Having been a personal trainer for over 12 years and a clinical nutritionist for 6 years, I have worked with hundreds of folks looking specifically to burn fat, build lean muscle and have their fittest bodies ever. From all the clinical insight I have gained from my clients’ transformations, I have narrowed down my 5 top fat burning tips to help you get your best body ever.
Tip #1: Avoid sugar and starch until dinner time
Sugar and starch raise insulin levels in the body. Insulin is the body’s “storing and building” hormone. When insulin levels are elevated in the body above baseline, our body is looking to both build muscle and store body fat. Insulin becomes elevated when our blood sugar levels increase. If we are not going to use that sugar for energy, then it gets stored away as body fat. Day and in and
day out, this leads to a continuous build-up of body fat.
When we avoid sugar and starch until dinner time, we allow our bodies to burn stored body fat as a fuel source throughout the morning and lunch hours. Because our body was using body fat while we slept to help repair our cells and tissues, by keeping insulin low, it can continue the body fat usage to fuel our cells all morning and afternoon as well.
At breakfast and lunch, focus on eating only protein, fibrous veggies and high quality fats (avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter, etc)
Tip #2: Stay very well hydrated throughout the day
Our DNA dictates how our body responds to all situations. We can turn parts of our DNA on and off based on what we expose our bodies to. Our DNA has not changed much in the past 2 million years since we were actively hunting and gathering our foods. This means our DNA is used to experiencing periods of food plenty and periods of food scarcity. Stay with me here as I am trying to make an important point in a roundabout fashion. Whenever our DNA was about to experience food scarcity, it was most likely preceded by a drought. During times of food scarcity, the body can adapt quickly by holding on to body fat as it is not sure when the next meal will be available.
This means that if we are chronically dehydrated, we may be sending the signal to the body to hold on to body fat as it can mimic the experience of a drought.
Because of this, drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of filtered water per day. If you drink caffeinated beverages, be sure to drink even more water as caffeine can be a diuretic.
Tip #3: Prioritize leisure walking
Our muscles are made to move. We are sitting now as a society more than ever. Leisure walking, especially in nature since it lowers the body’s stress response, serves the tremendous benefit of keeping our muscles metabolically active. It is also of a low enough intensity that the body wants to burn body fat to fuel our walking muscles.
Leisure walking is the most under-rated “exercise” and I have seen it provide the biggest response in
terms of changing one’s body composition--especially for women. Aim for 12,000-16,000 steps on most days and try to accumulate these steps throughout the day as opposed to all in one exercise session.
Tip #4: Strength train 1-3 times per week
Besides leisure walking, actively maintaining and building muscle mass is amazing for the metabolism. Every year after the age of 35 or so, the body loses muscle mass unless we continually build it back up with strength training.
Strength training can be done as a short intense circuit or as a traditional weight training regime (ie: 3 sets of 10 reps with 1-2 minutes rest between sets). The main focus of the strength training program should be to create a hormone release that promotes both muscle building and fat burning over the next 24-48 hours as the body repairs itself.
The Metabolic Effect team has figured out an easy way to assess whether you are promoting a fat burning and muscle building hormone release:
Burn: work your muscles in as many sets as you need in order to achieve a very significant muscle burn. That lactic acid build-up and the “wobbly” feeling in the muscles after a workout are both stimuli to encourage new muscle synthesis and to burn body fat.
Breathless: push hard enough in order to get breathless. When we are breathless, we train both our anaerobic and aerobic systems--keeping the cardiovascular system healthy. This also stimulates the production of more mitochondria, which are found in all of our cells and are
responsible for burning body fat.
Heavy: we need to lift weights heavy enough to force an adaptation. In other words, the muscles need a reason to get stronger. When we lift heavy to fatigue, we tell our muscles that they need to build new lean muscle tissue so the next time we try to lift the same weight, it will be easier.
Heat: heat indicates that our blood vessels have dilated which means that our blood can more easily access stored body fat as well as remove metabolic waste products in our muscle tissue. Both of which are very important for the body’s fat burning and muscle building processes.
Tip #5: Sleep at least 7 hours a night
Sleep is when our body builds muscle, burns body fat, repairs DNA and heals the body. Those who are chronically sleep deprived often have a higher inflammatory status. Good quality sleep lasting 7-8 hours can be the final missing link in creating our fittest body ever. My top sleep tips include:
Avoid blue light from screens as the sun sets (use apps and filters to remove it or wear blue blocker sunglasses)
Keep the house dim as the sun sets (no need to artificially awaken the body by turning on every light in the house. This can signal our body to stay awake when we really should be gearing up
Go to bed as early as possible (listen to your earliest signals of fatigue and go to sleep. It serves us no good purpose to stay awake working into the night)
Use guided sleep meditations on apps or youtube (these are great ways to quiet the mind and allow for deep, restful sleep)
Keep your room dark and cool (this will help you stay in a nice, deep sleep state throughout the night)
Start implementing these tips as best you can in order to burn body fat, build lean muscle and become the fittest version of you possible!