One of the largest and fastest growing threats to the health of those in the developed countries is the quickly expanding prevalence of overweight and obese individuals. The world is collectively packing on more fat than we can burn off and more that 50% of the North American population can be classified as overweight or obese. This is most likely a result of increased ease of acquiring high quality, energy rich foods and a generally more sedentary style of living. So how can we stop packing on this extra fat? Well, continue reading and we’ll discuss where that fat comes from and how to get rid of it!
1. Understand what makes you gain fat.
To learn how to lose fat, we need to first understand where that fat comes from and why our body appears to be self- sabotaging. It has never been easier to get to, and eat any foods that we feel like eating as in our modern society. The problem, however, lies in the fact that energy coming into our bodies is often greater than the energy that a person uses in a day. This was never a problem for our ancestors because they needed to work much harder than us to produce their food. Because of this, the human body evolved to be so efficient that any extra energy that we consume is stored away just in case we need it later.
All of that extra energy that you eat is stored into energy-dense storage molecules that make up fat deposits all over the body. Now not all stored fat is bad fat, we need some to keep us warm, cushion our internal organs, and to provide us extra energy when we need it. When we start to store too much fat, however, we can start to see the effects on our health. Many diseases are associated with excessive fat storage such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiac disease, and more.
2. Decide if you actually have fat to lose.
First and foremost, any individual trying to lose weight should contact their doctor to determine if they do, in fact, actually need to lose some of their body fat. In some instances it might be worse for your health if you do try and lose that fat so double check with your healthcare provider first!
That being said, reducing your body fat content is a relatively simple concept. Your body needs to have a daily energy deficiency. What does this mean? Energy in has to be less than energy out. The specifics of the best way to do this has been a matter of debate for doctors, nutritionists, and trainers for many years now. Nutritionists may tell you that diet is most important whereas a trainer may convince you that exercise is the key. The answer though, to decrease your fat content, is most likely to be a combination of these two.
3. Change your diet.
Before making any changes to your diet, it is important to discuss your goals with a doctor or human nutrition specialist to make sure that you are still getting all of the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy. They will also be able to calculate your daily caloric requirement which is the amount of food energy that you should be eating each day. Foods high in fats and sugars should be limited since fat contains the most calories out of all of the nutrients and sugars are the most quickly used and converted energy sources. Opt for foods that have a lower caloric density with a higher fiber content to help you feel full, such as vegetables. Choose your meats carefully and eat leaner cuts of meat with less fat, the lean tissue component contains half the amount of calories as the fat! Drink water to help you feel full; recommendations vary but lie within a range of 8 to 12 cups per day. One trick is to make sure that you have a sip of water between each bite of food. A caloric deficit of 500 calories per day (so Cal in – Cal out = -500 Cal) would equal to about 1 lb of fat lost per week. To achieve this deficit the next component of fat loss is essential.
4. Exercise every day.
It is very important that any new exercise regimes are closely monitored by professionals as it is quite easy to overdo it, especially for those that may have underlying health issues that can be associated to high body fat. Any activity that gets your body moving will burn calories so get up off that couch! The key is to find an activity that will keep you moving and motivated, whether it be walking, running, swimming, bicycling, dancing, etc… whatever keeps you going! Of course, harder exercises and more work results in a greater amount of calories burnt so you have to put in the effort!
5. Target your exercises.
One benefit of exercise is also the ability to target and mobilize fat stores. The human body has the remarkable ability of adaptation and moving fat to places around the body. Fat is stored first around your organs and this acts as insulation and quickly accessible energy stores but when these stores are full fat gets sent to other places around the body that depend on the individual. Some people may store a greater amount in their stomach, while others store it in their lower body. Exercise that targets a specific area can actually move fat stores from those areas where you do not want it! For example, if you have fat in your arms, focussing exercises on your arms can reduce the fat in those areas even if you are not actually losing fat or weight from your entire body. Another important thing to note is that body weight may not reflect your actual body fat content as muscle (being mostly water) weighs considerably more than fat!
So there you have it. The key to losing fat quickly is the same basic principle of living and enjoying a healthy lifestyle. Eating your required amount of healthy food, and exercising regularly will help you to lose the fat and keep it off. Once you reach your ideal body fat content (which, again, should be determined by a healthcare professional) it is important to modify your calorie in/ calorie out balance so that you are no longer in a deficit. It isn’t easy to undo and go against what millions of years of evolution have taught our bodies to do, but if you work hard, get advice from professionals, and stay motivated it is possible for anyone to reduce any extra fat that is sticking around!