Forget about weight loss!
It’s a term that’s constantly being thrown around in the media, making it to the top choice for New Year resolutions every year.
Instead focus on fat loss. What’s the difference you may ask?
Weight is the number you see when you step on the scale. It fluctuates depending on which day of the week it is and if you happen to be bloated that morning or indulged a little too much the night before.
Body fat is mostly indicated by how your clothes fit and how lean and toned you look. To measure body fat you’ll need to get a DEXA scan or purchase a pair calipers to figure it out.
When women want to look leaner and more toned they’re most likely referring to losing body fat. Body fat reduction is directly related with losing weight but not vice versa.
You can lose weight and still have lots of body fat which is why body fat reduction is more important than weight reduction. If you’re going for body fat reduction here are my top 5 tips to help you lose body fat to get you that lean, toned look every woman desires.
Tip #1 – Lift Heavy
One thing that weight loss diets completely over look for exercise is strength training or ‘clanging and banging’ as The Rock would put it.
Muscles are metabolically expensive to maintain. If you’re cutting back on calories without adding a weight lifting routine your body will no longer maintain your lean muscle mass. So to give your body a good reason to maintain your muscles you must lift heavy.
In the long run losing muscles means that when you get off your diet your metabolism will slow down and won’t be able to handle the extra calories off your diet. This is why most people gain back all the weight they’ve lost and even will add a couple pounds extra.
Calorie reduction without strength training is bad news!
So what can you do?
Get lifting! Start with a training program that does full body compound lifting to maximize the benefits in the gym and lift at least 3 times a week.
You don’t need the perfect program to get started. Googling will bring you an endless number of program ideas to get you going. You can also a hire personal trainer or find an online one to support and give you guidance on an appropriate lifting program for you especially if you’re a novice.
The important part is to get started.
Tip #2 – Eat More Protein
Eating enough protein around the clock is important to support muscle retention and muscle growth for that lean toned look you’re after. It’s a macronutrient that your body cannot store unlike fat and carbs which if eaten in excess goes straight to fat storage. Because of this protein should be on the menu at every meal.
A side benefit to eating more protein is keeping you full longer. No one likes to be hangry after a meal, it’s like being cheated out of one.
Unlike digesting carb sources, protein takes about 30% of its own calories to digest, absorb, and break down into usable forms of energy. This is why you will feel more satisfied when eating more protein instead of less.
Make sure that each meal you eat contains at least a serving of 25-30 grams of lean protein which will keep you full for 2-3 hours at a stretch.
One serving the size of your palm contains about 20 grams of protein. If you’re vegetarian you can meet your protein requirements with Greek yogurts, a variety of beans like lentils or chickpeas, tofu, and grains like quinoa.
Tip #3 – Drink More Water
Our bodies are made up of 60% water and we all know we need to drink more water. It’s a non-negotiable nutrient to our cells. We can go for 21+ days without food but only 3 days without water.
When you’re dehydrated your kidneys cannot expel toxins and waste efficiently and needs to recruit the help of your liver. One of the functions of your liver is to metabolize fat but if it’s doing the job of the kidneys breaking down toxins then it cannot break down fat. This is why experts recommend drinking plenty of water during diets to encourage your body to metabolize fat.
For some increasing water intake can be a challenge.
You can create the habit of drinking more water by using an existing habit to trigger this action. For example, if you check your phone first thing every morning put a glass of water by your bedside. Checking your phone will trigger your habit to drink your first glass of water for the day.
If you order coffee every morning you can use your purchase as a trigger to buy a bottle of water at the same time. Setting reminders that goes off 2-3 times a day can also help you remember to drink more water.
Tip #4 – Eat More Whole,Unprocessed Foods
Eating out at restaurants and snacking causes us to eat a lot more calories than we’re aware of. The added sugar, salt, and fat in the processed foods makes it hyperpalatable and so tasty that we eat a lot more than we intended.
The ability of food companies to increase the hyper palatability of a large variety of foods off the shelves contributes to our expanding waistlines and heavier weight.
One of the biggest changes you can do to reduce your body fat is cutting back on the amount of processed foods in your diet. Eating mostly whole, unprocessed foods that will make you feel fuller on fewer calories.
Instead of a bowl of cereal go for the bowl of steel cut oats. Swap out fruit juice for a piece of real fruit. Go for the tomatoes instead of ketchup with high fructose corn syrup.
Next time you go to the grocery stores stick to the perimeter of the store. Load up with fruits and vegetables in the produce section and buy lean cuts of meat without the added preservatives or processing steps in your meat department.
Tip #5 – Mindset Shift
Losing body fat is as much of a discipline of daily physical activity as much as it is a mental one.
It’s all too easy to focus on the negatives instead of the positives of your journey. When you’ve tried multiple times to reach your goals your mind becomes good at dwelling on your failed attempts and what really bothers you about your body.
We start stating the negatives such as ‘I wish I could get rid of this gut’ or ‘I have a slow metabolism’. We focus on asking negative questions such as ‘why it is so hard for me to lose weight’ or ‘why is it that I lack the willpower to resist junk foods’?
This mindset only reinforces the negative beliefs we have about ourselves therefore increasing our chances that we will quit again.
Instead we need to state the positives and ask empowering questions.
For example, asking yourself questions such as ‘how great am I going to feel after my workout?’ or ‘what workout clothes will I be wearing to my class?’ focuses your mind on a positive result.
Telling yourself that you are working harder to become even better and you’re getting stronger everyday even when you’re not there yet helps reinforce your grit and persistence.
Empowering questions and statements motivate and invigorate your willpower to continue. Focusing on asking the right questions is how you make your journey easier for yourself and how you can enjoy the process a lot more increasing your chances you’ll reach your goals.
Much of success comes from mimicking habits and behaviors of people whose physiques we admire. Once we have consistent healthy habits reaching your body fat goals becomes a byproduct of your actions.
Remember that you want to maintain your results and that takes the correct daily action on a consistent basis. Implement these tips and you’ll be well on your way to a leaner, more toned look.