1. WEIGHT TRAINING– For long term fat loss you must participate in some sort of a resistance (weight) training program. The more muscle you have the more calories your body will burn at rest. This is first on my list for a reason, because it is the most important. Muscle is the most active tissue in the human body burning calories while we sleep, sit at work or drive in our cars. To build lean muscle is essential in your journey to reaching and maintaining your fat loss goals.
2. FOOD INTAKE– Numbers one and two are some what interchangeable in the fact you can not build adequate enough lean muscle tissue without the proper amount of calories and macro-nutrients (Proteins, Carbs and Fats). But not only is the proper food intake important for the production of lean muscle it is also important to balance blood sugar, maintain an anabolic environment (growth), increase energy levels, and insure proper muscle recovery and last but not least increasing metabolic rate( the rate at which your body will digest food). You must eat between 5-8 meals daily! This is the secret most people forget about. You cannot achieve long lasting fat loss by starving yourself! Long term fat loss can only be achieved by eating smaller meals spread out along the day. It sounds funny and goes against everything we’ve been taught but in actuality “the more you eat the more fat you burn”.
3. AEROBICS– One of the most over-rated tools EVER! That’s why it’s third on my list. Without weight training and the proper caloric intake cardio (I HATE THAT WORD) alone will never combat fat loss over the long term. Read my lips NEVER! Too much aerobics along with not enough calories will result in muscle tissue breakdown (catabolism) and water loss. You heard me right muscle and water loss, not fat loss. Ok, ok the scale might have gone down but once again you are losing minimal fat if any. Believe me muscle loss is the last thing we want in a fat-loss program. Aerobics should be performed but never solely. Don’t believe me? Next time you go to the gym check out the cardio room and you’ll see the same people on the same stair stepper with the exact same bodies that you saw a year ago. Now go to the weight room, see the difference? I guess it all depends on what you want. Do you want to be fat with the scale looking good or lean with your clothes fitting better than ever no matter what the scale number. Tone down (pardon the pun!) the aerobics and for god’s sake throw your scales away!
4. SLEEP– Sleep is the most under rated step in people’s fat loss plan. Sleep is crucial in fat loss because without adequate sleep your body can’t recover from previous weight training and cardio workouts. If your body can’t recover you risk not being able to build lean muscle from lack of recovery and also risk the possibility of overtraining. When you get adequate sleep you allow GH (growth hormone) production which occurs naturally during deep sleep or the Rapid Eye Movement stage.
Growth Hormone has many benefits including strengthening the immune system, tighter skin, body fat loss and muscle recovery among many other things. Without proper sleep you risk losing the benefits of GH and also risk the negative effects of cortisol, a stress hormone that naturally rises in the morning and decreases at bed time. Not enough sleep means cortisol increasing at the wrong time, at night when it should be going down. Cortisol should be increasing in the AM to help us wake up. Too much cortisol = too much fat. Cortisol is a stress hormone, a fight or flight hormone that rises in the event of an emergency. So if you’re body is stressed all the time by not sleeping, over training and performing too much cardio your body will produce too much cortisol which will lay down body fat(mostly in the abdominal region) for emergency fuel. So, how do we maximize muscle recovery, GH production and decrease the negative effects of cortisol? We must get to be by 10:00 every night. Studies show that you should go to bed with the sun and wake up with the sun. But that just isn’t realistic. So to maximize fat loss benefits you should get between 8-10 hours of sleep nightly.
5. STRESS MANAGEMENT– This is also a neglected tip that we prescribe. But why? Why? Because if we can manage our stress better we can minimize the effects of that nasty stress hormone called Cortisol. Don’t get me wrong, cortisol is a very important hormone. Without it we would stand and watch the tiger come and eat us instead of doing what ever it takes to get out of harms way. The problem with our society is that we are stressed out way too much! Mix bumper to bumper traffic, your job, poor diet, poor sleep, poorly designed exercise programs and too much cardio (ironically to relieve stress) and you have STRESS. With the stress comes CORTISOL. With the cortisol comes FAT. Get it! So how do we manage stress? No, not by spending hours on the stair stepper and NO not by training for a marathon. We manage stress by finding an activity, something that isn’t exhausting or that doesn’t place an extra load on the body. These types of activities could be Yoga, Tai chi, Pilates or learning some breathing exercises. But what ever you choose ensure that you’re eating enough, sleeping enough and resting enough. Stress management can be the missing link in a program that is doing everything right.