Fat busting strategies and tips

Introduction

Firstly why would you want lower your fat levels in your body? The main reason is because fat is just dead weight. It slows you down, restricts your movement and makes you less efficient than you could be. Indeed, Wilmore from the University of Arizona has stated that "there is a high negative correlation between percentage of body fat and performance".

Simply put to be the absolute best you can be you have to lose the fat. If you donít believe me try this simply experiment: run 100 metres flat out with everything youíve got, then when you are suitably recovered stick on a 10 lb weight like a padded body belt or something similar and try the run again and see if you can notice the difference!

Fat

Having said all this it is very important to note that fat is a very important part of your overall food intake, indeed so important is it that some fats are actually essential to your body's well being and are known as essential fatty acids (EFAís).

A healthy range of body fat would be in the ranges of about 15 to 20 % for males and 22 to 25 % for females. Less than 10% body fat in females and 4% in men can lead to a very unhealthy situation and is unwise as it affects hormone levels and ability to retain muscle mass.

A lot of people try dieting to reduce their fat levels but rarely succeed. Why? As diets generally are concerned with reducing weight rather than on reducing body fat percentages, they tend to strip off muscles which themselves are major burners of body fat and they take off weight too fast causing your body to go on the defensive and store every bit of food that you eat in effect counteracting the very goal of the diet.

Also dieters tend to be very caught up in the myth of the calorie. Calories appear on nearly every food label we see these days but ironically have little or no relevance to us at all.
Calories are calculated in food labels using a machine called a bomb calorimeter, the calories are burnt and the heat produced is measured. Off course your stomach is slightly different bio-chemically speaking to my stomach but neither of our tummies is any way at all like a bomb calorimeter!!!

Tips

So I will now give you few rules to guide you to fat loss, these rules are quite strict in that there is not much leeway in them but they should see you right.

1) Donít try and lose more than half a pound of fat per week because anymore than this and you will lose muscle as well as fat which is bad, as you want to retain as much muscle as possible. When you remain at a certain fat percentage for a year or more the body develops all the support mechanisms to support it such as blood capillaries, nerves, connective tissue and your body will defend this level of fat with everything it's got. This level is sometimes known as the bodyís fat point. Your body monitors this level and will increase fat storage and even increase appetite to maintain this level. It takes to put on fat and reach a certain fat point and it takes time to get it off. You have to work with your body's natural rhythm if you wish to achieve permanent fat loss and prevent the body's natural defence mechanisms from kicking in. It takes time for your body to adjust and remodel adipose cells (fatty cells), capillaries, enzymes, etc. So give yourself time not weeks or months but a year at least.

2) Get your body fat levels measured regularly (every two months recommended). There are various ways to do this, the important point to note is to stick with the same method, your local gym should be able to help and advise you here.

3) Avoid all saturated fats (i.e. the fats in most meats and most dairy products, crisps, fried foods, margarine and butter). Fat calories are most likely to be deposited as fat on your body. There are basically two different types of fat saturated and unsaturated fat.
Saturated fats are normally solids at room temperature and donít really play a role in the body except as a reserve energy source. Over eating this type of fat leads to heart disease (the biggest single killer in males in Ireland) high cholesterol and of course weight gain.
Unsaturated fats are much better for you and are usually liquid at room temperature.
Two of these fats in particular Linoleic acid and Alpha Linolenic acid (Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids) are called essential as they cannot be made by your body and must be eaten, they are used as a structural component in all your bodyís cell walls as well as hormone production and skin and hair maintenance. Good sources are primrose oil, sunflower oil, oily fish (like mackerel, Salmon and Trout). Generally try and make most of your fat intake the unsaturated type and aim to keep overall fat intake to about 20% of your total food intake.

4) Avoid all popular dietís, they are limited and not permanent. All the commercial diets tend to run for fixed period when what is needed is a lifestyle change in eating habits to keep fat off permanently. How many people do you know who lost a couple of pounds while they where on a diet and then put it straight back when they finished? In other words the diet stimulates your body to accumulate fat once you stop the diet!!! Most diets also fail to differentiate between weight loss and loss of excess fat with the retention of muscle and water and as I explained earlier, muscle loss leads to a drop in the bodies metabolic rate making it harder to lose fat. Lastly a study by the department of Food Science in the Rutgers University in the states showed that the popular diets in the states were all seriously deficient in minerals vitamins and fibre.

5) Avoid all fat busting pillís, tonics, etc. At the moment it is possible to buy a wide variety of pills etc to promote weight loss the most modern ones are appetite suppressants like Fenfluramine. This was widely available in the states until 1997 when the food authority with drew it after some people developed heart irregularities. Even products that are still available across the counter mostly contain a drug called Phenylpropanolamine, which is a mild stimulant and can lead to increased anxiety and blood pressure and also can cause nausea in young people. Stick to a drug free ethos, exercise that builds calorie-burning muscles and gives you a metabolic boost to boot!

6) Cut out sugar. Sugars while a type of Carbohydrate it is a sugary carbohydrate. Examples would be sugary cereals, cakes, biscuits, tomato ketchup and soft drinks. Foods that contain high levels of sugar have a fattening effect on the body. In fact you sometimes see sugar being advertised as a fat free product which is true to an extent, but your body loves to turn sugar into fat as it is digested very quickly in fact so quickly that often leave you still feeling hungry! When all the sugar hits the blood stream you get what is called an insulin spike, and the insulin shuttles the sugars into fat cells.
Where possible your carbohydrates should be complex carbohydrates (Pasta, Barley grains, vegetables) these provide a slow release of energy and leave you feeling less hungry. Complex carbohydrates absorbed more slowly by the body and provide a prolonged source of energy and they help avoid insulin spikes.

7) Fibre: eat loads of it. A high fibre diet regulates the digestive system promoting slow release of energy and favouring use of food for energy rather than storage as body fat. Fibre is also used in the regulation of blood sugar levels. There are at least 6 different types of fibres with different types being found in different foods, so a variety of fruit, cereal and vegetables should provide a variety of fibre.
In his book "Optimum Sports Nutrition", Dr Colgan recommends about 40 grams of fibre daily for athletes.
There are other benefits as well, as more calories are actually needed to digest and absorb high fibre foods than most other foods, and fibre speeds up the time it takes for food to pass through your digestive tract thus leaving less time for it to be absorbed as fat.

8) Weight Train (Do this is to preserve muscle mass). People often think that they must run for miles and miles or swim for miles doing endless lengths to lose or burn off fat, while this does burn off fat in also burns off muscle. Hence why most cyclists and runners etc. are quite skinny. But muscle is very important for fat busting as the more muscle you have the more fat your body will burn off each week. So while it is important to do aerobic exercise too much of it may burn off more than just body fat stripping you of precious muscle as well ultimately this means loss of performance.

9) Do low intensity log duration exercise. The trick here is to do enough exercise to burn fat but keep any muscle that you have.
Firstly calculate your maximum heart rate which is 220 minus your age, so in my case its 220 minus 27 giving me 193. At around 50% of this maximum your bodyís fat supplies will provide about 90% of your bodies energy requirements.
Now at higher intensity of exercise (i.e. higher heart rate levels) over the same time say about 75% of max (the level needed to maintain and improve aerobic fitness) only about 60% of the bodies energy need come from fat! But more calories are used overall including more fat calories but more protein is used meaning precious muscle is burnt!! There are ways to combat this but thatís another article. I would recommend 4 sessions at 50% of your maximum heart rate a week.

10) Train in the morning. If at all possible train in the morning time because if you do your bodies resting metabolic rate will shoot up for up to 18 hours later meaning you will burn more calories all day even while at rest!!! Also strength training gives a greater boost to your metabolism. But if you train in the evenings and then go to bed soon after the benefit of this boost is lost as your bodyís metabolic rate drops completely.

Conclusion

These rules will lead to permanent fat loss over the long term and should be become natural to implement over time and should not be thought as a diet but rather the correct way to eat always.
The most important thing is the desire to get the job done. Rules and advice count for nothing unless acted upon. Lack of consistent application leads to failure.
Like everything else once you get into the swing of it becomes much easier. You never know how important good health is until you no longer have it. Try and avoid all harmful activities, habits and look after yourself!!! Today is the start of the rest of your life, you will never be as young as you are now!!!

So start today and get in charge of your life.

Article written by John Fitzpatrick


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Last updated on Friday, August 13rd, 2004.