You can search the web for fat loss tips all day and you will find all different things:
“Never eat carbs for the rest of your life!”
“Fat is bad and will make you fat!”
“You can eat Mcdonald’s as long as you don’t eat the bread!”
Everyone’s body works differently and one diet or food plan may work well for one person and not so well for others.
It also depends a lot on things like age, gender, current weight, goal weight, and of course, your main objective. Even your environment plays a huge role in your health and how your body prefers and processes food.
Someone who is already 100 pounds overweight and is trying to lose weight is going to be eating a different diet, and especially different amounts of food, than somebody who is trying to lose an extra 5 pounds to expose their abs more clearly.
There is no one diet or plan that works for everybody and there is not necessarily a wrong or right approach to reaching your fat loss goals.
All that matters is that you find what works for you and stick to it consistently.
If you are not consistent with it, you will not know what works and what doesn’t work…
With all of that being said here are 15 simple tips for fat loss, tips that are not specific to any diet, and tips that could work for anybody trying to burn off some stored fat.
1. Eat mostly whole foods.
Whole foods are foods that are as close to nature as possible without the addition of artificial additives and are unprocessed and unrefined or as much as possible.
These are foods you could find in nature; whether being grown in the ground or living on the ground. They also expire sooner than processed foods.
Typically whole foods are unpackaged, are a stand-alone food, and can be found along the perimeter of the grocery store. These are also the foods you would mostly see at a market.
2. Eat vegetables every day and eat a variety of colors.
Vegetables all carry different nutrients within them and eating a variety helps you get a complete diet. For example:
- Spinach is known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancerous, and antioxidant benefits
- Kale helps to detox and cleanse the liver
- Carrots provide a good source of beta-carotene and fiber.
Eating vegetables that go with the season is important because:
I. Some vegetables are only available at a certain time of the year and getting them outside their natural grow season means they have to be coming from somewhere very far away so they are most likely processed to keep them fresh.
*Or they are grown in an unnatural setting, like an artificial climate control room.
II. They are not coming from a local farmer so they are not going to be very fresh and will start losing their nutritional value.
III. Foods in season are often cheaper because they are shipped in larger quantities due to popular demand.
IV. And who wants to eat pumpkin in August anyway?
3. Eat fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Fruits often provide antioxidant and detox benefits while providing nutrients such as Vitamin C, fiber, and folic acid.
Lemons are the king of detox and can be squeezed into your drinking water in the morning to kick-start fat burning.
Many different berries such as blueberries and raspberries provide antioxidant benefits and are easy to add to smoothies.
Grab a piece of fruit or blend some into a protein shake instead of candy next time you have a sweet tooth; natural sugar is better than the artificial sugar you are going to find in processed food and candy anyway.
Fruit can be a great finisher to a meal or as a snack when you crave something sweet but limit yourself because too much natural sugar can get stored as fat also.
4. Stay mostly along the perimeter of the grocery store.
The freshest, least processed, and least refined foods, are found along the walls of the grocery store.
Whole food sources like meat and produce are in this area.
Foods that have been altered and packaged are within the aisles of the store and are usually not healthy whole food sources.
Think about it….. What is found along the walls of the grocery store?
- Fresh vegetables
- Fresh fruits
- Fresh meat
- The bakery….. BUT SKIP THAT!!
And what is found within the aisles?
- PACKAGED JUNK FOOD!
- Artificial treats
- Snacks for kids that hold no nutritional value and are filled with garbage
- Ready to eat snacks filled with chemicals and an appealing label
- Not whole foods
Now don’t get me wrong… there are some good foods within the aisles; just use this as a general, “Rule of thumb” when trying to eat healthily.
Some foods that CAN be ok choices (depending on your goal and meal timing) that I get within the aisles are:
- Natural almond or cashew butter
- Some protein bars (Quest and RX aren’t too bad)
- Ketchup (without high-fructose corn syrup)
- Certain organic low sugar cereals
- Toilet paper (definitely important)
- And I’ll probably think of 10 more things as soon as I leave my computer…
*Side note: I try to buy as many things organic as I can… especially meats and produce.
*Another side note: Currently, I am on a 12-week cut for a photo shoot so a lot of these aisle foods I have omitted from my diet like ketchup, cereal, protein bars, and anything with added sugar… Your diet becomes very specific when trying to get as lean as possible.
You should also consider spending less time in the aisles and take out added sugar from your diet when trying to burn off fat.
5. The fewer ingredients the better!
Think about how Mother Nature provides food; there are no added ingredients like preservatives or other chemicals.
You have to be careful when in the aisles of a grocery store…. just like we talked about, as these foods often have the most ingredients.
The ingredients in almond butter should be basically just almonds; oftentimes things like hydrogenated oils are added to nut butters to increase their shelf life, which is not natural and can be harmful to the body. Hydrogenated oils are actually trans fats… scary!
The ingredients in ketchup should be from a tomato source and some spices but that’s about it. Tomatoes are naturally sweet and should not have things like high-fructose corn syrup added to them.
Pick up a fresh pound of chicken and what are the ingredients? It should just be chicken.
Pick up a pack of frozen chicken fingers and besides the chicken, you will probably see things like added flavorings, preservatives, colors, thickeners, and even other meats… that’s gross!
This is unhealthy because of the added ingredients and it is not fresh and has to be packaged.
Example of a good ingredient label
*Notice there is only 1 ingredient.
Example of a bad ingredient label
*Notice all of the many harmful ingredients here
6. Ingredients on a label are listed by the most abundant to least abundant.
If what should be the main ingredient is not listed first, put it back on the shelf.
If you are looking at a chicken meal and the first ingredient is not chicken or the other abundant food item with it like rice or noodles, then throw it,
Yes actually throw it…
on the ground and run away screaming.
If you are looking for a chicken meal then the majority of what should be in the box should be chicken, it just doesn’t make sense for it to be anything other than that. No need for artificial additives to be more abundant than the food you are shopping for.
Potato chips’ first ingredient should be potatoes,
lemonade’s first ingredient should be lemons,
and honey’s first ingredient should be bees… just kidding, it should only list honey 😉
7. Avoid these food additives at all cost!:
- Artificial sweeteners (e.g., high-fructose corn syrup, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, aspartame, etc.)
*Stevia is a great alternative
- Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
- Partially or fully hydrogenated oils (which are both trans fats like I have said before, which is the worst kind of fat for you)
- Monosodium glutamates
- Sodium nitrate
- Sodium nitrite
- Potassium bromate
- Artificial colors (e.g., red#5, red#40, yellow#5, etc.)
None of these are naturally found in whole foods and all have been shown to have a negative effect on your body. From storing fat in your body to cancer, these additives can be very dangerous to the body long term.
Check your labels before you buy something at the grocery store and if it has any of these items listed on it, put it back!
… or throw it down and run away screaming again.
Unfortunately, many restaurants will carry these ingredients in their foods and sometimes it can be hard to know everything that is in your food from a restaurant… everything in moderation.
8. Never have a full cheat day
Only have cheat meals and snacks when you feel you deserve them; eating clean consistently for 4 weeks in a row could be a good time.
And just like I said above: everything in moderation.
It’s ok to go out to eat every once in awhile, it’s fun and I always enjoy somebody else cooking and cleaning for a change.
But when you are trying to follow a specific diet or just trying to lose some weight in general, you really want to limit your cheat meals.
Ideally sticking to your diet and eating clean about 80% of the time.
For me, and the fact that I am cutting right now… sticking to my diet 100% for 4 weeks seems to be enough time to reward myself with a little cheat meal, and then 4+ more weeks of perfect eating again.
But, the better you stick to your plan the better your results.
If you aren’t following a specific diet then stick to an 80/20 rule: eating clean 80% of the time and save that extra 20% for when you go out to eat with friends or family every once in awhile.
…Or you’ll end up like these guys…
9. Think about your goal and what you want to accomplish before putting something into your mouth.
If it is going to bring you closer to your goal then eat up.
If it is going to pull you further away then close your mouth, lock it up, and throw away the key.
You can’t teach self-discipline, you just have to be strong enough in the moment to make a choice based on what will better you in the future, not right now.
What makes this easier to do in the moment is remembering your goal and why it is important to you. If that is specially laid out and you know exactly what you want and why you want it, it is going to be a lot easier to say no to that slice of pizza.
10. Plan meals ahead of time.
This is a lifesaver!
Too many times I have scavenged my kitchen for food only to find nothing prepared to eat so I end up spending more time trying to put something together last minute.
Having meals prepared ahead of time makes it easier to make healthier food choices and not stop for a quick fix like fast food when you are in a pinch.
This also goes along with self-discipline and time management… 2 things that I am admittedly bad at.
When you notice that you only have another day or two’s worth of chicken left, add it to your grocery list and get it before you run out.
I try to go to the grocery store every few days but at least once a week. This makes things easier for a quick trip and I don’t wait until I am out of everything to shop again because that’s when I start making bad food choices.
I run out of food very quickly because currently I am eating the same things every day. This makes it easy to know what I will need and buying more often keeps the foods fresher and stops me from buying things that I do not need.
11. Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go.
Water makes up about 60% of our bodies and is needed often and for many different functions in the body.
Having a water bottle around makes it easier to stay on top of hydration and keeping your body working optimally.
I carry a water bottle with me wherever I go and drink from it with every meal.
12. Low or no fat does not necessarily mean that it is healthier.
Oftentimes artificial additives have to be added to these foods to reduce the natural fat of the food.
Although leaner meats are better quality and generally better for you compared to fattier meats, if your goal is to burn fat then you want to primarily use fat as a fuel source (higher fat diet) and limit your intake of carbohydrates and save them for when your body really needs them, like before or after a hard workout.
When a high fat/high carb meal is eaten (e.g., burgers, pizza, sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, etc.) it slows your rate of digestion and your body wants to store it as fat, making it harder to be burned off as fuel.
13. Alcohol inhibits fat burning.
When there is alcohol present in your body your body recognizes it as a toxin and wants to get rid of it first, virtually halting all fat burning capabilities.
Besides that alcohol can also:
- Damage the liver
- Create digestive problems
- Lead to heart disease
- Lead to cancer
- Lead to liver disease
- Create a stroke
- Inhibit your memory
- Influence you into making bad choices like thinking you can win a bar fight with a champion boxer or that you’ll get away with dropping your pants and peeing on the bar top… those may be a little extreme but I’m sure it’s happened.
14. Protein is not only important for building muscle but also for burning fat.
Protein is utilized in your body constantly and is used for many different things besides muscular repair and growth.
Protein is also needed
- To synthesize hormones and enzymes
- For the brain and nervous system to function
- To be used for energy when the number of carbs, fats, and calories consumed are too low.
When protein is needed in your body and it is not available it will burn off stored protein (muscle) to be used for fuel or other functions.
SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR HARD EARNED GAINS!!!!!!
And even if your goal is not to build muscle, know that the more muscle you have the more fat you can burn off for fuel, even at rest. When you burn off muscle it makes you weaker, more tired, and slows your metabolism.
Some great protein sources are:
- Lean beef
- Lean turkey
- Egg whites
- Whey protein isolate
- Cottage cheese
- Black beans
- Greek yogurt
15. You don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great.
A famous quote by a smart man named Zig Ziglar.
You could be saying to yourself, “I’m too busy right now; I’ll start working out in the new year.”
“I need to finish reading my nutrition and diet book before I start my diet.”
“I don’t have fitness clothes yet so I’ll wait to start once I get some.”…
“I can’t work out I need a sitter for my kids.”…
“I don’t know what I’m doing or know where to start, so I’ll stay at home.”…
“I don’t know the best gym to go to”…
The solution to all of these issues is to just simply start; start somewhere, seek some guidance, and learn as you go.
Guys this is something that I have struggled with. I like to know everything I can and get everything perfectly organized and ready before starting something.
But the reality of that is, you waste more time procrastinating when you can just simply START and figure it out as you go.
The first step is always the hardest part. It may be hard to have the courage to start working out again or start eating healthily, but don’t wait until you are all “ready” to go.
You are never going to be completely ready to start. Cut the excuses, cut the bs, and take the leap of faith to go out of your comfort zone to work towards something that your future self will thank you for.