If you’ve landed in this section of LiftNLive.com, chances are it wasn’t by accident. Your goal is to get leaner, healthier and you want to know exactly how to burn fat.
If you’re new to exercise, then before we begin, let me be the first to welcome you and congratulate you on wanting to become a part of this amazing journey to improve your health and physique.
When you’re done reading this page, you’ll have the knowledge and hopefully a better understanding about how to burn fat more effectively. This will be a huge head start over most other exercisers!
Fair warning, though : It can be easy for new starters to immediately set themselves up with a “quick fix” or “shortcut” mindset.
Heck, this unscrupulous fitness industry banks on you having this mentality and thus selling you their crappy, ineffective, overpriced products. DON’T fall into this desperation mindset.
I’m not here to put you off, quite the opposite – I’m here to tell you that burning fat is actually far simpler than you’ve been led to believe if you FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS.
I’m sure you’ve been sold somewhere down the line that “clean eating” is how you burn fat. I’m sure at one point you’ve been told “Sugar is the enemy!” (I see this in popular news outlets every day in the U.K. and in fact, I am typing this in the week where we’ve had a ridiculous “Sugar Tax” imposed on us by our chancellor). Maybe you’ve been sold a secret detox/workout/diet as the fat loss saviour?
Well, I’m here to teach you how you can spot these nonsensical fads and not only show you how to burn fat but you’ll also come away learning WHY it works. My hope is that after reading this post, you’ll be able to see through such scams, fads and the sweeping statements made in popular media about fat loss to understand why they don’t work.
The mindset I want you in before this journey begins is one that focuses on developing long-term habits that are sustainable for YOUR lifestyle and training/nutrition habits that you can adhere to without it filling you with dread!
That’s not to say that at times it won’t be difficult but the rewards you will reap with your new physique and health will be worth every effort.
Once you know what to do and have made it a healthy lifestyle a habit rather than a chore, then it will become a lot easier and more enjoyable too! Especially when I show you that it doesn’t have to be as restrictive as you probably once thought.
Knowing that this journey can be difficult and will require immense dedication, are you ready to learn how to burn fat?
If yes, please read on and it will be my pleasure to show you how to burn fat effectively.
You might find that this post is written in very simple terms with analogies that a 9 year old can understand – That’s not to patronise you, nor does it mean that the information here isn’t effective.
Quite the contrary – it was purposely written in this manner for new starters so that you’ll potentially absorb as much information as you can to give you a headstart when you begin. All of the information you’re about to read holds up to the latest science and is evidence based.
Any questions will be happily answered in the comments section below and I encourage you to ask questions of everybody in this industry. I’m always happy to make updates to this post and my knowledge as the latest research comes out.
You won’t regret reading this if you’re new because these are the most important elements required for fat loss. Getting just one of these wrong could be detrimental to your fat loss!
You may notice that this mini guide is very similar to my guide : How to Build Muscles. The reason for this is that the 4 elements required are very similar whether you’re trying to lose fat or build muscle!
In fact the two goals aren’t a million miles apart and your number 1 priority when trying to lose weight should be to retain as much lean muscle tissue as possible and lose your weight from fat. This will ensure the sustainability of your fat loss in the long term as the health of your metabolism is preserved! This guide has been tweaked to apply to fat loss.
If you’ve tried to lose weight or burn fat for a while but have seen little or no results then you may be missing one or more of the 4 key elements or not paying it as much attention as you should be – Ever heard the saying..
You’re Only As Strong As Your Weakest Link?
We’ve spoken a lot about these 4 mystery elements. Let me introduce them to you..
[x_alert heading=”How to burn fat? The 4 key elements needed to burn fat and lose weight” type=”success”]>Nutrition
Imagine the 4 elements as a chain..break one of them and the whole chain is broken. The relevance of this analagy is this – If you’re missing one of these key elements (with the exception of Supplements) then you will get minimal results, especially if you’re not genetically gifted.
In case you’re wondering, for fat loss, yes, they have been put in order of importance. Some may argue with me on this but make your own mind up by the end of this post.
Logically, I’d rather you looked at the chain as a whole.
Let’s take a look at each key element and understand why they are so important to burning fat.
Before we start if you want the quickest results and to take away the learning curve or fat burning I’d highly recommend checking out my free tracking guide for a really easy to understand, step by step way to lose your first 5lbs – It’s a complete guide that gives you workouts, theory, nutrition and motivation to burn fat quickly, safely and permanently. You can even trial it to see how you get on! Check it out now
The most important of all 4 elements but easily the biggest struggle for most exercisers looking to lose weight and burn fat will make : Not being aware of their diet or not knowing how much they’re eating.
You can train as hard as you like but if you’re consuming more calories a day than your body is burning off, then all of your hard work will be for nothing!
Not only will your hard work in the gym be for NOTHING, in fact, you’ll probably GAIN fat.
Can you imagine training as hard as you can? Having a killer cardio session and having to complete it with the absolute last of your energy…for no fat loss!? Fast way to kill your vibe, right?
Not something many of us would like to think about but it’s true. If you stumble at the first hurdle which is nutrition, your training and anything else you do will fail to make an impact. You’re going to struggle.
Which Nutrition/Diet Plan is the Best Then?
Unfortunately (or fortunately!) there isn’t a ‘one diet fits all’ solution but what we do have are evidence based guidelines that everyones nutrition should meet if you are trying to burn fat.
How much and of what you need to eat will depend on your individual metabolism, genetics and even personal preference. What’s the point in following a nutrition plan if it doesn’t fit in with your lifestyle and detracts from your lifestyle, rather than enhancing it?
Although, I’ve spoken about “Nutrition” as a whole being one of, if not the most important factors in your quest to burn fat, we can also break down nutrition into smaller sections of importance.
Luckily, my coach and buddy Eric Helms has already constructed a simple visual in a “Pyramid” fashion which breaks down and shows you the most important parts of your nutrition for fat loss.
The pyramid may be titled the “Muscle + Strength Nutrition Pyramid” but it is just as applicable for fat loss.
As you can see in the image above, at the very bottom, the foundation of the pyramid is ENERGY BALANCE aka How many CALORIES you’ve consumed Vs How many CALORIES you’ve burned over a period of time.
01 – ENERGY BALANCE aka CALORIES
Calories seem to have been almost forgotten in the fitness industry madness to try and sell you the latest fad diets. If you come across any guru’s trying to sell you the idea that “calories don’t matter” in your journey for fat loss, I’d recommend RUNNING not walking in the other direction. (The same goes if you want to build muscle, but this page is about how to burn fat)
Not only do they matter – They are THE most important part of the equation. So what are calories?
In the most simplistic terms, calories are a unit of energy. Foods contain calories which our bodies in turn use for energy to perform our daily activities such as walking, exercising, fidgeting and heck, the autonomic systems just keeping us alive also burn calories. (our heartbeat, digestion, the functions of all of our internal organs etc)
This is where ENERGY BALANCE comes in.
There are 3500 calories in a single pound of fat.
Now, in very general and simplistic terms, if you wanted to burn a pound of fat per week, you’d need to create a deficit of 3500 calories by the end of the week. Or, most people find it easier to break it down into a daily target of being in a 500 calorie deficit. 500 x 7 days = 3500.
[x_alert heading=”EXAMPLE – Annie Wants to lose 1lb of fat per week” type=”success”]Annie burns 2200 calories per day in her everyday life to maintain her weight. If that’s her maintenance, then to lose 1lb per week, she’d consume 500 calories less than that daily : 1700 calories.
It’s not such a simple and linear equation in reality but is the most important thing to understand starting out.[/x_alert]
If you are consuming the same or more calories than you are burning off per day, then you will not burn fat or lose weight because you are not creating a deficit.
Incidentally, in my almost 15 years in fitness, this is the number 1 reason I find people are struggling with weight loss and to burn fat is because they have fallen at the first, most important hurdle and have no idea how many calories they are consuming.
How do you know how many calories to consume? I’ve got you hooked up : Visit my flexible dieting Calorie IIFYM Calculator to figure out your estimated daily calories for your goal. (It will also break down the second part of the pyramid for you too and tell you what macronutrients your calories should consist of)
Look, I totally understand that most people don’t want to be ruled by numbers and count every atom that moves through their lips – I get that, I really do and the good news is..You don’t necessarily have to.
However, I’m of the opinion that to learn and become aware of how much we eat is a fantastic learning tool which will not only teach you about the nutritional value of foods, portion control and how much you eat, but I find that my clients are usually very surprised at how many calories they consume in their day without ever realising.
I would recommend all of my readers to download MyFitnessPal on their phones or sign up via the website and start tracking their daily nutrition. My flexible dieting calorie IIFYM calculator will estimate your basic calorie needs for your goal and the action I want you to take is to track your food intake for at least 2-4 weeks to become aware of your intake.
Some of you will love tracking, some of you will hate it – Your ideal fat loss diet is going to be discovered by using a mixture of trial, error and your personal preference to see what response you get from your body but also which kind of eating you can adhere to in your everyday life. Remember, the goal here is to Lift n Live! (Not just “lift”)
This is by far the most important but hardest thing to do if you’re not used to being conscious about the amount of food you’re consuming but I promise if you stick with it, you’ll be happy with your new knowledge and your new look!
02 – MACRONUTRIENTS aka Where Your Calories Come From.
So, now that you know how many calories you should be consuming in total, you need to then know how those calories break down.
Macronutrients are what make up your total calorie number and come in the form of Protein (4 calories per gram), Carbohydrates (4 calories per gram) and fats (9 calories per gram). Alcohol also contains calories but aren’t quite broken down the same way (7 calories per gram)
You could just focus on consuming your daily target for total calories, however, this is likely to result in less than optimal health and performance in your daily activities.
For fat loss, the evidence generally agree’s about the importance of protein for preserving lean muscle tissue when we burn fat (remember how important this is for metabolic health?) but it also has the added benefit of being the macronutrient group with the best satiating qualities.
“In English, please?” – Protein keeps you feeling less hungry for longer than carbs and fat do.
Your body also won’t convert protein to bodyfat as readily as carbohydrates.
The evidence suggests consuming at least around 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per lb of your lean bodyweight
[x_alert heading=”Example – Annie is 150lbs” type=”success”]Annie weighs 150lbs with approximately 33% bodyfat
She will have a lean body mass (or LBM) of around 100lbs (We’ve established that 33% of her 150lbs bodyweight is bodyfat which equals 50lbs. We take this number away to leave the athletes lean body mass of 135lbs).
Annie would consume around 100 grams of protein per day to aid in fat loss while preserving her muscle tissue [/x_alert]
The good news is that our free Calorie Calculator helps you out with this if you suck at maths as bad as I do!
Carbohydrates and Fats can then make up the remainder of your calories in quantities that will depend on your personal preference, your daily activity levels and your training intensity.
REMEMBER – This page is a vastly simplified overview, especially when it comes to nutrition. Look at this as your “Quick Start” guide for burning fat with a focus on the most things. Other pages on this site will contain more in depth considerations about each macronutrient.
03 – MICRONUTRIENTS aka Vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, zoonutrients etc.
Micronutrients are responsible for our growth, development and health as well as being required for many physiological functions in our body. Look at these little babies as the aspect of your diet that helps keep you healthy.
Called “micro”nutrients as these nutrients are required in much smaller quantities (mg and mcg’s rather than grams) than macronutrients.
Your vitamins, minerals, phyto/zoonutrients will come from a balanced, varied, mostly minimally processed/refined whole foods diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables. (Aim for at least 4-5 portions per day of fruits and veg)
The various colours of fruit and veg represent different nutrients and therefore, including a variety is encouraged for optimal health.
If you need a recommendation to ensure you consume enough micronutrients, a percentage that is often thrown around is to keep the foods in your diet at around 80-90% minimally processed/refined, single ingredient foods with 10-20% of your calories coming from whichever foods will keep you on track and adhering to your diet. (mmm, chocolate…)
Remember – Calories are KING. There are no foods that stop or “harm” fat loss or your body in small quantities in the context of an overall healthy diet.
With this split, I believe you’re most likely to maximise your health, performance, recovery and perhaps most importantly, adherence to your diet.
04 – MEAL FREQUENCY + MEAL TIMING
Moving further up the pyramid to the less important aspects of eating for your goal, we have meal frequency i.e. how many meals you consume per day and meal timing, i.e. eating every 2-3 hours and eating around your workout.
Meal frequency plays second fiddle in importance to making sure you consume your target TOTAL calories and macronutrients.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s not important at all.
The evidence tends to show that in order to maximise your MPS (muscle protein synthesis) and therefore, optimaly fuel your muscles, it’s best to consume a high protein meal (30-55 grams of protein depending on the source) around every 4 hours and therefore a frequency right around 3-5 meals per day would work best for most people.
That’s not to say you can’t make progress with more or less meals, especially in terms of weight/fat loss but the evidence seems to suggest 3-5 meals would fit best for the amount of protein needed per meal to maximise MPS.
Again, if you prefer eating 2 times per day or even 6 times per day, go for it. Your total calorie target per day is most important.
We touched on meal timing above – Optimally, for muscle growth you’re looking at consuming a high protein meal every 4 hours. Just another reminder that this is secondary in importance to making sure you are consuming your target total calories and macronutrients.
SUPPLEMENTS – Discussed further down as a separate link.
[x_alert heading=”Nutrition Summary for Fat Loss” type=”info”]
> Eat less calories than you consume daily (Most important!)
> Eat around 1 gram of protein per lb of your bodyweight and then distribute your carbs and fats according to your preference/activities to fit the remainder of your calories (Next most important)
> Use the Flexible Dieting Calculator to personalise your fat loss calories
> Include at least 2 servings each of a variety of both fruits and vegetables to ensure micronutrients are not lacking.
> Eat in a frequency that suits your lifestyle but optimal would be around 3-5 servings of protein per day. Also ideal to time your carbs around your workouts when you’ll most need them. [/x_alert]
That covers the basics of nutrition for fat loss and gives you a massive head start when beginning your fat loss journey.
more info and articles on nutrition here
While you could burn fat by creating a calorie deficit with nutrition alone, a much healthier and long-term fat loss solution is to use nutrition in conjunction with Key Element number 2…
Training and Workouts to Burn Fat
How to burn fat most effectively? – Combine your nutrition with Training!
You could certainly lose fat without training but there are some very real benefits in combining the two such as :
- Better cardiovascular health
- Stronger, better functioning muscles and joints.
- Your fat loss becomes easier to achieve and to maintain.
- Your food requirements will increase
If you’re not sold by that last point, I don’t know what more I can say to twist your arm! Who wouldn’t want to be able to eat more food while staying leaner, right?
Training to burn fat isn’t actually much different to building muscle.
In fact, the mistake I see people most commonly make when training to burn fat is thinking that a wildly different approach is needed.
Remember what one of our most important goals were when we burn fat? Muscle Retention.
So, with that in mind we need to use the same muscle building workouts to make sure that we don’t burn off valuable lean muscle tissue so that when we lose weight, that weight comes from the place we wanted to lose it from – Bodyfat.
More on workouts to retain or build muscle a little bit later..
Weight Loss Workouts?
I really don’t want you to see a training method as a “weight loss” or “muscle building” workout. There are a few conditions that need to be met before anything becomes “muscle building” or “fat burning”
For example, if we perform a workout under the pretence that it’s a “weight loss workout” and we are eating way more calories than we are burning off in a day (even with the added training), then is it really a weight loss workout? No, because you certainly won’t lose weight.
Nutrition and training are just tools that we can use to create an environment in the body for our goals to take place. Don’t worship one or the other as THE way to burn fat – Just look at which tool serves you the best in your lifestyle.
To burn fat, you must create a calorie deficit – Energy balance is king. Nutrition and training are your tools to create this calorie deficit.
Cardiovascular Training / Workouts
As a general rule of thumb, there are 2 main types of cardio workouts : Low Intensity Cardio and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). There are also variations of HIIT e.g Tabata training, but ultimately they are still considered HIIT.
[column type=”1/2″] Low Intensity Cardio Examples
Steady pace rowing
Steady pace Cross Trainer
Anything where you maintain a steady pace for a length of time[/column]
[column type=”1/2″ last=”true”] HIIT Cardio Examples
Anything that involves short bursts of high intensity followed by recovery[/column]
Both types of training have their merits and their negatives. HIIT is widely considered superior and more time efficient but if you’re just starting out or in certain other circumstances, low intensity cardio will be more beneficial.
In fact, low/moderate intensity steady state cardio can be much a much less taxing way to burn calories that takes less recovery time. If you find that your other gym or life activities are suffering, it may be that you are doing too many strenuous HIIT sessions. As a general rule of thumb, I’d limit HIIT sessions to 2-3 a week to avoid this.
Either way, whichever type of cardio you choose, you will be using the routine to help create a calorie deficit and thus lose weight so ultimately, pick the type that suits you best as they both get the job done where burning calories are concerned.
People generally get too hung up on the idea of cardio for fat loss (not to pick on your ladies, but women especially due to an unjustified fear that “weights will make me bulky” – they won’t).
Cardio is only a tool for burning calories (and in some cases isn’t even necessary!) but remember one of the most important goals we have when losing weight is to ensure that the majority of that weight comes from fat loss and that we retain lean muscle tissue as best we can.
How do we do this?
Muscle Building Workouts (Resistance Training)
Again, I’m hesitant to refer to these workouts as “muscle building” or “muscle retaining” workouts because that will truly be dependent on the environment you’ve created in your body.
Building muscle is not something that will generally happen in a fat loss phase unless you’re a complete beginner (or on performance enhancing drugs and if you are, then you’re on the wrong site anyway)
Simply put, while you’re in a calorie deficit however, if you don’t subject your muscles to enough stimulus through an effective muscle building programme then lean muscle tissue will be given up by your body as well as bodyfat (to a certain point, of course – You need both muscles and fat to function)
The body has a goal and that is to survive. This explains why our body would much rather hold on to fat for a survival tool because it is so energy dense!
Fat is over twice as energy dense as muscle, in fact, which is made up of proteins. Remember in the macronutrients section where I mentioned that protein contains 4 calories per gram as opposed to Fat which contains 9 calories per gram?
If you were allowed to take fat or protein with you in your suitcase to survive on a desert island, which would you take? The one with more than twice as much energy per gram right? The body rationalises like this too.
So, when you are putting yourself into a calorie deficit through your nutrition and hopefully by working out, your body has a decision to make. Which type of energy will it let go of? Muscle tissue or fat? For survival, it would rather keep the denser energy source of bodyfat.
Not to mention, muscle mass burns more calories at rest! (A good reason you should really feel strongly invested in retaining as much muscle as possible)
I hate the amount of car analogies used in the fitness industry but I’m annoyingly going to add another : It’s like using a petrol guzzling Lamborghini when it’s costing you more to run it than you earn! To restore your finances, you’ll logically trade down to a more economic Ford Focus or something similar for financial survival.
Now, imagine the money you’re losing/gaining are calories and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what’s going on. The body would rather let go of the expensive Lamborghini (muscle) and take on the more economic Focus (fat) to balance your money (calories)
You need to give your body a good reason to keep the Lamborgini (Lean muscle that burns more calories) – How do you do that? Use an effective, fun and evidence based muscle building resistance programme with enough intensity that the body thinks :
”Wow! That workout was tough! I better hang on to this lean muscle tissue because they’re being used pretty intensely.”
Remember, that the body is efficient at surviving. Put the right kind of stress on your body and it will respond by making you fitter and stronger to survive your next workout.
This also gives a stronger likelihood that your body will drop bodyfat from the energy deficit that your diet and training have created.
Ideally your muscle building routine will incorporate freeweights (barbells/dumbells) as a foundation but can also include resistance machines and cables or a combination of the three.
I won’t be going heavily into correct training programming in this post but I’ve provided some scientifically sound guidelines below so that you know, at a glance, what makes a solid resistance programme for retaining muscle while you’re burning fat.
I’ve also provided examples of some effective routines depending on how much time you have to dedicate to your workouts per week.
[x_alert heading=”Traits of an Effective Muscle Building Workout for a Natural” type=”success”]
> Each bodypart is trained with a frequency of 2-3 x per week.
> 40 – 70 reps total per bodypart, per session.
> Generally contain big, compound movements which give you the best bang for your buck in terms of strength and muscle size. i.e. Squats, Deadlifts, Presses and rows.
Example Workout Splits
> Push/Pull/Legs/Push/Pull/Legs (can be done 5-6 x per week)
> Upper Body/Lower Body/Upper Body/Lower Body etc (can be performed 4-5 x per week)
> Full Body Workout (can be performed 3-4 x per week) [/x_alert]
The take home lesson here at the end of the day is that whichever protocol you chose, your nutrition will be the thing to feed your body with the proper nutrients and permit the changes from your training to happen.
See how the chain analagy comes into play here? Each aspect is an important link in the chain.
Recovery is very much linked in with your nutrition, training, lifestyle and potentially supplementation but there also some other things you can do to help.
If you’ve worked out with enough intensity to burn fat and retain muscle tissue, then you’ll need to pay attention to your recovery in order for your muscles to recover, but also for your performance in the gym and everyday life to stay high.
[x_blockquote type=”left”]You Should Train With as Much Volume and Intensity That you can Recover From[/x_blockquote]
The quote above is quite an ambiguous statement but as much as I’d like to tell you that this section is an absolute science, it really isn’t and often relies on your unbiased intuition.
Many people worry about “overtraining” but it’s damn near impossible for the average Joe who is losing weight for health or appearance purposes, or even someone doing it in a professional capacity to actually “overtrain” in the actual sense of the word.
You’d need to train hard for hours, every day, for months on end to get close to real overtraining. This is not what what we mean when we are talking about recovery.
However, that’s not to say that you don’t need to pay attention to your short term recovery in between workouts to maximise your fat loss, muscle retention and quality of life.
Some signs that might show that you need to focus more of your attention on recovery are (but not limited to) :
- Constant lethargy/exhaustion
- Hitting a plateau that you haven’t been able to break past for a few weeks/months
- Gym performance suffering or feeling much more difficult than previously
Listed below are some things that you can do to maximise your recovery. Again, the purpose of this post is just to equip you with a general understanding of the muscle building process so I won’t be going too in-depth into each point.
[x_alert heading=”Things you can do for Recovery” type=”success”]
Get 6-8 hours of quality sleep per night Ensure that you hit your daily calorie and macronutrient targets
Ensure you include 4-5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables
Stress Management – Become aware of and eliminate stress factors in your life
Supplementation – Multivitamin, Whey protein, Omega 3 fish oils, creatine etc may facilitate recovery.
Foam Rolling and Mobility – Helps with posture, joint health and correct movement patterns to help prevent injury.
Choose an evidence-based, muscle building programme which is programmed with adequate rest
Take a Deload Week – This is basically a “light” week of training which can be programmed every 4-12 weeks of your training depending on the individuals recovery needs. [/x_alert]
Those are just a few things that may help with your recovery and keep your fat loss train steaming onwards “PEEP PEEP!!”
Below is an admittedly over-simplified, graphical illustration of two different people training for fat loss. As you can see, I’m the modern day Van Gogh – please, please, you’re too kind..
In the top picture, Annie isn’t recovering adequately for whatever reason. She’s perhaps not doing one or more things in the list above. It’s an exaggeration on my part to show that her fat loss would regress or even stall at all (unless she’s over eating) but it’s an easy visual so that you get my point.
She’s digging herself a hole that her recovery can’t get her out of in order to progress.
However, in the following picture, Annie has got her shit together, is recovering well in between workouts and now her fat loss is steadily increasing.
As I mentioned at the top of this post – This post is very simplified for your consumption. There are far more nuanced reasons that fat loss can stop so please look at these pictures as they are intended. To make the very general point that recovery is very important for your progress!
How much recuperation do you need?
Again, it depends (You’re sick of that answer by now, I’m sure) on many individual factors such as age, genetics, external environment etc – as most things in fitness, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer to that question unfortunately.
One thing I will say however, is if you’re using a HIIT protocol (High Intensity Interval Training) for your cardio training, DO NOT make the mistake of being so eager when starting out that you overuse this protocol.
HIIT training done correctly can be quite exhausting and takes some recovery – Again, this is something that affects people individually and something that is best left to your intuition but an easy way to tell if you’re overdoing it is if your gym performance starts to suffer.
Due to genetics and different body types, again, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer to that question unfortunately.
The weight loss workout chosen will also effect how much recovery you will need. If you’ve elected to use low intensity cardio, then you won’t need much recovery time at all. Your body will be pretty much back to normal within a day and providing that you stretched after your workout, your body should feel ready to go again.
Low intensity cardio can be done effectively around 3-6 times a week.
HIIT workouts on the other hand will require more recovery time. I had great fat burning results with a program that consisted weekly of 2 HIIT sessions and 2 weights session followed by low intensity cardio. (Yes, you can mix and match workouts! Keeps things varied and will optimise your results!). HIIT workouts should be kept to a maximum of 2-3 times a week in order to give your body time to recover and progress.
Check here to find out more and for some sample weight loss workouts.
Another component of recovery is nutrition. If you don’t consume the right nutrients in the right amounts, then you will not recover. Do you see how nutrition crosses over into recovery as well? No more needs to be said about nutrition – It is vital!
Sleep is also important for recuperation. How much we need has been argued but at least 7-8 hours is normally recommended for optimum muscle building and day to day function. This makes sense – Firstly, high levels of the anabolic (muscle building) hormone, GH (growth hormone) are released during a deep sleep. This hormone is very effective at burning fat and will help you to maintain your much needed lean muscle. Maintaining your lean muscle, as you probably know by now, will mean that you burn more calories while you’re doing absolutely nothing and help keep fat away!
Secondly, how good do you feel when you’ve had little sleep? Most of us can’t function or concentrate properly without a good nights sleep so how do you expect to get through your workout with maximum intensity if you’re lacking in energy or concentration? If you can function normally, then more power to you but for the rest of us…Get some sleep!
Some will argue that this 4th element isn’t ‘Key’ for fat loss and that most gym users focus too much on this aspect rather than the more important things such as a solid training plan, nutrition and consistency.
I 100% agree – Don’t read this if you think that supplements will bridge the gaps in your nutrition and/or training in a magic pill. You won’t.
However, it could also be argued that for certain people, supplements will have a direct correlation to whether they achieve their nutrition goals. How important is nutrition in your quest to burn fat? You know the answer to that.
At the very basic level (95% of supplements are garbage), they might be the difference maker for an individual dependent on their scenario.
For example, Bob can’t eat enough protein through solid food and he’s finding it extremely difficult to maintain lean muscle during his fat loss phase. Bob decides to supplement (important word – Means ‘in addition to’, not ‘instead of’) his diet with Whey Protein to hit his protein target – Bob has now slowed down muscle loss and accelerated his fat burning.
Other examples :
Judy doesn’t enjoy eating oily fish – She supplements with Omega 3 fish oils for the benefits they provide.
Altu lives in London. The weather is mostly shitty with a lack of sunshine. He supplements with Vitamin D3
Supplements can play an important role in filling the nutritional gaps left by a calorie restricted diet while you burn fat.
That’s the goal is right? To burn fat as effectively as possible while optimising our health and performance. Keep it simple
Let’s keep it real – Most supplements are not worth the fancy labels they’re wrapped up in and most trainees spend far too much time and money on supplements when the solution is usually much more straight forward :
Being consistent with evidence based nutrition, exercise programming and recovery.
Choose the basics that I’ve listed below and you’re on your way.
There aren’t many supplements to burn fat that are effective (that are safe and legal anyway!) but there are a couple I’ve included in my list below. The majority of the supplements below help to preserve muscle tissue and optimise your gym performance which will in turn, burn more calories to help with your fat loss.
If you’re interested in more detailed information, I have penned an article about weight loss supplements <—- here
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Whey protein concentrate/isolate
Omega 3 Fish Oils
Caffeine (the main, cheap ingredient in pre-workouts)
**YOHIMBINE : A great fat loss supplement but be careful to assess your tolerance. It can cause some users anxiety and panic attacks if they’re prone – If you’re prone, it won’t be worth taking as you can still burn fat. Remember : NO supplement is essential to this process
Do not waste your money on fancy, exotic sounding supplements and remember that supplements are only of tiny importance to your progress for a reason. Focus consistently on the top 3 elements for effective fat loss!
Let’s wrap it up..
How to burn fat?
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Eat less calories than you are burning in a day, consisting of the correct foods/macronutrients. Remember, you will NOT burn fat without being in a calorie deficit
Choose effective fat loss workouts consisting of resistance work (weights), CV (cardio) and being sure that you are using the principle of progressive overload with every workout to give the body a reason to burn fat and retain muscle!
Take steps to recuperate for your next workout or you will not progress.
>>Key Element Number 4 – Supplements
Optional. If your nutrition is effected by your lack of appetite/convenience then it is ok to supplement your diet with protein, vitamins. Supplements will maximise your results but can’t replace a good diet! Choose only proven supplements
I’d say you are now better equipped than 90% of new starters to this journey and also probably better equipped than 70% of people who have been working out for years!
Look at these 4 key elements as a template for fat loss. I’ve given you a basic template but now YOU need to find the finer details that will give the optimal results for your body.
Which nutrient ratio works best for your body? What weight loss workout will work best for you? How much recovery will your body need? Which supplements will your body respond well to?
These are all questions that can only be answered on your fat loss journey through your own personal experience.
This site was built to further your knowledge about muscle building and fat loss but ultimately it will all boil down to actually doing and experiencing it for yourself.
You may now begin your fat loss journey but remember – Break one of the Key Elements and it will break you!
Thanks for reading and I hope that your journey is a rewarding one!