Just how much body fat should be lost will depend on one's goals. Let's examine the most effective ways the severely overweight through advanced trainer can lose fat.
"An extreme level of conditioning is needed for bodybuilding purposes."
Losing body fat is not the easiest of propositions; just ask anyone trying to lose that last ten pounds. It often seems as if the more persistent a person is, the harder this stubborn body fat is to lose. Whether your goal is to get into top shape for a bodybuilding contest or to look good for the beach, fat loss is arguably the biggest incentive to train.
But just how much body fat should be lost to achieve the kind of definition that accentuates the separation between muscle groups, and highlights that all-important abdominal area? It really depends on one's goals.
An extreme level of conditioning is needed for bodybuilding purposes, while a smaller reduction is often all it takes to reveal a nice "beach body." A certain amount of body fat is needed for survival purposes—around 3-4 percent for males and slightly higher for females—with higher percentages (around 10 percent for males and 15 percent for females) deemed within the healthy, acceptable range.
Losing the last 10 or so pounds of body fat is generally a hard thing to do, and the reasons for this are many and varied. Losing even more is, as would be expected, even harder. The best ways to lose fat are often dependant upon the level one is at, so it is best to plan accordingly.
Let us examine the most effective ways the severely overweight through to the advanced trainer can lose unsightly body fat.
The Most Effective Fat-Loss Methods
The following methods can be used together or separately, depending on the goals one has, or the fat-loss stage they are at. Guidelines will be given (see "What to Do and When" section below).
1 Exercise Moderately With Aerobics & Weights, Gradually Increasing The Intensity As Fat Is Lost
If you're severely overweight, it is probably best to start your fat-burning phase with low-intensity aerobics and weight training, to ensure your body is not placed under undue stress at this early stage. When significantly overweight (over 25 percent body fat in males and 30 percent in females), it is best to work moderately as a way in which to gradually ease into a higher-intensity program.
"Moderate aerobics are likely to burn a greater amount of body fat."
Moderate aerobics are likely to burn a greater amount of body fat if the intensity is kept at around 70 percent of maximum heart rate, and taken beyond the 30-minute mark (with one hour being the eventual goal).
With weight training, high repetitions with moderate weights would work best for an obese client during the initial stages of training. It is important to remember that lower-intensity weight training and aerobics should both be done in the same program to maximize results.
Walking is a perfect, low impact aerobic activity for anyone who is obese. For weight training, all body parts should be targeted with basic exercises that work larger muscles.
Gradually Cut Back On All Bad Fats, While Strategically Cutting Back On Carbohydrates
It has been shown that fat intake of the wrong kind will result in increased fat gains. This stands to reason, as the body will typically burn carbohydrates for fuel and use protein for repair. Therefore, it makes sense to cut back on bad fat while increasing the good type.
Good fats such as the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids will actually have a fat-burning effect, as they enhance metabolic function (the metabolic rate is an indicator of how the body uses stored energy). Their use—as opposed to the saturated bad type found in meats and hard at room temperature—should be encouraged.
"Complex carbohydrates will generally maximize the fat burning effect as they stimulate the metabolism."
Strategically cutting back on carbohydrates means eating specific carbs at certain times to achieve a fat-burning effect. Complex carbohydrates will generally maximize the fat-burning effect because they stimulate the metabolism without causing the outpouring of insulin, which causes greater fat storage.
Complex carbs include brown rice, beans, oats, and potatoes, and their use is to be encouraged. However, the short-burst simple-sugar carbohydrates are to be avoided during a fat loss phase, as they can cause a large insulin spike and resultant fat gains. They are also concentrated, and generally higher in calories.
A third type of carbohydrate, fiber. which can be found in
high-wheat foods and certain fruits and vegetables, is an important one for fat loss because it increases feelings of fullness and pushes fat through the system to be eliminated.
Best times to eat complex carbohydrates for fat loss are at all meals before 6:00 p.m. Simple carbohydrates can be eaten directly after training, as the body will more readily store them as glycogen, not fat, at this stage. For general health, the recommended intake for fiber is 30 grams per day. For fat loss, an additional 10 grams is advised.
Mix Up Aerobic Sessions
For variety—to eliminate boredom and encourage adherence—it is worthwhile to do a range of aerobic activities. These various activities will also have differing fat-burning effects. Combined, they may stimulate the metabolism to greater heights, therefore enhancing fat loss on a larger scale.
One school of thought has it that training aerobically directly after weight training, or first thing in the morning, will stimulate greater gains in fat loss. The idea is that glycogen stores will be depleted at this time and therefore fat will be used directly for fuel. In many cases, this strategy has worked. However, some feel it is not a valid method. It is worth trying though.
"HIIT (High intensity interval training) is an advanced form of aerobics designed to strip body fat at a faster rate."
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is an advanced form of aerobics designed to strip body fat at a faster rate. Although not for everyone, as it can be very demanding, HIIT is one of the more effective fat-loss methods for the intermediate to advanced trainer.
As the name suggests, HIIT requires training at high intensity (near maximal) for a series of intervals, before backing off to a lower work rate. The interval can last anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds, and the entire session might last only 20 minutes, depending on the stage (both in terms of fat storage and fitness level) one is at.
An example of a HIIT session could be as follows:
Two minutes of walking followed by fast running for 30 seconds, for 20 minutes total.
Stagger Food Intake
At the smooth stage(a thin layer of fat—independent of water—covers the body) or in the shape stage (around six percent body fat), it is probably acceptable to stagger food intake so that high calories (1000 or so above normal) can be eaten for two days followed by lower calories for three days.
There are many variations on this practice, but the guiding principal stays the same: After a period of low calories, the body will tend to hold onto fat; on this basis it is thought that upping the calories will up the metabolic rate to burn more adipose tissue.
Generally the extra calories will not be stored as fat as long as the high-calorie days are limited to a certain period and are promptly followed by the lower-calorie days. The higher-calorie days are not open invitations to pig out on all manner of forbidden foods, but should be comprised of clean proteins. carbohydrates. and fats .
This strategy is best practiced when aiming to lose that remaining five to ten pounds of fat, and when a person is in reasonably good shape to begin with. If the client is overweight, the higher-calorie days could sabotage their weight loss due to a more sluggish metabolic rate.
A greater degree of excess fat would probably require consistency in terms of low-fat, low-calorie eating, as will be shown in the success stories featured later in this article.
Drink At Least One Gallon Of Water Per Day
In most of the weight loss success stories I have read, one common theme emerges: a higher than normal water intake is crucial for fat loss. Water intake is important for fat metabolism because it helps the liver perform the function of fat conversion for energy purposes.
Unfortunately the liver also has to work on behalf of the kidneys (if the kidneys are water-deprived), therefore lowering total liver productivity, which has deleterious consequences for the fat-conversion process. Therefore drinking enough water is an important step toward fat reduction. Drink at least a gallon of water per day, more if obese and/or living in a hot climate.
Weight training is a perfect activity for fat loss. Although it doesn't directly burn a greater number of fat stores than aerobics, weights will build muscle, which in turn will increase the metabolic rate 24 hours a day. The more muscle you're holding, the better your chances of losing body fat.