There’s nothing complicated about losing fat. This comprehensive list of straightforward tips, tricks and exercises will help you shed the kilos with hardly any effort.
By Joel Snape
Fat Loss Myth:
Do lots of cardio
According to one research review, “the effect of regular aerobic exercise on body fat is negligible”, so slogging away on the bike for hours isn’t helping. Instead, focus on sprinting. It burns fat, burns calories and doesn’t increase your levels of the hormone cortisol (which promotes fat storage) as much as slow long-distance runs.
7 fat-loss foods
Grapefruit reduces your insulin levels — US research found that it reduced test subjects’ weight by an average of 1.3kg in 12 weeks.
Broccoli is packed with nutrients and fibre, which will fill you up without too many calories.
Garlic regulates blood sugar and works as a mild fat-burner — and you can add it to just about any savoury dish.
Kiwi fruit is fairly low in fructose but packed with vitamin C, which will help you burn fat during workouts.
Ginger expands the blood vessels and can increase your metabolism by up to 20 percent.
Apples contain pectin, which regulates blood sugar to reduce appetite, but they’re high in the natural sugar fructose so don’t binge on them — one a day is plenty.
Brazil nuts are full of magnesium and selenium, which aid the metabolising of fat.
4 fat-burning food swaps
1 Swap tea for green tea
If you’re a six-cups-a-day man, swap a couple for the green variety. The catechins in it will activate your body’s fat-burning processes, according to the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition.
2 Swap bottled salad dressing for home-made
Most pre-made salad dressing is packed with sugar and trans fats. To make your own, add a splash of balsamic vinegar to olive oil and mix, adding mustard or honey if you like.
3 Swap sugar in coffee for cinnamon
Adding cinnamon to your morning coffee stabilises your blood sugar, so you’re less likely to have dramatic sugar-crashes and binge on biscuits than if you have two sugars.
4 Swap fizzy drinks for water with lime
Even diet drinks will trigger an insulin response thanks to their sweet taste. Water is the best thing you can drink, and squeezing a lime into it will help keep your blood sugar low.
“These are caused by excess estrogen,” says Will Purdue, a strength coach and biosignature practitioner (willpurdue.co.uk). “If you drink beer, replace it with red wine. Avoid plastics by getting a Pyrex lunchbox, filter your water and take a high-quality multivitamin. Also, boost your fibre intake and get it from a grain-free source.”
“These are caused by blood sugar spikes and unhealthy insulin secretion,” Purdue says. “The better you manage your blood sugar, the less fat you’ll have here. Eat plenty of protein and veg at regular intervals throughout the day, take lemon or lime juice before big meals and lower your caffeine intake — steer clear of it after 3pm.”
“This is caused by excess cortisol,” Purdue says. “It might be stress, foods you’re intolerant to or overtraining, but it’ll cause inflammation and stomach fat. The guy who trains most days on a treadmill or bike will always have a belly and hardly any muscle mass, especially if he’s eating wheat and not sleeping enough. Go to sleep by 10.30pm, try meditation, massage and stay hydrated.”
5 workout upgrades
1 Cut your rests
“The biggest difference between a muscle-building workout and a fat-burning one is your rest periods,”
Purdue says. “Slash them to as little as 30 seconds so your body can recover just enough to do the next set.”
2 Embrace complexes
Complexes are multi-move sets where you never put the weight down. They raise metabolism. Try a favourite of US strength trainer Joe DeFranco: eight each of barbell deadlifts, bent-over rows, cleans, push presses and back squats.
3 Start sprinting
Forget endless treadmill plodding — sprinting creates excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which means hours of fat-burning after your session. Warm up properly and hit some 100s or incorporate bursts of speed into your 5km runs.
5 Do Tabata intervals
Only got 10 minutes? Try Tabata — an interval session with 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds’ rest, repeated eight times. It’s best done with a full-body move such as a burpee or dumbbell thruster.
4 Kick-start your heart
“I do a peripheral heart circuit — each upper-body exercise is followed by a lower-body exercise,” says personal trainer Scott McGarry. “Pair a push-up with a squat to keep your heart rate up without forcing you to stop when your arms get tired.”
6 Lifestyle changes
1 get outside
Research suggests that exercising in sunlight in the great outdoors boosts fat-burning potential by 20 percent by increasing your production of leptin, the hormone controlling your body’s fat stores.
2 Drink more water
Your liver can’t burn fat as efficiently when it’s helping out the kidneys, and they don’t work well when they’re dehydrated. “Drink two litres a day to keep your metabolism ticking,” says personal trainer Nate Green.
3 Rewind your brain
When the 3pm Tim Tams come out, remember lunch. Psychologists at the University of Birmingham found that thinking about what you’ve eaten earlier in the day can reduce the urge to snack.
4 Walk it off
Want to speed up fat loss outside workouts? Body composition coach Chris Shugart suggests NEPA (non-exercise physical activity). Walking for 30-60 minutes at 6km/h will burn fat without making you tired or burning muscle and helps you recover from workouts.
5 Sleep harder
Sleep deprivation lowers leptin levels, thereby stimulating appetite, according to the Journal Of Clinical Endocrinology And Metabolism. Make sure you’re getting eight hours of shut-eye a night and you should feel full during the day.
6 Set aside Sunday
“Forget the gym — use your day of rest to plan and do a big shop for the week,” Green says. If you’re really keen, chop up veg and store it in Tupperware. Take the effort out of daily cookery and you’re less likely to opt for a fat-laden takeaway.
5 eating enhancements
Take a seat
…but don’t eat on the move. People who sit down to eat consume fewer calories than snackers, research at the University of Toronto found.
Eat with friends
Conversation will give your brain time to register that your stomach is full, according to the Journal Of Physiological Behaviour.
Leave your desk
According to a University of Bristol study, eating lunch at your computer will leave you distracted, less full and more likely to snack. Go for a walk.
Add, don’t subtract
“Focus on adding foods to your diet,” says fitness writer Chris Shugart. Tell yourself that once you’ve had three portions of veg and protein a day, you can eat whatever else you like. By then, you won’t want it.
Turn off the TV
A University of Birmingham study suggests watching TV while eating leads to snacking later.
3 fat-loss myths
Avoid egg yolks
Rejoice! Those disgusting whites-only omelettes aren’t as good for you as the full-flavoured yellow version. The yolk is the most nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich, omega 3-rich part of the egg, and even the protein in the whites isn’t as beneficial without the yolks to balance out the amino acid profile.
Don’t eat fat
It’s true that fat contains more calories per gram than protein or carbs — but good fats are crucial to your body functioning correctly. What’s more, low-fat foods will usually include extra sugar so they taste better. Avoid trans fats, found in biscuits, cakes and pies, but don’t worry too much about the other types.
Stick to cereal
Breakfast keeps your body’s fat-burning capabilities ticking over through the morning — and if you believe the adverts, a bowl of flakes drowned in milk is your best bet for fat loss. That’s just wrong. Aim to get a decent chunk of protein for breakfast — MF expert Charles Poliquin recommends meat or eggs and a few nuts.