One of the most common “body goals” among our readers is fat loss. Now, we totally get that you may not be at your goal weight just yet. And that’s ok. In fact, we believe you should always go for progress over perfection anyway. With that said, we also think it’s important that we recognize what you may already be doing when it comes to achieving results. All too often we are told what we are doing wrong when in reality, there’s a lot we do right. In this article, we dive deep into the fat burning habits you’re likely already doing. If you’re curious to learn more what they are, we say keep reading!
1. You drink coffee
Did you know your morning cup of java and/or frequent trips to the coffee machine throughout the day may do more than perk you up? A recent study suggests caffeine is a fat burning habit that may also help to shrink your waistline.
Scientists from the Department of Physiology at the University of Granada (UGR) have shown that when caffeine is ingested half an hour before aerobic exercise (about 3 mg/kg or the equivalent of a strong coffee), the rate of fat-burning increases. And when exercise is performed in the afternoon, the effects are even greater.
The takeaway: your daily cup of java is doing more than waking you up in the morning or keeping you going during the mid-day slump.
2. You skip breakfast
There is plenty of research that suggests intermittent fasting can help with weight loss. In fact many people have jumped on this trend simply because they prefer to consume their calories later in the day. Some studies suggest that if you choose to skip breakfast and exercise on an empty stomach, you could accelerate fat loss.
According to a study from Northumbria University, you can burn up to 20 per cent more fat simply by exercising in the morning on an empty stomach.
The researchers asked 12 physically active male participants to perform a bout of treadmill exercise at 10 a.m. (either after breakfast or in a fasted state). Following the workout, participants were given a chocolate milkshake recovery drink. Later in the day, they were fed a pasta lunch, which they were asked to eat until they felt “comfortably full”. The researchers assessed the consumption of both energy and fat, while taking into account the amount of energy and fat that was burned during the morning period.
It’s important to note that those who exercised in the morning on a fasted stomach did not consume additional calories or experience an increase in appetite during the day.
They also found that the particpants who exercised before breakfast on an empty stomach burned almost 20 per cent more fat in comparison to those who ate breakfast before exercising. This means that performing a workout in a fasted state may provide the best outcome for fat loss.
Javier Gonzalez, who is currently undertaking a PhD in Exercise and Metabolism, says: “In order to lose body fat we need to use more fat than we consume. Exercise increases the total amount of energy we expend and a greater proportion of this energy comes from existing fat (if the exercise is performed after an overnight fast).
In a separate study, researchers discovered that whole body fat burning was reduced by 50 per cent after a meal (when compared to exercising in a fasted state).
3. You lift weights
Lifting weights is one of the best ways to speed up your metabolism; especially if you focus on incorporating large muscle groups (such as squats, deadlifts and lunges). Compound movements typically burn more calories, giving you more bang for your buck. Another strategy is to constantly challenge yourself by increasing the weight, sets and reps. Also, if you pair an upper body exercise with a lower body exercise there is a greater fat burning effect. This is called PHA (Peripheral Heart Action). This technique, which has been around since the 1940s, allows one body part to rest while another is working, preventing fatigue and the build up of lactic acid. It also increases blood flow throughout the body, forcing the heart to work even harder.
We know this is awesome news for our readers who already lift weights. And it gets better! One of the best parts about resistance training is the “after burn”. This simply means your body will continue to burn calories long after the session has ended. Pretty fantastic, right?
4. You do HIIT
Bootcamp workouts, also known as HIIT training, have become very popular in the last few years. Basically, bootcamp-style workouts are super intense and require your whole body. As a result, this style of workout gets your heart rate elevated within minutes. HIIT typically requires very little equipment (aside from your own body weight), so there’s never an excuse not to workout. Plus you burn a ton of calories in a short amount of time. Although you can burn just as much energy doing a moderate workout, the time-saving benefits of HIIT cannot be matched.
This type of workout is especially beneficial if you have less than 30 minutes to exercise. Similar to resistance training, your body will continue to burn energy long after the workout is over (also known as EPOC). This occurs as a ways for your body to replenish oxygen to working muscles.
5. You eat avocados
Depending on your age, you probably remember the low fat craze? Well, we’re happy to report a lot has changed since that trend. In fact, a recent study suggests that if you want to decrease fat (especially in the abdomen), you should eat more avocados. Furthermore, fat plays a key role in so many hormonal and bodily functions. Therefore, skipping this satiating macronutrient could potentially set you up for fat-burning failure.
So go ahead — have that avocado toast! Just be mindful of portions. Although fats are healthy, they tend to contain a lot of calories — so a little goes a long way!
6. You go to bed early
Sleep is one of the best kept secrets when it comes to fat loss. Although it may sound simple, it’s definitely underrated. If you want to turn your body into a fat-burning machine you definitely need to get to bed early and aim for 7-8 hours per night. When you don’t get sufficient rest, you are more likely to make bad choices, like skip your workout or fill up on carb-laden and fast foods. Another recent study suggests that those who don’t get the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night typically make poor snacking choices.
7. You ditch carbs at dinner
Eliminating carbs or reducing them at night is a strategy that could help to release stubborn body fat. This doesn’t mean you have to go keto; however, we recommend timing carbs around your workouts or try consuming them earlier in the day when your body needs them the most. You may have already cut them out of your dinner in exchange for healthy fats and low-glycemic veggies. If this is the case, you are on the right track!
Tip: If you get the nighttime munchies, opt for something that’s both healthy and satiating and includes either fats, protein or both Here are some of our favourites: Non-fat, greek yogurt (plain), a protein shake, a boiled egg, a handful of nuts or veggies and hummus.