Losing fat has got to be one the most frustrating pursuits in all of fitness. With so much temptation from all of our favorite foods it’s amazing that only half of the western world is overweight!
Despite its’ challenges, losing fat isn’t impossible. It’s actually a pretty simple concept. All that’s needed is a little bit of time and discipline.
Easier said than done I suppose.
If you’re trying to lose fat or are in the process of losing fat, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Lift like you’re trying to get big and strong – Too often, guys who are trying to cut weight will start lifting lighter weights for higher reps thinking they will get shredded faster.
Quite the contrary.
When you’re losing fat or weight in general, you need to make sure you are preserving muscle mass and the best way to do that is to lift like you’re trying to GAIN mass. Train heavy (5-10 reps) and often (at least 3-4 times per week).
What’s the point of losing all that weight if you’re going to look soft and weak?
That building and maintaining your lean muscle is what’s going to keep your metabolism revving and give you that hard chiseled look.
2. Keep your protein intake high – Like I said, hanging on to lean muscle mass is most important when you’re losing weight. In order to do that, you should aim to eat anywhere from .75-1.25 grams of protein per pound of body weight. High protein intake will also help to prevent your testosterone levels from dropping.
3. Eat enough carbs to support training – When you’re dieting, you still have to train – HARD. Your top fuel source is for intense training is and always will be carbohydrates.
Keep your glycogen levels topped up by getting enough carbs pre and post workout. The majority of your carbs should be consumed at this time because there is less of a chance they’ll be stored as fat.
30-50 grams pre and post workout is a good place to start.
4. Don’t cut your calories too low – A common mistake people make when trying to lose weight is they drastically reduce their caloric intake. This is a surefire way to slow your metabolism right down. There is no need to completely starve yourself in order to lose fat.
You want to maintain a caloric deficit but only a slight one (300-500 calories) so you drop weight slowly but steadily. Also, cutting your calories too much can also affect your ability to train, focus, and function in everyday life.
5. Keep an eye on your fat intake – Nowadays, everyone is always worried about eating too many carbs but too much fat can still make you fat.
Fat is the most dense macronutrient – 9 calories per gram, so those calories can add up quick even if you’re eating healthy fats like avocados, almond butter and nuts.
Don’t let fat make up more than 20-25% of your total calories if you want to get lean.
6. Don’t overdue the cardio – Increasing your caloric expenditure will help to shed excess weight but you don’t want to overdue it and start burning valuable muscle mass. Keep your longer cardio sessions to a max of 30 minutes 2-3 times per week in addition to your strength training sessions.
7. Do more interval training – Unless you enjoy spending hours in the gym, you can maximize your results by incorporating high intensity intervals for your cardio. 10-20 mins of high intensity intervals a few times per week will be enough to keep your metabolism spiked and have the fat melting off.
Hill sprints, sled pushes, and rowing intervals are some of my favorites.
8. Be Patient – We all want results NOW! The truth is,an effective fat loss program will have you losing approximately 1-1.5% of your bodyweight per week. So if you weight 225lbs and want to lose 25lbs, you need to give yourself about 12 weeks to make it happen.
By losing fat slowly, the process will feel less restrictive and you’ll be able to better maintain your strength and muscle along the way.
9. Get plenty of sleep – This is an area most people neglect. Sleep is your number recovery method. Getting enough sleep will help keep your cortisol levels in check in order to maximize the fat burning process.
Take naps if you can and aim for at least 7 hours sleep at night.
10. Don’t eat more on workout days – Just because you had a long grueling workout doesn’t give you permission to eat more food. You want to take advantage of the caloric deficit you created and force your body to use more fat for energy.
Stay consistent with your day to day eating regardless of how long and/or intense your training was that day.
11. Avoid fad diets – Whatever method you’re using to lose fat i.e flexible dieting, paleo, atkins, etc, you need to ask yourself one simple question “is what I’m doing sustainable?”
Like I said earlier, fat loss is simple; KEEPING IT OFF is another story. If you are going to extremes to lose fat then you most likely will have a hard time staying lean.
Avoid fad celebrity diets or anything that promotes a quick fix. Focus on keeping your caloric intake under control, eating high quality foods, strength training, interval training and getting plenty of sleep.
Nothing will ever replace those core principles.