The Fastest & Shortest Way to Lose Belly Fat: See Results in Just a Week!

This…is…FNDfitness! (corny 10/10)

I’m really sorry. I had to open this post up with an apology because the title of this post was purposely constructed to be manipulative. It’s marketing at it’s finest; placing the two words that are your biggest weakness after pumpkin spice lattes,  ‘fast’ and ‘belly fat’. Unfortunately, as promising as the title seems to be, it embeds everything that’s wrong with health and fitness today. It implies that optimizing the health of your mind and body is an overnight process. Ask any person who displays great health (the super lean and strong 30 year old at the gym who you stare at lifting in between sets) and they’ll tell you their journey to fitness was something made over the span of years. It required dedication and hard work which transpired over a period of time. A mindset which acknowledged ups and downs but ultimately had the constant of learning and improving upon mistakes and building upon successes.

Ok, so I’m not going to totally leave you hanging after my super deceiving title. On the plus side, now you know to hopefully avoid the links which promise to get you a “super six pack with this one shortcut in 72 hours” (and avoid the array of viruses you’ll have to explain to other household members). So, let’s get to it…how do we quickly and efficiently burn belly fat?

There’s no way to only lose belly fat…

“Yo, FNDfitness, you’re killing me. You’re leading me on more than my high school sweet heart who really wasn’t my sweet heart because she totally friendzone 3000’d me.” I really am sorry and for the record, totally feel for you #teamfriendzonestandtogether. So let’s quickly get this out of the way, there is no such thing at spot reduction. What’s spot reduction? Basically what the name implies, losing fat in one specific spot. When you lose fat, you lose it throughout the whole body. Now, can you target certain areas over others? Sure, just ask the guy who curls in the squat rack. If I solely dedicated my life to dumbbell curls, I would likely have less fat in my arms than the rest of my body because of that specific isolation movement. Unfortunately, this isolation doesn’t exist for your stomach. You can do 10000 sit-ups a day but unless you’re in a caloric deficit through proper dieting and/or exercise (hopefully both), you won’t lose the stomach fat. Also important to note is the genetic factor: fat distribution among a population is not equal. For some people more fat may be distributed to their stomach while for some others it may go to their legs. Naturally, if you start losing fat you will see greater reductions in some areas more than others but the constant remains that you can’t lose fat in only one specified area of the body.

Ok, here it is, the fastest way to lose fat…

Wait, sorry one more thing. Hopefully this teasing isn’t making me lose readers, I can really use all of you guys. Promise, last point, then we’ll get to the good stuff. I need to further emphasize a point I glossed over earlier. It’s a fact that people want to see results quickly, very understandable. Unfortunately, this problematic ‘quick fix’ weight loss mindset all too often leads to rebound weight gain. The person will undergo some extreme form of restrictive dieting which then leads to inevitable weight loss due to drastic reductions in calorie intake, but then what? The lack of intention to implement life style modifications for overall health leads to this on going ping-pong of weight gain, stress, extreme dieting, weight loss, back to a normal lifestyle, weight gained back on, and repeat. So before I go on to give my suggestion of quick efficient fat loss, I plead that it be used as a stepping stone to better understand and learn health and nutrition and to implement it in your lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be a drastic overnight change but, rather, a mindset which has the intention to continue to improve on life style modifications. These lifestyle modifications include eating in greater moderation, tracking macros, implementing weight lifting, and cardio.  Even more important, the recognition that if you have one bad day of maybe overeating, it does not have to be a downhill avalanche from there, eat a little bit less the next day and throw in some exercise.

Ok so what is one of the most convenient, short, accessible, and efficient ways to burn fat?

Beachbody home workout videos. I’m sure there are lots of great at home workout videos out there, but the one that I have personal experience and success with is from beach body. Not just me, but I personally know lots of people who have had success with their programs. The programs are brilliantly developed so that they incorporate a total body workout. The schedule of the workouts are tremendously laid out so that you get the appropriate rest for each body part as needed. The common theme that these different programs incorporate is the concept of high intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT in a nutshell is basically exerting high intensity movement(s) over a short duration followed by a short period of rest. The most basic example would be sprinting on a treadmill for a minute followed by a minute of walking. Of course, with these home workouts you aren’t on a treadmill but are completing a variety of exercises which stimulate different areas of the body for a whole body work out. Here are a bunch of reasons why these at home programs will probably be awesome for you.

  1. It’s convenient. No gym membership, no driving, they’re all at home workouts.
  2. For a lot of the workouts, there is no equipment required. For those that do require some equipment, it’s very minimal and you can order it along with the dvd’s or buy them cheap on amazon.
  3. Go at your own pace. No feeling of embarrassment that people are watching at you. An important aspect stressed in the videos is to go at your own pace but to try your hardest. Initially, you are probably not going to be able to keep up with people on the dvd, BUT THAT’S OKAY. You can go on your own pace, but it’s important that you try your best. If you half-ass it and take longer breaks than you know you need, you’re only cheating yourself.
  4. More on the HIIT. The benefits of HIIT are pretty well documented and make a lot of sense. You are not going to burn fat from a 15 minute walk on a treadmill because you’re body doesn’t need to use extra sources of energy for fuel (the extra source being fat). On the other hand, when you’re doing high intensity type training, your body has to work extra hard and needs extra fuel to keep going. First, your body will go for your glucose and glycogen stores. When those run out your body starts burning FAT for energy, how exciting! So, when you’re getting tired and need that extra push during the workout just remember, that’s the FAT you will be using as energy to keep you going. Here’s a study that compared two groups, one with conventional training and another with conventional training+HIIT. After 8 weeks, both groups lost significant weight, but the group with HIIT incorporated in it had a greater reduction in visceral fat (body fat inside abdominal fat so it’s closer to the organs aka the worst kind of fat). [1]
  5. Well laid out programs. Often times people don’t know where to begin and what to do on their fitness journey. With all of the programs a full schedule is laid out for you.
  6. They can be used as supplemental exercises. Maybe you’re someone that already goes to the gym on occasion and are wondering what benefit these programs can have for you. Well, just because these programs are laid out as a program to be completed over a certain amount of time, that doesn’t mean they have to be used that way. Maybe there’s a few days of the week you just don’t have time to go to the gym, no problem. Slip in a dvd and you have your workout for the day.
  7. Most of the workouts are short. they range anywhere from as short as 25 minutes, to usually not more than an hour.

So which do I pick? Beachbody has a lot of different programs and you’re free to do your own research on them but here are the ones I’m familiar with.

  • For those short on time/beginners
    • T25. These short 25 minute workouts are broken down by different difficulty levels and are only 25 minutes long. Can you really not spare 25 minutes a day for a workout? Don’t get fooled by the 25 minutes either if you think it’s going to be a waste of time, you’re getting a really great and efficient workout in. The sweat afterwards will speak for itself.
  • Intermediate/advanced level of fitness
    • P90X or Insanity. Caution: Insanity is pretty intense. For the complete beginners, I would probably not recommend it. For those with some experience in exercising or intermediate level of fitness I think it’s worth the challenge. The important thing to remember with any of these workouts but especially with Insanity is the you have to GO AT YOUR OWN PACE. If you set your expectations at baseline with the people in the dvd, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. It’s okay to take a break while they’re still going, but as soon as you get your rest you have to jump back in.

So there you have it. You’ve been complaining about wanting to lose weight about what seems like forever now. This is probably the easiest, most convenient, and most practical way you can jump on that goal NOW. Whatever the price is for the program (usually around $100-150), once you start seeing your results, you’ll consider it your greatest investment ever. The great thing about these programs is that they put you through such an effective and efficient calorie burning exercise, you’re almost guaranteed to lose weight (assuming you don’t start eating more than you were before starting the programs). Assuming that you had little to no exercise prior to the workout dvd’s, the calories you’re going to burning from these programs are going to have some kind of positive effect on your body composition; and due to their intensity and effectiveness, you can expect to see results pretty quickly. I know I sound like an annoying uncle telling you life advice, but don’t forget the most important thing: your goal should be to implement life style changes that can improve your health for the long term. Having the intention on doing these workout dvd’s for just a few months while still eating pop-tarts as 90% of your diet is not going to do you any good.

References:

[1] Giannaki CD, Aphamis G, Sakkis P, Hadjicharalambous M. Eight weeks of a combination of high intensity interval training and conventional training reduce visceral adiposity and improve physical fitness: a group-based intervention. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015;

 

 

 

How to Start Tracking Your Macros Today!

The lonely corner…where only the counters of macros reside
  1. Click here and plug in your information to get your results of your total daily net allowance of calories, fats, protein, and carbs. For now, just use the recommended grams per body weight that are provided.
  2. Download the “My Fitness Pal” app on your smart phone or tablet. You can even go on their website, www.myfitnesspal.com, if you wish to track your macros on a desktop/laptop. Make your free account and fill in your information. After you plug in your information, the application will automatically create its own macros for you, but we are going to use the macros we got from step 1.
  3. Go into settings and go into goals. Now, you can input the calories you recorded from step 1. Click on carbohydrates and change the percentages of each macro (carbs, protein, and fat) so that the grams match the “grams per day” you received from step 1.
  4. Give yourself a pat on the back.

Congrats, you have finished the first step in counting your macros and are one step closer to better understanding food/nutrition. My next blog post will help you in understanding your girlfriend better. Just kidding. I’m as single as that dude that comes to Starbucks and all of the workers know his name and usual drink; the same guy who then proceeds to sit in his usual corner table alone for several hours. Loser. Here are some basic FAQ’s about counting your macros to help clear up any initial confusion.

Q: Some of the food items on my fitness pal go by weight and I don’t have a food scale. Are you sending me a food scale?
A: No. Buy one. Or you can guesstimate. A slab of meat the size and thickness of your palm is approximately 6 ounces, give or take. You can also use google to search your inquiry, you’ll probably find someone else with the same question. Hopefully you have a least measuring cups at home, you’ll kind of need that. This is not an exact science but as you continue to track your macros you will get better at it, trust me.

Q: Sometimes I get multiple results for the same search item. Which is the correct one?
A: Well, one is not necessarily correct or going to exactly match what you are eating. A good rule of thumb is to do a rough average of the results you pull. Here’s an example. You’re eating homemade pizza and it’s about the size of a normal slice. You put in “pizza” and see the calories ranging from 150-300. Pick somewhere in the middle. Usually for a plain slice, I would give it about 250 calories, give or take. This problem brings us to the next question…

Q: Do I round up or down?
A: When counting calories people almost always have a tendency to underreport what they have eaten throughout the day. Therefore, I think it’s always a better idea to go with the higher number when you’re not sure where to round to.

Q: So, I went over my calories for the day? Is it all over for me?
A: No, don’t be silly. Obviously, the goal is to get as close to your target as you can, but there will be some days you go under and some days you go over. So what do you do if you go over 300 calories on bagel Tuesday at work? Try to be 300 calories under your goal the next day. You do not get fat or gain weight from one bad meal or one bad day. This is a process that happens over time. So if your goal was to lose weight and your total calories for the day was supposed to be at 2000 but you take in 2300 over the period of a week or two…then yes, you will gain weight. This strategy of allocating your calories and going over/under occasionally really holds the key to be flexible with your diet.

Q: I’ve actually seen you at Starbucks, sitting in the corner alone, for several hours at a time. Are you sure you weren’t talking about yourself?
A: Um…”I’m just here so I won’t get fined.”

5 Things You NEED to Know About IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)

Our new favorite word--Moderation
Our new favorite word–Cookies…I mean Moderation

Macros, macros, macros. If you’ve read the basic introduction to the concept of “If It Fits Your Macros”, you hopefully have a general idea of what IIFYM is. Allow me now to try to convey the impact of how understanding what the meaning of IIFYM can have for your understanding of basic nutrition.

  1. IIFYM is NOT a diet, it’s science.
    IIFYM can be described as a method, technique, or just an understanding that the most important aspect in reaching your desired body composition (whether it’s weight loss, weight gain, or maintenance) is reaching your total daily macronutrient intake targets.
  2. IIFYM does NOT mean you can eat whatever you want.
    So, IIFYM gets a reputation of being a diet in which people eat whatever the hell they want as long as they “reach their total daily macronutrient intake targets”. This is stupid. No one is saying to eat enough pop-tarts and debbie cakes to hit your target marcronutrient/micronutrients. Majority of your total food intake (around 90% is a good benchmark according to fitness/nutrition guru Alan Aragon) should be coming from whole/minimally processed foods and the remaining can be from your secret stash of candy under your bed [1].
  3. Almost all diets incorporate one of the main underlying principles of IIFYM.
    That underlying principle is not some big secret, by the way, it’s the most basic understanding of weight loss: to lose weight you need to be at a caloric deficit. In layman terms, to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in. Think of a balance scale, on the left side we have “calories in” and on the right side “calories out”. On the left side we have all of the calories you consume through food/beverages. On the right side, “calories out”, the calories you burn throughout the day. We know calories are burnt by exercising and being active but calories are also burned at rest (we call this basal metabolic rate or BMR). When the left side of the scale, calories in, is greater than the ride side (so, more energy in verses out) we gain weight. When it’s the other way around, more energy out than in, we lose weight. All diets out there probably will help you lose weight in the short-term because they restrict a certain type of food group (like forbidding all carbohydrates) so you’re bound to significantly reduce your “calories in”. IIFYM sets those daily targets at the appropriate amount so that you are fixed to burn more calories than you are going to be taking in. Difference is, you do not have to drop-kick your roommate for bringing in bread to the house.
  4. It does require you to count calories…but not forever.
    Like we said earlier, the only way you can achieve weight loss is by using up more energy than you are taking in. So, when most people go on a diet and start eating “healthy” they usually naturally tend to eat less empty calories, more nutrient dense foods, and exercise more. When they start to lose weight it’s because of that magic “energy in verses energy out” formula. The problem with this awesome sounding plan is not that it doesn’t work, because it does, it just usually is not sustainable. Most people get tired of eating salads and vegetable juice three times a day, everyday. Worry not, in comes tracking calories. No longer is it a guessing game if I’m eating too many calories, too little, or just enough. Now you can squeeze in that Snickers bar, ice cream cone, or Snickers flavored ice cream bar into your day. The difference now is that since you have been counting your calories the whole day you’ll know if those two scoops of ice cream kept you under your total daily calories; or maybe if you only had room for more one scoop before going over your total allowed calories. After counting your calories for a while, you gain a great understanding of the macronutrient composition of a lot of foods. Do you have to do this counting for the rest of your life? Not quite. After counting your calories for a while, you gain a really good understanding of the macronutrient composition of foods. When you reach this level of mastery, you’ll be surprised how well you can almost count your macros by guesstimating for the day.
  5. Don’t forget your micronutrients.
    We keep talking about macronutrients, but what about micronutrients? Do people who follow IIFYM even care about vitamins/minerals? Why, certainly we do. As mentioned already, heavy majority of your dietary intake of the day should be from whole/minimally processed foods (aka not pop-tarts). This includes getting several servings of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other food items needed to fulfill the proper vitamin intake needed for healthy human function.

References:
[1] Schuler, Lou, and Alan Aragon. The Lean Muscle Diet: A Customized Nutrition and Workout Plan: Eat the Foods You Love to Build the Body You Want and Keep It for Life! N.p.: n.p., n.d.