Are you familiar with the term "skinny fat"? It's the metamorphic phenomenon when an individual has developed a slim figure yet they are covered in mush and fat. Yes, a rather less-than-attractive image. We all know someone plagued by the skinny-fat syndrome. This person exercises almost everyday, usually running their butt off mile after mile, pouring out a puddle of sweat, and yet they still look as if they've never spent a minute in a gym. It's tragic, and yet completely avoidable. People who fall victim to the never ending struggle of fat loss seem to forget that their are multiple routes to success. It's simple: instead of hammering away at the same method for fat loss, readjust the focus. Let's explore the 7 factors of fat loss and outline the options available for redirecting focus. It's time to place your energy in other categories to stimulate the fat loss you so desire.
Fat loss is easy. Very easy.
Yes, I said it.
The hard part is determining where to place your focus in your quest to get lean. You can focus on dietary intake, but you may have suboptimal exercise habits. You may be a gym rat, yet not eat enough protein to support the lean tissue you are tying to build. You may be too stressed or too dehydrated for your body to release stored water and burn fat tissue.
Your issue may not be your effort, but where you're placing your focus.
Could you be focusing on just one element and forgoing the other factors in fat loss? That's usually the case with most people.
Fat loss is a combination of multiple factors that make up your system of internal reactions through your metabolic activity. Let's outline which are the 7 Factors in Fat Loss and see which factor you may be missing as you attempt to lose fat.
The 7 Factors of Fat Loss
Consume Mostly Protein & Veggies Every Meal
Protein is the mecca of macronutrients. It's responsible for nearly every cellular function within the body and is a prime contributor in metabolic activity. Plus, protein costs your body extra energy (calories & fat) just to process the nutrient. Finally, protein helps repair and build lean muscle tissue. The more lean tissue you build, the more fat you burn. Basically, protein is a rockstar. Eat protein and you will lose fat.
Veggies are just as essential as protein. Veggies contain phytochemicals, which are compounds that come from plants. These phytochemicals are directly linked to reducing the risk of certain cancers and improving the the metabolic functions within body. Veggies contain nutrients (which makes the body stronger and optimal), fiber (which keeps the gut health balanced and reduce hunger), and water (which is necessary for every action within the body). Eat as many veggies as possible.
Drink A Glass of Water Before Each Meal
Well this is a no-brainer: you need water; it's more important to your survival than food. Vital to every single function of your body, water is also a major contributor to fat loss. The human body flourishes with optimal water intake, and because the body is a brilliant machine, it has auto regulatory mechanisms in place to ensure you are being efficient with every drop of H2O. So, if water is intake is regularly low, your body will store most of the water in order to prevent dehydration. Your body won't release that precious water reserve because its vital to your survival. You can do all the cardio in the world and that water weight will stay put. Many people operate day-to-day in a dehydrated state and never know it. Furthermore, dehydration causes a plethora of negative health consequences including the famous low energy everyone tries to combat. Besides all the health consequences, low water intake directly leads to higher body fat (or mushy) appearance.
However, if you prove to your body you're a responsible adult and can maintain optimal water intake, BOOM... the water is released. It's a wild mechanism and always fascinates people how a boxer or bodybuilder can lose 8-15 pounds of bodyweight in water within 2-3 days! (And they can put on 20+ pounds in a matter of hours with rehydration). So, you're goal is simple: drink a glass of water before each meal. Literally drink as much water as you can stomach. Drink water until your pee is as clear as water. Everything will improve.
Eat Single Ingredient Foods
Chicken is chicken. Broccoli is broccoli. Potatoes are potatoes. Single ingredient foods contain (you guessed it) ONE ingredient. Cliff Bars, for example, contain 14 ingredients. If every ingredient causes a reaction within the body during its digestion/absorption stages, you have to think that a Cliff bar could cause many internal issues, since 14 different reactions have a lot of potential for hiccups and disruptions. While the calorie count of a food may be optimal, it's the ingredient type and amount of each ingredients that determine how your body processes that particular food. Ideally, you want to avoid any potential digestive/absorptive issues and stick to foods that don't need processing or come packaged in the freezer aisle. You will feel better and will keep your digestion clean and simple. Eat single ingredient foods.
Do Something [Exercise] You Can't Handle Comfortably
If you can "handle it", it's not exercise; it's just movement. Exercise is the progressive state of purposeful movement done in a way that is always more difficult than the previous experience. Your body adapts to any stimulus received, so the greater the stimulus from exercise, the greater the reaction from the stimulus. In laymen's terms: the harder the exercise, the more your body is going to react in order to prepare for that same stimulus again. Always aim to make your workout a little more difficult than the previous bout. If you need more information to understand this concept, refer to my article Workout v Training.
Do Endurance Cardio Before Your First Meal
This is a little bodybuilder's trick. When you wakeup in the AM, your hormones are reset. Cortistol (stress hormone) has been suppressed and growth hormone (muscle building/fat reducing hormone) has been stimulated. Your body is at the ideal state to burn the most amount of fat. This is why sleep is so important for fat loss and general daily function. When you exercise, you stress the body. It's a positive stress, but nevertheless still a stress. In your body's quest to survive, body fat is only reduced when stress is at it lowest. When you exercise while in a state of stress, it is very difficult to lose fat, even if you do all the right strategies. However, when you exercise during periods of low stress, your body will use adipose (fat) tissue to fuel your activity. BINGO! The trick is to wake up and before your first meal, perform a long, slow bout of movement exercise. Yes, boring old-school elliptical cardio. [Can you believe I'm actually promoting traditional cardio?!] Without going off on a tangent, understand that fat is the primary source of continuous fuel when you perform long-duration movements. Perform a long-duration cardiovascular movement after you wake-up and before your first meal to stimulate the fat loss.
Lift Weights Often
Resistance (weight) training is an investment of time and energy yielding a nearly guaranteed high ROI. Invest in weight training. When you weight train, you tax your muscular and nervous systems which stimulate fat-burning responses through growth hormone, testosterone, and IGF-1 . These responses and reactions build more lean tissue that has an increased capacity to withstand your exercise routine. The more often you weight train, the more you build lean tissue. More lean muscle tissue you accumulate, the more amount is fat is being burned. When you build muscle, you substitute the flabby mush on your body for lean, skin-tight muscle. Lean muscles look good and function much better than fat. Lift weights and stay lean. Period.
Keep Eating Less
For some individuals, simply reducing overall food intake can be the determining factor in fat loss. Portion control is one of the understood elements of weight management, though there are many other variables that come into play. However, let's not overlook the possibility that you could be just eating too much. There is no set number of Calories that everyone should consume. Your metabolism is unique to you, and you could simply need less food than the average person. I've seen some amazing phenomenons in my nearly 10-year experience as a fitness professional. Some people can function like rockstars with less than 1,000 Calories consistently. It goes against the health "norm", but then again what is the norm in health when everyone has vastly different systems and metabolisms? At the end of the day, if you're doing everything correctly you can to lose fat and you're still stuck, try eating less.