Updated: Apr 10
If you’re already exercising but struggling to lose body fat, you’re probably feeling frustrated. Not seeing results when you’re working so hard is a killer for motivation and can make giving up on your goals a tempting option. But don’t throw in the towel just yet – you’re probably only focusing on just one part of the fat loss puzzle.
Research shows that for most people, exercise alone is not enough to create substantial fat loss. So, to understand how to lose body fat long-term, it’s time to focus in on your diet, and check in with the type and intensity of exercise you’re doing.
In this blog and video, we explain how to get off the dieting rollercoaster once and for all and learn how to sustainably lower body fat percentage for long-term results.
The basics of body fat percentage and how to lower it
The first thing to understand about losing body fat is that you cannot target specific areas of your body, no matter how many quick-fix diet fads say you can.
The body burns fat based on overall fitness, not small muscle fatigue, so although it’s possible to build muscle in certain areas, doing the same with targeted fat loss (or ‘spot reduction’) is a myth.
Instead, overall body fat percentage can be lowered with a sustainable and consistent caloric deficit to force your body to use its fat stores for energy. When this is joined with an exercise plan that includes a mix of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and strength training to build muscle and ramp up your metabolism, you’re onto a winner.
How lose body fat in 4 sustainable ways.
One of the main reasons for not losing fat if you’re already hitting the gym is probably that you’re eating too many calories.
No matter how much exercise you do, if you want to drop body fat in a healthy and sustainable way you’ll need to be in a caloric deficit – that means eating less calories than you burn each day – and yes, that includes the weekends.
Don’t worry though, with some planning and consistency, it doesn’t have to ruin all the fun…
1. Track your food
A common mistake people make when trying to lose fat is underestimating the volume of food they should eat, or under reporting, or not being aware at all (especially on weekends!), and this can undo all your hard work throughout the rest of the week.
Keeping a food diary, even if just at the start of your journey, is a great way to benchmark where you are now to understand exactly what you’re consuming and where you can make changes.
The key is to find lower calorie or more nutritionally dense substitutes for your favourite types of foods so you can still enjoy what you love and not feel like you’re going without. This will help you to reduce your overall calorie total intake over time and still feel satisfied.
Food diary tip: Be completely honest with yourself and write everything down. If you don’t know where you’re starting from it’ll only make it harder to identify habits and see progress further down the line. And if you’re working with a PT don’t worry about being judged – it’s our job to help!
2. Create your Weekend Survival Plan
To survive the weekend and avoid the guilt of ‘falling off the wagon’ your diet needs to fit in with your existing lifestyle.
Setting yourself a weekend calorie budget and working it into your plan will give you more control (and freedom) rather than hoping for the best and feeling disappointed with yourself when Monday comes around.
Going into the weekend knowing your numbers will help curb the binge eat / starvation cycle when you go ‘off plan’ and feel the need to restrict yourself to catch up.
If you do slip up, don’t make a meal of it (pun intended!) and go off plan for a week – put it behind you and move on, making sure your next meal is a better one.
Which leads us nicely onto…
3. Take Small Steps Consistently
One of the biggest hurdles people face when trying to drop body fat is consistency. Remember the story of the hare and the tortoise – slow and steady wins the race! The same applies to healthy fat loss.
Everyone’s on the lookout for the ‘perfect’ diet or exercise plan to see results faster but the truth is, there is no ‘one size fits all’. Quick-fix diets may see you lose weight fast but it’s not a sustainable lifestyle change and you’ll lose muscle mass as well as body fat which takes you further away from your goal.
So don’t get sucked into the hype. What works for you food and exercise-wise is completely unique to you – and it’s our job as your personal trainer to help you make small positive changes to make the biggest long-term impact.
4. Start Strength Training
Aside from focusing in on your diet, one of the most effective ways to drop body fat is to build more muscle mass.
Muscle burns three times more calories than fat when you’re at rest (six calories per pound for muscle vs two calories per pound for fat), so the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolism, and the more energy your body will expend throughout the day.
That makes staying in a calorie deficit while losing fat much easier as you’ve already got a head start in your sleep!
Stop starting again, and again
Wherever you’re starting from in your fat loss journey, (whether you’re starting again or for the very first time), remember, this is about you and no one else. Don’t fall into the comparison trap looking at other people’s progress or comparing yourself to where you were a few years ago.
Take ownership of where you are now and start making small positive changes that you can keep up for life.
If you want to learn more about fat loss, or get your fat loss journey started make sure to get in touch with our team today!