I have a confession. I just consumed a very large amount of chips with extra chicken salt and now I’m desperately guzzling green tea in an effort to try and rectify this momentary lapse of judgement. For many of us who don’t count calories or meticulously prepare their meals for an entire week, losing fat and getting ripped or toned seems to be a constant battle of good days versus bad days. Often this ends up with very little progress and what feels like wasted effort. But there is hope. You don’t have to be relegated to a future of guilty binges and no abs. Here are 5 easy techniques anyone can employ to help them lose weight, cut body fat and keep it off.
1. Carb Cycling
A method often used by expert coaches and bodybuilders; carb cycling is a short term technique to help you break out of weight loss plateaus and to help your body utilise its fuels better. Many variations of carb cycling exist and pages can be written on the topic, but to keep things simple, it’s all about increasing and decreasing the amount of carbs that you have each day based on your work load. Carb cycling forces you to:
- Eat less calories
- Reduce water weight
- Better utilise fats as an energy source
A simple approach to carb cycling is to simply maintain a high protein intake, a moderate fat intake whilst alternating your carb intakes in the following manner:
- High carb on heavy training days (lower body resistance training, high intensity cardio)
- Moderate carb on moderate training days (upper body resistance training and steady state cardio)
- Low carb days (non training days and very low intensity cardio)
The more dedicated trainers can easily work out just how many carbs they need, but to make things much easier, here’s a few simple rules to follow:
- High Carb Days – Have carbs with every meal. Try to keep them complex and as unrefined as possible.
- Moderate Carb Days – Halve your carbohydrate intake and focus it around your workouts.
- Low Carb Days – Vegetables (non-starchy) mainly with only one small serving of carbs.
Remember that this is a short term strategy and not something that you should maintain months on end. Low carb days are pretty gruelling and can make you irritable, so make sure you’re getting good sleep and staying hydrated throughout the day.
2. Align Your Cheat Meals
Cheat meals are vital for the sanity of every trainer or person attempting to lose weight. While there are a select group of individuals who can live without cheat meals, the majority of us salivate just at the thought of having something that’s high in fat, sugar and calories. Why? Because our bodies and our brains crave energy, especially when it’s not getting enough (such as with diets). Cravings often tend to reduce in intensity or disappear altogether after a short period of time, so if you can, hold off and distract yourself. If you can’t though, align your cheat meals closer to work out times or at the very least to heavier training load days.
Be flexible with your cheat meals or days as well. If you’re particularly craving something energy dense but it hasn’t been scheduled, still have it, and simply alter your workouts on that day. This flexibility allows you to better align your intake with your expenditure and your needs making it easier for you to achieve better gains and a leaner physique over time.
3. Full Body Workouts
Most trainers often stick to the same routine of training 1 or 2 muscle groups a day. Which is fine for a certain period of time. However as with all exercise in general, the same stimulus won’t be able to offer the same level of benefit after an extended period of time. Full body workouts are ideal for those who want to change things around, keep things interesting and ultimately make better gains. While many workouts exist, the daily undulating periodisation protocol (DUP) is one of the best around and when applied to a full body setting can really help you achieve strength and size increases faster.
Full body workouts are great for losing body weight and body fat as:
- They tend to be more metabolically taxing.
- The increased frequency of training to the different muscles will help provide a greater stimulus for muscle growth.
While full body workouts can be quite taxing, short term use of them can really help with improving body composition. The DUP workouts mentioned above are whole articles within itself, but basically involve using different weights, sets and reps for each and every session rather than the same rep and set range for a long period of time whilst slowly increasing the weight. Incorporating 4-8 weeks of full body workouts is a simple, yet effective strategy to getting you ripped in no time.
4. HIIT That Cardio
Cardio, the enemy of most bodybuilders and most people I know. It’s unpleasant at the best of times, but a necessary evil if you want chiselled abs and a leaner physique. Now I did mention that these were going to be easy techniques and they are. High intensity interval training has time and again been considered the best form of cardio when it comes to maximising your metabolism and calories burned thanks to increased post exercise oxygen consumption. Now high intensity cardio isn’t fun, but breaking it down into manageable bouts helps to lessen the pain. Rather than doing 30 minutes of cardio, breaking it up into three 10 minute sessions is much easier. Considering you’re doing interval training as well, you’re basically doing only 5 minutes of exercise, which is not much at all for the massive amounts of benefits that you’ll be getting. Slotting these in throughout the working day is also an easy way to break extended sitting bouts, which have been shown to lead to increased risk of death, even with the daily exercise session.
5. Increase Your Protein Intake
The simplest strategy of them all. Increasing your protein intake is a sure fire way to help you lose those love handles and slim down. While it’s not a miracle ingredient, it’s close to it with numerous studies reporting the benefits of a higher protein intake for weight loss. While it hasn’t been fully elucidated all the ways in which increasing your protein intake can help with weight loss, we do know a couple of ways:
- Protein is more filling, which helps to curb hunger and reduce appetite, forcing you to eat less.
- Protein supports lean muscle mass, which is metabolically active and can raise the amount of calories expended at rest.
- Protein decreases the efficiency at which your body gains weight. This is favourable for most people as weight regain is one of the biggest issues with long term weight management.
Increasing your protein intake is easier and cheaper than ever now with a huge range of protein powders and high protein snacks options. Try to consume your protein evenly throughout the day rather than all in one hit and you’ll be reaping the rewards in no time.
Get Shredded Fast!
Remember, losing weight is not as easy for most of us who aren’t as genetically gifted. In addition, it takes a lot of work, but you can make things easier for yourself by incorporating a few simple techniques. Altering your carbohydrate intake, being flexible with your cheat meal times, incorporating full body workouts and high intensity interval training as well as increasing your protein intake are all relatively simple, yet incredibly effective ways to help you pack on muscle and lose fat. So what are you waiting for, start using these techniques today!