April is almost over and May will soon be here. That means that the warmer weather will soon be upon us. So let me ask the question, are you beach body ready? If you answered yes then congratulations, you can stop reading and enjoy the fruits of your labor. If not, then keep reading because in this post I am going to teach you how to burn fat.
I am not going to go into too much detail over nutrition, I have already written posts about nutrition. However, I do want to address some basic principles. The body takes in food and converts that food into energy. The way we measure energy is through the calorie. A calorie is the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of water by one degree Celsius. The human body throughout the day uses calories to perform daily physical tasks.
The amount of calories our bodies need to function on a day to day basis is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR). Our BMR depends on our body weight, age and height. So it is truly unique for each person. Any more calories we burn are from exercise. This is called the thermic effect of exercise (TEE). In order to increase the amount of calories we burn throughout the day we need to exercise more, correct?
If you ask most people they would tell you yes. Well I have some surprising news for you, more exercise is not the answer. Exercise places more stress on the body. More stress slows down the recovery rate. It is during the recovery that progress is made, not during exercise. Therein lies the conundrum, how do we burn fat if more exercise is not the answer? I’ve got four letters for you: DIET!
Count Calories Not Macros
There are plenty of nutrition books out there that promise to burn fat. Here’s the thing, almost all of them work. But there’s a catch. All of the diets promote macronutrient manipulation in some way. Macronutrients are any nutrient that provide calories to the body. There are three macronutrients: Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat. Each of these add calories to the body.
There is plenty of nutritional wisdom that suggests that eliminating your intake of one or more of these macronutrients will lead to a rapid fat burn without the need to count calories. Well, that is true, except for one thing. You are still counting calories. That’s the irony behind this. Eliminating one whole macronutrient, is just a clever way to reduce calories without keeping a food journal or getting out a calculator. This is why these diets are so popular.
So to simplify this, count calories not macros. We all know from the low fat craze of the 90’s that cutting out entire macronutrients doesn’t provide any real long term solutions. Instead, get a food journal and write down everything you eat. This is a technique used by bodybuilders and physique competitors to get their bodies looking as good as possible for competition.
Optimal Ways To Burn Fat
Burning fat through caloric intake is really pretty simple. The only problem is that people try to rush the process. This is understandable, but rushing usually never works. Loosing weight and looking like a fitness model doesn’t happen overnight. It is a long process. Therefore, the key is to make the process as bearable and enjoyable as possible. How do we do this?
Counting calories usually makes most people turn white as a ghost. So here is the way to do it. First, find out your BMR. A Fitbit or Garmin device works well here. After finding this out, cut 500 calories from this number per day. This will allow you to lose about 1 lb. per week. If you want quicker results then cut 1000 cal per day and you will lose about 2 lbs per week. It’s really that simple. I would not recommend losing more than 2 lbs per week. Anything more than this will cause you to lose lean body mass. If you lose too much lean body mass then your metabolism will slow down.
Another neat little trick is to measure your body fat percentage. You can do this with a simple Omron fat loss monitor. Although keep in mind it is not the most accurate piece of equipment, but it is the cheapest and easiest to use. This will help to ensure that you are not losing too much muscle mass.
But What About Cardio?
Good question! Cardio is fine in small amounts, but too much long slow distance (LSD) running will actually lead to a reduction in muscle mass. It will also cause your hormone levels to lower. Yikes! Now it is not all bad, your average exerciser has nothing to worry about. I am referring to those people who run an insane amount of mileage per week (10+ miles). But this is not the worst part of cardio. The absolute worst thing about LSD training is how incredibly boring it is. This is where interval training comes in.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of conditioning that puts the body through super intense bouts of exercise for periods as short as 30 seconds, or as long as 60 seconds, coupled with brief rest periods. This type of training usually only lasts 10-15 min and it is extremely effective. Does it burn fat during the workout, no. It burns up all the glycogen in your muscles. But when you have your post workout recovery shake your glycogen gets replenished and your metabolism is elevated for the next 24-36 hours. Now you burn fat.
The best part about HIIT is the variety. There are a bunch of free videos and articles all over the internet that give you a pretty good idea of how to structure your HIIT workouts. Just remember what your goals are. If you just start going all out on HIIT you might not get the results that you want. So remember to always start out small and add a little. Little by little, a little becomes a lot.