A lot of people ask me about losing weight, but what they actually want to know is how to reduce body fat percentage.
What do I mean?
Well, it's not only the obese or overweight people who want to lose weight.
Many "skinny fat" people do too. They feel flabby around the arms or waist and generally aren't as toned as skinny people are.
That's because they have a high body fat percentage.
And the solution is not to lose weight, but to lower body fat and build more muscle.
Doing this in cycles will help you achieve the healthy and toned look that you desire.
So what's the best way to burn fat?
In this article I will share fat burning techniques that our fitness experts use in their programming to help our clients hit their fitness goals.
Set a reasonable goal
First, weight loss alone won't help you lose body fat. How to reduce body fat percentage is you have to build up your lean body mass (muscle).
And that comes from strength training, also known as resistance training.
Once you start lifting weights, it's all about calculating how much weight you need to lose in order to hit your goal weight.
Here's a little math for you guys (whoever said math wasn't useful in the real world). Remember this formula:
Current lean muscle mass / (1 - goal body fat percentage) = Goal weight
If that's too complicated, let me walk you through it.
First, calculate your lean muscle mass. For example, if Anne is 60 kg, and has 20% body fat percentage, that means her lean muscle mass is 48 kg.
Pretty simple stuff.
Next, figure out your goal body fat percentage. Let's say Anne wants to drop to 15% body fat percentage. Now you have all those numbers, here's the final step.
Goal weight = 48 / (1 - 0.15)
=48 / 0.85
That means to get to 15% body fat percentage, if Anne continues to eat right and do resistance training and some cardio, she will have to drop 3.5 kg.
If all these calculations are giving you a headache, our fitness experts will gladly help you with their quick math.
Now that you have a goal to work towards...
Time To Create A Plan
The next question would probably be what's the fastest way to lose fat.
That's a great question which uses another formula to calculate.
1 lbs of fat or 0.45 kg is equals to 3,500 calories. That means if Anne wants to lose 3.5 kg, she will have to have a deficit of 27,250 calories.
Now, obviously you can't have that amount of deficit in one single day. So you'll need a plan to tackle that goal.
More important than speed is to do it the healthy way.
That's why we use a proper system to help you calculate how much caloric deficit you should incur through diet.
And how much through exercise. Then we'll prescribe you a workout plan to help you hit your fitness goal.
Or, you also can use various tracking apps online to track your progress if you're more of a DIY kind of person.
How to Reduce Body Fat Percentage
What kind of exercise to do? What kind of food to eat?
These are the things we will share with you in detail during our fitness consultations.
But in general, here are some guidelines.
1. HIIT and Resistance Training
You want to cycle between low-intensity and high-intensity training. This will help you gradually drop your excess body fat.
Cardio outperforms weight lifting when it comes to burning fat, however why choose one when you can do both?
Muscle growth increase your metabolism, which helps you maximize fat burning (though not by much).
However, as mentioned above, you need to grow muscle so that you don't drop too much lean mass while losing weight.
And you also need to lift at high-intensity if you want to capitalize on "afterburn", or what scientists call excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
So, focus on high-intensity and around 8-12 reps per set.
You can also combine resistance training in a circuit, where you work out at a moderate to high intensity.
And then incorporate some cardio, either running, jogging, swimming, or cycling. Your choice.
2. Eat Right and Track Your Calories
How to reduce body fat percentage without dieting? Simple. Adopt a sensible eating habit.
Here at BodyEngineers, we're not exactly fans of "clean eating" (we like our sweets and snacks too).
But that doesn't mean you can go crazy on the fatty foods and salt.
What we mean by that is you can gain weight eating "clean food" as much as you can lose weight eating "dirty food".
Also, track all your calories using MyFitnessPal. Calorie counting can be troublesome and a chore, but it's a necessary part of getting healthy.
Just like it's important to track your finances if you want to have a healthy financial life...
You need to track what goes in and out of your body if you want to be fit.
Make tracking your food into a habit and part of your life.
And remember the golden rule: Calories in minus calories out. A deficit means you'll drop weight and a surplus means you'll gain weight.
It's really that simple. Which is contrary to what everyone else out there tries to sell you.
3. Reduce Alcohol Intake
As horrible as drinking less sounds, alcohol is bad for you if you want to lose weight or reduce body fat percentage.
Because not only is it "empty calories", it costs almost twice as much calories for gram compared to proteins or carbs.
Combined with mixers such as soft drinks or juice, a simple drink can actually cost a lot calorie-wise.
Alcohol also reduces testosterone, which is an anabolic hormone. Less testosterone might impact your muscle gains.
That's not to say that you have to cut off alcohol completely. Moderation and timing is key.
If you absolutely have to drink, stick with wine or spirits.
Avoid high-sugar content mixers like Red Bull, juice, or sodas.
And don't drink when your body is in repair mode post-workout.
Processing alcohol in the body is taxing to your liver and kidneys.
Drinking while your body is recovering might slow it muscle repair and also affect your sleep quality.
Goal, Plan, Action.
At the end of the day, there are a lot of resources online that will teach you how to reduce body fat percentage.
But whatever method you choose, remember these 3 things.
1. What's the goal? How do you determine a reasonable goal to work towards?
2. What's the plan? How do I get to my goal, what do I need to do, and how long will it take?
3. Take action. Sitting around planning and thinking won't help you with fat burning (maybe a little).
To get results you need to take action. Put on your running shoes and go for a run. Go for a swim.
Anything is better than nothing.
Or if you're unsure where to start but know that you want to get started, our fitness experts can help.