There are many many ways to burn excess body fat, everything from sleep, movement, fasting, dietary abstinence, and more. Before you jump into a new diet or exercise program I beg you to ask this question, “Is what I am about to embark on something that I can sustain day in and day out as well as enjoy?” At the end of the day the most important factor in lasting change is compliance. Compliance is simply consistency. Consistency will be most easy when you find a regime that you enjoy. For example, when considering what kind of exercise is best for you, ask yourself what do you most enjoy? This doesn’t take away from the difficulty or sacrifice that will need to be made in order to create change, but it will create a process that is more enjoyable and sustainable. If you hate biking, I wouldn’t advise you to try to drag yourself to get on a bike for cardio. Instead do a form of cardio that you find most enjoyable, maybe that’s walking, swimming, running, hiking, etc. The same goes for dietary adherence, if you have had temporary success on a diet before, I would beg you to consider not doing it again. Most people (95%) regain the weight and more whenever they embark on a dietary change. While there are a multitude of reasons why this is happening, I can guarantee you that one of them is strict & unsustainable dietary modifications that lead to overeating, binging, giving in, etc. Let’s examine just six potential habits that can help reduce body fat overall.
1. Reduce or Eliminate Vegetable Oil – First off, I want to clarify to the reader what oils I am speaking of: soybean, sunflower, canola, cottonseed, grapeseed, safflower, and corn oil. Why are these oils problematic? They are disguised in just about every “healthy” food product & they pack excessive calories that are void of nutrients. These are what make chips, crackers, salad dressings, condiments, and fried foods so extremely high in calories. Over the past 60 years our vegetable oil intake per capita in the US has gone from 275 calories a day in the 1960’s to 700 calories a day on average in 2020. It’s higher calorically than sugar intake today. Obesity rates continue to skyrocket but sugar intake has been decreasing for the past 20 years. Reducing or eliminating added oil in the diet can drastically cut excess calories without creating excess hunger. Added oil has zero protein, zero nutrients, and zero satiey. When you cut added oils you are likely to steer clear of so many processed foods that drive excess fat gain.
2. Increase Protein In The Diet – Struggling with hunger? Consider increasing the amount of protein in your diet. Protein is king when it comes to curbing hunger, crushing cravings, and improving body composition. Not only has protein been shown to increase satiety, it has the highest thermic effect of food (roughly 15-25%) of the calories consumed from protein are used just to absorb and shuttle the amino acids themselves. In reality, protein is really 3 calories per gram, not 4, if you equate for the thermic effect. Protein is also incredibly important for preventing snacking. Snacking typically involves processed food and processed food is often stripped of protein and fiber, the two most important variables to curbing hunger. Some of the best ways to boost protein in your diet is from whey, fish, chicken, beef, lean pork, and beans if you tolerate them.
3. Incorporate walks into your daily schedule (ideally 3×10-15 minute walks) – walking is arguably one of the best ways to reduce body fat, improve mood, and boost productivity. Studies have shown that simply walking has been shown to increase mood and productivity. Walking can easily fit into any lifestyle regarding diet and career. You don’t have to sacrifice diet or radically change your schedule to integrate walks. You will find time to walk if you truly care about integrating it into your schedule.
4. Build Muscle via Resistance training & or Lifting Weights – View building muscle like an investment. The more muscle you possess the more calories you will burn at rest every day. If you have little to no muscle you will not burn many more calories apart from your resting metabolic rate and cardio. Putting in the work to build muscle does not burn as many calories as cardio does but it will be over a long period of time as muscle increases total daily energy expenditure.
5. Reduce or eliminate snacking – Contrary to what most might think, snacking does not result in eating less calories later in the day. The problem with snacking is primarily the fact that snack foods tend to be ultra processed and or low in fiber and protein. If you do decide to snack, make it rich in protein like Greek yogurt and consider a whole food snack such as a piece of fruit. I prefer not to snack primarily because I find it spoils my appetite for the next regular meal that I consume and leads me to undereat nutritious food and reach for more processed food throughout the day and evening. If you absolutely cannot resist snacking try two different things 1. Intentionally plan your snacks, don’t just mindlessly go into the pantry looking for something. 2. Consider eating more protein at meals which increase peptide YY, a hormone responsible for feeling full.
6. Watch for Added Oils & Sugar in Condiments – Today there are grocery shelves full of sauces, dressings, and condiments. Unfortunately most of these condiments are packed with added sugar and added oils which make the foods more addictive and easier to overeat. If you cannot go without condiments consider no sugar added condiments and reduced fat (which really means reduced oil). There’s really no such thing as healthy condiments so I would suggest opting for ones that have the least amount of added sugar and fat.