There are many myths surrounding fat burning. And with Easter temptations hitting you everywhere you turn, it can be difficult to keep the fat falling off.
Fortunately, there are fast ways to burn off those choices — and all it takes is adopting some smart rules around eating and exercise. Here are six of the best.
1. Shock it
Ever noticed that the first time you do an exercise, you wake up super sore? But by the second and third time you barely feel it? This is your body's amazing ability to adapt.
While it means you're getting fitter and stronger, it also means your workout is less effective. Luckily, there's a simple way around this: shake it up. Swap the treadmill for stairs or try something you've never tried before: boxing, rock climbing, high-intensity interval training.
Once your body is confronted with a new challenge, it will use up more energy to conquer it.
2. Pump it
A common misconception with fast loss is that cardio is king. As a result, people push strength training out of the equation, and spend hours pounding the pavement. While cardio is effective, resistance training is an important piece of the puzzle.
One 12-week study compared the weight loss effects of people who did cardio in isolation versus cardio plus strength training. The participants who paired strength training with aerobic exercise were more effective at reducing body and belly fat. Why?
Lifting weights not only helps to build strength, but muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn (even at rest). Who doesn't love burning calories on the couch?
READ MORE: • Where does all the fat go when you lose weight?
3. Boost it
Iron is a type of mineral vital to many functions in the body, however one of the main functions is to carry oxygen around the body and a deficiency can sap your energy levels or alter your metabolism, particularly if the thyroid is affected. To aid your fat burning, make sure you're consuming iron-rich foods, especially if you're a vegetarian.
These include lean sources of meat, poultry, seafood, or plant-based varieties including whole grains, leafy greens and beans. Pair these foods with foods rich in vitamin C to enhance iron's absorption. Think citrus, tomatoes, capsicum, or berries. In severe cases of deficiency, iron supplements can be taken. Always discuss supplementation with your doctor first.
4. Up it
Think long-distance running is the key to cutting fat? Think again. High-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, has proven to be eminently effective at burning fat.
HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise with intermittent rest periods (for example, 2 minutes of high-intensity work, then 30 seconds of rest for 4 rounds).
The rapid peaks and troughs in your heart rate result in you burning more calories in a shorter amount of time (compared to other forms of cardio).
5. Fine tune it
Getting enough fibre is one thing, but getting a combination of fibre is something else.
Fibre is a vital food source for many reasons, such as aiding digestion and keeping you fuller for longer, but a growing body of research shows that a combination of different types of fibres, such as soluble, insoluble and resistant starch is vital for keeping the internal community of gut bacteria (known as a microbiota) in good working order, influencing your metabolism and affecting your weight.
The key is to include a variety of plant foods, including legumes, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, oats, nuts and seeds. Resistant starch can be found in ripe bananas, barley, cooked then cooled rice, pasta and noodles.
6. Rest it
Never underestimate the power of sleep — even on burning body fat. Going to bed a little earlier can enhance your energy, immunity, digestion, mood and, as a result, whittle the waistline.
On the flip side, lack of sleep can alter your hormones and result in increased appetite. As a general guide, aim for seven to nine hours per night. Shut down devices and avoid caffeine after midday to maximise the quality of your shut-eye.
Kathleen Alleaume is a nutrition and exercise scientist who is passionate about making sense of the conflicting health buzz. Follow her @therightbalance