Stick to the basics, be patient and consistent - and you will see the results! Here are 7 tips for helping you cut body fat.
Stay in a calorie deficit
In order to lose fat you don’t have to track and weigh everything you eat, or do hours upon hours of cardio. But it helps to work out your average daily calorie burn, and then ensure you stay between 250 to 500 calories below that. There are several online calculators that will help you work that out, such as BodyBuilding.com’s Caloric Intake Calculator and freedieting.com's Daily Caloric Needs Calculator.
In order to ensure you eat less than the calories you burn it helps to track your food intake with an app such as My Fitness Pal, at least for a shorter amount of time, to get an idea of where you’re at. Because if you’re only estimating, you’re just guessing, and that can easily mean you’re eating too much (or in some cases too little).
Activity trackers (such as Fitbit) will help track how many calories you burn, but take the calorie info it gives you with a pinch of salt.
Lift some weights
A common misconception is that when you’re cutting body fat, you need to lift lighter weights with more reps. But that makes little sense for preserving muscle mass. In order to keep and build muscle mass you need to lift as heavy as you always have, and if you’re not lifting already try to hit the weights 2 to 3 times a week. Lifting weights helps signal your body to preserve your muscles, and to encourage it to burn fat off instead.
And for the ladies, no, you won’t build massive muscles from lifting weights largely due to the fact that you don’t have enough testosterone in your system to do so. Remember that the more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you will probably burn at rest, and the easier it will be to stay lean and keep your body fat at a lower level.
Stick to compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, bench presses and overhead presses for maximum calorie burn and to hit the big muscle groups.
As for cardio? It’s great for your cardiovascular system, overall health and will help you burn more calories overall, but if it’s LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) as opposed to HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) it will probably not help build or preserve muscle.
Eat enough protein
Try to aim for 1.5 - 2 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight per day. Spread your protein intake throughout the day and try to have some with every meal. You don’t have to opt for protein shakes but they’re a quick and easy protein hit post working out. Otherwise try to stick to lean sources of protein.
Slow and steady wins the race. By maintaining a slight calorie deficit, doing resistance training and eating enough protein you should slowly, but steadily, burn off body fat. But the long-lasting results will show more in the long-term and it might take 6-8 weeks before you start seeing results.
Cutting body fat can be difficult, and staying on a healthy nutritious diet can be tough and at times de-motivating. Allow yourself treats every now and then, but try and stick to your healthy diet and workout plan at least 90% of the time. And once you reach your goal, don’t fall back to old habits. It’s better to stay on the nutritious path you’ve carved out for yourself in order to keep the results!
Don’t look at the scales too much
If you’re building muscle but dropping down in body fat levels, the scales might not actually shift much. Instead, take measurements of key areas such as your waist, thighs and upper arms on a regular basis, and take a look in that full-length mirror ever ynow and then! Changes might be happening but they might not always be too apparent by only looking at the scales.
Don’t waste your money on useless supplements or fad diets
I’ve tried a lot of supplements, and I’ll let you in on a little secret: 90% of them are a waste of time and money. Sure, there is some evidence to suggest caffeine might help slightly with weight loss, and certain types of CLA might help nudge you along a little bit of the way too. But most “fat burners” are full of useless and ineffective ingredients you don’t really need.
BCAAs? Not necessary if you’re consuming sufficient amounts of protein.
Green tea extract? The evidence is scarce.
And don’t even get me started on raspberry ketones, which have been scientifically proven to be a complete waste of time.
Instead, spend your money on good, nutritious whole foods, and some nice fancy new workout gear to help motivate you to work out and/or hit the gym.