It is very likely that you are familiar with some of the most popular diets; those like: Atkins, Ornish, South Beach, Weight Watchers, and plenty of others. Hovewer it takes more than familiarity to burn fat and lose weight! It takes being motivated in training!
It is very important to point out that the above diets mentioned only support a negative calorie intake for the short-term. Most need a long-term solution! The nutritional science is there, you need to know how to mobilize fat for energy in the long-term and how to make healthy eating and weight management a lifestyle change. With this in mind, one thing remains constant:
You simply have to be in a negative energy balance if your goal is to burn fat and lose inches!
To get started, let’s say your BMR is 2,000 calories per day–which is the calories you will burn under normal physiological activity such as sitting, lying down, or basically doing absolutely nothing. Now, perhaps you take in 2,500 calories in that 24 hour period. You’re not going to be in a calorie deficit, and this will put you at risk of gaining weight, not losing it. Your body will store those excess calories that aren’t used for energy as body fat.
Now, let’s consider training.
If you exercise and burn 500 calories, then you won’t have to worry about gaining weight, but you won’t lose any weight either…you will remain the same. However, if you plan your meals accordingly and take in only 1,800 calories, you’re going to be meeting that negative calorie deficit, but you do want to ensure that you’re eating healthy and those calories are coming from rich, nutrient-dense foods.
Eating healthy foods, complex carbs, complete proteins, healthy essential fats and lowering sodium and sugar intake will all be complementary to your end goal, which is fat loss! This encourages the body to turn to stored fat deposits for energy, muscle repair and normal cellular activity. Again, if you can burn body fat, you can lose weight!
Now that we have some better understanding on what needs to happen to decrease body fat, let’s move on to some of the methodologies proven to increase lipolysis and enhance the mobilization of fatty acids for energy!
Method Number 1: Decrease your carbohydrate intake
Low carb diets do work! In fact, 20+ quality research studies have shown them to be worthwhile. You can lose a potential of 2 to 3 times more fat while on a low-carb diet, compared to a normal low-fat diet, which Western society follows. Now, there have been some incredible studies exploring and comparing weight-loss between low-carb groups and low-fat groups for a while. What researchers have found is that the restricted calories in the low-fat group had to be closely managed to even come close to the weight loss achieved by the low-carb group!
The low-fat group had to continuously restrict calories to keep up with the weight loss achieved by the low-carb group, but they still couldn’t match the fat-loss achieved. Now, if you’re questioning the safety of low-carb diets, we can put your mind at ease. The most recent research studies show amazing health benefits on this plan. For instance: triglycerides decrease, blood pressure becomes balanced, HDL cholesterol increases; visceral fat is minimized through the stomach and liver! Insulin levels become balanced, blood sugar is stabilized and an appetite suppressant effect seems to be common (coming from complete protein intake).
Many researchers believe that the success of a low-carb diet is directly linked to insulin suppression.
A low-carb diet regulates the production of insulin and keeps it low, while also managing blood sugar as well. This helps mobilize the burning of fat for energy! In turn, weight-loss occurs! Now, while this is great news for some, a personal trainer knows that a low-carb diet is certainly not for everyone! I have personally coached athletes who, while being very glucose tolerant, would still feel tired and sluggish even if they dropped below 200 grams of carbs per day.
In this respect, your carb intake is dependent on your individual goals, metabolism, genetics, and might require some variations. However, here we are focusing more on optimizing fat loss and-low carb diets unquestionably do this. Still, for those who are looking to gain muscle and strength — a low-carb diet is not the the most optimal. For those looking to improve stamina and performance for football, or for the 40 yard sprint — these individuals would benefit more following a higher carb diet, due to the energy system in use during these activities (anaerobic metabolism). See the difference?
Method Number 2: Increase the frequency, intensity, or duration of your training
A wise trainer isn’t afraid to tell clients that it isn’t just the caloric intake that is significant for fat-loss. The intensity of your workouts can mean everything and what you put into them is exactly what you’ll get out of them! The more stress you put upon your body (muscles in particular) the more energy your body will require, which means a higher chance for burning fat for fuel! You’ll burn more calories for sure when you mix up routines and add variation! For example, resistance training 3 days per week (up to 5) increases the stimulus put upon the body and forces the body to burn more calories.
Now, if you can increase your cardiovascular activity to 3 times per week for 30 minutes each session; you’ll definitely reap the rewards you’re after. Just remember, you simply can’t train the same exact way day in and day out and then expect to see speedier results. It won’t work. You’ll gain progress and improvement when you increase your load and continuously lift more weight than before; also know as the progressive overload principle. In fact the frequency of your resistance training sessions directly elicits new results for: fat loss; muscle hypertrophy; strength; stamina; mood and so much more!
Method Number 3: Practice the proper timing of nutrients
You’ll find this section to be for those who are more advanced and are familiar with resistance training, lifting weights; and more. This is for those individuals who have resistance trained consistently for years. However, it can also be beneficial for those who have established individual goals; know their calorie needs and understand macronutrient split. To bring more cohesion, let’s explain nutrient timing. Carbohydrate tolerance is actually heaviest after exercise; therefore, taking in carbohydrates, specifically faster digesting carbs, following a heavy workout, is highly recommended.
We want a quick spike in insulin after a workout; so complex, slower digesting carbs at this time are not optimal. Fuel use during exercise is very dependent upon the type of macronutrients consumed beforehand. For example, a high carbohydrate meal before you exercise creates a spike in insulin with available glucose; which in turn, fuels the workout.
However, a low carb, higher protein; higher fat meal before training will encourage a higher percentage of fatty acids to be used as the fuel source. With this principle in mind, let’s again turn to a quick example. If you want to lose body fat and you’re consuming lower carbs (maybe 60 grams a day); you’ll see an improved optimization of fatty acids; and even more so when you take in higher amounts of protein in your meals.
You also want to keep healthy fats moderate and carbs low. Once your workout is complete, this is the time to get in the fast digesting carbs; because this is when the spike in insulin is most beneficial (post-workout). The carbohydrates ingested after your workout will not be stored as fat; but will be utilized to re-glycogenate the muscle and enhance recovery.