I’m going to give you 5 practical tips to turn your body into a fat-burning machine – information that you can take with you and implement on a daily basis, both in and out of the gym or workout environment. Rather than quantify specific amounts, I’ll be giving you some simple ideas. Let’s get right to it:
A high-fiber diet decreases fat and cholesterol absorption in your intestine (preventing fat storage), slows glucose absorption in the bloodstream (meaning more sugar gets burnt as energy, less gets stored as fat), stabilizes insulin levels and delays stomach emptying (both of which decrease your appetite), and makes you full faster (so you eat less). Research has shown that a low-fat, high-fiber diet results in nearly three times more weight loss than a low-fat, low-fiber diet. So how do you get your fiber? Here’s how I get mine: 1 fully loaded salad, 1 bowl of oatmeal, and 2-3 raw fruits every day (fruit bonus: vitamin C in citrus fruit can also help burn fat).
Research shows that three or four daily servings of low-fat dairy products can help reduce body fat. Higher levels of calcium stored in the fat cells may help enhance fat breakdown, as well as induce an increase in thermogenesis (the body’s core temperature). The best calcium should come from dairy products like low-fat milk, yogurt and cottage cheese (and not from a calcium supplement). Other good sources, especially for those who are lactose intolerant, include dark leafy vegetables, salmon, almonds, and oats (notice the extra fiber bonus).
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Studies have shown that people who include a large and healthy breakfast in their diet lose significantly greater amounts of fat than those who avoid breakfast. Skipping breakfast will not help you shed extra pounds, but may instead result in muscle loss and metabolism decreases, both of which hinder your fat-burning ability. A great breakfast example is a large glass of water with a bowl of oatmeal, fresh fruit and nuts. Just remember: breakfast can also work against you if it’s not healthy: fried meats, sweet muffins and croissants, sugar loaded cereals, or processed packages do not count as a healthy breakfast!
You’ve heard it a million times before: 5-6 small meals a day is better than 3 large meals. I?d like to step that up a bit: as high as 10 times a day or more may be necessary, depending on your energy consumption and needs. Here?s an example (from my personal nutrition log): 1) banana 7am; 2) oatmeal w/ raisins 9am; 3) handful almonds 10:30am; 4) three turkey slices 12pm; 5) one yogurt 1 pm; 6) apple 2pm; 7) large salad 4:30pm; 8) one protein bar 7:00pm; 9) handful raisins 8:15pm; 10) 1 scramble egg with spinach 9pm (bed at 11pm). The philosophy behind eating frequently is that the physical act of digestion has a metabolic cost, and by continually feeding, you are maintaining a higher metabolic rate. As long as your grazing is healthy, this results in more calories burnt throughout the day. On the flipside, eating too infrequently causes your body go into starvation mode and conserve energy, which results in increased fat storage and lower digestive and overall metabolism.
Your body constantly uses water to create energy, build muscle, and burn fat, and without adequate water, studies have shown that the muscles are less active, the metabolism drops, and your body burns fat less efficiently. This slight decrease in metabolism can add up to over 10 pounds of fat a year! Water also assists in suppressing the appetite and giving you a “full feeling”. So drink several glasses of water each day, drink a glass of water at least 30 minutes before your workout, sip water regularly at the gym, and drink a glass of water after your workout (speeds up recovery too!). Many naturally occurring foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are also high in water content (as well as fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, etc.), so this is another great way to get your H2O.
If you have more questions about nutrition, or simply want to see how your diet measures up, you may be interested in a dietary analysis. After you sign-up for personal training with Greenfield Fitness Systems at www.pacificfit.net, you can receive a complete dietary analysis, complete with grocery list and food substitution suggestions. At www.pacificfit.net, you have access to your own personal fitness coach to guide you through your workout routine, using the latest fitness research and breakthrough techniques, so you never have to play the guessing game with your exercise or nutrition again!
Until next time, train smart!
M.S. PE, NSCA-CPT, CSCS