When we consume too many calories than what we need, this excess energy is stored as fat. So, if we want to lose fat, the most basic thing we can to do is consume fewer calories than what we require. This will jolt the body into using its fat reserves for energy. The number of calories someone needs in a day will depend on factors such as age, gender and activity levels; therefore, we can’t give you an exact figure to aim for. However, you can easily calculate this at home; the Schofield equation (google it!) is a fantastic tool for calculating your personal energy requirement (Schofield 1985). Once you have this figure, subtract 500 calories and this is your new goal for number of calories to consume per day. Keeping a food dairy can really help keep track of your calorie intake; My Fitness Pal is a great app for doing this.
News flash; eating fat won’t make you fat. Indeed, it’s important to consume enough healthy fats (think avocado, nuts, seeds and olive oil) as these will not only help you feel full, but transport key vitamins around the body necessary for key physiological functioning such as brain and cardiovascular function. Equally, don’t cut carbs; slow-release carbohydrates such as wholegrains, oats, quinoa, potatoes, fruits and veggies, are vital for giving us energy to carry out our day and smash our workouts (see below). Protein is also super important, especially for when you train (again; see below) because it aids muscle maintenance and growth. It’s not about favouring or demonising one nutrient; rather, getting a balance and eating the right proportions is key to losing fat (link to article about healthy diet).
Mix up your exercise
Cardio vs resistance training
Traditionally, if you wanted to lose fat, you were encouraged to do cardio. Indeed, cardio is brilliant for burning calories quickly; both during and immediately after your sweat session as your body recovers it’s ‘oxygen debt’ (Knuttgen 1962). Longer cardio workouts can also encourage our bodies to switch from using its carb stores for fuel to fat, thus aiding fat loss. However, it’s important to incorporate resistance training into any fat loss regime in addition to any cardio work (link to my new workout ideas article). This is because weight training builds muscle, helping boost your metabolism in the long term and shifting your body composition towards a leaner ratio of fat: muscle. Resistance training can also improve the tone of your body, giving you a leaner appearance.
Get a good night’s sleep
We cannot emphasise enough the importance of adequate shut-eye when it comes to our physical and mental wellbeing (link to article on sleep). For example, sleep is essential for regulating our hunger hormones; when we don’t get enough rest, levels of ghrelin (the hormone that increases our appetite) rocket, leading us to consume more calories (Taheriet al. 2004). This can hamper any fat lose efforts. Conversely, when we rest, our bodies can regulate these hormones. Moreover, during the night, our fat stores are being catabolised and another hormone, HGH, is secreted. This helps regulate body composition, encourages muscle growth and repair and aids metabolism (Stacy, Terrell & Armsey 2004).
When looking to lose fat, it’s super important to plan a holistic approach. Keep your energy intake in check, balance your macronutrients and workouts, and get adequate rest. Most of all; be consistent. Fat loss takes time and it’s important to make sustainable changes (link to my new article on sustainable health hacks) that will go the distance.