Does your body look fine, except, perhaps, for those love handles? (Why do they call them love handles? You hate them, don’t you?) The waist region is the Achilles heel for many guys. You can build up your muscles all you want, but until you conquer your midsection, your entire physique will look sub-par. One of the most vital steps you can take when working toward a fit physique is to liquidate those love handles. Do that and everything else will suddenly look pretty darn good. Here are seven steps that will help you transform your middle from a negative attribute to a positive one by burning off the fat that sits on your otherwise muscled middle.
1. Exercise early. There are three great reasons to get up early and get going. First, an early start ensures that you get your exercise in. All kinds of distractions can spring up later in the day and short-circuit your workout plans. When you exercise early, you avoid those distractions. Second, putting the workout first in the morning reaffirms your commitment to get lean. And most important, an early start helps you burn off more calories.
When you start doing cardio first thing in the morning, combined with healthy eating, you will notice a notable drop in body fat percentage. The reason for this is biological. After eight hours of fasting while sleeping, your blood sugar and insulin levels are low. This is the best environment for your body to tap into stored body fat reserves for energy. After you’ve eaten, especially after you’ve eaten a meal high in simple carbohydrates, blood sugar and insulin levels rise and fat burning stops. One study even showed that subjects burned a whopping 200 to 300 percent more body fat when they did early morning cardio on an empty stomach than when similar activity was performed after meals later in the day.
Early morning workouts provide the best path to quickly slicing off body fat, because they help to jump-start your metabolism so you can get a head start on burning more fat throughout the day. Early morning workouts will also help burn fat sooner and at a higher rate. In the morning, your body is naturally in its state of lowest blood sugar due to the fact that it hasn’t eaten in a while. You can take advantage of this situation. Since exercise will stimulate the body into looking for sugars to burn, the body, not finding sugars in the blood, will seek out stores of fat for fuel. Make it a specific point to start your workout early, even if it means getting up earlier than normal.
2. Cover your carbs. This is one of the best dietary tricks you can employ. Covering your carbs translates into not eating carbohydrates, particularly sugars or refined flours, alone. When you eat too many carbs, your insulin levels increase and it gets rid of the sugar in the blood. So where does the blood sugar go? During times of increased glucose (sugar) levels in the blood, insulin drives the sugar and fat into storage. Storage, in this case, refers to your fat cells! Insulin also has another unique job: it prevents the stored fat from leaving the fat cell. Refined sugar and flour gives your body a strong insulin rush, followed by storage of body fat. To help regulate your blood sugar levels, never eat simple carbs (refined flours and sugars) by themselves. You will want to avoid these food choices as much as possible, but when you do happen to have them, add a protein, fat or fiber food choice along with them to keep your blood sugar levels operating on an even keel.
3. Perform at least one longer cardio session per week. Getting in a few 20- to 30-minute workouts per week is the staple of the busy person. However, if you really want to put a torch to the fat cells, a longer workout is needed. One study indicated that an athlete on a treadmill used 15 percent of his fat as fuel after a few minutes of exercise; 35 percent after 20 minutes; 50 percent after 30 minutes, 75 percent after 65 minutes; and he was approaching 85 percent when he stopped at 75 minutes.
The post-workout burn from a longer workout is another consideration. A separate study found that cyclists used 3.5 times more energy during their recovery period when they doubled their cycling time from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. A longer workout is a key for higher fat loss. Having a busy weekly schedule is a given; however, aim at a longer session on weekends, or at least one time during the week.
4. Try interval training. Do you always use the same pace for your training? You may be missing out on the best fat-burning opportunity if you do. For maximum caloric expenditure, fat loss and cardiovascular conditioning, interval training is best. This type of workout involves alternating high-intensity periods (work) with lower-intensity periods (recovery). A simple example would be to warm up walking on the treadmill; then switch to a jogging pace for four minutes; then run faster for two minutes; then jog for four minutes, etc., until you are ready to cool down.
Some trainers favor changing intensity every minute or so, working up from a 55 percent maximum heart range (MHR) to the upper 80s (percent), then backing off. Interval training really challenges the body and consumes large amounts of calories.
5. Increase your intensity. Certainly, low intensity has its place. Low- intensity training can burn off body fat. However, high-intensity training really moves the fat off the body. Ask yourself this question: when was the last time you saw a fat sprinter? People sometimes mistakenly think they should keep their heart rate at the lower end (60-70 percent) of the MHR to optimize fat loss, and that leads them to do low-intensity workouts. A higher-intensity workout burns more calories overall than a lower-intensity session. So, although the absolute amount of fat or carbohydrate may vary, a higher-intensity workout is better for optimal fat loss and caloric expenditure. High intensity workouts are very challenging, but worth the effort if you are aiming at stripping the fat off quickly.
6. Vary your weight training. Lifting weights (resistance training) causes fat loss through the post-workout calorie-burning effect. However, not all training sessions are equal in this respect. Resistance training elevates the metabolism to a varying degree. The type of workout that creates the longest post-workout fat burn primarily involves exercises comprised of compound, mulit-joint movements and Olympic-style speed lifts. If you have been focusing most of your training on isolation movements, switch your workout so that it primarily features squats, deadlifts, bench presses and a few clean-and-jerk or push presses to blast your metabolism to a higher level and stimulate long-term fat burning effects.
7. Make your final meal of the day early and small. An interesting study found that many obese people actually don’t eat much, or anything, during the day. They consumed most of their food in the evening hours. Eating a late meal, especially one loaded with calories, packs on the unwanted pounds of body fat. One way to control glucose levels and the associated probability of fat storage is to avoid a high-carb intake later in the evening. While total calories are most important in the fate of body fat levels, lowering glucose levels by avoiding late-night meals may also play a role. Foods consumed later at night have a greater tendency to be stored as fat for two reasons. First, you’re less active at night, so calorie expenditure is lower. Second, your carbohydrate stores may be sufficiently recharged from feedings throughout the day. During the day, the body has an opportunity to burn the food off; at night, most people are in a relaxed, sedate mode that translates into very low-calorie burn-off. To get around this trap, finish up your final meal of the day early, and make the meal small.
Put these seven steps into play with your weekly training and healthy eating schedules and start liquidating your love handles in 2021!
John Basedow from http://www.bnatural.com/lowcarb/johnb.htm
Matt Stimac from bionutra.com
Eating late, http://abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/helthrpt/stories/s211818.htm http://www.enhancedfitness.com/fat_control.html
Fat burning percentages on treadmill, Trevor Smith, Fat & Fitness
Cyclist fat buring/recovery from a study by Karen Chad, PhD and HA Wenger, PhD, School of Physical Education, University of Victoria, British Columbia
John Abdo at http://www.johnabdo.com/faq.html
Julie King from email interview