Drinking at least two 8 oz glasses of water right when you wake up actually speeds up your metabolism a bit—studies show by almost 30%. That’s an easy habit to establish that will enhance your fat loss efforts.
On top of drinking water first thing in the morning, continuing to drink water throughout the day, around 64 ounces to be exact, also aids in weight loss. The reason? Well, the body is mostly made of water, and every system inside the body runs smoother and more efficiently when there is an abundance of water present. It also reduces appetite. A lot of the time when you feel hungry, it’s actually just dehydration. So be sure to stay on top of your water intake in the morning and throughout the day!
Many studies show that exercising after waking up can improve weight management in a few areas.
The most obvious benefit of working out is the number of calories burned. This, of course, helps with fat loss. My favorite workouts in the morning are those that are difficult but quick. I don’t want to wake up a couple of hours before work to lift, so instead, I get a quick fat-blasting HIIT workout session in to start my day off on the right foot.
This is my absolute favorite habit to teach to my clients. You don’t realize how much you truly eat when you just run down the street for a bite to eat at lunchtime. You usually choose what’s most convenient, and that isn’t always the healthiest option. When you eat out more than once a week, you are actually consuming more hidden calories than you realize, and in order to lose weight, you can’t be consuming calories you don’t know about.
By packing a lunch, you know exactly what you’re getting, you know you won’t overeat because you’ve portioned it correctly, and the convenience factor is taken care of—it’s in the office fridge 15 feet away.
Just like your nutrition is tailored to your fat loss goal, your workout needs to be developed with the same strategy in mind.
Perform HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions 3–4 times per week. HIIT has been proven time and time again to be the most efficient way to burn fat and keep your muscle tone.
Lift weights at least three times a week on top of your HIIT sessions. Lifting also burns a sufficient amount of calories, and as you build more muscle, your body will need more calories to sustain that muscle tone. That is a win-win for everyone: more calories and leaner muscles.