Sia is a good friend of mine that I have a lot of respect for. He’s a busy guy, and he’s in good shape already, in my opinion, but I know he’s not quite in the shape he used to be, and he wouldn’t mind losing a little bit more fat. Sia has been watching his diet, and has cut out sugar for almost a year already. After seeing some results he’s finding progress has slowed, and today he asked me if I had any ideas to help him get to the next level.
And as a matter of fact, I do.
Really, I think he just needs to kick it up a notch, and try a few different methods to spark a bit more fat loss. It’s not just about trying one thing or something else, it’s about adding them together. Taking his existing healthy diet and adding some more fat loss methods on top of that should be all he needs.
Idea Number 1: Try Some Intermittent Fasting
I’m a huge fan of intermittent fasting and it’s my go-to method of losing fat. There are more benefits then just fat loss, such as improved insulin sensitivity and digestive tract function. I’m always surprised that fasting also increases my energy significantly, or how my eyes will get whiter (I suspect from reduced inflammation). And I get these effects from just fasting 4-6 hours a day in the morning, and not even every day.
I recommend trying just two days of intermittent fasting for four hours each morning after you wake up. Let’s say you get up at 8am – consume nothing but water or black coffee until noon. Then, eat as you normally would for the rest of the day. Continue to try and eat as healthy as you can – avoid sugar and alcohol as much as possible, don’t overeat, etc etc. But don’t under-eat either – just eat normally! The first day, in my experience, is usually really easy, but the second day is a bit harder. Fight through the hunger and hold off until 12, or 1pm, if possible.
Repeat this method of two days of intermittent fasting and two days of normal eating for a week or two and just observe the effects. If you get up one morning and you just really want breakfast, just eat it! Instead fast the next day, or whenever it feels right. Listen to your body, observe the effects, and repeat what works.
It doesn’t have to be painful or difficult. I admit I sometimes push the boundary of how long I should fast for – I’ll go until 2 or 3pm maybe, and then realize I’m a bit too hungry and that I didn’t have to push it that far. Just do what works for you and what feels right. But you should also see a difference. You should lose some weight. If you’re not losing weight, you’re probably just eating too much the rest of the day. Be mindful of your eating, and repeat the morning fast as needed.
Idea Number 2: Do More Intense Cardio
HIIT, tabata, sprints, whatever. Push harder, and you might be surprised at the results. In my experience, easy cardio does almost nothing for fat loss. Going for a 30 minute walk or a leisurely bike ride is good for you, and it is better than sitting on the couch doing nothing – but if you really want to stoke the fires of your metabolism you’ll want to hit that workout harder. The idea here is that your metabolism stays jacked up for hours after the workout, and you continue to burn a lot of calories during this time. I prefer running 400m sprints with 90 seconds rest – 8×400 is my go-to workout right now. But also I do 500m rowing with 1 minute rest. I can get a lot out of a stationary bike as well using the same approximate time frames. I like to put the bike on the hardest possible setting (level 25 or whatever) for 30 seconds to a minute, and then back it off for a few minutes, and repeat for 20 minutes. Just do what you can! And do it harder! Hill sprints are another good one, or stair running / climbing…
A warning though, these are hard workouts and you won’t want to do them fasted. I would only do something like this when I’m fueled up and ready for an intense effort. I also admit I will often have a bit of sugar and salt right after one of these workouts to restore liver glycogen and electrolyte balance. This is another article entirely, but just to sum up, if you’re sweating a lot, you need some salt. And restoring liver glycogen right after a workout will help you recover. My favorite is orange slices for the sugar, and some potato chips or pickles for the salt.
Idea Number 3: Fasted Cardio
Fasted cardio is another good thing to try, though I admit not one of my personal favorites – I still do it sometimes because it works. The theory is that performing cardio in a fasted state (first thing in the morning before breakfast is probably the most effective) forces your body to burn more fat as fuel. And a lot of people swear by this method. It does seem an efficient method of training, as you don’t need as much cardio to have the same effect. I’m often surprised that I do not feel hungry while I’m exercising and often even have more energy this way. This method also fits in well with the intermittent fasting mentioned above. However, if you do choose this option, I suggest breaking your fast sooner after your workout, because you might just feel too crappy afterwards. Only one warning, it is not recommended to do high intensity cardio fasted. 25-30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio when fasted is more than enough.
Well, there you go my friend. This may be all you need to strip off those last few pounds. Good luck and let me know how it goes!