Written by Anthony j. Yeung
Plateaus suck. Especially when you’re working hard in the gym and in the kitchen to make sure you’re doing all the right things to lose fat. You workout a few times a week, right? You’re eating healthy, right? You’re doing your cardio, right? What more can you do?
Oftentimes, all you are a few simple tweaks and you’ll be back on track, shedding fat, and getting your six pack. Get back to the basics and jump-start your fat loss this season with our ten tips, all of which are guaranteed to work. Within a few weeks, you’ll start seeing more definition in your arms and midsection without sacrificing the gains in the weight room.
1) DROP YOUR CALORIE INTAKE BY 500
To slash fat, you must maintain a caloric deficit: you consume fewer calories than you burn per day. Yet, often, we underestimate how much we intake and overestimate how much we use.
Instead, keep a food journal for 3 to 4 days and track exactly how many calories you’re eating and drinking. Then, gently reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories per day to boost your fat loss. Measure your body fat every few weeks with fat calipers to make sure you’re moving the right direction.
2) ADD ONE EXTRA DAY OF HIIT CARDIO
If your fat loss is stalling, ditch the long jog on a treadmill and start doing intense intervals. High-intensity interval workouts burn far more fat than steady-state exercise.
Add one extra day of pure HIIT training: use a total-body circuit with goblet squats, rows, push presses, and pushups, and do them each for 30 seconds and rest for 30 more seconds before moving to the next exercise. Instead of a basic sprint interval, you’ll hammer your entire body, further boosting your metabolism. As a finisher, use an airdyne bike, stationary rowing machine, weighted sled, etc. and do max-effort intervals, 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off.
3) EAT MORE PROTEIN
Protein is essential to fat loss. First, it maintains your muscle during a caloric deficit. Second, it keeps you satiated, which prevents overeating and snacking on junk food. Third, it boosts your calorie burn throughout the day because takes more energy to digest compared to carbs or fat. Eat at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight everyday and get your protein from whole sources like nuts, eggs, lean meats, yogurts, and quality protein powders.
4) USE HEAVY, COMPOUND EXERCISES TO BOOST YOUR TESTOSTERONE
If you’re carrying too much fat — specifically around your lower abs — you might have low testosterone levels. But the consequences of “low T” resonate far beyond love handles: it can hurt your health, sex life, and overall mood (which might be related to sex life). To raise your testosterone levels, you need to focus on heavy, total-body lifts that stimulate a lot of muscle growth, demand an intense neural drive, and unleash a massive hormonal response. Heavy strength exercises also speed up your fat loss compared to bicep curls and calf raises, which will shed fat faster. Your workouts must consist of heavy squats, deadlifts, lunges, barbell presses (flat bench or overhead), heavy rows, and carries. Also, lift as heavy as you can while using great technique.
5) EAT MORE HEALTHY FATS
To lose more fat, eat more fat. This seems counterintuitive, but healthy fats like animal fats, real butter, coconut oil, nuts, and avocados actually make you leaner and more muscular — they keep you full and maintain your good testosterone levels. If you followed the other rules, eating healthy fats force you to lower your carbohydrate intake. Get at least 30% of your calories from good sources of fat and never consume artificial fats, which can cause health problems like heart disease.
6) STAY HYDRATED
Water ensures that you perform at a high level in the gym because even a slight amount of dehydration can wreck your athletic performance. Worse, by skimping on water throughout the day, you’ll actually reduce your metabolism because your body tries to conserve fluids. Start the day hydrated by chugging a tall glass of water first thing in the morning. As for how much water you should actually drink per day, the answer is still debatable — I recommend starting simple: fill a liter bottle with water and make it’s empty by the end of the day.
7) LIMIT YOUR CARBS TO WORKOUT DAYS ONLY
As an athlete, avoiding all carbs is a recipe for crappy workouts and crappier results. Carbs give you fuel to build muscle, melt fat, and target your abs; without it, your performance in the gym will suffer. Carbs like fruits and whole grains offer a lot of fiber and vitamins to improve your overall health and help you stay lead. Even starchy carbohydrates like rice and potatoes can help you lean out because they replenish your glucose levels after a hard workout. Eat your carbs ONLY on the days you blast your muscles with heavy, complex exercises. That way, your body will use that energy specifically for recovery and muscle growth rather than fat gain.
8) TAKE FISH OIL SUPPLEMENTS
The omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil will help you jumpstart your fat loss. Taking fish oil while following an exercise program increases your fat oxidation and improves your body composition and cholesterol numbers. Fish oil supplementation also creates an extra drop in fat mass and an increase in muscle gain. Boost your fish oil intake to 6 grams per day to get the full effects.
9) TRY INTERMITTENT FASTING
Intermittent fasting increases fat oxidation, which promotes more fat loss. Also, fasting along with exercise boosts your insulin sensitivity, helping your body send nutrients to muscle rather than fat. Better still, fasting during a calorie-restricted diet led to more weight loss than without it. Start simple: skip breakfast for the next few days and eat your first healthy meal of the day in the afternoon.
10) SLEEP AT LEAST 8 HOURS A NIGHT
We saved the best for last. If you’re training hard in the gym, eating clean, and still not seeing great progress in the gym, this is your culprit. Researchers from the Univeristy of Chicago found that shortchanging your sleep slowed down fat oxidation and increased muscle loss by 60 percent. Sleep deprivation also wrecks your muscle gains because it interferes with recovery and growth hormone production, which happens at night during your deep sleep cycles. Get at least eight hours of good sleep every night.