Many people have the goal of losing body fat but struggle to understand how to begin. As a result, things can get very daunting and overwhelming very quickly, leading to them giving up altogether.
In the early days, it is vital that you make the process as simple as possible. Your knowledge of training and nutrition is likely to be limited, so having clarity with what you need to do is going to get you off to a good start and boost your confidence.
But what do you need to do? How can you make great early progress with your fat loss?
Clean Up Your Diet
One of the first things you need to address is your nutrition. You will have likely come from a diet that included foods that are highly processed, high in sugar, high in trans fats, and low in nutrition. Not only does this drastically increase your calorie intake, but causes inflammation in the body, leading to more water retention and therefore more body fat being stored.
By cleaning up your diet, you will be able to see noticeable progress in the first one to two weeks due to the lowering of inflammation levels in the body and therefore less water retention. It will also reduce cortisol and improve energy levels, which can lead to better performance. Make sure you are adding in high protein options, more green vegetables, and more slow-releasing carbohydrates into your meals. This is a great starting point to get you off on the right track.
Build From Your Current Calorie Intake
Many people start from a position of undereating, rather than overeating, and therefore find it difficult to consume the calories required to burn fat and make changes to their body shape. So, it is much smarter to start from where you are at with your current intake and slowly build up, usually by 100-150 calories every few days. This will allow your body to adapt to eating more food and boost your metabolism, which is vital to the fat-burning process.
If you are someone who struggles to track calories, starting with three meals per day, a protein shake and some fruit is an excellent structure to follow as you slowly improve your knowledge of nutrition and get comfortable with the idea of tracking your food. The more you train and more muscle you add, the higher your calorie requirements increase. So, increasing your food gradually over time will help maintain a fully functioning metabolism and make sure that you keep burning fat efficiently.
Slow and Gradual Resistance Training
The next thing you need to do is start resistance training. This is going to help you build muscle and, in turn, lose body fat because your energy output and basal metabolic rate (number of calories burned without doing anything) will increase. However, you must begin with a programme that matches your current strength, fitness, stability and experience levels. Your focus should be to build strength and confidence with a handful of exercises.
You should also make sure that you prioritise mastering exercise execution before you adding increased weight. This is vital not only for getting the most from your workouts, but also so that you protect yourself from injury. Do not try to lift too heavy, too early, as you will run the risk of doing damage to your body due to it not being used to heavier loads. The best method would be to start at a lower weight, get used to performing the movement again, and then gradually increasing the weight week-on-week, to what you were lifting before. This will help you build confidence and make progress with your body shape.
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.
Improve Sleep Pattern
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. 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.
So, if you are new to fitness and are looking to change your body shape, make sure that you follow some key fundamental points to get off to a great start. These include, starting from your current calorie intake, slowly increase your calories, start with steady resistance training sessions introduce walking, and improve your sleep pattern. These tips, provided they are done correctly, will help you make progress and boost your confidence along your journey.
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