Losing the freshman fifteen, getting rid of the muffin top or burning away thirty years of bad habits all must happen the same way, through a healthy lifestyle. That doesn’t look the same for everyone, but the basic components are consistent. To burn fat we must exercise, build muscle, change how we eat and get proper rest. Sounds easy, right? In reality, it is easy, but it is also hard to take those first few steps. Here are eight ways for you to burn fat and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
1. Cardio Exercise
Cardio exercise is an effective way to kick start fat burning. It gets the blood pumping and burns off excess glucose. Cardio fitness increases your energy and your lung function, it strengthens your heart and decreases belly fat. You can get in a great cardio workout by going for a run or using the elliptical. Even a brisk walk each day can be beneficial cardio, especially for those who haven’t done any strenuous exercise in a long time.
HIIT cardio is a short period of very high intensity exercise cardio that is said to burn fat very quickly. These 20-30 bursts of exercise are effective at burning fat because you are pushing your body harder than usual.
2. Strength Training
Building muscle is a proven method of burning fat, and you get stronger in the meantime. As you gain muscle, your body becomes more efficient at burning fat. Strength training is beneficial for weight loss because your body continues to burn calories and fat after the exercise is complete. Strength training is just weight lifting. It can also be exercises like planking and lunges. Other fitness programs like yoga and aqua fit combine cardio, strength training and stretching for a full body workout.
3. Eat Fewer Carbs
Refined carbohydrates are packed with sugar and offer very little benefit to your health. Eating refined carbohydrates produces glucose in the body. When you exercise, your body burns that excess glucose. For most westerners today, glucose has become our main source of energy due to diets high in sugar and carbs. Energy spikes followed by a crash are also due to the high glucose levels in our bodies. By reducing your carb intake, your body will burn through the glucose faster and start burning fat. For optimal fat burning, reach a level of ketosis where your body is trained to burn fat for energy. People who restrict their daily intake of carbohydrates to under 100 grams a day can achieve ketosis and benefit from the fat burning and high energy levels that go along with it.
4. Eat More Protein
Protein is a vital macro-nutrient for your body. It contributes to muscle growth in adults and overall growth in children. Protein fights bacteria in your body to ward off viruses. It protects your skin and it aides in weight loss. Adding protein to your diet will help you feel full longer and reduce snacking.
Protein is found in animal products and many nuts, seeds and vegetables. To increase your daily protein, add one of the following to your diet each day:
- 1 ounce of meat or fish
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 12 almonds
- ¼ cup cooked beans or peas
Broccoli, asparagus, oats and soy are also great protein sources that will make you feel full and help your burn fat.
5. Eat More Fat
Eating fat to burn fat seem counter-productive but your body needs healthy fats. These fats will help you feel full, lower your cholesterol levels and help you gain energy. By eating healthy fats instead of foods high in sugar, your hunger is satiated, and you don’t enter the vicious circle of eating cards for energy, crashing, eating more carbs that store more fat. Sources of healthy fat include olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Even dark chocolate is a good source of healthy fat. Try incorporating one serving of healthy fats into your diet each day. Replacing trans fats with healthy fats is even better.
6. Drink More Water
Drinking water helps you feel full, improves your energy levels and reduces edema. The base recommendation for water consumption each day is 8 glasses of water, and that should be increased if you drink coffee or alcohol. The hunger feeling that we experience is often the early stages of dehydration, so staying hydrated can help cut back on snacking through the day. If you don’t like to drink plain water, try adding sugar-free flavoring to your water or put some frozen fruit in for natural flavor. There are many flavors and flavored waters on the market that don’t include sugar or additives. Naturally flavored soda water is another great option for those who enjoy carbonated beverages. Adding some freshly squeezed lemon to your morning water is said to aid with weight loss and it adds a fresh flavor to your water.
7. Intermittent Fasting
Until recently, most nutritionists recommended eating breakfast and several other small meals throughout the day. More and more studies are showing that intermittent fasting may be a better alternative for weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.
Intermittent fasting means that you allow yourself a window of time for eating each day. It can be as short as a couple of hours or as long as eight hours and it can be any window of consecutive hours in the day. For example, someone doing a 20/4 intermittent fast would fast for 20 hours a day and have a four-hour window like noon – 4pm where they consume all of their calories through the day.
There are a couple of reasons why intermittent fasting is effective. Obviously, the number of calories you consume in a day will be fewer if you have a short period of time to consume them. During your fast, the levels of insulin and blood sugar drop, which helps with weight loss.
8. Get 8 Hours of Sleep
Sleep is one of the most essential parts of weight loss and fat burning. Without enough rest, we often crave food that is high in sugar to increase energy. Inadequate sleep slows the metabolic system and decreases our ability to process insulin, which leads to increased fat storage.
The amount of exercise you get decreases if you are not getting enough rest. Less exercise means less fat being burned, and you can see that sleep plays a significant role in fat burning.
Take small steps each day towards living a healthy lifestyle and burning your excess fat and it will happen in good time. It is healthiest to lose 1-2 lbs a week so there’s no need to try and do everything all at once.