How would you like to lose 30 pounds in 30 days? Have you ever read a headline in a tabloid advertisement and found yourself tempted to try their program? Well, there is a reason to be skeptical. It isn’t possible to lose more than a couple of pounds a week from adipose tissue (fat stores). Anything else you lose will come from water weight and if you allow your water levels to get too low you could be looking at a trip to the emergency room.
It is important to set goals with realistic time frames. Instead of dropping 30 pounds, why not set a fat loss goal of 8 pounds in 30 days and follow a well thought out program that will help you get there ? I’ve tried a number of different strategies over the years to achieve fat loss. The following tips below have produced results for me and for my clients, and they will work for you if you stay the course.
1. Fasted Morning Walks – What is better than getting outside in the fresh air first thing in the morning? It is great for the mood and it sets you up for the rest of the day. Get up and have your morning coffee or in my case a cold glass of water and get walking for 30 to 60 minutes. When we get up in the morning our bodies are in a fasted state (8 hours or more without food), so we are more apt to use fat to fuel our walks than our stored carbohydrates because the intensity of this activity is on a reasonably low scale (3 out of 10). You are not going to burn hundreds and hundreds of calories on these walks, but a significant percentage of the calories you do burn will be from fat. That is the goal and that is why you need to do this a minimum of 5 times a week to get the best results. I have noticed a significant difference in my waist circumference after doing this for as little as 10 days.
2. Drink More Water – Drinking more water will accelerate fat loss. Next time you sit down to have your dinner, grab a tall glass of water and drink the entire glass before you have a bite of your meal. As soon as you are finished eating, have another tall glass of water. See if you are hungry in the next 3 hours after that meal. Chances are you won’t be. We tend to confuse hunger with dehydration. If you find that you are hungry outside of a mealtime, have a glass of water first, wait for half an hour and if you are still hungry, then go ahead and eat. Another trick I have found handy is drinking carbonated water when I am on the road and know I won’t be eating for a little while. The carbonation in the water keeps my stomach fuller for much longer than a glass of tap water.
3. Perform Tabata Workouts 3 Times a Week – You have probably never heard of this protocol. These workouts are extremely challenging to perform regardless of your fitness levels. They are also very time efficient and can be done anywhere at any time providing you have 30 square feet of unobstructed space. Choose a bodyweight exercise that you find challenging to perform. For a novice trainee, a properly performed jumping jack will be sufficient. You will need a timer or a stopwatch to do this properly. Perform 8 rounds of jumping jacks, 20 seconds on followed by 10 seconds off. The first couple of rounds likely won’t be too difficult, but the rests are very short, since you are working at a 2:1 work to rest ratio. By the time you have reached round 5 you should be breathing quite hard and by round 8 you should be gasping for air, ready to throw in the towel. The protocol only takes 4 minutes in total to perform, but it is brutally challenging when done correctly and the calories that you will burn post exercise will sky rocket. This is referred to as post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC. Be sure to use an exercise that challenges you enough to make it effective. If jumping jacks are too easy, try mountain climbers, burpees or running on the spot with high knees.
4. Make sure you are sleeping between the hours of 10pm and 6am – Get 8 hours of sleep each night—this is one of the most common health and well being tips out there. We all know that we need to get more sleep, but equally as important is the quality of the sleep we get. During these hours, our body repairs itself physiologically and psychologically from the stressors of the day. Sleeping from 1am to 9am will not have anywhere near the same benefits. When we stay up too late our bodies produce excess cortisol which is a stress hormone that can signal our bodies to store fat. If you find it difficult to fall asleep that early, try for 11:00 and work your way down gradually. Avoid computers, televisions and other forms of light a good hour before you go to sleep.
5. Compound movements need to be the basis of your training – I cannot stress this enough. Compound movements are those that require the body to work at multiple joints. A squat works both at the hip and knee joint while a biceps curl (an isolation movement) works only at the elbow joint. A squat will require you to use 3 to 4 times more muscle and energy than a biceps curl, and I can guarantee that you will be breathing a lot harder after performing a set of squats. Use squats, deadlifts, rowing and pressing variations as 80% of your training volume and your fat loss will sky rocket.