When it comes to fat loss, there are so many people who are confused by everything they read. I always advise people to find someone who they trust, someone who gets results, and then follow the way that they work. Each and every person who gets people in great shape, will all have a slightly different way of working. Some will favour certain styles of eating and training, others will not. In many cases, this doesn't mean that each person is wrong with what they coach. However pull too many bits from different sources, and you'll often get very confused, and your results will reflect this.
I'd like to think that by reading this article or by following the work that we do at Vision, you see us a valuable source of information that really does work. We continually monitor progress with clients, keep up to date with research and assess every method that we learn about, so that we ensure our results continually improve week by week.
So I thought I'd bring together many of the best tips ive learned from testing on myself, studying a nutrition degree and working with many male and female clients over the years working as a personal trainer, and put them into one place for you to learn.
Please practice implementation and not just scanning through without action to make a change. The list can seem overwhelming so my advice is to pick one off the list at a time and keep in mind - Implementing one a change a week is a really positive step.
So here is my action list for you to consider....
1. Make sure you have a clear and measurable goal from the start
Make sure your goals are set in stages, as reaching each one is a huge motivational tool.
2. Drink adequate amounts of water
Your muscles are 70% water, and your brain is 80%. It doesn't take much to realise how poorly you'll function without it. Not only that, but the kidneys and liver rely on optimal water intake to function properly. The liver is a key organ for fat loss, so you must stay hydrated. My guidelines are to drink a minimum of 2-3 litres of water per day.
3. Make time
One thing people never seem to have enough of is time, especially when it comes to fat loss. You have to make time, and you have to place getting in shape as a priority. If you don't, it'll get left behind just like your results.
4. Eat to lose fat, don't starve yourself
Any of you who have followed a Vision program for any amount of time, will know that it is essential to eat enough for your body when you're trying to lose body fat. If you're eating a low calorie diet and under your macro nutrient daily targets consitently and not losing body fat, there's your answer right there. You need to eat more to lose body fat.
5. Train right
I only have to walk around many health or fitness clubs, to see people training way below their actual true capacity. If you have never been taken through a well structured workout, hire a trainer to do so. Not only will you learn a lot, but you will achieve way better results.
6. Surround yourself with likeminded people
Spending time with people who want different things to you, will always hold you back. Spend time with people who have a likeminded outlook on life and similar goals to you. You'll find you'll progress so much quicker, but at the same time you'll always be challenged and motivated by their drive and passion.
7. Prioritise your diet around protein
Many people don't even think about diet structure, let alone knowing which nutrients are important at what parts of the day. A priority goal for fat loss, is retaining hard earned muscle (males and females). So the first macro nutrient that I always make sure is firmly in place, is protein.
8. Get 7 - 8 hours sleep per night
The more stressed your body is, the less inclined it will be to help you lose body fat and build muscle tissue. Cortisol (the stress hormone), has been shown in excess to lower anabolic hormones (those that help you grow muscle). It has also been shown to be catabolic, (in chronic excess ) which induces muscle tissue breakdown (you need muscle to lose body fat). Elevated stress also impacts your blood sugar levels, which also impacts cravings. This stimulates an unnecessary release of sugar into the blood stream, which can promote fat storage.
9. Evaluate your progress
If you don't know how well (or not) you're doing, how can you adapt your training and nutrition. How can you motivate yourself if you don't know if your programme is working? At Vision, your 9 week Goal session is an absolute must if you are to ensure continuous progression. Each week or forghtnight take progress pictures and have you body fat / weight measured. This will give you weekly targets to work towards, or enable you to correct where you may have gone wrong.
10. Support your liver
The liver is an essential organ where fat loss is concerned. Poor quality and low calorie diets, alcohol, toxins and stress all place huge demands on your liver. When you start a fat loss plan, the first place that needs a little support is your liver. A broad spectrum liver formula, essential amino acids and B vitamins will really help in the early stages.
11. Eat a high protein breakfast once / twice week
At Vision your accelerator day (High Protein / low or no carb) is your structured opportunity for this. On this day I suggest to everyone that they follow a rich protein based breakfast. Not only does it help stabilise your blood sugar first thing in the morning. It provides essential amino acids to your body, which also stimulate brain function to support you through the first part of your day. Through the night as you fast, your body will use amino acids. As these are such essential building blocks for your muscle tissue, it's essential that you add these into your body first thing in the morning.
12. Eat greens with each meal
Vegetables provide plenty of fibre, and a rich spectrum of nutrients that many people don't get from a standard diet. In an earlier point that I made, the liver requires a broad spectrum of nutrients to function optimally (so do all the other organs and tissues in the body). Starve your body of nutrients, and you slow down your ability to function optimally, get leaner and build muscle.
13. Ensure adequate fibre intake each day
This carries on nicely from the last point. Fibre is essential for optimal bowel function, it also helps with the mobilisation of toxins out of the body. Fibre also helps keep you full, and therefore must be a staple in many peoples diets. Aim for 30 - 40 grams per day from vegetables, and fibre sources such as ground flaxseeds and chia seeds.
14. Don't copy the diet your friend uses
People copy their friends, when they know good and well that their diets don't work. Go down your own route, and source someone who gets results using methods which combine many of my points in this article .
15. Don't be put off by building muscle
A huge amount of what we know in relation to fat loss comes from physique development, and research in this sport. When people lose body fat, their goal is to have a physique at the end of it. To this degree you need to be able to build muscle, whilst losing body fat. This is the art of fat loss. To what degree you take this to is completely your choice.
16. Never be happy with average, but always acknowledge where you've come from
People tend to get to a place where they say they're happy at, yet these people always slip back into their old ways sooner or later. Always look for ways to improve, even if it's by a strength goal, fitness goal, or continual fat loss.
17. Follow a specific Macro Nutrient guideline
Hire a coach or a Vision Personal Trainer who can map out a specific set of macro nutrient guidelines for you to follow. These can be tailored for you as an individual designed for the exact goal you have. Learn the art of discipline and follow the plan - It works.
18. Prioritise weight training over cardio
A lesson that so many people pick up from their friends, is that cardio burns more fat than weights. I can assure you from many years in the field of fat loss and physique development, that weights are the tool that will get you in the best shape. Cardio is a tool for finer tweaking at appropriate times.
19. Limit fruit intake
Regardless of the large health benefits of fruit, they still contain large amounts of sugar. Sugar consumed in excess and at the wrong time, WILL make you fat. When eating fruit on a fat loss program ensure your go for lower GI options such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, grapefruit, nectarines, peach, plum, raspberries and always seek organic especially strawberries as they are one of the most sprayed crops in the world
20. Learn how to cook
People who don't know how to cook, often eat very bland foods. Fat loss doesn't have to be boring, especially when you know how to make food taste great. The blander you make food, the worse cravings will be and the sooner you'll cave into cheat foods and ruin your hard work.
21. Prepare your food for each day
Here's an old saying that you will have all heard of, "fail to prepare and prepare to fail". This is very true indeed, and preparation of food is key to achieving great results. The less you are prepared, the more likely you will be to eat foods that aren't on your plan.
22. Don't train for other people, do it for you
I've worked with many people over the years who are trying to change the way they look to impress someone else. You will only be truly successful if what you're doing is for you, and your own goals.
23. Rotate your protein sources regularly
Food intolerances affect so many more people than we think. There are a very small amount of foods that the average person eats on a week to week basis. To avoid food intolerances from eating the same protein sources (meat, fish, poultry), make sure you mix them up every 3rd-4th week.
24. Ensure your gut is a healthy environment
Gut problems are a huge issue when it comes to fat loss. Your stomach is the first major part of the digestive system that your food hits after you eat it. If it's not functioning optimally, food won't be broken down to further carry on its journey into the intestines. Poorly digested food causes many problems, especially low quality nutrient absorption. A healthy gut is also linked to a healthy immune system. The more you're not well, the less you can recover and the less you will be able to train. Either use a probiotic supplement daily, or include probiotic foods into your diet (kefir, sauerkraut and miso are three examples).
25. Keep most of your caffeine intake to before 1 pm
The more stressed you are, the slower fat loss will be. Stress also lowers testosterone levels, which isn't a good idea when you're trying to build muscle tissue. By reducing any stimulants to before 1 pm, you will be in a good place to relax when bed times comes around.
26. Use a liquid or capsule based fish oil supplement daily
Many diets are rich in omega 6 (too much is very inflammatory), and not enough people eat oily fish each day. So supplement your diet with 3 - 5 grams of fish oil per day, to help create an anti-inflammatory environment. Fish oils also increase fat loss, and slow down fat storage.
27. Avoid common intolerant food groups
Until you're sure these foods don't cause you any gut problems, cut out eggs, gluten, pasteurised dairy and wheat. Many people often have an issue with chicken, so be aware of this one also.
28. Eat a balanced amount of essential fats
Leaving out fats from your diet, is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Not only are fats rich in quality calories that should make up at least 20% of your diet, they also help promote the development of hormones. Fats also help balance blood sugar levels and transport vitamins around the body. When fat loss and optimal health is your goal, don't leave out your fats.
29. Minimise processed and nutrient poor food
I have added this in, purely because people have a limited amount of knowledge as to why they shouldn't eat poor quality food. Sure we all enjoy a bit of naughty food from time to time, but it serves no purpose within your body on a daily basis. There are extremely minimal vitamins and minerals, which are essential to optimal health and bodily function.
30. Limit alcohol intake
Alcohol will negatively impact your anabolic hormones (testosterone). Alcohol will dehydrate you, and it also puts a lot of strain on your liver and kidneys. The more you drink, the harder your vital organs will have to work. The harder they find it to function, the slower fat loss and muscle building will be.
31. Train at a time of day where you are most productive
Many people train after work, this is the time that 80% of people are tired from a long day. If training and results is that important to you, make it a priority and do it before work or in your lunch break. You'll train harder, and you'll see positive results from doing so.
32. Always know where your food comes from
Many people have no idea how their food is made, or its source. Poor quality meat and fish litter the shelves of the supermarket. Animals fed all sorts of hormones, added colourings, and ingesting pesticides and hormones. You can source grass fed beef, corn fed chicken and wild fish that are so much more healthier. So always do your research. A healthy body, is a leaner body.
33. Choose exercises that recruit a larger amount of muscle mass
Many people who are trying to lose body fat, choose the smaller muscle groups to train. In the foundation phase of fat loss, choose exercises that recruit as many muscles as possible, such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, rowing and pressing movements.
34. Sleep in a room that is pitch black
I mentioned how important sleep is, but quality sleep is even more important. Your body is very sensitive to light. Waking frequently due to light coming in the room, will impact the very important growth and recovery hormones that are released when you are in a deep sleep. Fit black out blinds to your windows, and you'll be able to get 7 - 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
35. Drink organic green tea
Green tea alkalizes your body, provides a fat burning effect, and is also very high in antioxidants. These protect your cells against free radical damage
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James Clare BSc Nutrition