3 Science Backed Tips To Help You Burn Fat This Spring
Spring is here. The days are getting longer and warmer. With this, comes the realisation that summer is just around the corner. For many, winter can be a time for bulking or gaining weight - which can either be deliberate and strategic or the colder months can inadvertently lead to storing extra body fat. So now that spring is here, many are looking to trim down for the summer months.
Below we take a look at some tips to keep in the front of your mind when looking to lose body fat. They are basic, but the basics are the basics for a reason - they work.
1) Eat More Protein
Protein is one of, if not the most important macronutrients to focus on when looking to shed some kilos for a few reasons.
Firstly, when people talk about ''losing weight'' what they more precisely mean is they are looking to lose body fat. I assume no one wants to lose their hard-earned muscle mass, and this is where protein becomes essential. Protein, as a macronutrient, has muscle-sparing qualities. Upping your protein intake when dieting can minimise the amount of body weight you lose from muscle.
Secondly, protein is the most energy inefficient macronutrient you can ingest. Inefficiency sounds like a bad thing, and it usually is. However, in this case, it's a benefit. Your body burns calories digesting calories. Protein has four calories per gram, but you will burn around 20-30% of that merely digesting it - which is considerably more than you burn digesting fat (0-3%) and carbohydrates (5-10%).
Another reason to think about protein consumption when dieting is satiety (satiety = how ''full'' a food makes you feel after you've eaten it). Protein is the most satiating macronutrient making it a good option when dieting, whether tracking calories or not. Proteins benefits on satiety are due various to interactions in the brain and body.
If you want to know more about proteins benefits on weight loss and how much you need, take a look at our previous post here: How Much Protein Do You Really Need?.
2) Spice Up Your Cardio With HIIT
When people start thinking about weight loss, they start adding cardio into their routine. Cardio is a common addition for obvious reasons as it burns extra calories.
Cardio comes in various forms. Mostly, people opt for what is known as low-intensity steady state (LISS). To remind ourselves, LISS cardio is something like your typical 30-60 minute jog on the treadmill or elliptical (anything around 50- 60% of your maximum heart rate effort). However, if fat-loss is your goal, it may be worth trading in your LISS cardio session for something a bit more intense such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
HIIT involves alternating short bursts of high-intensity cardio (generally 15-40 seconds) with lower intensity bouts or complete rest. An example of this might be sprinting all out on the rower for 30 seconds, then resting 60, sprinting for 30 etc. There are many ways to perform HIIT, and they aren't limited to your cardio go-to's and can extend to things like circuits and high repetition weights.
HIIT offers certain benefits over LISS when it comes to fat burning and maintaining muscle that might make it more worth your while. For starters, HIIT uses the same energy systems that we use when we lift weights and may even stimulate muscle growth, as opposed to LISS which can lead to the opposite.
Furthermore, HIIT offers more bang for your buck. Research shows that just 10 minutes of HIIT can burn roughly the same amount of calories as up to 50 minutes of LISS. HIIT's efficiency burning calories is attributed to its afterburn effects - where calories are burned long after you've exercised.
HIIT may be something to consider when trying to shed some extra body fat for summer. To read more about HIIT's benefits and cardio in general, check out our previous article here: HITT vs LISS Cardio: Which Should You Do?.
3) Don't Forget About Fibre
When it comes time to cut calories, carbohydrates are the first macronutrients to be on the chopping block. Cutting carbs makes sense, but it's important not to neglect fibre consumption in the process.For a quick summary: Fibre is the indigestible part of carbohydrates such as plants and grains. It most commonly comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble (soluble = mixes with water, insoluble = doesn't mix with water).
Fibre keeps our digestive systems healthy and can assist with dieting in the following ways:
- Slowing gastric emptying: soluble fibre slows down the emptying of our stomach, which stretches the stomach and leads to it feeling fuller for longer.
- Satiety: as mentioned above, protein assists with satiety, and so does fibre. Foods high in fibre, along with stretching the stomach, tend to contain more bulk per calorie than other foods and lead to feeling fuller, longer.
Moral of the story: don't neglect fibre when carbohydrates are starting getting cut. Ensure that the sources that the carbs you are eating are high in fibre (luckily Gym Meals are loaded with it). If you struggle to get enough fibre in your diet, it may be worth considering a fibre supplement.