A few weeks ago I shared my transformation story. In it I talked about a goal of reaching 18% body fat. Today I’m sharing the tips and steps I took to lower my body fat percentage. If you are able to implement even a few of these, you’ll begin to see a difference in how you feel and look.
Body fat is the amount of fat in your body compared to everything else. Everything else meaning your organs, muscles, bones, tendons, water, and so on. What percentage of your body weight is pounds of fat. It’s an accurate representation of your health.
It is highly recommended to keep your body fat percentage above the essential fat for men and women. Even those who compete in body building competitions only lower there body fat percentage to the essential zone right before a show. Reason being, once you go below the essential fat, your organs begin to shut down.
When measuring your body fat percentage most inexpensive methods are less accurate. To get a more accurate measurement you can pay hundreds of dollars, but if you’re like me a general estimate works great.
Most gyms or doctor offices have hand held readers, or scales. Those are probably the most common ways you can measure your body fat. A less recommended, but personally favorite way, is by taking progress photos and using your eye to determine your estimated body fat. There are lots of photos of what different percentages look like. If you are lowering your body fat percentage you will be able to see the physical change. Unless you are competing in body building competetions the actual number is less important than feeling great!
Important tips to know about measuring your body fat
Change Your Lifestyle
If you desire to change your body fat percentage, it requires a life transformation. These tips aren’t about diet fads or do this for 6 weeks and you’ll stay this way forever. These tips are important to your every day well being. There isn’t a destination with your health. You will continue to evolve and change. If you arrive at a goal and stop implementing the methods it took to get to that goal, that progress will fade, and the results will be lost. Stick with it for life.
Drink lots of water!
Every great fat reducing story includes the increase of water intake. Water aides the liver in converting fat to energy. This increases your metabolism. Plus, if you are sweating a lot (for increased fat reduction) your body needs more water. The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends drinking at least 96 ounces of water daily. There can be health risks with drinking too much water too quickly. Begin by slowly increasing your daily amount of water each day.
Adding ingredients like lemon, lime, cucumber, orange, etc. in your water helps flush toxins and improve your health. It is a popular tool to release weight. I personally like it because the yummy taste helps me drink more water. Some ingredients will also improve your metabolism. This website can help you learn more benefits and recipes.
Sleep can be an underestimated task when it comes to reducing fat. Studies have shown that adequate sleep is important for balancing your hormones. Hormones are also involved in regulating your metabolism. Disrupting your sleep can result in greater fatigue making it harder to get to the gym or make healthier meals. Not sleeping enough decreases the activity of protein synthesis pathways and increases degradation pathways. Which results in muscle loss and hinders the ability of muscle recovery necessary after exercise.
Reduce Carbohydrate intake
Most people need a little bit of carbs each day. Carbohydrates are used in your brain for energy. I don’t recommend eliminating carbs entirely. I once tried being carb free for one week. My body was so exhausted, and I never felt satisfied after a meal. I decided to instead of eating bread and grains at every meal, I would only have it in one meal a day. This gave me the benefits of lowering heavy carbs, but allowing my body to still get that full feeling. I also started eating smart carbs. For example: sweet potatoes, brown rice or quinoa, whole wheat tortillas, oats, whole grain, carbs that are high in fiber have more benefits to them.
Reduce Sugar Intake
Okay, yeah yeah, sugar is a carbohydrate. I decided to separate them because I feel that there is enough to talk about with sugar itself. Not only is it highly addicting, the added sugar has no health benefits, and can only hinder your progress. Here is 10 disturbing reasons added sugar is bad for you! If you are looking to reduce your sugar intake it’s time to stick to eating fruit for your sugar consumption. Stop drinking sugary drinks like soda, juice, etc. Binge smarter by drizzling dark chocolate over fresh fruit. Now that we have set the boundary line, let’s be real. It can be difficult to stop drinking soda or eating desserts. So don’t be too strict on yourself, that will only make you want to rebel. I stopped buying desserts, but if I was at a special occasion I would eat a small amount of dessert. Sometimes you gotta give yourself the cookie to sustain long term healthy nutrition. Moderation in all things!
Eat lots of veggies and protein
This is a no brainer. Vegetables are great for you. They have the right nutrients your body needs. When in doubt, eat veggies. The dark green vegetables have more nutrient value. The USDA dietary guidelines recommend eating 2.5-3 cups. i.e. spinach, broccoli, leafy salad greens, kale. Now with protein; choose the most lean meat you can. Makes sense if you are trying to lower your body fat to not put more animal fat in your body. For non-meat protein: black beans, peanuts, eggs, all great options. I take vegan protein after every workout. It’s clean protein for my body, and helps me get added vegetables to my diet.
Little to no dairy
Here is one tip that not everyone agrees on. I’ll be honest, you may be able to find articles saying that eating dairy promotes weight loss. In my experience eliminating dairy helped me significantly! Most people are lactose intolerant without even knowing it. This causes inflammation and irritation in the bowels, making it more difficult to keep good health. Dairy has hormones in it that causes imbalance. It also is full of sugar. We are the only mammals on the planet who drink other mammal’s milk. So if your worried about calcium; almond milk, coconut milk, salmon, all of these have more calcium than dairy milk.
We have bad fats and good fats. Bad fats are saturated and trans fat. Bad fats are found high in fatty meat, and dairy. Common bad fats would be butter, margarine, shortening, beef or pork fat. Good fat is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Common good fats would be peanut butter and almond butter, nuts, vegetable oils, avocado, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Fiber is all about supporting your digestion. Maintaining good digestion is good for your metabolism. Healthy digestion and metabolism will decrease your body fat. Got it? Now here is a list of foods to increase your fiber: artichoke, sweet potato, pear, green peas, berries, such as raspberries or blackberries, prunes, figs or dates, spinach, apple, orange, 100% whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, bran muffins, bran or multiple-grain cereals, popcorn (unbuttered), almonds.
No food after 6 pm
There isn’t anything magically associated with not eating after 6 pm, but there is evidence of late-night snack leading to overeating and in-taking unnecessary carbs for the day. Not eating after 6 pm till the time you eat breakfast the next day is considered overnight fasting. In a study they found that metabolism didn’t start kicking in until a few hours after the last meal of the day. So if your last meal is at 6 pm, then your metabolism kicks in a few hours later, you have a longer amount of time before you eat again and your body resets.
Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!
Exercise is essential step to reducing body fat. What has worked most for me has been the combination of weight training and cardio. Building muscle burns more fat during your workout. Weight lifting/training is extremely good for you. Cardio also improves your health, and has great health benefits. Together they are better. If you are looking to reduce body fat, the goal is to sweat.
All of these steps I have done personally to reduce body fat. I have seen results! If you may be at risk by changing your diet or lifestyle, consult your doctor. It’s important to be mindful of what works for you. Each body responds differently. I’ve tweaked health tips to personalize them. Feel free to do the same. If something isn’t working, change.
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