In this post, I’m going to show you 5 tips for helping you to lose body fat. Losing fat and staying lean and healthy are part of our daily lifestyle and activity and, the most important thing, how we behave in the kitchen!
Nowadays, I have to admit that it’s very difficult to keep a healthy lifestyle. Our schedules, work, accessibility to healthy and dirty food, all these factors are decisive for us when we talk about health. Or perhaps it is only an excuse?
We also have the training factor. It is not as important as diet when we talk about losing body fat, but it is enough important to mention it here. In my experience, the most of the people relate losing fat to run, cycle, jog… mainly aerobic work. Of course, aerobic work is important when we want to lose body fat but equally or more important is to work out strength and hypertrophy. Yes, lifting weights help us to lose body fat. Let’s talk about them also about our daily food habits and how we can change them.
#1 Tip: Sugar
Sugar is the enemy! When we eat a high sugary meal, the foodstuff is absorbed by our small intestine and they go to the bloodstream. When it happens, and as a response to the new amount of glucose in our bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin, which uses the glucose as per the body’s convenience (as energy, transforms it in glycogen, stores it as body fat, etc…).
However, there is a problem when insulin does not work properly. In this case, the pancreas starts to release more and more insulin trying to counteract the glucose in the bloodstream. It is known as “Resistance to Insulin”.
At the beginning, this overcompensation of insulin works. However, as our body releases too much insulin, it provokes that glucose decreases in the bloodstream too fast, going into a hypoglycemic state (too little glucose in the bloodstream). When it happens, the body feels that needs more glucose and we start having some symptoms like: headache, cold sweat, stomachache, hungry, tiredness, etc… and all these symptoms would disappear if we eat again.
Do you see what’s going on here?? We enter in a vicious circle, where we eat and eat, unbalancing our body and storing sugar as fat.
This circle is difficult to break and we actually face the same symptoms than a drug addict!
How can we avoid it? We must avoid having those insulin peaks. We do it taking sugar from natural sources such as fruits and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables contain sugar, however, this glucose doesn’t go straight to our bloodstream, but to the liver (this is due to the kind of carbs than fruits and vegetables contain). And the liver is the responsible of releasing this glucose when it is needed.
To do that has a few benefits:
- Teach our body to use fat when it needs energy.
- Stop being hungry every two hours.
- Become more sensitive to insulin.
- Stop transforming glucose in body fat.
Those tips should be specially taken by sedentary people, who don’t have training habits. However, for people who workout on daily basis is a different thing. Insulin is the main anabolism hormone and we need to take advantage of that before and after working out, but especially after a workout when we need to be fully recovered before 24 hours.
For those cases, we need to eat a high source of carbs. Usually, the best options are: rice, oat, pasta, potato, bread…
#2 Tip: Fat
Fat is our friend! Fat is the main source of energy available in our body. Besides, fats are involved in many hormonal processes and they help us to lose body fat. But, as I’ve said for carbs, we need to have a proper source of fat (sorry, a Mcdonalds burger is not a valid source). What is a proper source of fat? Unsaturated fats or good fats. Unsaturated fats give us many benefits such as:
- Help our body to reduce cholesterol.
- Make possible that A, E, D and K vitamins are absorbed.
- Improve sensibility to insulin.
- Omega 3 helps to regulate the thyroid work.
- Help to control the hungry sensation when you mix them with proteins.
- Speed up the metabolism.
- Decrease the risk of cancer.
- Regulate the hormonal balance.
- Decrease the inflammation after a high carbs meal.
There are 2 types of unsaturated fats:
- Monounsaturated: such as olive oil, dried fruit and nuts and avocado.
- Polyunsaturated: such as fishy oils, olives and olive oil and soja.
The problem with fat is that they contain many calories and we need to self-control them. One gram of fat per body weight kilogram is a good size.
#3 Tip: Slow Down
When I go to the gym or I’m doing my run workouts outside, I see many over-weighted people running and all of them make the same mistake: they go too fast!
When we work too fast, our body starts using glucose, instead of fat, as the main energy source. It uses glucose because it is the faster energy’s source available in that moment. However, there are a few problems with using glucose:
- It is very limited.
- Lactic acid accumulation (it is the wasted product obtained from using glucose as fuel).
- Low energy performance.
- A risk of injuries and burning out.
It means that we don’t burn fat, our recovery will be slower since our body needs to remove all the lactic acid remaining and we will work out for a very limited time. And even looking beyond, our body will be consuming glucose for more than 48h!
However, when we work within the aerobic zone, our body is fully capable of using fatty acids as fuel. It means:
- We burn fat more efficiently.
- We can perform for a longer time.
- The waste products are easily removable by our body, which means that we are going to recover faster.
- And we will be more active after this kind of workout.
And we obtain all these benefits only by going slower! It is amazing, isn’t it?!
But how can we figure out if we are within the aerobic zone? If we have a heart rate sensor, it is pretty easy. There is a formula that is: 180BPM – Age (I’m 28 years old: 180 – 28 = 152 beats per minute). So make sure you go always below this heart rate. However, if you don’t have a heart rate sensor, there are other tips like:
- You must be able to breathe in-out through your nose without difficulty.
- Or to maintain a conversation with somebody without difficulty.
#4 Tip: Sleep Like a Bear
Yes, to sleep more helps us to lose body fat! it’s a myth to say that when we sleep, we tend to accumulate body fat. Actually, it cannot be further away from the reality. Whilst we sleep, we burn around 800 kcals since our body remains working on its metabolism processes. Of course, a proper and healthy dinner helps us to create this environment where our body will work more efficiently.
Thus, to have a poor sleep unbalances the hungry regulator hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin (let’s call it our “friend”) is made up from body fat and this hormone is responsible for satiety and ghrelin (our “enemy”) is made up in the digestive system and responsible for the hungry sensation. So leptin tends to decrease meanwhile ghrein increases. I’m sure that after a good party you always want to have a proper fatty meal with some sweets. Well, you now know why.
#5 Tip: Lift Heavy
And this is another common mistake. People think that the only way to burn fat is doing an aerobic workout. However, have you ever thought that there are more over-weighted marathoners than sprinters? Following the common people believes, every single marathoner should be very slim. I’m not talking about professional athletes, but about popular runners. We see many overweight people and they are really capable performing well in long distances. One example is Sam, from the Lord of the Rings. He completed the 2015 edition of the Hawaii’s Iron Man (yeah, 3.86 km swimming, 180 km cycling and 42 km running). Isn’t it awesome?! However, he is not the prototype of a fitness model that we have in mind when we think of a fit person.
On the other hand, I’ve never seen an over-weighted sprinter. So it must be a signal!!
When the only work that you perform is aerobically, our body tends to lose body fat, that is a fact, but it might also lose muscle tissue. Why does it occur? Normally, a poor diet is more likely to be the reason for muscle loss.
There are several problems when it occurs:
- We become weaker
- Increase risk of injury
- Our metabolism becomes slower
- Risk of yo-yo effect
Besides of all of that, practicing aerobic workout for longer periods (more than an hour) has been shown that is harmful for our heart.
BUT IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE HAVE TO AVOID CARDIOVASCULAR EXERCISE!!!
Aerobic training is the foundation, the base of our routine. Actually, we should not start working anaerobically till we have built a strong aerobic system. Think about it as the base of a house and the anaerobic system is the roof. Without a strong base, we can try to build a wonderful and huge roof, and we can achieve it, but it will drop at some point because of a weak base (injury risks).
Some of the benefits of a well-design strength workout are:
- Helps us to lose weight more efficiently.
- Enhances the bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
- Improves our sensibility to insulin.
- Speeds up our metabolism.
- Has an anti-aging effect.
- Improves our posture.
- Reduces the risk of injuries.
- Boosts up our testosterone.
- We look better.
This one is on me! Now, in my opinion, the main argument for losing body fat is to keep a healthy and balanced lifestyle, avoid stressful situations, fast foods, alcohol, soda drinks and always go for those choices than nature gives us. Have plenty of fruit and vegetables, they should be the main part of your meals. And try to keep active as much as you can. Go for walks, use the stairs of your flat, don’t remain seat for more than an hour. To go for an hour to the gym does not compensate 14 hours seated in front of your computer.
So now we don’t have excuses when we talk about losing fat!
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