I understand that calorie and macro tracking isn’t for everyone, nor are meal plans. If that’s the case, what do you do when you want to drop a bit of body fat? You make small, consistent changes to your lifestyle. Whether you’re a male or female, 18 or 80, a beginner or a seasoned health and fitness veteran, these simple yet effective tips will be useful to you.
1. Don’t drink your calories
Regardless of whether your vice is cocktails or coffees, delicious, extravagant drinks add calories quickly. One pinacolada can have upwards of 750 calories per drink and a Starbucks white chocolate mocha has over 500 calories. Including these calorie dense drinks in to your diet is a sure way to exceed your calorie targets for the day and they don’t even fill you up. This is a sure-fire way to hinder your progress or end goal. When you’re wanting an alcoholic drink, opt for vodka sodas or diet soda if you want some flavor. Vodka only has 70calories a drink which means you can easily work a 3 or 4 of these in to your night out for less than the calories of one cocktail. When ordering coffee try to go as plain as possible and order the sugar free options to save on calories. Diet smart, not hard.
2. Protein and veggies with each meal
Protein is the most satiating nutrient and it also supports the building and maintaining of muscle mass. Fiber is also extremely filling and it supports digestive health. Eating high fiber, low calorie foods like veggies means that you get more bang for your calorie buck and eating high protein meals means you’ll stay full for longer; leading to you over consuming calories elsewhere.
3. Move often
This one is simple yet extremely effective. The key to fat loss is to expend more calories than you consume, so we really want to be moving as much as possible. One training session a day at a moderate intensity isn’t going to do much for your physique if you live a sedentary lifestyle. Move as much as possible outside of the gym; set step targets, play with your dog, take your children on bike rides or play catch, clean the house, mow the lawn, take the stairs whenever possible and make weekend activities full of fun, movement and adventure.
4. Lift some weights
Weight lifting is essential for sculpting the body you want, building muscle mass, speeding up your metabolism and torching calories. The more muscle you can build the more calories you burn just at rest. In addition to this, lifting weights helps with hormone health and mental health… what’s not to love.
5. Practice portion control
There is no reason why you can’t have your cake and eat it too or need to feel deprived from your favorite foods when trying to alter body composition. If you want a cookie, have a cookie, just don’t eat the whole box. If you’re in the mood for ice-cream, just get one scoop, not a whole take home box. The key to sustainability is to include the foods you love so that adherence to your new lifestyle is possible, however you don’t want to go overboard, especially not all the time. Maybe you save your treats for social occasions as one meal here and there won’t hurt you, or if you want treats more frequently do them in a controlled manner. It’s never the one cookie that derails progress, it’s all the things after that which accumulate over time. As I said above, practice makes permanent. Start practicing self discipline techniques around your favorite foods so that you can include them in your lifestyle without fear and guilt.
6. Sleep more and stress less
Unfortunately, sleep and stress aren’t given enough focus when it comes to body composition changes. The presence of stress and poor sleep hygiene can inadvertently hinder progress. Poor sleep means changes in hunger hormones and satiety cues meaning you’re constantly hungry and for all the wrong foods. Minimal sleep also means you’re tired and irritable, which can affect your motivation to train as well as your strength levels when you’re in the gym. Lack of sleep also impacts our ability to recover meaning we don’t reap the rewards of our training sessions. Increased cortisol, our stress hormone, can do the same thing as well as causing inflammation in our bodies. Create a positive sleep routine, aiming to get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep per night and have self-care routines in place to minimize stress.
This is a fool and fail proof blueprint that you can use anywhere, in any situation to help you stay on track with your physique goals. It just requires consistency; practice makes permanent friends!