Losing body fat can be a grueling process. The reason it’s so difficult to cut fat is that the human body has been programmed to store a certain amount of this life-saving substance over tens of thousands of years of evolution just in case a survival situation arises. Therefore, to lose body fat and keep it off takes a certain mindset and strategy in order to win the battle of the bulge and cut fat down to a point that your hard earned shredded form shines through.
The following tips will assist you with cutting fat without losing muscle mass.
Set Fat Reduction Goals
You’re not going to be very successful at losing fat if you don’t set clear goals that are achievable. The downfall for many who can’t seem to burn enough fat has been due to a half-hearted approach.
Determine a reasonable goal of how much body fat reduction you want to achieve and in how much time. Your goal should be aggressive yet attainable. For example, you might set a goal of dropping 10% body fat in 5-6 weeks.
Once you decide on your goal, write it down on a pile of sticky notes and paste them on places that you will be seeing throughout your day. By constantly keeping your goal in front of your eyes, you program your subconscious to give more willpower for achieving that goal and you keep the desire stirred up in your conscious mind as well.
Meals and Nutrition
Simply cutting down on calories won’t lead to fat loss. This is because your fat storage mechanisms will kick in when the body feels threatened with a “famine” situation. When such a drop in calories occurs, the body produces lipoprotein lipase, which causes your metabolism to slow and starts to consume muscle fibers for energy, reserving your fat stores as a last resort energy source. Since muscle is a high energy consumer, metabolism is slowed even further as muscle tissue is reduced. On top of all this, anything you do eat will be turned into extra fat by your body “just in case” the situation grows worse.
The way you trick your body into burning its fat stores without going into survival mode is to eat numerous small meals throughout the day. Eating more frequent smaller meals every 2-3 hours ensures you have sufficient energy, reduced hunger, and balanced insulin levels. Consuming calories in frequent, smaller portions also creates a metabolic environment that is geared toward muscle mass gains and healthy fat loss.
Protein is a necessity in the bodybuilding world. It is broken down into amino acids that are used to supply muscle fibers with the energy and building blocks needed to recover from stressful workouts and accumulate new muscle growth. These amino acids are also responsible for the healthy production and maintenance of various enzymes, hormones, nails, hair, etc.
Many are under the impression that eating tons of protein is the best for bodybuilding. However, extra protein is not stored in the body, but is rather converted into energy or eliminated. Therefore, when you eat more than the necessary amount of protein, it does no extra good. Those involved in bodybuilding want to eat protein based on body weight in order to maximize its use. The rule of thumb for many bodybuilders is to eat 1.0 – 1.6 grams of protein for every pound of weight.
There are several types of carbohydrates and they should be consumed at various points and for various reasons. Carbohydrates consist of simple carbs, complex starchy carbs and complex fibrous carbs.
Simple Carbs – Simple carbs are present in such foods as honey, sugar, fruit and fruit juice. Simple carbs are instantly transformed into glucose and supply rapid bursts of energy. However, they also trigger a rapid and high response of insulin. Simple carbs should be mostly avoided except for when you need a quick burst of energy. You can get a supply of healthy simple carbs in such natural foods as fruit, unsweetened fruit juice, and non-fat or low-fat milk, yogurt and cottage cheese, which also provide calcium. Avoid processed foods containing sugars.
Complex Starchy Carbs – Complex carbs are made up of longer chains of sugar molecules that will break down more slowly, giving you a more sustained release of energy while keeping your insulin levels in balance. Complex starchy carbs can be found in fibrous foods such as beans, legumes and whole grains. However, many complex starchy carbs have been refined, which removes the fiber and destroys the food’s nutritional value by reducing the complex carbs to simple carbs. White rice, white flour products and sugary cereals should be avoided. Stick with brown rice and wholemeal flour, which retain their fibrous quality.
Complex Fibrous Carbs – This is by far the best type of carbohydrate to consume for bodybuilding and fitness purposes. They are mostly present in green vegetables and are chock full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and other forms of nutrients, as well as being low in calories. Because of their high fiber content, complex fibrous carbs break down slowly and aren’t easily absorbed. This makes them an excellent colon cleanser and digestive aid. Eat plenty of complex fibrous carbs throughout the day to keep your energy levels humming.
Essential Fatty Acids
There are around 20 essential fatty acids (EFAs) that are found in foods. However, Omega 3 and Omega 6 are the most important. They are called essential because your body does not make them and you absolutely have to have them in order to live a healthy life. More than 60% of Americans are deficient in essential nutrients, therefore causing a variety of health problems.
Omega 3 fatty acids are required to maintain a healthy immune system and brain development. They also battle stress and provide a calm disposition by hindering certain chemicals which the brain releases under stressful conditions. Omega 3 fatty acids include DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and are mainly present in linseed oil and fish oils.
Omega 6 essential fatty acids are known as LA (linoleic acid) and is present in most seed oils. Omega 6 aids in the maintenance of skin tissue, blood pressure regulation, and reproductive hormone production.
EFAs increase oxygen use, energy production, and metabolism. They also combat tissue inflammation, improve nutrient delivery to muscle tissue, and stimulate growth hormones. Bodybuilders, weightlifters and other athletes perform better and recover faster from consuming sufficient amounts of EFAs.
High Intensity Exercise
Of course, you aren’t going to achieve effective fat loss on diet alone. You have to burn the calories you’re consuming and the latent fat energy you’ve stored by revving up your body’s motor. This is done through high intensity exercise that raises your heart rate and metabolism to an effective energy consuming level that gobbles up stored energy. It also builds muscle fiber rapidly, in which muscle is highly efficient at burning energy.
By following a smart, nutritional diet plan and completing a high intensity exercise program, you will maximize fat loss while actually increasing muscle mass during the process.