Updated: Nov 20, 2019
Often, the thought off burning body fat evokes images of slogging away at the gym, sweating buckets and gasping for air. Is this the best way to lose body fat? Maybe. The truth is there needs to be a combination of complementary actions and approaches to allow the body to strip away layers of fat. Here are 6 methods which help the body achieve this which do not require a gym membership - or even for you to break out in a sweat!
1. Be Hungry More
This sounds like a cop-out, it isn't. Humans have become too comfortable in their day to day lives. Central heating, accessible food and water, transport and a sedentary lifestyle all contribute to a societies ever-expanding waistline. The slightest feeling of hunger leads to snacking which leads to perpetually raised insulin levels which, in turn, can lead to insulin resistance - a pre-cursor to diabetes (x).
The solution? Get used to being hungry! Try intermittent fasting approaches such as 16:8 where you eat within an 8-hour window and fast for the other 16 hours in a 24 hour period. This could be as easy as skipping breakfast, which leads us on to our next point:
2. Fasted Activity
Humans evolved to have the ability to walk for long distances on an empty stomach in the morning - think waking up and going foraging or hunting for your daily food. In fact, a study of 2017 showed that exercise before breakfast increased 24-hr fat oxidation levels, meaning they burned more fat throughout the day.
How do we apply this? Simple. Where possible, go for a long walk/swim or do some other low-intensity exercise first thing in the morning, or before your first meal if you are following the 16:8 intermittent fasting protocol.
3. Cut Out Sugar
Sugar, either added or naturally-occurring, hampers fat loss. Sugar provides instant energy for the body which stops the body using its fat stores for energy. It also triggers insulin to be released from the pancreas which increases fat storage and can decrease the bodies sensitivity to insulin which can lead to a myriad of health problems, not to mention an increase in fat storage (x).
Avoid foods with added sugar and foods with excess naturally occurring sugar. Limit fruit intake to 1-2 pieces per day and obtain most of your minerals and vitamins from vegetables and animal products.
4. Think Nutrient Density
Minerals and vitamins are vital to the correct function of the human body. A healthy, functioning body leads to increased energy levels which, in turn, can help you to burn more calories throughout the day. This is why it is important to choose foods which are high in a range of minerals and vitamins.
- Always consider the nutrient density of your next meal. Check labelling to ensure they contain good amounts of minerals and vitamins.
- Consume a range of vegetables and, to a lesser extent fruit, of different colours. The darker the better.
- Opt for different meats such as organ meat, shellfish, gelatinous meats and game meat.
- Experiment with different herbs and spices.
Related Post: Top 3 Nutrition Essentials
5. Sleep Better
Notice I didn't say sleep more. Lots of sleep isn't always indicative of good health (X). What is more important is that you get enough quality sleep. Sleeping remains a mystery within the scientific world, but what is universally agreed is that sleep plays a vital role in healthy function and fat loss (x) (x). Inadequate sleep leads to an increase in cortisol, a stress hormone which increases fat storage and can lead to an increase in snacking and poor food choices.
Prioritise good sleep. Ensure you obtain between 7-9 hours of sleep per night aiming to go to bed earlier and awaken earlier as opposed to sleeping late. Minimise blue light exposure before bed and ensure a cool bedroom. For more tips on ensuring you sleep well, check out this article on sleep.
This last point is possibly one of the most important, and often one of the most overlooked. Stress, unfortunately, is a common factor in many lives today. Bills, relationships, careers, social anxieties and politics(!!!) are some factors which can increase stress levels and, over time, could lead to chronically elevated stress levels which has its own health effects (x). Cortisol is the main stress hormone and elevated cortisol levels lead to an increase in fat storage, especially around the midriff area (x).
The aim here is to reduce stress levels, easier said than done when you are stressed. This could mean taking time out and going for a walk in nature, speaking to someone close to you about your problems, meditating, exercising, laughing, playing, the list goes on. Everyone has their individual ways to deal with stress. If you feel you are chronically stressed it might be a good idea to speak to a professional to help you control your stress levels.
Healthy fat loss goes hand in hand with a healthy functioning body. Everything mentioned above helps to promote fat loss, but it also promotes a healthy life. Combine this with a healthy exercise regime and you can supercharge your results. For more information on exercise and personal training, check out the Personal Training section.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Maitland is a personal trainer with over 10 years’ experience. He has worked alongside a wide range of leading CEOs, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. John is a keen athlete and holds a black belt in Shaolin Kung fu. A fan of the great outdoors, he can often be found exploring the British countryside and mountains...or breaking pine boards with his fingers.