If you’ve spent hours in the gym without getting the results you are looking for, it’s time to make some changes. The summer is the perfect time to rethink your diet and fitness regime. It’s tempting to stick to the same regime daily, but to rev up your metabolism and boost fat burning, just making a few simple changes to your diet and workout programme can make all the difference.
Here are our top tips to get lean fast.
Lifting weights is a woman’s best friend when it comes to shifting fat and creating a toned, strong body. In fact, the best way to boost your overall metabolism is to increase how much muscle you have on your body. The higher your muscle mass, the more calories you burn throughout the day.
Not only does weight training itself burn calories, but research studies show it’s also the most effective way of preventing an accumulation of belly fat as you age, compared with other activities such as running or cycling. Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health found that by doing 20 minutes of weight training a day you can prevent gaining belly fat as you age.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is another strategy to boost calorie burn. This can be done with short bursts (30-60 seconds) of very intense exercise then resting for 30 seconds before repeating six to eight times. You can do this outdoors or in the gym, for example on the treadmill, bike or stepper. This type of exercise increases the overall calories burned and appears to burn more fat after the workout has finished. HIIT work also has the advantage of taking little time (20-25 minutes maximum) for fast results. One study at Colorado State University showed that exercisers can burn as many as 200 extra calories doing 25 minutes of interval training. Try to include a couple of interval sessions each week.
Drink your way to a slimmer body with green tea. Green tea is rich in a flavonoid (a type of plant chemical) called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This chemical has been shown in studies to speed up fat metabolism. Recent research published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that drinking four to five cups of green tea daily combined with exercise can accelerate the loss of body fat around the waist. Green tea also appears to regulate glucose, making it easier to fight sugar cravings, too.
What you eat after a hard workout can actually produce different effects on your body’s metabolism. When you exercise you temporarily increase insulin sensitivity – which helps you burn fat as energy. Studies have shown that eating fewer carbohydrates after exercise may boost insulin sensitivity further. Try a high quality protein snack with a little slow-releasing carbohydrate, for example
cottage cheese and an oatcake or eggs
Exercise while fasting
A study published in the Journal of Physiology in 2010 showed that exercising while fasting increases the body’s ability to utilise energy and burn substantially more fat than when exercising after a meal. Simply changing the timing of your exercise, for example to first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, may help you shift those extra pounds.
Relax and take up yoga
If you’re constantly stressed you may find it hard to shift fat. High stress leads to high cortisol. This not only increases our cravings for sugary foods but promotes the release of fat and sugar into the bloodstream, which is then deposited as fat – particularly around
the middle. Try to include time each day to unwind and de-stress, and consider taking up yoga. Studies have shown yoga to be particularly effective in lowering cortisol levels and boosting mood, too.
Increase your protein
To burn more fat and support muscle mass, turn your attention to how much protein you are including in your diet. High-protein foods not only keep you feeling fuller for longer but increase thermogenesis, which boosts calorie consumption. Eating adequate protein also helps maintain strong muscle tissue, which in turn can also boost metabolism, so make sure each meal and snack contains a high quality protein food (such as eggs, poultry, fish, tofu, meat and whey protein).
It may seem odd to recommend eating more fat to burn fat, but studies show the right types of fat in your diet can help you shift weight. Coconut is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), and research published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition shows that MCTs are less likely than animal fats to be stored in your fat cells and are more likely to be burned for energy, promoting weight loss. Switch to coconut oil when you cook and try adding a spoonful to a post-workout shake.
Eat more fish
Here’s a simple way to shed a few pounds – eat more servings of oily fish. Recent research from Japan has found that oily fish (such as salmon, sardines and mackerel) can cause fat to ‘melt away’. Scientists have found omega-3 fats in fish oil turn ‘bad’ fat cells into healthy ones that burn calories like a furnace. As we get older we tend to accumulate more white fat cells, which appear around our hips and tummies. Beige fat cells, however, burn off calories and it appears fish oil can help convert white fat cells into beige ones. So aim to include some oily fish at least three times a week or take a fish oil capsule daily.