1- Counting calories
A bit like life, counting calories is hard. You don’t necessarily need a math degree to do it, but the effort going into reading every food label can be de-motivating. Not only this, but there are many variables that determine how many calories your body needs, and by how many calories you need to cut to see a change in fat loss. For example, age, height, weight, health conditions and medication, to list but a few will all need to be looked at when determining your calorie count goals. Don’t get me wrong, counting calories can work, but most people I know of who have used this method to lose fat have been unhappy and as a result gave up on their goals. Why not make it easier for yourself? Eating clean and lean foods when you are hungry should be a good start. It’s very hard to overeat on vegetables, I’ve yet to meet an overweight vegetable addict.
2- Meal frequency
Body builders tend to eat 5-7 meals a day, and to be fair this works for them. The average man or woman may not have the time or resources to prepare the amount of meals stated. But it is not necessary to eat that frequently to lose fat. Research suggests that there is no clear correlation between meal frequency and fat loss or gain. So ignore that bloke from the finance team you’ve been eyeing up, eating from his Tupperware 5 times a day. It doesn’t mean you have to eat that frequently if your goal is fat loss. I repeat, fat loss does not correlate with meal frequency!
3- Cardio, cardio, cardio
Sure, cardio will help in fat loss, but it has to be the right amount and form of cardio. Jogging on the treadmill for an hour everyday will not be very productive. Doing so will only cause your body to lose muscle, as your body, instead of targeting fat first when doing cardio, targets the muscles for energy. High intensity cardio is a very effective way in burning fat, if you haven’t tried it, I suggest HIIT, or high intensity interval training. Not only is this method time efficient but studies also show that HIIT is 9 times more effective at burning fat than long distance running. So yeah, running loads may make you feel like you’re losing loads of fat, but it’s really not. As Bill Clinton once said ‘it’s the intensity, Stupid!’
4- Don’t eat after 6pm
Imagine your body were to have a clock, and when it hits 6pm it says ‘might as well turn that pasta into fat’. That just doesn’t happen. Some people avoid eating altogether in the evening and some stop eating carbs when it hits 2pm. Well, recent studies that compared those that ate earlier in the day with eating later in the day, found that there was no difference in weight loss between the groups. In fact, fat burning was higher in those who ate later in the day. This study was later carried out with carb eaters in Israel, finding that nighttime carb eaters burned more fat and were less hungry during the day than those who only ate carbs early in the day.
5- Lift less for higher reps
Similar to what was previously said, the intensity plays a big role in losing fat. Higher intensity sessions at the gym will increase muscle tissue, which in turn will contribute significantly to burning fat. Looking lean requires high strain on your muscles, creating more muscle fibers. Studies also show that the stronger you are, the faster you can run. Moving faster will enable you to burn fat faster. I would suggests reps of higher than 15 per set is too high, try to lift at a heavier weight for 8-12 reps, this way you should burn fat more efficiently.
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Author: Yusuf Jibali
Jon Schoenfeld, B., Albert Aragon, A. and Krieger, J. (2015). Effects of meal frequency on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews, 73(2), pp.69-82.
Layman DK, Boileau RA, Erickson DJ, Painter JE, Shiue H, Sather C, Christou DD. A reduced ratio of dietary carbohydrate to protein improves body composition and blood lipid profiles during weight loss in adult women. J Nutr. 2003 Feb; 133(2): 411-7.