I've been competing in Natural Bodybuilding for a few years now. Most bodybuilders are either in an 'off season' where they try to add muscle by training hard and eating A LOT! Or when getting ready for a competition they start 'prep'. The aim of prep is to maintain that muscle, while shredding as much body fat as possible. As you can see from the picture above, in my off season I do eat A LOT, so I've learnt a thing or two about losing fat.
Sorry to shatter dreams, but there is no 1 quick fix, magic pill, detox special gel or rip off fad diet, that will help you lose fat in a healthy way and keep that fat off.
However, to lose fat is simple. Each day, eat fewer calories than your body uses up. Simple, but It takes hard work, dedication and discipline.
Here are the top 10 fat loss tips I can recommend-
1. DRINK MORE WATER. Its recommended that we drink 2-3 litres of water a day. This varies depending on your gender, size, activity levels, the temperature etc. Personally I drink between 4-5 litres a day. There are dozens of benefits to drinking water: energy levels, clearer skin, muscle function, brain function and fat loss to name but a few.
Water is also an appetite suppressant. The emptier our stomach is, the hungrier we feel. So fill up on water instead of snacking on junk food.
2. LIFT WEIGHTS. Weight lifting burns calories while performing the exercise and also for the 2-3 days it takes your muscles to fully recover.
In my last prep, for the first 10 weeks my training stayed pretty much the same. 4-5 free weight sessions a week, 6-7 exercises a session, 4-5 sets and 10-12 reps of an exercise. In these first 10 weeks I lost just under 10kg of body fat!!!
3. CONSISTENCY. Whatever diet you choose, you need to be in a calorific deficit and burn off more calories then you consume.
It won't happen over night. Losing fat is a SLOW process and it isn't easy but stick with it for long enough and you will achieve your goal. If you're strict and train hard you can aim to lose 0.5-1kg a week. So be realistic with how much weight you want to lose in a timeframe.
4. LIQUID CALORIES DO COUNT. 139 calories in a can of coke! Drink 2 or 3 cans a day and you're not far off a quarter of our recommended daily calorie total, and thats before eating a single meal!! Kill two birds with one stone and swap sugar rich drinks for water.
5. COUNT CALORIES. Now I'm not saying to do this in an obsessive way, but if fat loss is your goal, you must be AWARE of what you are eating. Its law that all food packaging must display how many calories their product contains. But look a little closer for serving sizes. A packet of UK Smarties per serving is only 92kcal, but 1 serving consists of 17 Smarties!!!! Who would stop half way through a tube of Smarties and save the rest for later?! So read the packaging carefully and be aware how many calories you're actually eating.
6. SLEEP. Try to get 8-9hrs sleep a night. I know its not always possible but our body needs time to rest and recover. Like the rest of your body, your metabolism needs energy to function properly, so if you're exhausted your metabolism slows down too. Also, more energy = train harder.
7. MEAL PREP. Prepare your food a day or two in advance. This avoids grabbing a 'Meal Deal' on your lunch break, a chocolate bar for a snack or fast food on a journey. Food prep takes away that temptation/desperation when hungry.
8. HIDDEN CALORIES. Condiments, milk and sugar in coffee, cooking oil all add to your daily calorie intake. They still count even though they're not the main part of a meal. When losing fat, every calorie counts.
9. CHEW YOUR FOOD. Give your brain chance to catch up with your stomach. It takes 20 minutes to register that you're full. So wait 20 mins before having a dessert Any one that has ever eaten a meal with me knows how slow I eat. My fiancee eats more than me because I feel full after consuming less food. We counted once and it took me 37 chews to chew a chip! Its the first stage of digestion, so slow it down and enjoy your food.
10. ALCOHOL. Your body is a clever machine. It prioritises what is most harmful and what to get rid of first. So alongside all the empty calories from alcohol (that will be stored as fat), all fat loss stops until your body has flushed out the excess alcohol.