Very few people intend to get out of shape; it just happens that way sometimes. Fat can accumulate on your body like the stack of bank invoices and auto insurance claims on your kitchen counter. Forget about the stress of paying off your car insurance policy and credit card debt—stress isn’t healthy. Focus on what is important by following these seven simple steps towards a great body, and less than 10 percent body fat:
1. Sleep More
Insomnia, a sleep disorder often caused by elevated cortisol levels, is one of the leading causes of obesity. You should begin your fat-burning regime by addressing any sleeping problems that you may have. Fortunately, many of the fat-burning methods mentioned in this article also help to lower cortisol levels and promote healthy sleep. While lying in bed for eight hours may not sound like a great way to burn off calories, consider the following:
- People who are more overweight burn off more calories while they sleep.
- Sleeping for eight hours is a lot easier than running on a treadmill for eight hours.
- Sleeping recharges your body, reestablishing homeostasis, which is a state of equilibrium between all of your body’s functions.
- With a full night’s rest, you can be more active during the day, burning off more calories through rigorous exercises.
- If you stay up late without sleeping, you may get bored and eat out of habit.
- When you are not always deprived of energy, your body won’t automatically store in the form of fat every calorie that you consume.
2. Drink More Water
Really, water is all that you should be drinking—ever. Many drinks, like alcoholic beverages, can actually dehydrate you. Water, on the other hand, replenishes the cells in your body, and keeps everything working the way it should. Here are some reasons why you should only drink water, and not beer or other beverages:
- Beer may taste great, but it contains both alcohol and a high amount of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are typically turned into energy for the body. However, unused carbohydrates eventually become fat.
- Consumption of alcohol raises estrogen levels, which in turn lowers testosterone levels. This unfortunate combination decreases muscle mass and increases body fat.
- Water contains zero calories. Since calories are required for the body to create body fat, drinking water will do nothing but lower your body fat percentage.
- Drinking water dilutes the amount of sodium in your blood. High amounts of sodium in your blood can cause your cells to retain more water. This high degree of water retention creates a bloating effect that is visible on the surface of your face, and other parts of your body.
- Drinking water fills up your stomach, and can make you less tempted to eat food that might otherwise become body fat. This is a great idea at night.
3. Become More Active
In order to lose body fat, you must consistently burn more calories than you are consuming and storing. The best way to do so is to stay active all day. While one workout might make you sweat a little, five minutes of pumping iron won’t be enough to lose those love handles. Here are some ways to stay active all the time:
- Always take the stairs. Taking the stairs might seem like it would take a long time, but it is a great way to burn off some excess calories, and work your glutes while you are at it.
- Walk everywhere. Walking isn’t nearly as hard as running or swimming, but it still burns a lot of calories. Instead of driving five blocks down the street to the grocery store, try setting off at a brisk walk instead.
- Carry around a pedometer. No one even has to know that you have it on you. Set a daily quota of how many miles you would like to walk, and then add a few hundred steps each day. You’ll be running marathons in no time.
4. Frequently Eat Small Meals
In order to maximize the efficiency of your metabolism, eat smaller meals—a lot of them. Your stomach can only digest so much food at one time. When you eat small meals throughout the day, you are giving your body the opportunity to extract everything that it needs from the food, and less of what it doesn’t need. As an added bonus, you get to eat all day and lose fat at the same time.
5. Consume Less Sugar
When you ingest sugar, your body uses it as a quick source of energy. Excess sugar that hasn’t been used becomes body fat, which is essentially energy stored on your body. Cut down on the soda and ice cream. Have a banana instead.
6. Tackle High-Intensity Cardio
Many people who are trying to lose weight make the mistake of wasting their time on low-intensity cardio. While jogging is good for your lungs and endurance, it doesn’t burn much more fat than briskly walking. Moreover, jogging is protracted torture if you don’t enjoy cardio.
The alternative to low-intensity cardio is—you guessed it—high-intensity cardio. A hard cardio workout doesn’t take long, and it burns calories at an accelerated rate all day.
The best type of hard cardio is the wind sprint. Wind sprints can be performed on foot, on a bike or in the water. The basic principle of the wind sprint is for you to go as fast as you can until you are out of breath, and then do it again. 5-10 minutes of wind sprinting is all that you need to suffer through in order to burn fat all day.
7. Lift Heavy Weights
Lifting heavy weights at 8-12 reps per set increases muscle mass. Increasing your muscle mass burns fat by using more energy, and by aiding in the production of testosterone. When your body produces more testosterone, your estrogen levels decline, and your body accumulates less belly and chest fat. Concentrate on stimulating growth in your large muscle groups, like in your legs and back.
Getting into shape and leading a healthy lifestyle can have a snowball effect. By exercising on a daily basis, it becomes easier for you to fall asleep at night. By getting more sleep, you can get more out of your daily workouts. You boost your metabolism by exercising and eating more small meals, which means that you get to eat even more than before. When you build muscle, it burns fat off faster, and gives you something to show for once the fat is gone. You have already taken the first step towards getting below 10 percent body fat by reading this article. Good luck.