Maybe you’re transitioning out of improvement season into prep or you’re just wanting to drop a couple of pounds to have summer abs. Whatever the case, let these “easy” fat loss tips be your guide to getting jump started!
1. Cut the Junk and Start Tracking
You’ve been having a weekly untracked meal or you’ve just been enjoying too many holiday cookies and pie. Sound familiar? This leads me to my first easy weight loss tip: cut out the junk! Since these foods are laden with calories, saturated fat, and sodium with pretty much zero nutritional value, simply cutting out the junk will make a significant impact on your overall calorie consumption. But Renee, I only have like 4 Oreos every 2 days. Other than that I’m on my plan to the T. I know that might not seem like a huge impact on your overall calorie consumption, but say my maintenance calories are 2000 kcal per day. That’s 16 Oreos per week, which is an additional 832 calories on top of my 2000 kcal! Simply cutting this out will drop me 6% below what my daily calorie intake has been.
Also, instead of going YOLO at the all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant, start accounting for those untracked meals. This doesn’t mean you can’t have sushi, just stay mindful of your portions and count it toward your total daily calories. I like to use an app to track my macros. If I’m trying to tighten up my diet, this is an easy way for me to account for all calories consumed. These are easy adjustments you can make without directly decreasing your daily calorie intake. By doing this you’ll most likely have an initial large drop in scale weight due to losing water weight from decreased sodium as well as GI weight from larger untracked meals. Not to mention you’ll probably feel better from the decreased stress of overfeeding.
2. Decrease Calories
It’s been a few weeks since you’ve implemented tip #1—you lost a good chunk of weight, you’ve gotten into the groove of saying no to junk and accounting for all meals, and things were going great—but now progress is at a standstill. Enter tip #2: decrease your base calories. I would begin with a 10-15% decrease. So, for example, if my base plan is 2500 kcal daily I would decrease 250-375 kcal. I would determine from which meals to pull these calories depending on hunger cues during each meal. Pull calories from meals where hunger isn’t high, though you’ll want to retain your pre and post-workout meal calories in order to help support training and recovery. Instead, adjust calories from all other meals and on non-training days. This initial decrease in calories will be “easy” weight loss before you need to further decrease calories and start digging for greater fat loss.
During this time make sure to track progress by taking measurements, tracking scale weight, and taking weekly photos. You can compare your data from week to week to determine if changes are being made. I generally like to aim for a 0.5-1.5% weekly weight change, but the scale doesn’t always reflect our progress so that’s why it’s important to have other objective measurements. After all we’re not simply trying to “lose weight,” we’re trying to change our body composition and hold on to our hard-earned muscle. I would also take a supplement such as Animal Juiced Aminos to aid in muscle recovery and retention. Juiced Aminos provides you with all the essential amino acids, glutamine, and arginine to support keeping our hard-earned muscle while we strip away body fat.
3. Increase NEAT
Welcome to Tip #3. This is where we give the dogs long walks and park further away from the grocery store. Maybe you’ve heard of NEAT, but just in case you haven’t, NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. This is easy calorie burning and something that I not only implement during prep but during improvement season as well. It’s a great way to increase caloric expenditure without adding in formal cardio. NEAT is neat because it can include all sorts of activities like walking the dog, housework, yard work, or my personal favorite, pacing around the gym in between sets. Yes, I may look a bit crazy, but it’s my secret fat-burning tip when I’m in a cutting phase. Activities like taking the stairs or going for a light walk can boost your energy expenditure 200-300% above resting levels (1). That’s fat loss without even breaking a sweat.
Monitor your NEAT by counting steps. This will give you an estimate of activity and keep you accountable, especially when you’re in the later stages of fat loss when energy levels are low and we tend to expend less energy. I have a cheap fitness watch that I use and currently aim for 10,000 steps per day. The amount of activity is adjusted based on my goals. During contest prep, simply increasing NEAT instead of increasing direct cardio was very helpful in keeping fat loss moving. Of course, direct cardio may be needed once the “easy” fat loss stalls, but NEAT should stay in place throughout the entire cutting phase. Another strategy to use in the latter stages of cutting would be to take a thermogenic supplement such as Animal Cuts. With ingredients like acetyl L-carnitine and L-carnitine titrate that aid in fatty acid metabolism, tyrosine for focus, and caffeine for a boost of energy, you can keep the fat loss going.
There you have it, three easy adjustments you can make to jump-start your fat loss goals! Making small, gradual changes to your diet, activity, and supplementation will ensure you always have a card to play instead of throwing in your entire hand at the beginning of your cutting phase.
Levine JA, Vander Weg MW, Hill JO, et al. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis: The Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon of Societal Weight Gain. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2006;26:729-736.
The most overlooked aspect of your fitness programming is easily sleep and rest. Everyone can hit the gym hard and many can diet consistently, but few put heavy stock into their nighttime routine and how recovered they are in the morning. So what should you do? How do you maximize? Renee Jewett can help you out in her latest article.