With the societies increasing prevalence of being overweight, losing body fat is becoming a top priority. The problem that befuddles most people is not losing the extra fat as much as keeping it off. Studies consistently show that the vast majority of people regain any fat lost over the course of a diet within a few years and often quicker.
Fortunately, scientists are finally honing in on key strategies that can help prevent rebound fat gain so that all your hard work doesn’t go to waste. Here are ten tips for losing fat and keeping it off FOREVER.
#1: Take Advantage Of Protein—At Least 1.6 g/kg/bw Daily
There are at least three ways protein foods can help prevent rebound fat gain: First, they are very satiating and reduce hunger. Second, protein is the most costly food for the body to breakdown—the body burns 25 percent of the calories provided in a meal of pure protein during digestion. Third, a high protein intake triggers protein synthesis, which will preserve lean mass when combined with weight training. This is key because it means you’ll have a higher metabolic rate and burn more calories each day, every day.
#2: Strength Train
Just like a high protein intake, training with weights triggers protein synthesis so you sustain lean muscle and maintain metabolic rate. It also has the added benefit of increasing strength, coordination, and movement economy. This pays off big time because it means people feel better about their bodies and are more active in daily life, which has a huge impact on energy expenditure.
#3: Do Intervals Against Resistance For Cardio
Compared to aerobic exercise, sprint interval training is fairly consistent in producing fat loss. One key factor that scientists have identified for sustaining fat loss is to sprint against resistance. Resisted intervals on an Wattbike bike, Concept 2 rower, weighted sled sprints etc will trigger protein synthesis and preserve muscle to avoid the unfortunate drop in metabolic rate that goes with aerobic exercise.
#4: Don’t Exercise To Eat
Scientists have identified a strange paradox when people start an exercise program to lose fat. They usually aren’t successful because they end up eating more calories afterwards. In contrast, people who work out for other purposes, such as ”to get strong,” or “to build muscle,” don’t tend to compensate by eating more calories. The theory is that people have become conditioned to reward themselves for physical efforts that they associate with weight loss. The answer is to set performance related goals and always be mindful of eating behaviour. Portion control is key.
#5: Make A Conscious Effort To Be As Active As Possible—Get Rid Of Your TV
Scientists have recently found that when we reduce energy intake, we experience changes in chemical messengers in the body that make us less physically active. Making a conscious effort to be as active as possible may offset this but it’s also recommended that you set up your environment to encourage you to be active. Getting rid of your TV and limiting screen time are two key factors that may make a difference.
#6: Stop Counting Calories
Low calorie diets make the body do everything it can to preserve fuel stores, lowering metabolic rate. If you’ve been eating very low calorie (below 1,200 for women and 1,600 for men) for a long time, it’s time to stop counting and increase your calorie intake. By providing your body with enough energy so that it senses that fuel stores abundant it will respond by improving hormone levels and increasing metabolic rate.
#7: Try Carb Cycling
Carb cycling is a method for creating an energy deficit but it avoids the sustained long-term calorie restriction that alters hormones and is the main culprit in producing rebound fat gain. It involves following a low-carb, high-protein diet most of the time, but every 5 to 7 days, increase your carb (and calorie) intake significantly. A more moderate approach is to eat healthy, higher carb foods on workout days and lower carb on rest days.
#8: Figure Out A Way To Eat So You Avoid Hunger
In our First World environment where calories are abundant, being hungry all the time is not a sustainable way to optimize body composition. Instead of depriving yourself on a low-calorie diet, figure out a way to eat that allows you to avoid hunger and cravings. Eating frequent meals of protein and vegetables is one solution that many people find helpful because it improves release of appetite suppressing hormones.
#9: Practice Time Restricted Eating
Instead of eating from the moment you get up to when you go to bed at night, confine your eating to a 10- or 12-hour window (such as 8 am to 8 pm). Time-based eating patterns work because you don’t experience the drop in metabolism associated with calorie cutting and it positively affect metabolic hormones. You also may increase the body’s ability to burn fat for energy instead of running on a steady supply of glucose from meals.
#10: Get Your Body Fat Tested With A Skinfold Test
Frequently getting body fat tested can help you troubleshoot body composition. Of course, not everyone has the privilege of getting skinfold tests, in which case scale weight can be used as long as you know that it won’t account for specific changes in lean versus fat mass. After four weeks on a fat loss program, if your weight has increased, that’s a red flag to look closely at your diet, workouts, and other activities.