In our on-going battle against the bulge, everyone can benefit from some extra help, especially in these challenging times.
To better navigate the complexities of weight-loss in lockdown, we’ve created the ultimate fat-loss toolkit to ensure you tick all the right boxes.
Find the right nutrition plan
Finding the right diet approach for optimal fat loss can be confusing. Low-carb, high-fat diets, Paleo eating, ketogenic diets and intermittent fasting are just a few of the popular dietary options currently at our disposal to lose weight and reduce body fat.
Most of these dietary interventions aim to stoke the fat-burning furnace that is our metabolism, but how do you know what dietary approach is best for your genetics and metabolism? What we know for sure is that we’re all different and, therefore, respond differently to certain diets and eating plans.
The best way to take the guesswork out of fat-loss dieting is to consult with experts.
A qualified dietitian or nutritionist will assess your current eating plan, identify potential problem areas, and give you an individualised plan to help you lose weight without compromising your health.
You can find a registered dietician in your area by visiting the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (Adsa) website at www.adsa.org.za.
You could also consider a DNA test, like the Wellness Revolution DNA test, powered by MUHDO, which is available through Dis-Chem Wellness Clinics. Through advances in nutritional genomics, scientists have been able to make correlations between our genes and our ability to effectively metabolise carbohydrates and fats.
In fact, our ability to effectively lose weight and burn fat is largely based on our genetic make-up. As such, the DNA test results can help you train and eat smarter and better understand your body to make informed decisions.
Start a food diary
Recording your daily food intake will help keep you on track with your diet and spot potential problem areas in your eating patterns, which is essential information when trying to lose weight.
The key is to record everything you eat or drink, which requires that you read and understand food labels.
The information in your diary will help you make daily adjustments to your meals to create that essential negative calorie balance needed to lose weight. A food diary will also give you a better idea of what foods and eating habits work best for your body.
How to use a food diary:
- Step 1: Record everything that goes into your mouth.
- Step 2: Note down the time of day, how you felt before and after eating, how fast you ate (and why), who you were with, your mood and where you ate.
- Step 3: Record the portion size, calorie content and nutritional value (if possible) of every meal and drink.
- Step 4: Record your eating as soon as it happens because, if you wait until later you may forget everything you ate or note the incorrect portion sizes.
- Step 5: Review the diary after a week and then start daily reviews to find the problem meal times, meals or food choices that need to be eliminated or changed.
- Step 6: Take your food diary to a professional, like a dietitian or qualified personal trainer, who can help you make the necessary adjustments to your diet.
A solid supplement plan
Using thermogenic fat burners and body toners will help boost your metabolism and tap into fat stores while you train.
Body toners like conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and L-carnitine contain effective doses of specific ingredients that help your muscles effectively tap into stored fat for energy. CLA has been shown to increase lean body mass and prevent fat storage, while carnitine increases the body’s ability to metabolise stored fat, especially during exercise.
When combined with exercise and the right diet for your genes and activity level, these products can help you burn more stored fat to meet your daily energy requirements. And because these products are not stimulant-based, they are also ideal supplements for sustained, long-term use.
However, thermogenic fat burners tend to be the most effective products for fat loss. By increasing your body temperature and, subsequently, your metabolic rate, they help to burn more calories throughout the day.
These products generally contain a combination of stimulants and other thermogenic agents that work synergistically to raise your metabolic rate, even at rest.
Common natural ingredients include caffeine, theacrine, synephrine, citrus aurantium extract, green tea extract and yerba mate, along with licensed ingredients such as Sinetrol® Xpur. These supplements can also reduce appetite, and make it easier for your body to tap into stored fat for energy.
Due to the effect that stimulants have on your nervous system, it is important that you use these products intermittently. This will give your nervous and hormonal systems time to recover and reset so that you don’t build up a tolerance to the substances.
An intense workout regimen
Most personal trainers would agree that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the most efficient way to burn fat and tone your body, whether you’re training at home or in the gym, doing weights or cardio.
This means shorter workouts that include challenging, explosive sets of body weight, resistance exercise or metabolic conditioning training back to back, with short breaks or active rests.
Download a stopwatch or interval timer app on your phone to guide your training sessions. Keep rest periods to 30 seconds between sets and 60 seconds between circuits. This training structure will help you burn more calories by increasing the training intensity.
Opt for exercises that target multiple muscle groups with every rep, with a focus on combined lower-upper body moves like burpees or jump squats. You can also incorporate cost-effective workouts tools like bands, suspension trainers, balls and other items in your home workout for better results.
It may feel like you’re on your own while gyms remain closed in lockdown. Fortunately, advances in Internet-based technology mean we can access professional advice and guidance at home from virtual trainers via our smart TVs, tablets or smartphones.
Virtual trainers can take the form of a real-life person on the other end of an Internet connection, who guides you in terms of exercise programs and diet guidelines, or the more advanced artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled alternatives via apps.
Benefits of a virtual coach or trainer:
- You can train effectively at home
- Gain access to some of the most popular fitness trainers in the world
- Train anywhere, anytime
- They’re affordable
Modern technology also helps guide our training by providing real-time feedback from fitness devices like activity trackers, smartwatches and smart scales. This information can help to inform our approach by tracking and measuring progress, often with the added benefit of some AI-enabled advice.
The humble wrist-based activity tracker is still the go-to device for many, especially those who are starting out on their weight-loss and fitness journeys. These devices remain the gateway to a tech-enabled fitness lifestyle as they’re affordable and offer sufficient functionality to help us improve and refine our approach.
These devices track a wide range of biometrics, including daily exercise, total active minutes, total steps, calories burnt and sleep patterns to deliver real-time insights and information. Many also offer constant motivation by integrating with social networks, as well as guidance from AI and algorithms, with the information and feedback provided via a smartphone app or a website.
GPS-enabled sports- and smartwatches offer additional functionality, with various options for different sporting codes or general applications in a healthy lifestyle.
And digital smart scales add an extra dimension to a quantified lifestyle aimed at improved health and fitness. These devices make tracking your body weight and changing body composition a simple and easy process.
The scales work like traditional bathroom scales, measuring your weight and body fat percentage when you step on them, but because they’re connected to the Internet, the data is seamlessly updated to your user account and immediately available for review on your compatible smartphone app or web browser. The data is also stored, allowing you to track changes over time.