How i approach burning fat
Burning fat can be a daunting task. There’s so many different diets, pills, workout plans and magical machines promising too get you slim and in shape.
In reality, all you really need, is the ability to pick a course of action and stick with it consistently. You see, burning fat in principle is really simple, all you need to do is burn more energy then you eat. This is easy to do every now and then, but to really succeed it has to be done consistently over a long period of time.
Again, i like to keep things really simple. So, when i decide it’s time to burn fat i have my 3 strategies.
First, never over-restrict your calories, keep them as high as possible in relation to what stage you’re at.
Secondly, make it a priority to keep the muscle! You’ve worked so hard to build it, you don’t want to start cannibalising your precious gains just to loose some extra fat.
Third and last, use EXTRA exercise to help create a calorie deficit.
Don’t over restrict
What i mean here is that when we start a diet we tend to want to end it quickly. So, in our minds we think if we cut our calories drastically we will loose the weight faster, and bam we won’t need to diet for as long.
Yes! you will drop weight drastically by dropping your calories, but the body is a cheeky bastard, it adapts!
It will adapt quicker than you think and pretty soon you’ll be starving hungry and your weight loss progress has stalled.
This is a common reason why people then give up. It’s not sustainable.
So, don’t be over eager. Restrict calories slowly. If you’re loosing weight on X amount of calories don’t change a damn thing!
Ride this wave for as long as you can, ‘cause your bodies going to adapt. But now, when it adapts, we have wiggle room.
We can remove some more calories again, not a great deal, 50-100 calories every day. This is an extra 350-700 calories per week!
It is going to make a difference. Then we ride this wave again for as long as possible. When we stall, we’ll restrict again. Keep doing this over and over.
Eventually we might get to a place where our calories are quite low we feel hungry all the time and we need to eat something or we just might go crazy!!
Well, we have another little trick in our play book. Remember how the body adapts? The cheeky bugger has now adapted to these low calories and we can’t lose any more weight!
If / When this happens we can relax a little, bump our calories up to a maintenance level. Don’t get too carried away, but also don’t under do it.
Make sure you eat at least maintenance calories! For a minimum of one week, i usually do two.
Now that cheeky body of ours is getting used to those calories, so once we go into a deficit again, the weight should start to come of once more.
This one-two week break also helps us recharge mentally and now we should be able to finish the job.
On a personal note, i have a real weakness for bread! Lucky for me Petra makes great bread that i can fit into my diet, even when in a deficit. Check out some of her delicious bread recipes.
The next strategy is maintaining that hard earned muscle. The first reason is that those muscle gains are going to really pop once you strip off the fat.
But more importantly the more muscle you have, the more fat you’ll burn and the more you food you can eat.
Now, i don’t know about you, but the worst thing about a diet is restricting calories, so if i can eat more while i’m loosing weight then I’m all for it!
To maintain the muscle we want to make sure we keep the protein in our diet high. Personally, I always eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
I’ve written about the importance of protein already in Building Muscle & Nutrition for Muscle Growth.
So, just make sure you’re hitting your protein targets, even during calorie restriction.
I don’t like to over restrict the fats in my diet. So the macro nutrient i attack the most to create the deficit is the carbs.
Carbs are the easiest fuel source for the body to consume, so by restricting these we force the body to look for other fuel sources, and that’s the body fat we are trying to burn.
So before when i was talking about taking away 50-100 calories when you plateau, i personally take this from my carbohydrates.
You may choose to take it from the Fats, either way don’t even think about touching those proteins!
Importantly, keep up with the weights. Whatever you did to build the muscle, keep doing it!
It’s inevitable as you get further into the diet to loose strength, try and maintain as much as you can.
If you need to decrease the weight on the bar, then try and hit more reps. Feel the pump ,feel the burn, just get it done!
The last strategy in our bag of tricks is, exercise! When i talk about exercise I’m talking about cardio.
Gotta get that heart pumping and sweat pouring! Picking something that you actually enjoy doing, will make this process a lot less daunting.
It might even be a great time to try something new, cross fit, cycling, boxing, the world is your oyster.
During a fat burning phase is the only time i track the cardio exercise that i do.
The reason i track it, is, that it’s another weapon in our arsenal to create a deficit.
Just as we don’t want to over restrict our calories, we don’t want to over exercise, why? Because we can increase our exercise, to increase our deficit.
Don’t stop any of your regular activities. Keep playing basketball, going to yoga, hiding from your boss or getting intimate with your partner.
But don’t track these activities! The activities you should start tracking are extras.
So for me, I have 2 martial arts sessions a week, and 4 weight lifting sessions. These i do not track, they are my regular activities.
But if I’m adding extra activities i’ll use my elliptical trainer, why? Because it tells me how many calories i burn.
This way when i hit weight loss plateaus i have options. I can either drop some calories, or i can increase the calories i burn on the elliptical.
Having the two option for creating the deficit helps to keep the body guessing, remember the cheeky bugger is always trying to adapt.
Aim to burn an extra 50-100 calories per day when you need to make a change, to keep burning that fat.
Mix it up, don’t use both methods at once. If you hit a plateau pick one and implement it, ride the wave, then when that ends use the other.
Keep riding and repeating! Consistency is the key, results will happen! You’ll be a burning fat machine!!
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