If you're new to fitness, and fat loss is your goal, it's easy to fall into the trap of eating too little, and training too hard in an effort to tone up. But actually, slaving away at the gym five days a week could dent, rather than increase your progress.
Just ask Michael Chapman, head trainer at F45, the boutique London fitness studio which specialises in killer (and fat-burning) team-based functional training workouts, beloved by Instagram fitness stars like Clean Eating Alice and Zanna van Dijk. He shares the five keys things everyone needs to know about working out and fat loss - especially if they're new to fitness.
1. HIIT the gym
If you're looking for the ultimate fast and efficient way to burn fat, look no further than High Intensity Interval Training. Despite the abundance of evidence detailing HIIT's fat loss benefits, many people still turn to the treadmill for a long, steady run. Sure, endurance exercise in a steady state is great for fat burn, but let's get real, who has the time to be working out for an hour, and what's more, who's going to stick to an exercise routine that involves long, tedious sessions on a treadmill?
HIIT Training involves short bursts of exercise at 100% intensity; which will send your cardiac output skyrocketing, followed by short rest periods, allowing you to catch your breath ready to go hard again next time round. This type of training has been found to increase your resting metabolic rate for the following 24 hours after your workout, meaning those calories will be burnt up at a much faster rate!
What's more, it's more fun than steady state cardio. Mix up your routine; whether you choose to swim, run, cycle, do a body weight routine at home, or design yourself a circuit in the gym, make it fun and make it HIIT. You'll quickly start to see results and it will keep you committed, which of course, is the key for successful fat loss.
Ed's note: Be sure not to do more than 4-5 HIIT workouts in a week - as this can be tough on your body and your joints - especially if you're new to working out!
2. Accountability is key
If you're embarking on your own fat loss journey, or attempting to make a lifestyle change, don't go it alone. By training with your partner, a friend or a PT you are committing time and effort to someone other than yourself, helping each of you to remain accountable to your goals.
Life can throw some curveballs at us all, and added stress can force us to place our own health as an afterthought.
In the best selling book "The Willpower Instinct" by Stanford Professor Kelly McGonigal, a link is explored between willpower being depleted by stress, and the statistical probability of you 'falling off the wagon' and bingeing.
By acknowledging the risks and taking preventative steps you're guaranteed to increase your probability of success.
3. The Energy Equation
At the very basic level, weight loss is simple maths.
In order to lose weight, energy expenditure (the energy expended whilst at complete rest, the energy required to digest and absorb food, and the energy required to perform physical activity) must be greater than energy intake (what we eat and drink every day).
Similarly, in order to gain weight, energy intake must exceed output, and to maintain weight, we must find that balance between the two.
However, this equation doesn't mean that so long as you are doing enough exercise you can live on junk food! People who fit into the definition of 'metabolically obese normal weight' or 'skinny fat' are those that may look healthy on the outside, but have a poor diet. Individuals who fit into this category are more at risk of Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease, so it's important to think about nutrition and eating wholesome foods that will fuel your body right.
The old 'abs are made in the kitchen' quote you see floating around every fitness page on Instagram is pretty spot on. People with an aim to lose fat find it hard to grasp that eating regularly is a successful tactic for long term fat loss. However, eating smaller, nutritionally balanced meals on a regular basis will help to avoid unhealthy snacking, will control blood sugar levels and will ensure your metabolism stays at its peak.
5. Get some Z's.
A good night's sleep is great for many reasons, but a regular sleeping pattern is a significant factor in successful fat loss.
Studies show that a bad sleep routine have been linked with significantly increased risks of developing heart disease and diabetes as well as measurable suppression of your immune system.
Aside from this, sleep is crucial in normal function of all metabolic processes and plays an important part in regulation of your parasympathetic nervous system (i.e. the signalling system your body uses to maintain normal bodily function) - which controls digestion, stress levels, body temperature and hormones.
In short - a happy, non-stressed body will be more efficient at burning fat!