If you feel like any extra calories you eat go straight to your belly or thighs, you’re not imagining things. Those are usually the areas where you store fat because of your genes, hormones, age, lifestyle, and other factors. Your body tends to hoard calories as fat to keep you alive and safe. The challenge is learning how to reduce body fat.
You hear a lot about fat-burning gimmicks such as working out in the fat-burning zone, spot reduction, and foods or supplements that supposedly burn more fat. Instead, learn how to burn fat through a variety of types of exercise.
1. Stay Off The Scale
That you can gain muscle and lose fat is one of the reasons I stress to people not to follow the scale. Body composition and how you look in the mirror matters more than what the scale says.
You could train hard and eat right and build five pounds of muscle and lose five pounds of fat, and what will the scale say? That you still weigh the same.
Frustrating, even though you’ve made good progress. Use the scale as a guide, but how you look in the mirror, how you feel, and how your clothes fit are much better indicators of your progress.
2. Reduce Your Calories Gradually
If you’re looking to lose fat, don’t make huge calorie cuts. This will kick your body into starvation mode, reducing your metabolism and making it more difficult to burn off the fat.
To prevent this metabolic slowdown and allow your body to burn fat at an optimal rate, make smaller calorie reductions every week or two.
3. Vary Your Caloric Intake
This is another way to outsmart your body and continue to reduce body fat without lowering your metabolism.
By varying your caloric intake every few days instead of eating the exact same amount of calories every day, keep the starvation mechanism in check and continue to burn fat.
4. Train With Weights
Resistance training helps with fat loss in a number of ways. Weight training itself burns calories. Studies also show that, unlike aerobic exercise, weight training increases the calories you burn at rest for up to 39 hours after your workout.
Plus, the more muscle your body has, the more calories you burn each day.
Even if your goal is solely to reduce body fat, you need to train with weights. This will help prevent any of the weight you lose from being muscle.
Were that to happen, your metabolism would slow, stalling your fat-loss efforts and turning you into a skinny-fat person.
Yes, even someone with anorexia can have a high body fat percentage.
5. Do High-Intensity Intervals (HIIT)
This means alternating a brief period of high-intensity exercise with brief rest periods.
The result: better results in less time.
One of my favorite interval methods is jumping rope. You may need to practice a bit on this one. After a brief warmup, I’ll jump rope as fast as I can for 10-20 seconds, followed by a half a minute at a slower cadence.
Always warm up before intervals, by the way. If you’re not in the best shape, start with cardio of low or moderate intensity. You might also want to check with your doctor.
6. Eat More Fat
Consuming enough of the good fats will help you lose fat, build muscle, and recover faster from your workouts. Healthy fats also have myriad health benefits, including being good for your heart.
So which fats are “good” fats? The polyunsaturated ones (especially omega-3s), such as those from fish and nuts, and the monounsaturated kind, such as those from peanut butter, olive oil, egg yolks, and fish oil.
7. Cut Carbs
The attention focused on low-carb diets has divided many people into “pro” and “anti” low-carb camps. Whichever side you’re on, the bottom line is that reducing your carb intake—especially sugar and starches—when trying to lose fat will help.
Those carbs you do consume should come from sources such as oatmeal and vegetables.
8. Increase Your Protein
Increasing protein intake will increase your metabolism and help to maintain your muscle mass, all of which helps with fat-burning. In fact, your body burns more calories when you eat protein than when you digest either fats or carbs.
9. Eat 6 Smaller Meals Per Day, Not 2-3 Feasts
This will ensure that you supply your body with the nutrients necessary to build muscle and burn fat.
Bonus: Your resting metabolic rate increases. It will also prevent your body from kicking into “starvation” mode, which can happen when too much time elapses between meals.
If this happens, your body will start burning muscle for energy and increasing your body-fat stores, as well as slowing down your metabolism. This is the exact opposite of what you want to happen.
Don’t be the kind of person who complains about your situation but never does anything to improve it. Don’t become “happy” with the status quo of being miserable. Now use this knowledge to take action!