Make 2020 your leanest year ever. Whether you want to keep pushing and build on the progress you made in 2019 or you’re looking to jump on the bandwagon for the first time here is what you need to smash your goals.
Sometimes the simple approach is best, forget what’s trending, forget the fad diets and the get lean quick schemes, start with a strong foundation of rock-solid principles and turn your fat loss up a notch.
Make a Plan
Before anything else you need to make a plan, if you want to reach your goals, you need to follow a defined path. Choose a workout and diet that’s been proven, and stick to it (check out a Fuel-Up weekly meal plan for nutritionist designed diets to get you started).
Find Healthy Substitutes
Cutting out absolutely everything you love is setting yourself up to fail. Forget the hard-core restriction diet, and find healthy substitutes. For example, sub out sugary condiments like ketchup for lower-calorie hot sauce or kick sugar and replace it with Stevia or another natural sweetener. Try opting for black coffee or green tea instead of soda and choose naturally low-fat cheeses like feta or mozzarella.
If you make small changes first, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on everything and it can help manage the cravings.
Strike a Pose
No, it’s not vanity, in fact you don’t have to share these pictures with anyone, but they are good to have for your own personal reference. Take starting point pictures of yourself in a swimsuit from the front, side, and rear. Then take progress pictures every week or two moving forward.
Track your Meals
Get serious about what you’re eating. This isn’t forever but at least to start with write down what you eat every day to give yourself and idea of what you’re putting in – it holds you accountable.
In fact, a study published in the “American Journal of Preventative Medicine” found that individuals who kept food records six days per week lost almost twice as much weight compared to those who kept food records one day per week or less.1
Either go old school and keep a note book with you or use an app like MyFitnessPal so you can really get to grips with your macros.
Add, Don’t Take Away
By adding more of the food your body needs into your diet you’ll start to see better results. For example, more high-quality protein will not only keep you fuller for longer, but will also help to increase the thermic effect of feeding (meaning you will actually burn more calories and absorb more protein than you do with carbohydrates or fats).2
Another trick is adding spicy peppers like chili peppers to your meals to help further ignite your metabolism.
Get on that Cardio
Before you start dropping calories or making extreme changes to your diet, see what some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) does. Aim for two sessions a week and you’ll start seeing the changes.
HIIT is an extremely time-efficient way to shed excess body fat and improve fat oxidation. A study in the “International Journal of Obesity” found that HIIT performed 3 times a week for 20 minutes was just as effective at reducing total body fat, as well as leg and trunk mass, compared to 40 minutes of steady-state performed for the same number of days per week.4
So whether it’s a HIIT session or a walk around the black, cardio can definitely improve your fat loss dramatically.
Manage Your Stress
Your weight is effected by stress, so learning how to reduce your stress levels will help you shed those kilos. In fact, stress can actually increase the level of cortisol you have in your body, which makes you more prone to storing fat in your abdominal region.5
So find your perfect way to distress, try a light walk outside, a short jog, some yoga or meditation, or even the occasional comforting movie on the couch at home, don’t forget to take some “you” time to relax and clear your head.
Figure Out Your Calories
Before you start messing with your nutrition you need to know approximately how many calories to eat. Look closely at your week-long food journal and see what you’re eating right now, then use a calorie calculator.
Read Between the Lines
You’re human, so no matter how hard you try you’re probably going to be eating out every once in a while. So instead of saying “no”, learn to hack the menu!
It typically only takes few small adjustments to a menu item to make it a healthy and diet-friendly choice. Most restaurants are pretty accommodating so ask your waiter for grilled, steamed, or seared protein options and ask for veggies prepared without butter or other sauces.
Hollis, J. F., Gullion, C. M., Stevens, V. J., Brantley, P. J., Appel, L. J., Ard, J. D., … & Svetkey, L. P. (2008). Weight loss during the intensive intervention phase of the weight-loss maintenance trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 35(2), 118-126.
Crovetti, R., Porrini, M., Santangelo, A., & Testolin, G. (1998). The influence of thermic effect of food on satiety. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 52(7), 482-488.
Ludy, M. J., Moore, G. E., & Mattes, R. D. (2011). The effects of capsaicin and capsiate on energy balance: critical review and meta-analyses of studies in humans. Chemical Senses, bjr100.
Trapp, E. G., Chisholm, D. J., Freund, J., & Boutcher, S. H. (2008). The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. International Journal of Obesity, 32(4), 684-691.
Daubenmier, J., Kristeller, J., Hecht, F. M., Maninger, N., Kuwata, M., Jhaveri, K., … & Epel, E. (2011). Mindfulness intervention for stress eating to reduce cortisol and abdominal fat among overweight and obese women: an exploratory randomized controlled study. Journal of Obesity.