A lot of weight loss articles are aimed at people who are overweight. This is understandable, seeing as those are the people who are probably most desperate to lose fat and who will thus flock to such content and buy any recommended products.
Meanwhile though, there are actually more people out there who are not overweight – and most of them still want to lose fat. Statistically, you are likely to fall into this category as well. Chances are that you are generally slim, but still have a thin layer of flab that you can grab around your stomach and maybe you feel that life would be a little better if you could get rid of that.
The bad news is that this is the fat that is often the most difficult to get rid of – which is possibly another reason that many articles choose to just ignore it. Never fear though as it is still perfectly possible to get rid of it, you just need to use some different strategies. Read on and we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can get rid of that little bit of extra fat.
The Story so Far
If you have been losing weight previously or maintaining a healthy weight that you’re generally happy with, then chances are you will have been following the usual advice to ensure a ‘calorie deficit’. In other words, you will have been burning off more calories through your regular activity than you’ve been taking in, or you will have been keeping it fairly steady.
The main way you will have done this is through diet, seeing as exercise will only generally burn a few hundred calories each time.
Once you get your weight right down though, you’ll have to eat very little in order to maintain the necessary calorie deficit. Thus you might end up having to eat tiny amounts for breakfast and lunch in order to still continue to burn more energy than you take in, while running for hours at a time. The result? You end up with no energy and constantly tempted while eating out with friends and sticking to the strict regime becomes simply impractical.
Turning it Up
If you are trying to lose that last stubborn ten pounds then, you need to use a different and more efficient strategy in order to burn off that fat.
There are a number of strategies you can thus use, but the goal should be to increase your metabolism so that even while you rest, your body is burning more calories while at the same time taking advantage of natural changes in metabolism throughout the day.
Some effective strategies to try include:
Eating More Protein: When you eat more protein you will find that you feel fuller for longer as a result of its relatively slow digestion. You will take in fewer calories from the protein than you would have from the same amount of carbohydrates due to something called ‘the thermic effect’ (the fact that your body burns calories simply to digest the protein). This way you will take in about 20-30% fewer calories from those foods. Protein also stimulates the body to produce testosterone and growth hormone to encourage muscle building rather than weight gain.
Fasted Cardio: First thing in the morning, your body is in its very most catabolic state. This means that it will burn fat more quickly and easily than it will later on. That’s because you’ve effectively been fasting all throughout the night – there is now very little sugar left in your blood, and so your body will have to burn fat in order to get energy.
It’s for this reason that running first thing in the morning before breakfast can help to burn 20% more calories than running later on (1).
Fasted cardio does have the unfortunate effect of degrading some muscle, but if your aim is purely weight loss then you might find this doesn’t matter too much.
Use HIIT: Another type of cardio you can use to stimulate rapid weight loss is HIIT. HIIT stands for ‘High Intensity Interval Training’, which is basically a type of training that involves alternating bouts of high exertion (70% capacity+) and bouts of ‘active recovery’ (slow jogging for instance). HIIT allows you to raise your heart rate more than regular CV and is partly anaerobic – meaning you’re moving too fast for your body to supply energy from fat. That means you use up all of the sugar in your blood and this results in the release of growth hormone and testosterone. The result is that you not only burn more calories from a session of HIIT, but also burn more calories subsequently throughout the day as your metabolism gets turned up. Another great benefit of HIIT is that it’s so much quicker that you’re more likely to be able to fit it into a busy lifestyle and thus actually stick to it.
One of the most intensive and effective forms of HIIT is a training protocol called ‘tabata’. This is essentially a routine that involves 20 seconds of maximum effort, interspersed with 10 second breaks, repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. Doing this a few times a week may be enough to stimulate some serious fat loss.
Low Carb Diets: For years we have been following low fat diets at the advice of seemingly every magazine, website and blog around. As it turns out though, fat was never really the enemy. The bigger culprits are carbs. While carbs contain fewer calories compared with fats, they don’t spike the blood sugar quite as much, which means that your body won’t respond by storing so much fat (lipogenesis).
By cutting back on bread and other ‘high GI’ carbs, you might just be able to break your weight loss plateaux and lose those last 10 pounds.
Muscle Building: One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight is to ignore resistance exercises that are aimed at building muscle. While the main goal of such exercise is not to lose weight, building muscle nevertheless has the effect of automatically resulting in more weight loss.
Lifestyle Changes: Finally, look outside of your diet and workouts and at some of the aspects of your lifestyle that might be playing a role. For instance, if you aren’t getting enough sleep then this is something you should aim to fix right away as a lack of sleep can equate to a lack of energy (thus a lack of exercise) as well as a lack of muscle building and fat burning throughout the night.
Similarly, spending more time outside can also make a difference, as can walking a lot more and as can being generally more active. Joining a dance class might just be one of the best things you could do.
Try all of these different tips together and you’ll have created the perfect storm of factors that should help you to lose those last few difficult pounds. Good luck!