Have you reached a plateau in your fat loss efforts? Are you having trouble shifting that last 5 or 10 pounds that will make you look really good? Do you want to avoid plateaus as you attempt to reach your best ever condition for your next competition?
The key to fat loss is an elevated metabolism. If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are fighting a losing battle with your metabolism. Try the nine research-proven strategies listed below to spark your sluggish metabolism and smash through stagnation in your quest for a lean, mean physique.
1. Eat breakfast within 30 minutes after you wake up.
Many people who want to shed body fat will perform their exercise first thing in the morning without some form of breakfast. They do this with the misguided belief they are tapping into fat stores and forcing their body to burn fat for fuel.
This information originated many years ago from outdated research performed on obese subjects. However, effective fat loss for people who are not fat is a much trickier objective. I won’t go into the numerous physiological aspects of why it is a terrible decision for healthy people to avoid nutritional support before exercise in the morning. I will tell you that you cannot dictate the type of fuel you want your body to utilize during exercise — human physiology is far too intricately balanced.
Exercising in the fasted state (in the morning, on an empty stomach) induces a tremendous amount of muscle breakdown, (along with a small amount of fat loss). This is a one-way ticket to a slower metabolism and a body that quickly learns to hoard fat, not burn it. After 7 or 8 hours of sleep, your metabolism has slowed down. Breakfast kick-starts your metabolic rate and creates an instant anabolic environment within the body.
To lose body fat from exercise, the correct nutritional support that preserves lean body mass must be present.
Before morning cardio training, I recommend The Bracketing Method; a small dose (30-40 grams) of VP2 Whey Isolate mixed in water with a serving of Micronized Creatine, and DGC consumed 30 minutes before and immediately after exercise.
Before resistance training, I recommend a serving of cooked oats with a handful of raisins mixed with milk and a scoop or two of VP2 and eaten 30 minutes before hitting the gym. This breakfast is nutritionally perfect for building muscle and takes less than 5 minutes to prepare.
2. Increase your meal frequency without increasing total calorie intake.
This simple but highly effective strategy is often overlooked by bodybuilders and body shapers during their contest countdown. Dieting (calorie restriction) slows the metabolism, as soon as you feel your fat loss results stagnate simply increase your meal frequency without increasing total calorie intake.
This is achieved by dividing your daily calorie intake into more meals than you currently consume. If you’re eating 5 meals a day, reduce the portions to create seven smaller meals. If you’re eating seven meals a day, turn them into nine.
Remember, we’re not talking about increasing total calorie intake; we are merely subdividing the total daily intake into smaller meals.
3. Increase your vegetable intake.
Vegetables are the real secret to an ultra-lean, healthy body. The reason is vegetable’s high bulk but low-calorie content. These foods are the secret to effective fat loss; they are naturally high in fiber yet low in calorie content.
In essence, a high intake of vegetables provides bulk to the diet that tricks the metabolism into staying elevated because of the large volume of food the body has to process.
Note: All vegetables are nutrient-dense, yet sparse in calorie content. Therefore, they increase satiety and make dieting easier.
Not many people realize a large plate piled high with any variety of vegetables contains less than 300 calories, and I guarantee most people couldn’t finish the plate! As your calorie restriction becomes tighter, increase your vegetable intake, this will enhance your fat loss results.
4. Leave room in your program to increase your exercise frequency.
Exercise and eating are the only two weapons a person can utilize to stoke the metabolism. However, with regard to exercise for effective fat loss, it is important to leave room for progression in your program, particularly regarding the frequency of aerobic exercise.
Start your fat loss program with a minimal amount of cardio exercise, then add just one short but intense cardio workout to your weekly exercise regimen and assess your progress before additional workouts are scheduled.
Too many overenthusiastic bodybuilders jump straight into grinding out 5 or 6 cardio sessions a week. This quickly leads to stagnation and leaves little room for progression.
Obviously, the key is to start your preparation a long way out from your target date. Gradually increasing your exercise frequency is a sure-fire way to keep your metabolism elevated for effective fat loss.
5. Drink more water.
Drinking water to ensure fat loss may sound far-fetched, however, I assure you there is sound physiological rationale behind this strategy.
Muscle and other tissues are 80% water. When muscle cells are dehydrated by only 1 or 2%, a catabolic process is triggered. A catabolic environment makes it impossible to recover and gain from training.
Increasing fluid intake, particularly when accompanied by cell-volumizing nutrients such as micronized glutamine and creatine, increases muscle cell volume. Increasing cell volume switches on the anabolic process and the synthesis of new tissue within cells.
The synthesis of new, lean tissue will cause an increase in metabolic rate, so drink up!
6. Up your intake of low-fat dairy foods.
A substantial amount of scientific research has accumulated over the last 4 years that supports what appears to be a very unlikely concept for effective weight loss.
Dietary calcium is now thought to play a key role in the regulation of energy metabolism and whether you gain or lose body fat. Diets that are rich in calcium appear to prevent fat gain as well as increase fat metabolism, thereby markedly accelerating the process of shedding body fat.
While the beneficial impact of a high calcium intake on fat loss is clear, a review of the literature shows that dairy calcium appears to provide the greatest fat-loss effect of all calcium sources.
Even without calorie-restriction, increasing the intake of dairy proteins is shown to reduce body fat and increase fat-free mass in many populations.
Although the bioactive constituents responsible for dairy calcium’s beneficial effects on fat metabolism remain the subject of speculation, the researcher’s behind these studies suggest that whey proteins are a major contributor.
7. Consume a substantial portion of your daily calories after exercise.
Vigorous or intense exercise accelerates the body’s metabolism tremendously. However, it also creates a tremendous amount of tissue breakdown. Without the correct approach to nutrition after training, a loss of lean tissue can be the result.
Losing lean tissue (muscle) slows the metabolism, and this is the surest way to stagnate any attempt at fat loss.
The post-workout period is an ideal “window of opportunity” for boosting the metabolism and improving body composition.
Research demonstrates that nutrients consumed in the hours following a workout are shuttled directly to muscles to boost the metabolism and repair damaged tissue. Nutrient consumption in the post-workout period does not interfere with the fat loss process.
I recommend bodybuilders that who want to gain lean mass should consume a significant portion (approx 20-30%) of their daily calorie intake during the 3-hours following resistance training. For an in-depth look at this procedure, read The Anabolic Timing Factor.
8. Don’t “live” on supplements.
Too many bodybuilders chose to live on supplements and don’t consume enough whole foods to provide optimal nutrition for building a premium body.
I’ve always found that protein supplements such as VP2 Whey Isolate exert the greatest anabolic effect when they are consumed alongside an extensive and varied whole food intake, rather than replace it.
Calorie restriction forces the body to utilize all nutrition sources for energy production. A high intake of lean, whole proteins such as egg whites, fish, meats and poultry, and vegetables stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels.
This ensures that your protein supplements are directed towards muscle growth and repair and not utilized simply to provide energy.
9. Train twice a day, but only 2 or 3 days a week.
Research has shown that two 15-minute workouts performed 6-hours apart will burn more than double the number of calories compared to a single 30-minute exercise session of the same intensity.
This makes twice-a-day exercising a phenomenal tool for fat loss. If you’ve hit a fat loss plateau, I recommend you perform your weight training early in the AM and perform a Max-OT Cardio workout in the PM. Alternatively; you may want to perform two short cardio workouts on your non-lifting days.
Most bodybuilders are guilty of the mindset “more is better.” Be very aware that training twice a day takes a tremendous toll on the body. Unless you have a lifestyle that completely revolves around your bodybuilding goals (in other words, you’re a normal human that works 8-10 hours a day along with all of life’s other stresses), training twice a day means you run a high risk of overtraining.
This is why I recommend twice-a-day training on two or three days of the week for most people. Believe me, simply introducing just one “twice-a-day” training day to your weekly schedule will your metabolism into overdrive.
So there you have it, nine research-proven ways to rev up your metabolism and ensure you smash through any stagnation in your fat loss attempts. How many of these strategies do you currently follow?