With New Year’s now past and 2018 well on its way, it is time to put those resolutions into first gear. While some of us pine for a better salary or a new pet, most of us simply want to be healthier by engaging in sustainable exercise and ingesting some healthy, whole foods.
Now, before we begin, it is important to note that the theory of ‘spot reduction’ is just a theory and not grounded in reality. You cannot lose weight or fat in the abdominal region simply by doing crunches and you can’t lose fat in your chest by doing a thousand push-ups a day.
Fat and weight loss rely on energy expenditure. If you spend more energy than you eat, then undoubtedly you will lose weight. If you eat more energy than you use (or spend) then you will gain weight.
While most people are aware that exercise and diet combined will result in a new, leaner and healthier body, what most people neglect is the third prong of this trifecta: rest.
Studies, like the one led by University of Chicago endocrinologist Plamen Penev, have shown that those who get less than eight hours of sleep (in Penev’s study participants only received 5.5 hours of sleep) tend to lose less fat and also lose more muscle during a phase of dieting.
This study went on to illustrate that sufficient rest (8 hours or more) is quintessential to effective and efficient fat loss. But what are some exercises and food choices that can help speed up fat loss?
Compound exercises. Compound exercises such as the bench press, deadlift, squats, overhead press, and pull ups/chin ups are all considered compound exercises since they use the whole body.
These types of exercises will recruit more of your muscles and as a result force you to expend more energy, thus burning more calories.
Cardio. While there are benefits to going on a jog or a casual inclined walk on a treadmill, studies have shown that there is a huge improvement in fat loss when participants engage in something called High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT.
HIIT is where someone goes all out for 10 seconds then slows down for 30 seconds, marked by another 10 of intense physical activity, followed by another 30 seconds of rest until one has reached the number of intervals that they desire (Usually around 8 to 10 intervals.)
But besides what one can do in the gym, what we eat and prepare in the kitchen can be just as vital as the work we put in the gym.
Rather than cutting out whole food groups (such as carbs or fats), a dieter should always maintain a healthy, balance of macronutrients between carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
By having a balanced diet, this not only ensures that there will be no craving but also that all the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients can be received, stored and used by the body.
A key thing to remember is not to neglect healthy fats. While fats used to have a bad reputation for being the cause of fat gain, that myth has long been debunked. A diet with healthy fats such as avocados, macadamia nut oil, cashews, and almonds can not only help you stay full and satisfied but they also play an integral role in hormone production.
And remember the goal of fat loss is not to get to the end line as quickly as possible, rather it is to find a sustainable and adherable way to lose the fat gradually. The weight loss program that is most optimal but can only be adhered to for a week will always succumb to a less optimal program that a person can adhere to for months at a time.