It’s one of the most common questions in the fitness sphere: “How do I lose body fat?” And, “How do I reach a low body fat percentage?”
The reason this question is asked time and time again is usually due to the intense amount of information floating around surrounding diets and workout styles. One expert will say the only way to lose fat is to go extremely low carb, while another will say being a vegan is the way to sustain a low body fat percentage with ease. Others will say everything in moderation, while even more insist cardio is the only way to go for shredding.
All of this conflicting information typically results not in actual weight loss … but in bouncing back and forth between diets and styles of working out, all with the thought of “maybe that one is better and will work faster! Well, wait, maybe that one instead!”
In the end, what usually happens? No weight loss or progress.
Because the main pillar of actually losing fat is consistency.
If there is no consistency in dieting or training, results don’t have time to show up before things are switched up.
I understand the urge to find the ideal diet, and experimenting is necessary for sure. However, I’m going to make the entire “ideal diet” paradigm extremely simple: eat as nature intended.
What do I mean?
I explain below, along some other time-tested and proven ways (including workout styles) to lose fat and keep it off.
Tips to Shred
You’ve heard it before, and you’re going to hear it again: abs are made in the kitchen.
Diet is an absolutely essential factor to consider when trying to lose fat, no matter who you are. Technically, if you’re a regular marathon-runner, you may be able to “outrun” a subpar diet, but for the rest of us … you truly can’t.
The key with dieting isn’t necessarily to go to any extremes; it’s more to prioritize, as I said before, to eat as nature intended.
This means focusing most (upwards of 80%) of your diet on whole, natural foods that don’t come in a box, can, or bag. These include fresh vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, carrots, etc …), low-sugar fruits like berries, wild meats and fish like chicken, turkey, salmon, and sardines (if you’re vegan, aim always for non-GMO and organic tofu or soy products), pastured eggs, nuts and seeds (one small handful a day or 2 tablespoons nut butter), leafy greens (kale and spinach), healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, and olive oil, and clean carb sources (sweet potato, quinoa, beans, winter squash) and plenty of spices to jazz things up.
If these type of foods round out the majority of your diet, you will lose fat. Take it easy on the carb sources (some people feel and perform better with less) and make sure to get plenty of protein at every meal, and you’ll be golden. The one thing to make sure you avoid is sugar, in any form, and also anything processed and containing flours (this doesn’t include almond and coconut flour).
2. HIIT It
If you’re training to lose fat relatively quickly, high-intensity interval training is THE way to go. Studies show it’s the most optimal style of training to lose fat, beating out steady-state cardio and also cutting your workout duration in half.
Typical HIIT workouts last anywhere from 15-20 minutes, and also create what is know as the “afterburn effect.” This is where your body has worked so hard during the workout that it burns an intense amount of calories for up to 24 hours after the workout in order to recover. In other words: it keeps your body burning a higher amount of calories when you aren’t even working out! [*]
Try incorporating HIIT workouts 3-4 days per week along with your strength sessions.
Most of my training uses HIIT at its base, with elements of explosive movements that up the intensity. Here’s an example workout:
3. Get Enough Sleep
Believe it or not, not getting enough sleep can hinder weight loss efforts. Studies show that not getting enough zzz’s, or staying up late and having irregular sleep patterns, is directly correlated with obesity. [*]
Having irregular sleep patterns can disrupt hormones necessary for optimal weight loss, which is why it’s so important to get on an (at least) semi-regular sleep schedule.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try natural herbals like valerian root ans chamomile to help you sleep more deeply. Also be sure to block out any light in your room (even the tiniest light disrupts hormones that keep you asleep) and set an alarm to wake up at roughly the same time everyday.
Stress releases the hormone cortisol, which has been linked to obesity (and also stubborn abdominal fat).
Aside from meditation and yoga, you can also try adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola and ashwaghanda to help reduce cortisol AND help your body fight stress more efficiently every day. I highly recommend keeping one of these in your regime at all times.
For short-term stress, you can try taking passionflower, skullcap, and chamomile.
Studies also show getting outside for less than 20 minutes can cause a huge boost in mood and reduction of stress hormones. [*] Try to get outside once a day in a park or on a trail.
5. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is also an awesome to to help you shed fat.
IF involves eating only during a set window of time, while fasting for the remainder. Most people tend to have success with skipping breakfast, eating their first meal at noon or 1 p.m., having a snack around 3-4 p.m., then having dinner no later than 7-8 p.m.
This gives your body a full 16-17 hours to tap into your fat reserves for energy, rather than being continually supplied with energy via food.
These tips are the pillars of effortless weight loss. Experiment a bit with the amount of carbs and fat from the foods listed above, and be sure you’re hitting the rest of these pillars, and you’re on your way to fat loss success!