“Weight loss” is one of the biggest topics in the Western world, where one in three people can die from an obesity (diet and lifestyle) related disease.
Knowing how to build your best body is crucial in this day and age if you want to live long, be happy and escape lifestyle and dietary related diseases.
Although “weight loss” is the goal of so many, it is best to think of it as “body fat reduction alongside muscle mass building”. Too many people focus on the number on the scales while eating incorrectly, so as that number drops, they are unaware of how much muscle mass they are losing along with the fat.
When you “diet” incorrectly, you can cause metabolic damage if you are not preserving or building muscle at the same time. Muscle mass is much harder to build than fat is to lose, so preservation is crucial.
It is possible to lose fat and build muscle, if you are strict and purposeful with your regime.
Here are the top 5 most important things you can do, which will guarantee fat loss, and muscle building.
With food available 24/7, it is not uncommon for people to eat whenever they like, around the clock, with no thought for how it affects your health. Being in this constantly fed state is the worst thing for fat loss and muscle gain.
When you fast, you decrease blood sugar levels and fat-creating hormone, insulin, and you allow the elevation of glucagon, norepinephrine and human growth hormone, which all work together to increase fat-use for energy and muscle preservation.
This happens after 12 hours of fasting, and will help you to reduce your appetite, helping to reduce ghrelin levels (increases your appetite), and increases leptin sensitivity (reduces your appetite).
Try fasting from an early dinner, around 5-6pm, to a late breakfast around 8-10am. And then, eat all your required calories (with a slight deficit) within a 6-10 hour window. The shorter the window, the more effective the health benefits, but 8-10 hours to eat is sufficient.
The only things you can have while fasting is water or herbal tea. Anything else will break your fast. Adding some mineral salts to your water in a great idea, will not break your fast, and will help you fast longer.
2. Exercise while fasting
Exercising on an empty stomach, when you’ve been fasting for over 10-12 hours, will increase your body’s ability to burn fat, while also increasing human growth hormone, which helps you build muscle. Human growth hormone is elevated during deep sleep, low insulin, low blood sugar levels and high amino acids (protein) in the blood. This is another reason why it is so important to fast, eat dinner early, and eat the right foods so that human growth hormone can be optimally released.
The best exercise to do for fat loss and muscle gains in interval training. Running, squats, skipping, burpees, or squat jumps are all great exercises that you can do in intervals – 20-40 seconds on, 20-40 seconds off. You have to work hard in the seconds on though! Go as hard as you can, then rest, and do this for 10-20 minutes first thing in the morning, while you’re in a fasted state.
3. Avoid stress – emotional, caffeine, too much sugar, going to bed late
When you’re stressed, your body becomes a sugar-burning machine, with blood sugar levels that dip and peak all over the place. This causes cravings, elevated insulin (which stores your excess food for fat storage), and interferes with your body’s ability to burn fat. Being in this state can also put your muscle at risk, with elevated cortisol (stress hormone) being responsible for causing a breakdown of muscle for fuel.
Stress can be emotionally related, even breathing too fast and shallow can trigger a stressed, anxious state in the body. Slow, deep breaths through your nose will help your body to relax, and burn fat.
The reason stress interferes so greatly is because your body cannot tell the difference between ‘famine’ and too many emails… The body’s stress response is designed for protection and survival – to give you glucose to run away from the lion, and to store fat in times of famine. So, when you are in a constantly stressed state, your body won’t let you relax and feel safe, therefore always triggering you to eat, and with that, eat sugary, fatty comfort foods.
Caffeine triggers your body’s stress response, as does too much sugar and going to bed too late. So, these lifestyle and dietary measures are crucial to get under control if you want to BE in control.
Meditation, exercise and going to bed by 9-10pm are the best ways to manage emotional stress, helping to build important parts of the brain that make you feel good, and have better behaviour control.
Remember also, that most people eat emotionally because there is stress or issues that they are not dealing with. Or, the thoughts and the way you speak to yourself create a state of stress.
So breathing slow, and constantly affirm peace and love to your brain! Your thoughts really matter!! Force yourself to forgive, let go, love, be grateful, look on the bright side, and keep a journal!
4. Eat high vegetable and protein diet, with good fats
Fat is your friend, not your enemy. Good fat, that is. Not fat from fried chicken or chips.
What you put into your mouth is the biggest determinant for health, disease prevention, good body composition and good genetic expression.
Eating 60% of your diet as colourful vegetables, and lots of them, is the best way to ensure good health.
Combining these vegetables with good protein, like lentils, hemp seeds, organic eggs, wild-caught fish, or organic meat, is the best foundation to a meal.
Then add some good fat, like avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, or some seeds/nut butter. This will enable you greater satiation and appetite control.
A meal high in fibre and vegetables, good protein, and good fats will be your best avenue for fat loss, muscle gains, appetite control and good health.
5. Avoid sugar, refined ‘empty’ foods, those high is refined gluten, dairy, MSG and excessive animal products
These foods are addictive, changing your brain chemistry to make you eat more.
Most people who need to lose fat, struggle with cravings, food addictions, overeating, and eating the wrong foods. These addictions are incredibly strong, and cause a lot of people to lose logical reasoning.
When you switch from a processed food diet, to a whole food diet as explained in step 4, cravings will diminish, and you will gain great control over your habits and eating patterns. These refined foods make you eat more, and also cause your body to store fat. Calories do matter but won’t be so much of an issue when you are eating the right foods – your body can self-regulate more efficiently!
People who eat whole foods, like fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, actually lose weight, even if it’s the same amount of calories as those who eat ‘junk food’.
It is WHAT you eat that matters! So, ALWAYS choose, for example, bliss balls as a treat over commercial chocolate, even if the calories are higher. Your body will be nourished, and you will feel so much better, with less desire to binge and eat excessively.
There are lots of crucial points to consider in this article, which will literally change your life around.
Pick the ones you need to work on the most, make a chart, write them in, and make a habit of it each day. You can add more as you go, but just choose to start!