Need a game plan to get in shape for your summer holiday? Look no further as Chris Wharton, Director at the Better Body Group give you his top 10 tips for your best bikini body to date.
- Find your baseline and Track everything
If you want to improve at something, you need to track your progress and the behaviours that cause this progression. This type of ‘Self-monitoring’ (in this case the calories you consume and exercise you take part in) plays a powerful role in helping you lose fat.
I’m by no means saying track your calorie intake forever, but applying a strict daily calorie and exercise goal from now until your holidays will help you eat less, exercise more and avoid weight loss plateaus.
A simple way to start is by working out your BMR (Basal metabolic rate), the rate at which you burn calories at rest. Use a simple tool like this. Try and stick to 10% below your BMR calorie target each day. This isn’t easy but with around 6 weeks before the summer holidays you need to create a significant calorie deficit to start sculpting that summer rig.
It’s also worth downloading a simple calorie tracking app. My favourite is ‘MyfitnessPal’. It has a huge library of foods and an effective bar code scanner making it easier than ever to stick within your limit.
- Start your day with a sweat
Fitting in some exercise first thing in the morning is great way to fire up your central nervous system, boost your metabolism and improve your sleep quality; all factors that contribute to weight loss.
Best of all, you don’t need to get up at the crack of dawn to experience some of the benefits. A simple 10-20 minute home workout routine can be enough to start chipping away at your fat loss goals.
Check out our simple home workout plan at www.28daysbetter.org. It’s just £28 for 28 home workouts and all of the money goes to the charity ‘Action Against Hunger’.
- Focus on lifting weights and HIIT in the gym
When it comes to your sessions in the gym, opt for mainly strength training and high intensity interval training (HIIT). The two techniques sit right at the top of the hierarchy of fat loss providing the most bang for their buck.
I’m by no means saying that steady state cardio has no value, but when performed alone, it has a catabolic effect on our lean tissue. In other words, it will help you lose fat but you will end up soft with very little definition (think a marathon runner’s physique compared to that of a sprinter). Increased muscle mass on the other hand helps increase your EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption), a fancy term for saying your metabolism will remain much higher during the 48 hours post exercise.
- Increase your NEAT
Make no mistake. A few hours a week in the gym won’t guarantee you the summer set up of your dreams. 3 hours of activity out of 168 a week doesn’t quite cut it. Increasing your NEAT (Non exercise activity thermogenesis); basically the energy you use that is not from sleeping, eating or exercise, will help drastically boost the number of calories you burn across the whole week.
Try incorporating more of the following into you daily routine;
- Walking to work
- Taking the stairs
- Playing with the kids
- Walking the dog
- Standing at your desk
- Anything else that stops you from sitting still!
This is so important in fact, that the difference between people cursed with a supposed ‘slow metabolism’ and their friends that seem to stay effortlessly lean can often be the amount of NEAT they perform as part of their lifestyle.
An easy way to keep on top of this is to use a step tracker or smart watch to remind you of how active you are throughout the day. Aim for at least 10,000 steps per day as a minimum.
- Ditch the rewards
If you really want to shed some fat, stop treating yourself for a job well done at the end of the week. It’s not that rewards are inherently bad, but that it’s way too easy to undo all of your hard work with just one night off the wagon.
It’s also worth remembering that frequent gym sessions often lead to increased hunger. I’ve seen people put on weight when they have started training regularly simply by rewarding themselves for training so much. Refer to point one and stick to the plan.
- Pick the right poison
All too often, those on the summer body quest manage to keep their food choices relatively sensible yet completely neglect the types of fluid they ingest throughout the day. People just don’t seem to evaluate drink in the same way as they do food.
Smoothies, green juices, soft drinks, coffees, and pretty much all alcoholic drinks will ramp up your calorie consumption more than you give credit for. Here’s some examples of the biggest culprits;
Medium latte: 150-250 kcal
Large red wine (13% vol): 228 Kcal
Pint of beer (5% vol): 250 Kcal
Regular strawberry and banana smoothie: 250-300 Kcal
Orange Juice (300ml): 147 kcal
Alcohol is a double edged sword in that our body treats it as a poison. Its metabolism is prioritised by the liver, meaning you will find it impossible to burn fat until all of that wine has been metabolised.
Baring in mind that it takes 1 hour per unit of alcohol to leave your system, is it really worth that bottle of Pinot?
Note- It’s also scientific fact (sort of) that no one has ever eaten well when hungover.
It appears that diet soft drinks are also a bad choice. Much like their sugary counterparts, diet drinks trigger the release of insulin, a hormone responsible for promoting fat storage. It’s also likely to leave you craving other sugary drinks/foods.
The solution? Stick to water sweetened with fresh citrus juice, black coffee and herbal teas. Boring maybe, but very effective at chipping away at that calorie goal.
- Out of sight out of mind
One of the simplest, yet effective tips for fat loss success. If you are not exposed to junk food, sugary snacks or even the allure of the pub, you are far less likely to indulge. I know it’s easier said than done but try the following to get started;
- Give away all of the food in your house that does not fit your nutrition plan
- Set up an online shopping list of all the ingredients needed for your recipes and simply place a recurring buying order on the list each week. Easy.
- Sleep on it
Catching enough ZZZ’s is crucial to gear you body up for effective fat loss. Fat loss is not simply a case of ‘move more eat less’. With an estimated 35% of the UK population sleep deprived, many of you may be undoing a lot of your hard work in the gym by not getting enough shut eye.
A lack of sleep causes your cortisol levels rise. Cortisol is the stress hormone that is frequently associated with fat gain. It is also known to activate reward centers in your brain that make you crave more food. At the same time, the loss of sleep causes your body to produce more ghrelin, the hormone responsible for hunger.
Furthermore, a chronic lack of sleep is known to reduce growth hormone release (your natural source of fat burning and anti-ageing) and produce excess insulin resulting in fat being stored in all of the wrong places.
The links between lack of sleep and weight gain are hard to ignore. Try swerving that last episode of The Crown and hit the sack.
- Ditch the scales
Weighing yourself on scales is a recipe for disaster. With so many factors influencing short term weight measurements (hydration, your monthly cycle, time of day etc.) it’s just not worth the constant stress of edging up and down on the scales each day.
If you must weigh yourself do it once a week or bi-monthly. Stick to the above points with consistency, and it’s impossible not to lose fat. Ditch the scales and trust in the science.
- Get accountable
Sounds like a sales pitch coming from a personal trainer, but accountability really is the key to both short, and long term fat loss success. Having someone else to answer to increases the likelihood that you will stick to the plan. This doesn’t have to be a PT, it could be your spouse, training partner or a friend. It’s also far easier to take this journey with someone else to help pull you through the days where you feel like diving head first off the wagon!
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