We’ve all been there, weight is coming down and changes are happening, but there’s fat that just won’t budge. Stomach fat, bum fat or that little bit of fat on the back of your arms (pleasantly known as bingo wings), it’s all annoying.
Although targeting particular muscle will help with hypertrophy (muscle growth and size), we can’t target where the fat will go from. For me, this is one of the most frustrating aspects of exercise and weight loss, and I doubt I’m the only one.
There are some things that we can do to reduce our overall body fat percentage, which should go some way to help:
- Be in calorie deficit
Weight loss occurs when you have a negative energy balance:
Calories out – calories in = negative energy balance
To have an effective negative energy balance, you need to burn a higher level of calories, or consume fewer calories. By ‘saving’ calories through better food choices, you can cut down the overall amount you consume – and it can be easier that you think. By choosing more nutrient dense foods, getting enough protein and cutting out unnecessary calories, you can remove a good amount of calories per day. Couple this with a higher intensity exercise plan, and you should hopefully see results.
Track your calories through a website like MyFitnessPal or through a food diary – it’s usually easy to see where you can cut a few things out.
- Keep well hydrated
Sometimes we confuse thirst with hunger, so we’re eating when all we really need is a glass of water. Staying well hydrated also helps your liver effectively metabolise body fat and there’s a school of thought that argues we feel fuller after drinking water, so we’re less likely to eat more. Drinking water also helps us feel less sluggish, which can help us make better food choices.
- Build muscle
Lean body mass (muscle) burns a higher number of calories than fat, so the more muscle that makes up your body, the more calories you will burn – this means you will have a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR), and this will help with your negative energy balance.
I know it’s intimidating as a woman to think about bigger muscles but we’re simply not able to build muscles to the same level as men due to a lack of testosterone. Think about changing shape, burning fat and being stronger, rather than bulking. Cardio will help burn fat (as well as HIIT as discussed below), but getting into the free-weights area is a must.
- Add HIIT to your workout
Working at a higher intensity for shorter periods of time has been proven to burn higher levels of calories and fat, than working at the same intensity for longer periods. This also has a double-whammy effect, as it’ll cut down the length of your workouts too.
Adding in circuits of burpees, jumping jacks, high knees etc. will get your heart rate up quicker and more effectively. Alternatively, doing intervals on the treadmill, rower or cross trainer will help you work at a higher intensity for shorter periods of time.
- Keep stress down
Increased cortisol levels (a hormone associated with stress and stressful situations) can play havoc with weight loss. When cortisol levels are raised, your body resists weight loss as it thinks that there are hard times ahead and needs to cling onto fat to see it through. Try keeping stress levels to a minimum (easier said than done, I know), or come up with stress relieving strategies.
If you ask most people what they want out of an exercise programme or when they’re looking to lose weight, body fat reduction is usually number one. By changing a few habits and changing up your exercise plan, you should see a difference in your body fat %.
If you need anymore information or advice, please get in touch or add your comments.