Most people understand the calorie intake/calorie expenditure balance that determines the rate of our fat loss.
In the very broadest terms this is what happens. You take in energy through your mouth, this is processed by your body, some is delivered for immediate usage and the rest is stored as fat.
When you use more than you’re taking in you dip into your fat reserves. You lose fat. So the trick is to make sure that calorie usage is higher than calorie intake. This is best tackled on both fronts. Lower intake and increased usage.
When considering increasing calorie-usage most people think they should do things that burn more calories like running or spinning. This helps but, by far, the biggest calorie-burner is the general maintenance of your body.
The number of calories it takes to just pump your blood, work your lungs, digest food, repair your cells, expire moisture, supply electricity to your brain and a host of other things is called your metabolic rate. Raise this and you give yourself a massive advantage.
There are some pretty simple ways to raise your metabolism. These include:
- Set your muscles to work.
- Eat regularly. (Six smaller meals a day is excellent.)
- Switch calories to protein. (Protein takes more calories to digest.)
- Drink at least 2 litres of water a day. (Can raise metabolism by up to 40%!)
- Fill up on “free veg”. These take more calories to digest than they contain.
Let’s look a bit closer at the first item on that list.
Muscle eats fat.
Whilst fat takes practically no calories to maintain muscle burns 6-8 calories per pound per day. And that’s not muscle use, it’s purely maintenance, which means your muscles are burning calories while you’re asleep in bed.
Most people think muscle improvement takes a lot of time, pain and sweat in gyms full of heavy metal but nothing could be further from the truth. You can do yourself an enormous amount of good and tone up with a ten-minute daily work out watching the telly.
A toned body burns more calories even at rest.
Viva la resistance!
Most people associate cardio with fat loss but, in most cases, they’re looking in the wrong direction. You’re metabolising calories 24/7 so raising your metabolic rate is far more important than sweating a few extra calories out over 20 minutes.
Your metabolic rate can return to normal within 20 minutes of finishing a cardio workout. With resistance training it can be more like 2 days.
Try to ease yourself into higher resistance work outs. That’s harder movements (probably with fewer reps). Bigger weights, stronger bands, anything that raises the resistance to the muscle-movement will extend the length of time after your workout that your metabolic rate is raised.
The aim is to lose fat, not lose weight.
This is an important distinction because muscle weighs a lot more than fat and muscle is good. So, if you’re doing anything to tone or grow your muscles, you’re going to have to interpret what the scales are telling you a bit differently.
Especially in the beginning, when you’re toning up what you already have, your muscles will increase in weight. This means, as an example, that you could lose four pounds of fat but only two pounds in weight.
That new muscle (or new muscle tone) could be holding in your gut, lifting your bum or sculpting your arms so don’t be discouraged if the numbers on the scales aren’t falling as quickly as you’d like. You’re trying to lose fat, not weight.
By understanding the above you can turn your body into a calorie furnace working 24/7 to burn off your fat reserves.