The holidays season is all about love, giving, joy and food – lots and lots of food. With all the parties left and right, it’s no wonder waistlines balloon up to Santa Claus proportions after the holidays. People will then buy all sorts of fitness gadgets and sign up for a gym membership or pilates class that will only be used once and never again.
Don’t fall into this trap! You don’t need to spend anything to shed the fat and get in shape. In fact, you’ll be saving money by doing this one, simple strategy.
Weight gain is all about calories. The more you eat, the more energy is stored by the body, and if you aren’t active enough to burn it, that energy gets stored as body fat in areas you’re genetically predisposed to store it. Even if you work your tail off and sweat it out for hours on end, as long as your body is in a calorie surplus, you’ll just get fatter.
Men usually store excess fat in their lower back, thighs, abs and face. You may be puzzled to see guys with ripped arms and legs but with a bulging mid-section. Women have a higher body fat percentage when compared to men, and it gets stored on the arms, back, buttocks, legs, abs and face. Nothing a little shapewear can hide, but there’s a better solution.
Fast to Eat Less
The solution is as simple as eating less. Going on a calorie deficit allows your body to burn fat as fuel and it gives your digestive system a much needed break. The easiest way to go on a calorie deficit is by fasting. You already do a fast when you go to sleep at night. If your last meal was at 8pm and you woke up at 6am, you just fasted for 10 hours.
The trick here is extending that fast by not eating breakfast. Breakfast is term coined out of “breaking the fast” you did during sleep. Studies have shown that the benefits of fasting (fat burning, increased HGH) get better after 10 hours, so extending it past lunchtime is a great way to go on a calorie deficit and burn fat simultaneously.
Use a Feeding Window
Feeding windows are great because you’re effectively limiting your food intake by reducing the time you allow yourself to eat. Let’s say you fasted for 16 hours and break it by eating lunch, you should only eat up until 8pm. That’s an 8 hour feeding window to consume all your calories for the day, effectively cutting down your consumption.
This eating style is also known as intermittent fasting and is a great way to get you started on your fat loss journey. The above protocol is known as a 16-8 fast, where you fast for 16 hours and feed for 8. Some protocols bump it up to 18-6 and 20-4, with the granddaddy of all fasting coming in as a full 24 hour fast, or a whole day without anything. Think of all the savings on food!
The choice of which protocol to follow is really up to you, what your body can handle and how strong your willpower is. You’re only allowed water and black coffee/tea (no sugar) during your fast, so choose a protocol that you can do and stick with it. If you can only manage a 10 hour fast, do that and work your way up to a full 24 hour fast.
What to Eat
You don’t need anything special to break your fast. Just eat healthy food, avoid anything processed, say no to junk food and slow down when you’re eating. Macronutrient ratios (fats, protein and carbohydrates) have already been covered in other articles, so we won’t touch on it here, but in order to burn unwanted fat, you need to:
- Eat more protein from quality sources such as beef, lamb, turkey and fish.
- Eat food high in healthy fat such as avocados, almonds, salmon and olive oil.
- Eat more slow digesting carbohydrates such as brown rice, oats and quinoa.
- Eat more green, red and orange vegetables: bell peppers, broccoli, squash, tomatoes, etc.
- Avoid starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes.
- Don’t eat processed wheat and sugar (white). If you can avoid wheat and gluten, that’s even better.
- Avoid eating fruits with a high glycemic index.
Fasting takes a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it will become part of your lifestyle and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it before. To make fasting more effective at torching your fat, you can work out in a fasted state. Your meal after the workout will be absorbed by your body better, meaning there won’t be enough fat store.
Do a little fasting. Your waistline and wallet will thank you for it.