Targeting fat loss means you are aiming to decrease the amount of fat your body holds. Healthy body fat percentages are around 10% for men and 15% for females. These body fat percentages are generally low enough for abdominal muscles to be visible.
Weight loss is unhealthy
Weight loss means a decrease in body weight. People looking to lose weight are usually just using the wrong term for fat loss. Your bodies amount of muscle, bone, fat and water all contribute to your overall weight. Muscle, bone and water are all essential to your health & well being and should never be decreased. Those who want to lose weight should focus solely on losing it from body fat.
Muscle is healthy. Diets that lose muscle should be avoided!
Muscle strengthens connective tissue, and increases bone density. These are beneficial as they will help reduce your risk of injuries and osteoporosis later in life. Females muscles and bone density deteriorates at a faster rate than it does in men, making them more prone to injuries and osteoporosis. Resistance training is a great training method to improve muscle mass.
A sedentary lifestyle is best described as a type of lifestyle with low or no physical activity. Sedentary behavior is often referred to as the ‘sitting disease’, time spent watching tv, in bed or on a games console are all classed as sedentary behavior. Sedentary lifestyles are a primary cause of chronic diseases and physical exercise reduces the risk of virtually all chronic diseases simultaneously . In order to benefit the population’s health and well-being physical activity levels must be increased!
To summarise - Taking part in physical activity improves your quality of life!
Visit this link and find the correct age group to see if you are reaching the UK’s recommended physical activity guidelines [https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-physical-activity-guidelines].
High Intensity Intermittent Training (HIIT) for Fat loss
HIIT and High intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) have become increasingly popular training methods for those interested in losing fat. Especially for those who state that they do not have enough time for exercise. HIIT protocols vary considerably but they typically involve high intense intervals of exercise (e.g. Sprints) followed by low intensity exercise or rest. The length of the sprint and recovery period can vary from 6seconds to 4 minutes. These intervals are generally repeated from 4-20 times depending on the intensity and duration of each interval.
Previous Studies [2, 8, 9] all investigated the effects HIIT and steady state exercise / aerobic exercise have on fat loss. Results from each of these studies confirm that HIIT is more beneficial to losing fat mass and central abdominal fat than aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise for long durations can increase muscle wasting, where HIIT has shown to promote muscle growth and reduce body fat around stubborn areas.
HIIT with Beta Alanine
A previous study that involved male subjects following a 6 week HIIT program whilst supplementing with 1.5g of Beta Alanine four times a day (6g Beta Alanine a day) found that the group that used a combination of HIIT and beta alanine increased their lean body mass [For more information on this study click this link > http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2649036/].
HIIT for Health
There are also a number of health benefits of implementing HIIT into your schedule. The benefits of HIIT are decreases in the risk of heart disease, hypertension, improved insulin sensitivity, skeletal muscle adaptations and significant increases in aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Aerobic and anaerobic fitness are important to health as they improve heart and lung health and build muscle which improves your metabolism.
Resistance training is a great method to help increase muscle mass. Building muscle will increase your bodyweight. The point here is don’t always judge your success by the weighing scales. Keep an eye on your body fat percentage. Body fat percentages can be calculated with fat calipers. An alternative method is to use the mirror. Many people start diets because they dislike the way they look. In this case use the mirror and take photos on a set schedule (every two weeks works well). Typically it takes 4 weeks for an individual to notice a difference in their body shape, 8 weeks for friends and family and 12 weeks for acquaintances so keep up the good work! This is common practice for bodybuilders; they do this to check their progress weekly. Bodybuilders fine tune their bodies to get in the best shape possible. Their results in competition are determined and judged on their image. If those considered to have the best physique in the world use the mirror then it should be implemented by you to monitor your progress in terms of fat loss.
Take pictures. They allow you to see progress and can help keep you on track and motivated. To increase the reliability of the pictures you should use the same conditions each time. For example keep the poses, angles, lighting time of day the same.
Fat loss Supplements
Green tea is a popular supplement used for fat loss. It has been widely researched and results have shown it is an effective supplement for fat loss. Green tea contains powerful polyphenol antioxidants. The main active ingredient in Green Tea is the chemical epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), one of the most powerful polyphenol antioxidants, which has an effect around 100 times as great as that of Vitamin C. EGCG increases the body’s thermogenic fat burning capacity .
L-Carnitine is created in the body from the amino acids lysine and methionine. It is mainly synthesised in the liver and kidneys and stored in skeletal muscles, heart, brain and sperm. It is found in highest levels in skeletal and cardiac muscles. L-Carnitine is a powerful fat burner because it promotes fats cells to be used for energy in the body. By raising the level of muscle carnitine, you support the fat burning process, and because your body becomes more efficient at processing fuel, it will increase your energy levels. However, some believe that L-carnitine is only associated with fat loss due to the increased energy levels you experience from supplementation.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a naturally occurring free fatty acid. Dairy products are the richest source of CLA however they are found in small amounts. CLA is found in larger amounts when animals have been grass-fed. This explains the recent popularity in the Paleo diet where foods such as grass-fed beef are consumed. However, to consume enough CLA from a regular diet it would require a large intake of these foods. Studies have shown that CLA reduces body fat. CLA does this by helping the body effectively divert calories that are usually stored in the fat cells, towards the muscle cells. A study with 60 overweight people supplemented with CLA, whilst a placebo group took nothing. Those who supplemented with CLA lost weight, and those who didn’t actually gained weight. The same study found that the same group of subjects that lost weight actually gained muscle mass.
An increase in strength, muscular endurance, fat free mass and lower fat mass was found when subjects supplemented 6g of CLA with 5g of Creatine monohydrate per day over a period of six months combined with resistance training. This study suggests that CLA has a synergistic effect with Creatine monohydrate .
Fat burning fruits
Replace snacks for fruits. Fruits are a great food source to get your vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber from. Here are some ‘fat burning’ fruits:
Grapefruit - Slightly lowers insulin levels which prevents the body storing sugars as fat. It is very low in calories and high in Vitamin C. For fat loss it is best taken with meals, especially breakfast.
Blueberries – Considered a “super berry” for their multiple benefits including anticancer and brain protecting properties. They also contain catechins which promotes fat burning in abdominal fat cells and are packed with Vitamin C, E, riboflavin, niacin and folate.
Avocado – The monosaturated fats found in Avocados are burned readily for fuel during exercise and promote fat burning. Avocados are rich in Zinc, folic acid and fiber and are high in protein. Avocados increase satiety (feeling full), this makes it an ideal snack for those of you who are always feeling hungry.
Fat is essential for the proper functioning of the human body. Essential fatty acids cannot be made within the body, therefore we have to obtain essential fatty acids from food.
Coconut oil is an excellent example of how beneficial fats can be to our body. It is easily digested and helps the absorption of many other vitamins and minerals and can increase the activity of the thyroid. Coconut oil is high in medium chain triglycerides (MCT). MCT have shown they can reduce body fat and improve insulin sensitivity. Unlike other fats, MCT is sent straight to the liver and immediately converted into energy.
Here are some other healthy sources of essential fatty acids;
- Omega 3 fish oil
- Flax seed oil
- Olive oil
- Primrose oil
- Nuts (e.g. Walnuts)
- Egg yolks
Are you getting enough sleep?
On average we should be aiming for 7.5 hours of sleep. The weight gain problem associated with sleep deprivation (e.g. 5 hours or less) lies behind two hormones, Ghrelin and Leptin. The hormone Ghrelin is responsible for telling you when to eat. When you are sleep deprived your Ghrelin hormone increases resulting in eating more food. The hormone Leptin tells you when to stop eating. Sleep deprivation results in lower levels of Leptin meaning that you don’t achieve satiety as well as you would with adequate sleep. The outcome is you eat more food and consume more calories.
Shorter sleeping hours are correlated with obesity, hypertension and metabolic disorders . Structured sleeping patterns are beneficial to your body, they improve cognitive function, regulate hormones and improve energy levels.
The supplement Taurine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It has the ability to improve focus and quality of sleep. It calms the brain and nervous system and is beneficial for those who suffer from, anxiety and stress.
Are you getting enough sleep to optimise these hunger hormones?
Could you avoid late night snacking by going to sleep earlier?
1. Booth, F.W., et al., Waging war on modern chronic diseases: primary prevention through exercise biology. Journal of Applied Physiology, 2000. 88: p. 774-787.
2. Dunn et al. Effects of exercise and dietary intervention on metabolic syndrome markers of inactive premenopausal women. University of New South Wales; 2009. http://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/vital/access/manager/Repository/unsworks:7345 , Doctoral dissertation.
3. Gov, Uk. UK physical activity guidelines. Department of Health [Online] Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-physical-activity-guidelines [Assessed July 11th 2011].
4. Nagao et al. Ingestion of a tea rich in catechins leads to a reduction in body fat and malondialdehyde-modified LDL in men. Am J Clin Nutr 2005: 81(1): 122.
5. Spivey, A. Lose Sleep, Gain Weight: Another Piece of the Obesity Puzzle. Environ health perspect. 2010: 118(1): A28-A33
6. Smith et al. Effects of B-Alanine supplementation and high intensity-intensity interval training on endurance performance and body composition in men; a double blind trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutri. 2009: 6(5).
7. Tarnopolsky et al. Creatine monohydrate and conjugated linoleic acid improve strength and body composition following resistance exercise in older adults. PLoS ONE 2007: 2(10): e991
8. Trapp EG, Chisholm DJ, Freund J, Boutcher SH. The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. International Journal of Obesity.2008;32(4):684–691.
9. Tremblay A, Simoneau J-A, Bouchard C. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism. 1994;43(7):814–818