I had an interesting conversation with a client the other day, and I believe many of us can identify with the same goal they shared. This person told me they had been battling the feeling that looking better really is a major reason they workout. This being part of the why behind their effort made them feel a little bit vain, and a little bit self-centered. We talk a lot about having deep reasons for wanting to be healthier because these help you stay committed and motivated to swing kettlebells instead of surfing the TV from your coach. However, the truth is at some level I would bet most of us want to look better too. We want to go on vacation and be proud of how we look on the beach. We want to put on a fancy suit or dress and be happy with how it looks. We want to have other people give us compliments on our weight loss, muscle gain, or both. I'll be 100% transparent (this is Joe, by the way) I want to look great when we go boating in the summers. It's a completely normal thing to want. Don't be ashamed of it. Now, what's the fastest way to look better? Lose fat. With that in mind, here are 10 fat loss tips you can implement immediately to being seeing results.
But wait, isn't skipping meals an easy way to not eat as many calories and therefore burn fat? Yes, but also no. Intermittent fasting is a legitimate strategy for losing weight and fat. Just skipping meals, however, is not intermittent fasting. It can lead to extreme hunger and a cycle of binging and purging. Not only will this stifle fat loss, it will negatively impact your relationship with food.
While you're trying to lose fat, you will need to be in a caloric deficit. How do you stay in a caloric deficit while also maintaining muscle AND feeling satisfied? You prioritize protein. Your body expends more energy digesting protein, and it is the most satiating nutrient. What is more filling, an eight ounce chicken breast, or a cup of white rice? Have at least a palm size serving of protein at every meal.
Outside of the fact these foods are full of micronutrients which help your body run effectively and feel great while doing so, fruits and vegetables are also an excellent source of fiber which helps keep you full. Additionally, you can eat a very large serving of vegetables for very few calories. This helps you stay satisfied after your meal, and not looking for more food.
You do not have to count your macronutrients. I repeat, you do not have to track your macronutrients. But, if you're looking to lose fat, you need to consider some strategy for calculating your intake level. This can be as simple as writing down your food in your phone note section, scribbling into a notebook, or taking pictures of your food. The magic here is that it makes you THINK before you EAT - and that's a huge win in the battle for fat loss.
You can enjoy your favorite foods in moderation and still lose fat. Pizza, ice cream, fries...these things are not going to immediately help your goal, but if you consume them in moderation they won't hurt it, either. What ruins your fat loss goals is when Friday night through Sunday night become a free for all. Pizza and beer on Friday. Waffles with syrup for brunch. Cheeseburgers and fries on Saturday night. Then donuts at church on Sunday and cap it all of with ice cream on Sunday night. You want to lose fat? Don't do this. Keep the treats in moderation. Allow yourself one or two a week. Not twelve.
For the many of you who work a normal 9-5 job, lunch at work can be a very challenging time. It's compounded when you have to leave the office to get lunch at a restaurant. Any time you eat food you didn't prepare, you're leaving your fat loss and fitness goals in the hands of someone else. Even if you make the healthier choice and choose something like Chipotle or even Blaze Pizza (check out my post for how to eat healthy at Blaze), you still cannot control portion sizes perfectly, nor how the food is cooked. Pack your lunch. Each week, spend an hour cooking five meals you can bring to work. This makes you healthier, but also saves you tons of money. Go add up last month's lunch spend. *Insert shocked face here*
Here's something you may or may not know: alcohol is literally poison to our bodies. The reason we get drunk when consuming it is the byproduct of our body having to process a toxic substance. I'm not against a drink with your family or friends. A glass of red wine has a myriad of health benefits. But if you think that weekly pitcher you're having out on the town, the two Bud Lights you're having with dinner, or the pre-bed whiskey is getting you closer to your fat loss goals you're dead wrong. Try to limit your alcohol consumption to two times per week, and no more than two drinks at each. There's a time and a place for celebrating with a little more alcohol than we normally should. It isn't every week. And it isn't when you're trying to lose fat.
Marcus Filly is one of the most insanely ripped people I've ever seen. Seriously go check out his Instagram feed. Anyway, he talks a lot about the importance of hydration, and for good reason. Your body is about 2/3 water. Yet many people maybe drink thirty ounces per day. Yes, food provides water, but that still isn't enough. What's a good level to shoot for? At minimum 1/2 body weight in ounces, and then sixteen ounces for every thirty minutes of activity. Drink up, see the gains.
Nothing messes up your fat loss efforts like constantly stopping and starting. Two weeks of hard work, give up with one bad week, start over. Repeat for a year. That's where frustration lives and thrives. Fat loss is a long term goal. It does not happen in one month. But it can in two or three. You will see results quickly if you follow a sound plan with good nutrition and workouts. You just need to believe it will happen, and have the patience to let it.
Finally, our first workout-based tip. It's number 10 because if you don't get the food right, you'll never lose fat. You can train all you want. You will never out-exercise a bad diet. What's the most efficient way to lose fat? Well, honestly, CrossFit, but any form of resistance training is going to do more for you than slogging away on a treadmill, rower, bike, or track for any period of time. Cardio is a constant at any CrossFit gym, but so is resistance training in the form of push ups, pull ups, muscle ups, air squats, etc. and weighted movements like back squats, kettlebell swings, bench press and shoulder press...the list goes on and on. These movements stress your muscles, causing them to use energy (calories) to repair themselves. This way as you lose fat, you look better too.