So much about fat loss and getting in shape is about training and nutrition. If you are not in a calorie deficit (burning more calories that you are consuming) through an effective and enjoyable diet, and resistance training sessions it is physically impossible to make progress.
However, there are other key parts of the process that many people underestimate the importance of. They are essential habits that need to be a part of your daily routine so that your consistent training and diet programs are being supported and you get the best results and rewards for your efforts. So, what are they and why are they so important?
Sustainable Form of Cardio
Although training and diet are both vital, they are not the only things that will help you create that crucial calorie deficit to help you lose fat and change your body shape. Adding in a sustainable form of cardio to your routine is going to help you burn those extra calories that will place you in a deficit of 400-500 calories.
This does not mean you have to jump on the treadmill every day. It means finding a form of cardio that is low intensity, enjoyable and easy on your body. The most popular form is walking a minimum of 9-10k steps per day, which can burn anywhere between 300-400 calories, depending on the individual. Aside from the fat loss benefits, going out for a walk is great for your mental health and allows you time to de-stress from certain situations. Make this part of your daily routine and it will hugely benefit your progress.
This is in area that is crucial, not only to your fat loss progress, but also your overall health. A high-quality night’s sleep of 7-9 hours gives your body much-needed rest and recovery from your daily exercise and tasks, which is also crucial to progression. Furthermore, you produce a large portion of your growth hormone when you sleep, particularly in the first two hours. In order to build lean muscle tissue and burn fat efficiently, we need growth hormones, and as your growth hormone levels decrease gradually in your late 20’s, the importance of sleep then increases.
Sleep also produces Melatonin in the pineal gland and is involved in energy metabolism. It also balances your cortisol levels (the stress hormone that is part of our survival mechanism), and your levels of your insulin (the major hormone that controls your blood sugar levels), which is vital for your body to be able to rest and recover from your activity during the day. So, make sure that you are prioritising consistent, high-quality sleep – it is a gamechanger to your progression and health.
This is another area that can affect many people’s progress. High stress levels can be caused by several things, such as lifestyle, poor sleep, poor emotional health, work, and a poor diet. The issue with increased stress is that is releases high cortisol levels, which can trigger a glucose intolerance in the body, which can encourage inflammation – something that is harmful to progression and overall health. Some of the areas that stress can affect include your immune system, neuroendocrine system (sex hormones), blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and the increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
So, it is very important that you manage stress levels so that you can stay calm and positive throughout challenging life situations. There are certain supplements you can use to support lower stress levels, such as Rhodiola, Ashwaganda, Magnesium Glycinate and L’Theanine, but one of the best things you can do for your stress is work on your personal development. Find out what inspires you, what motivates you, and decide to enjoy life as much as you can. Once you do that, you will be able to deal with challenges much better, leading to a healthier body and more progression towards your goals.
Often overlooked by many people, digestion is vital to the body’s overall health and wellness. A good digestive system allows our body to function properly without irritations, but problems can occur for a number of reasons, such astraining stress, life stress, and inflammation. As a result, symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation and bad breath can take place, which affects your health and your body’s ability to burn fat on a consistent basis.
So how do we develop or maintain and healthy digestive system? There are several easy methods to integrate into your life, such as having a diet full of nutrition and including fibre, hydrating regularly managing your stress levels, chewing your food well, dividing your meals up and using helpful supplements. All of this will help your digestive system function well and, in turn, aid your health, wellness and progress with your fitness goals.
The final key area, outside of training and nutrition to focus on is hydration. Getting enough water in throughout the day is a huge determining factor in how your body will function, both in terms of health and fitness. Your body is 60% water, so it is vital that you stay hydrated. When you wake up in the morning, more often than not, your body is dehydrated, so make sure you have a couple of glasses of water as soon as you can. This will allow important nutrients to flow through to important body parts, flush toxins out of your body, help deliver oxygen all over the body, allow your body’s cells to grow, reproduce and survive, and act as a ‘shock absorber’ for you brain and spinal cord.
When it comes to fat loss, water plays a big role because it helps you feel full and satisfied throughout the day, which leads to less temptation to snack on other foods. Often when you wake up in the morning and you think you are hungry, you are actually dehydrated, so drinking water first thing will help you delay your first meal also, if that is something you like to do. Drinking plenty of water also boosts your metabolism, the chemical process inside your body that turns food into energy, which is vital for efficient fat burning.
So, although training and nutrition are going to be vital to achieving your fat loss goals, there are other areas that will also play an important role in your progression. Make sure you are incorporating a sustainable form of cardio (eg. walking 8-10k steps per day), getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night, managing your stress levels, digesting your food well, and getting 2-3 litres of water a day. If you combine these points and make them part of your routine, your overall health will improve and you will find that you are much closer to your fat loss and body shape goals.
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