“I just want to lose this little bit right here”, says almost everyone, as they grab a chunk of skin from around their belly button or love handles. The dream situation would be to go on a diet for a few days and tell your body where you’d like to lose fat from first. “Dear Skinny Gods, I’m okay if you leave my arms and legs, but are you able to just tone these sections right here please?” Signed, Brandon.
The only problem with this, however, is unfortunately we have NO control where our body decides to store fat or where it loses it from and in what particular order. All we know is, is that we don’t want it anymore and we want it gone! The easiest way to visualise how this concept works is by thinking about a swimming pool. Someone asks you to scoop a section of the swimming pool out. Just one corner of the pool and nowhere else. Can it be done? Nope! Your body is no different.
If you want to reduce fat from a particular area of your body, the only way to do this is by reducing your overall body fat % and pray to the “Skinny Gods” that they’ll take it from your preferred area first. Unfortunately, our primal ancestors had no idea that humans in 2018 would create a trillion dollar beauty industry and find it so sexy to have a trim stomach and toned legs. They were just worried about surviving, so they adapted to the stimulus that was provided to them, which was to store fat for a later day whenever excess calories were consumed. So, whilst we can try and undo thousands of years of evolution in our relatively short lives, we would be better off dealing with what we have been given and surrendering to the fact that we can’t “spot reduce” body fat, no matter how many times people tell us that sit-ups are great for getting abs. The fastest way to ensure that you lose body fat from your preferred area is by following these principles and reducing your overall body fat percentage:
Maintain a consistent calorie deficit
You need to ensure you’re expending more calories than what you’re consuming. I highly recommend using a tracking app so you can learn and understand what foods actually look like from a nutrition and caloric point of view.
Make friends with protein
Maintain a level of protein intake that will help you grow and repair lean muscle tissue. It is recommended to eat between 1.6 – 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of lean muscle tissue. Lean muscle tissue can be worked out by taking your fat mass away from your total body mass. Grams of protein refers to actual grams of protein and not just grams of protein-based food. The easiest way to find this out is by tracking your calories and macronutrients using an app like myfitnesspal.com.
Partake in strength and conditioning training programs. Your body needs a stimulus in order for it to adapt. It requires you to lift weights in a progressively overloading fashion so that your body responds reactively and promotes lean muscle tissue. The old saying of “use it or lose it” is very true when it comes to muscle mass. If you are trying to lose your body fat with a cardio only approach, you’ll find yourself yo-yoing faster than a year 6 kid after eating a bag of skittles. Your metabolism is directly correlated with lean muscle tissue. So if you start losing it, then you’ll be spiralling your metabolism into the ground which will ultimately lead to slower fat loss now and faster fat gain further down the track.
Increase your NEAT
Your non-exercise activity thermogenesis. This is referring to being more active without actually going to the gym and ultimately increasing the amount of calories you expend in a day. This will lead to you burning fat faster without actually feeling more hungry. This includes things like walking a minimum of 10,000 steps per day, standing up instead of sitting down, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to the bus stop etc.
Whilst you may think sleep has no direct affect on your ability to lose fat, it will have indirect effects on how you feel, your energy levels you have the next day, your ability to grow and repair muscles, as well as your central nervous system. Those who have better sleep will generally make better choices and increase their energy expenditure. These aforementioned variables will all have an impact on the choices you make and your overall outcome throughout your fat loss journey.