Overcoming the Stages of Fat Loss
For many of us, weight loss is one of our top fitness goals, and for the most part, we all experience a plateau in our journey to our leaner version. Unfortunately, reaching this plateau can seemingly make our weight loss goals feel achievable. So what are we doing wrong?Weight loss and fat loss are two different things. When you weigh yourself on a scale, you see the overall number, your body weight. The number on the scale includesmuscle, fat, water, bone and your organs. Your body weight can easily fluctuate when you gain or lose muscle mass, shed or gain fat, or even retain or lose water via sweat, urine, or inflammation in the body. Being a smaller component of your overall weight, fat typically averages 10-30% of this number. Though weight is a fairly accurate measure of overall health, percent body fat is a greater indicator of disease. Having an at-risk body percentage can increase likelihood of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, gallstones, obesity, and other health related issues. To better establish the difference in weight loss and fat loss see the example below:
- Abby weighs 140lbs and wants to be 125lbs. In her 15lb weight loss she may see not only noticeable fat loss but also muscle loss.
- Daniel weighs 190lbs and wants to lose 5lbs of fat. Getting to 185lbs from 190lbs, he will notice little to no muscle mass loss but will see significant fat loss.
Because of the health risks involved, fat loss is a more accurate measure of success with our fitness goals. So the question still remains, how do I overcome this plateau and let my body burn the fat? To avoid explaining the painstaking details of fat mobilization, transportation and oxidation, I have condensed the best 7 exercise and diet tips to help you achieve your fitness goal of fat loss!
Photo: Running Competitor
Cut back on calories
I'm not saying to go on a crash diet from 2400 calories a day to 500 calories. That can be unsafe and a bit extreme! However, like the saying goes, SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE! To achieve decreased glycogen stores in the body safely, try skipping dessert with dinner for a week or two then gradually add passing on eating the entire bag of skittles during your midday crash.
To limit carbohydrates, simply try moderating your carbohydrate intake from the higher end of the recommended 45-65% of carbohydrates per day, to the lower end. Limiting carbs and calories can overlap a bit. When eliminating food from your diet, choose those high in carbs and low in nutrition just like the dessert and skittles.
Avoid eating right before exercise
Exercise of any kind can be problematic for your digestive system if you haven’t allowed it enough time to process. Avoid eating large meals right before you exercise. Instead, try eating a small healthy snack like apple slices with some almond butter about 45 to 60 minutes before your workout.
The kidneys help rid of waste products created while your body is burning fat. If you are not properly hydrated, the liver will help the kidneys process the waste, which slows down your body’s fat burn. So, drink up on some high quality H2O.
Photo: MTL Blog
When you exercise, exercise with all your might! To allow your body to get into fat-burning mode, your exercise exertion must be intense. Try doing high intensity interval training like sprints up a hill for 30 seconds and a recovery walk for 60 seconds, then repeat.
Keep your blood flowing
Fat loss occurs when free fatty acids (FFA) are released into the bloodstream and transported to be burned. To encourage transportation of FFAs, your body must achieve a steady blood flow. This can be best established with a consistent heart rate for about ten minutes or so. Try jogging or running for ten minutes at a steady heart rate appropriate for your age and activity level.
Don’t skip strength training
By now, most of us already know that the more muscle you have, the more fat your body can burn at rest. This is true when it comes to fat loss, but you want to focus on creating the most muscle contractions possible. Try adopting a strength training regimen that engages each large muscle group effectively and equally. Adding an extra five pounds of muscle will help you burn one pound of fat per week at rest.