You have without a doubt been on some kind of a diet. If not, then you have a close friend or family who is on a diet or has been on a diet.

When you go on a diet, you would lose some weight for a while before putting it all back on as within no time.

Or, you have heard someone say, “Cardio is all you need to lose weight”. Such a person would then start running every single day but the results are usually disappointing. After a while, he gives up and gains back all the weight he had lost.

The Lose Gain Cycle

You think you’ve finally found the answer to permanent weight loss. You go on a strict diet and run hard every day pushing yourself to the limit. As a result, you manage to shed some weight.

But, something feels wrong when you look at yourself in the mirror. Even though you’ve lost some weight, your body shape is not as flattering as you would like it to be. 

You don’t feel strong and your muscles look like jelly.

You then react to this by pushing yourself even more and by cutting your food further but now, your body does not respond. This is the famous plateau you’ve heard and read about online.

The Dreaded Plateau

No matter how strict your diet and cardio workouts are, your weight refuses to drop any further and instead you start to put on some weight! 

You get disillusioned with your training program because you can’t understand what is going on. Soon, you succumb to ‘guilt food’ more often, and the weight comes right back up once again. 

Your program fails and you blame it on your bad genes. Why?

Here’s the reason.

Take a good look at the title of this article. It’s to “burn fat” and not “lose weight”. Whenever you lose weight, you also lose some muscle mass in the process. By losing muscles, you lose body tone and this slows your metabolism a lot.

So, the solution is to build muscles while burning fat. While doing this, you may even gain some weight because muscles are heavier than fat.

To burn fat for good, you have to combine healthy eating, cardio exercises and lift weights to build muscles. For every kilo of muscles you add, you’ll burn an extra 70-100 calories per day at rest. 

Can you imagine the benefits of building up 5 kg of extra muscles? You’ll be burning 350 to 500 extra calories a day even on your laziest day. 

You’ll look good, healthy and well-toned too! Besides, this is the reason why bodybuilders eat so much but do not put on fat like the average person.

Everyone knows that intense cardio and strict diets cause you to lose muscle mass over time. So, while you’ll lose some weight at the beginning, you’ll become a smaller version of you without any muscle tone. That’s not what you want.

Here’s what happens when you lose muscle mass through dieting and excessive cardio:

  • Your metabolism begins to slow down. 
  • Your body starts conserving fats and burns your muscles for energy. 
  • You hit a plateau and no matter what you do, you’ll not reduce any more weight and your fat starts creeping up again.

The above points explain the common ‘yo-yo’ dieting effect that plaques most dieters.

The Proper Way to Shed Fat

Losing fat is simple but not easy. Understanding this is easy but the real work is in the execution which will take determination and discipline on your part. 

It will involve a total lifestyle change to keep the fat off for good. Doing this will be the most amazing thing you’ve ever done because you’ll get used to the changes in only a few weeks.

By then, it will become a habit for you, especially when you’re rewarded with a fitter, stronger and healthier body.

Practical steps 

Here is how to do it. Losing fat means you must burn more calories than you consume. Period.

Apply these three key strategies and work on implementing them all at once to reach, exceed and maintain your fat loss results. 

These are:

  • Resistance training
  • Cardio
  • Applying sound nutrition.

Fat loss cardio

Lift Weights to Burn Fat

Lift weights three times a week and focus on compound exercises. You should never begin your workout by doing biceps curls and until you put in the real work. 

Go for big muscle groups like legs, back, chest and shoulders. This is because you’ll be working on bigger parts with more mass, which translates into more calories burned and more fat burning. 

If you already have a good foundation in weight training, do giant sets. This involves performing four or more exercises in a circuit with no rest.

Here’s an example: Do only one set of each exercise with no rest between the exercises. Choose a weight of about 60%-70% of what you can lift and go for at least 15 reps. 

Move-in rapid succession from one exercise to the next and only rest after finishing all the four exercises. Repeat for two or three sets depending on your ability. The whole routine should not take you more than 40 minutes.

After warming up, start with squats, bench press, barbell row and military press. Sounds simple? Not so. You’ll be huffing, puffing and soaked in sweat within minutes. By doing this, you’ll have combined a cardio workout with a lifting workout and your metabolism will be on fire for the next several hours. 

Do this 3 times a week with at least a day’s rest between lifting days.

After 4-8 weeks, change the sequence of the exercises. So if you usually squat first, then squat last. Then after another 4-8 weeks, change some of the exercises. 

You can substitute squats with deadlifts, or barbell rows with lat pulldowns. This is to keep challenging your muscles so that they continue to adapt and grow.

How to do Cardio to Burn Fat Effectively

For cardio, go for a run first thing in the morning before breakfast. If you are jogging at normal speed, sustain the jog for at least 45 minutes.

 If you’re running fast (where you can’t have conservation with another person) then 20-30 minutes will be enough. 

Anything more than that turns into endurance training. You can intersperse the speed with slower jogs to catch your breath. Do this three times a week.

What about Food?

fat loss

Begin by eating less of what you normally eat. For example, if you have four slices of bread with two eggs in the morning, cut it down into half, now eat two slices and an egg. 

Cut all soft drinks, sugary drinks and stop adding sugar into your coffee and tea. By abstaining from sugary drinks, you’ll cut at least 200 calories per day. 

This will add up by the end of the week and month and soon you’ll start noticing that your clothes are not as tight.

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Start by doubling the amount you are currently drinking.

Take a Break

Pick one day per week to rest, recover and rejuvenate. Don’t exercise on this day. Indulge in your favourite food if you must but don’t go overboard. Remember to focus on your wins and plan on how you are going to tackle the coming week. 

As you reach your fat loss goals and you’re happy with your physique, you can then take things a little easier. Hit the gym less, have shorter runs and even relax a little in your diet. Because of having built more muscle, your body is now a fat-burning machine.

Simple? Sure. 

But do you have the determination to burn fat and keep it off? As you’ve seen, you can do this without extreme dieting and gruelling workouts.

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