Sometimes it feels like that stubborn fat is not planning to go anywhere anytime soon. It just won't budge no matter how hard you're trying.
That was my life for a long time.
My goal was to be lean, ideally skinny, but lean was the main aim of the game.
But my actions were doing little to teach my body how to burn fat. With a history of years of dieting, my body had adapted to store fat. I had activated this mechanism. My constant barage of yo yo diets, namely low calorie and low fat, had taught my body to store fat. The body performed in starvation mode for much of my dieting life, and as any good body should, it stored fat to keep me alive.
My life of low calorie and low fat dieting had actually caused my body to store fat rather than burn fat. Totally the opposite of what I wanted.
Through research and implementing a lot of new habits and lifestyle changes, my body is finally the fat burning machine I was looking for all those years ago. The irony is that the changes I made were all very simple, it was just a matter of consistent practice to reteach my body how to burn fat.
There are a few things that you can incorporate into your lifestyle that will make a world of a difference long-term. And most of them aren't even that hard.
Here are my top tips on how you can turn into a fat-burning machine:
1. BUILD MUSCLE
Muscle burns twice as many calories as fat, even at rest. So it makes sense that the best way to torch calories and burn fat is to make building lean muscle a priority if you are looking to burn fat.
For women, including myself, the thought of building muscle rings alarm bells and conjures up images of shredded body builders, but that is far from the truth. These women train for this physique, you, my dear, are not.
Your own body weight is a phenomenal tool to help you build muscle and burn fat. Incorporate a daily workout circuit, ideally in the morning, to wake up your body, build muscle, and burn fat.
The exercises below will take no longer than 15 minutes, depending on how much you rest in between. Make them a part of your daily routine, just before you brush your teeth in the morning. Not only will these exercises build muscle, but you will be burning fat after you have finished the exercises, even whilst you are sat down, not to mention feel strong and taut.
Squats - 10
Lunges - 10 each side
Push-Ups - 10
Planks - 10
Crunches - 10
Lower Ab Raise - 10
TIP: Do exercises using your body as a weight. Totally free and easy to do at home, the park or the beach, meaning zero excuses.
2. EAT PROTEIN
In order to build muscle you need to consume protein. Whilst I swear my high protein diet is how I burn fat, it is individual. Also you don't have to go high protein, just a good dose.
Many people structure their meals around a carbohydrate component, such as a sandwich or a pasta dish. I do it the other way around; I structure a bit of carbs around the bulk of my meal, which is the protein.
Experiment with an increased protein diet and measure the results. If you feel bloated or constipated, ease back, listen to your body, and see what works for you.
Protein is the number one component of muscles. It is the protein filaments in muscle that actually make a muscle do what it does. This means that to increase muscle and its protein fibres you must be feeding your body the right food. The very best food to build muscle is lean protein sources, such as fish, chicken, lean meat, raw nuts, and beans.
You can of course supplement your workout with a protein drink, just ensure you know what is in the drink. Personally I like to take a vegan protein isolate such as Amazonia vanilla. If you are used to whey protein it does take a bit of getting used to, as it is a more textured protein, but if you don't drink dairy, like me, this is a great alternative. Pure Australia pea protein is great too. Again, not the best tasting if you are drinking it just in water as I do, but it gives you the protein boost you need to burn fat. Not only that, but it being organic and Australian is a serious added bonus for me.
TIP: Take protein isolate or a few raw almonds in between meals to increase protein load without too much effort.
3. REDUCE OR QUIT ADDED SUGAR
Sugar is one of the top reasons many of us struggle to burn fat. Even if we are hitting the gym, strength training, and eating good quality protein, we can still be struggling to burn fat.
This is primarily because eating sugar results in increasing fat.
The main reason for this is that sugar directly and immediately affects our insulin level when consumed. Whilst we can modify how much insulin our body produces, it will always produce some. When huge levels of insulin are produced, especially on a consistent basis, we not only become prone to diabetes, but the insulin instructs the body to store the sugar as fat.
This fat can be seen all over the body, but very often it accumulates around the stomach area. Whilst not looking very attractive, belly fat is the most dangerous kind due to it being in such close proximity to our major organs.
Reducing sugar is essential for many health reasons, but when it comes to burning fat, it is crucial to reduce it in your diet.
TIP: Stay away from fruit juices; they are the devil when it comes to injecting your body with instant sugar and eventually instant fat.
4. GET MORE SLEEP
Can you believe chronic sleep deprivation is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity? This is alarming, but it is totally understandable.
As a mum, sleep was and still is a luxury, but I know that if I don't get enough, aside from feeling crap, I don't burn fat at the same rate.
This was a big obstacle when I first became a mum, as sleep deprivation comes with the territory, but finally I am on top of it and am reaping the benefits quality sleep offers to my fat burning.
There are several reasons why getting more quality sleep will help you burn fat.
One being that your body needs to rest in order to perform to its fullest potential the next day. If the body is not rested, it is unable to perform at its best, causing stress that not only impacts fat stores, but your body is also unable to burn fat if its systems are exhausted.
Sleep, or should I say lack of it, is strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar. So much so that a study that observed sleep deprivation, where people were limited to only 4 hours a night, resulted in symptoms of prediabetes.
TIP: Count the hours of sleep you are getting now and ensure they are within 7 to 8 hours. This is not the time you go to bed, but the time you actually are asleep. A good tip is to go to sleep half an hour earlier than you should to allow a 30-minute buffer of you tossing and turning and pretending to fall asleep.
5. EAT HEALTHY FAT
For a long time I avoided fat completely. Ironically, that is perhaps the time I was at my heaviest with the most body fat.
Healthy fats are essential for weight loss, helping the body actually burn fat. That being said, fat is still calories, and quite a lot, so just a teaspoon of olive oil to a salad or a half an avocado is all you need.
It is also worth noting that fat is essential for the natural detox process, if you know what I mean. Low calorie dieters often experience constipation and bowel concerns due to the lack of lubrication in their diet. This is not only hugely uncomfortable, but it prevents your body from ridding itself of toxins and keeps them in your body. Not something you need for health, let alone fat loss.
TIP: If you have hit a plateau in your fat loss, especially if you have been following a low calorie diet, adding some fat can be just what you need.
6. HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT)
HIIT is the bomb when it comes to burning fat.
To give you an example of the power of HIIT, I will give you a few stats. As you are aware, exercise - any exercise - burns calories.
Generally after a gym workout, your metabolism will increase for an hour or so after your workout has finished. However, when performing a high intensity interval workout, which is a combination of intense bursts of exercise and lower-intensity ones or quick rest periods, your muscles carry on burning calories up to 8 hours after you have finished your workout.
That is, after a HIIT workout you will still be burning calories at an elevated rate whilst you are sat down. This increased duration of calorie burn helps burn up to 30% more calories than other more steady-state exercises such as a long jog or swimming laps.
Probiotics hold the key to everything. From our mental health to our fat percentage to our immunity.
If you are not familiar with probiotics, these organisms are beneficial bacteria that populate our gut to provide health throughout the body, not just our digestion and gut as previously thought.
Studies have shown that consuming lactobacillus fermentation daily and on a consistent basis led to a reduced body fat of 3-4%.
What's more, aside from the fat burning properties of the bacteria, they work to increase the immune system, reduce inflammation, and regulate hormone levels.
Lactobacillus seems to be an especially effective probiotic when it comes to burning fat.
TIP: Take the probiotics on an empty stomach before bed to allow them to do their magic without too much interference from food, which can affect their performance.
If you haven't tried any of these things, please give them a go.
One at a time.
Don't try to overwhelm yourself and implement them all at once. When you've created a stable habit, you can move on to the next. And if you've tried any of these tips, let me know in the comments. I'd love to know if you've noticed the difference and what has helped you the most!