Fat is not easy to burn. If you aren’t eating the right diet, or optimising your work-outs, that stubborn flab isn’t going to budge. The only thing you will be burning is energy! Trust me, I was running an average of 8-10km per day and swapping my porridge for green smoothies, and the scales were not moving. Can you imagine my frustration? Although I was eating a relatively healthy diet and exercising regularly, I wasn’t doing the right exercise to actually burn fat, and my diet was maintaining my weight, but it wasn’t helping me lose weight. So, I started reading and reading and reading some more, and taking advice from others. The changes I made to my lifestyle helped me drop over 14 lbs (1 stone) in a few months and drop my body fat percentage dramatically. Now, I want to share some of these tips with you so that you too can stop burning calories and start burning fat!
- HIIT: You have probably heard this a million times by now, but this style of training (high-intensity interval training) is a lot more effective at burning fat than low-intensity endurance training. Instead of going for a 60-minute run, do a 30-minute sprint session of 1 minute on/1 minute off sprints. Do your HIIT in the morning and your body will continue to burn fat throughout the day. You will feel much hungrier than normal though so make sure you eat a good post-workout meal! My post-workout meal is usually a boiled egg and some cottage cheese, or a creamy protein green smoothie. Just make sure you are eating enough after your session because otherwise your body will start to scream for energy later throughout the day, and you will risk giving in to some of those crazy cravings.
- Supplements: Without my Protein Powder and my Protein Bars, I would be lost! These help my recovery, help keep me full, and help keep my energy levels topped up since I don’t drink coffee. I also take omega-3 fish oil and a multivitamin every morning, and another fish oil at night. Fish oil is proven to help burn fat, and the multivitamin helps me ensure that I am not lacking any nutrients. Some girls carry a hairbrush or a lipstick in their handbags at all times; I carry a protein bar. They fill me up and stop me from craving “naughty” foods, and the ones I eat have a little caffeine in them too which perks me right up! I have started thinking about BCAAs to help with my endurance so I shall keep you posted on how that progresses. If you aren’t a fan of supplements, try eating more high-protein foods such as eggs, cottage cheese, quark, greek yoghurt, peanuts, etc.
- Rest Days: Don’t be scared to take a rest day. Your muscles need to repair themselves, and you need to let your body recover from all the hard work it has been doing in the gym. If you feel like you still want to exercise, go for a slow and steady 5K run or jog, which I find actually helps with my recovery. The important thing is that you listen to your body and let it rest when it is exhausted, otherwise you won’t be able to work to your full capacity at the gym. [1 rest day + 1 super-intense work-out] is far better than [1 moderate work-out + 1 moderate work-out].
- Water: Drinking a tall glass of water in the morning helps kickstart your metabolism. If I don’t have a bottle of water on me, it’s because I have left it at home. Again, you will find a bottle of water in my handbag at all times. One day this week, I will document how much water I actually drink because I am constantly filling and re-filling my bottle. In fact, today alone, I am pretty sure I have already drank well over 2 litres. When you are dehydrated, your hunger signals get confused and you risk over-eating. If you are dehydrated, you will feel tired, dizzy and you may even experience headaches. Caffeine is a diuretic and can leave you dehydrated, so for every cup of coffee or tea, drink a tall glass of water. In short, hydrate constantly!
- Chewing Gum: This is a slightly controversial tip, because this can become pretty addictive, but I shall share it anyway! I chew gum regularly to stop me from snacking as I am a bit of a compulsive eater. I could literally sit and snack all day long (especially when I am stressed) so chewing gum helps distract me from thinking about eating and from “picking” at food! Who else does this? I know there are readers who do this too! It’s a bad habit, but one I will eventually break, and chewing flavoured gum definitely helps. My favourite is bubble-mint. In the United States, I have even seen mint-chocolate-chip ice-cream flavoured gum. Now that gum means business.
- Fibre: Fibre is essential for the body’s waste management system and leaves you feeling fully satiated and satisfied after a meal. It will also clear you out if you are “backed up” from eating too many processed foods! Some of the fibrous foods I eat regularly are broccoli, kale, flaxseed, oats, blueberries, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato, and cabbage. Your body needs soluble and insoluble fibre, so make sure you are getting both. Apps such as MyFitnessPal tell you which foods are high in fibre, and if you are getting enough based on your recommended daily amount.
- Stop Drinking Your Calories: Cut out the fruit juices, sodas, Starbucks coffees, and alcohol. If you consume beverages like this on a daily basis, you will be shocked at how much extra sugar and calories you are consuming. A Starbucks Venti Caramel Frappucino with whipped cream is about 800-900 calories. If you are drinking diet soda, don’t be fooled, it is still bad for your body and screws with your digestion (read the ingredients and look them up; know what you are actually drinking). Switch to sparkling water if you are a fan of carbonated drinks. If you must drink alcohol, drink a little red wine, which contains antioxidants and actually aids digestion. Stay away from cider and super-sweet wines and liquors, which are packed with sugar and will wreak havoc on your blood glucose levels that night, and the next day. Hangover munchies anyone?
When you eat sugar, unless you are burning it off, your body is converting it to fat. Sugar makes you fat. Hopefully, the above tips will help you reduce your sugar intake, curb some of your cravings, and get well on your way to feeling healthier. If you are going on a summer holiday soon and want to burn some fat, try some of the above tips and watch your body change in front of your eyes. Making a few small changes can have a dramatic effect on your body and your overall health. Never stop learning, never stop changing, and never stop trying new things. Variety is key, in both your diet and your work-outs. Thanks for reading and check out my Facebook and Instagram pages for more tips, recipes, and ideas!