Learning how to burn fat and build muscle in a healthy way will set you on the path to getting that great body you’ve always desired.
In this post I will show you the quickest, easiest way you can make these changes, and help you to form habits you can stick with for life. This includes how to combine the right foods and exercise for that magic fat burning formula.
I spent years trying the hard way to sculpt and tone my body through exercise and diet, but truth be told I could never quite achieve what I wanted which was to simply lose stomach fat and gain muscle tone. I was never 100% happy, and infuriatingly it seemed no matter how hard I tried something was still missing.
Changing things up!
It seems the body can adapt and get used to the same old foods and exercises day in and day out. At first you get great results, but then over time and as the body adapts, things start to come to a standstill and you find you need to work harder and harder to get the same results.
This is so disheartening, especially when you’re putting a lot of your time, effort, and money into these virtuous acts. Frustration sets in, and sometimes this can cause you to give up completely.
In reality however, you may just need to make a few tweaks and changes to your diet and exercise regime – doing this alone may be the missing piece of the puzzle that will get your body in fat torching mode again. Like they say ‘a change is as good as a rest‘, and this is true for your body also.
Adding the right foods in:
Adding into your diet specific foods to help burn fat is a great place to start, and will give you the boost you need. The more you can eat if these high antioxidant foods the better. But do remember to add them towards your daily calorie/fat count, and not just as an added extra, they still contain calories, and calories always need to be burnt off otherwise they will be laid down as fat.
Read here the ‘Best Foods for Burning Fat’ that are every day, easily available foods, and you can easily use as food swaps for your normal diet.
BUILDING LEAN MUSCLE MASS:
Another very important part to the puzzle of losing fat is to build more lean muscle. Muscle burns more calories than fat, even when you’re just lounging about in front of the TV; therefore it makes sense to build good amounts of muscle mass through resistance and strength training. This helps to keep your body burning up calories more efficiently, all day, EVERY DAY.
In order to do build up this calorie burning muscle mass you will also need to make sure you are eating enough protein from various sources.
Since turning to the plant based diet for health reasons I have found plant sources of protein to be superior to animal – mainly because they are less acid forming and more alkaline, which lowers inflammation in the body AND lowers your chances of getting sick (too much inflammation can be the root cause of many chronic health issues).
Not only that, but plant foods just seem to make you feel ‘cleaner‘, lighter and healthier, with a clearer mind and so much MORE clarity. It’s hard to explain, and something that can probably only be experienced on a personal level.
Different protein sources may work differently for everyone:
This has been my experience, but of course you should experiment for yourself as there are so many different protein sources both plant and animal. It’s always a good idea to vary where you obtain your protein to be sure you are getting the full amino acid profile that your body needs to synthesize muscle mass.
It is especially true when you are plant based or vegan that you should vary your protein sources. Some plant proteins are lower on certain amino acids than animal proteins, but do not let this put you off, as a little variation will make up for antything that’s missing – and plants are ultimately healthier!
Obviously, what works for one person may not necessarily work for another: we all have different constitutions and this is the reason why you should experiment to find what works best for you.
For more information on plant based eating and the best protein sources, please read this best plant protein foods’ list. It will give you an idea of the amount of proteins there are in specific foods and which are the highest protein scorers.
Other amazing benefits of having adequate muscle mass:
There are just SO many benefits to having ample amounts of lean muscle mass on your body that they make the aesthetic benefits look secondary in comparison (yes honestly).
In fact, these other benefits are just ASTOUNDING, and will make you realise how very important it is to take the time to add some muscle building exercise into your life.
BENEFITS OF LEAN MUSCLE MASS:
1. LOWER RISK OF INJURIES IN GENERAL
Building muscle mass in general means you will have more muscle protecting all your major joints – this will keep your body more stable in general, not only during exercise, but also doing everyday tasks. This makes you much less prone to injuries and sprains.
2. STRONGER CONNECTIVE TISSUE
Your connective tissue and ligaments will also become stronger and less prone to injury. This will help protect your body from many age related joint problems, and also make you much stronger in general.
3. STRONGER BONES
Strength and resistance training will push your body into strengthening bones as it adapts to the extra stress put upon it – meaning less chance of breakages.
Having stronger bones also gives protection against age related bone problems such as osteoporosis – something that is much more prevalent as you age, and loss of bone density accelerates.
4. INCREASED ENERGY AND VITALITY
Now that your body is adapting to the higher demands being put upon it your endurance levels will increase, giving you a lot more energy and stamina for every day life.
Lack of energy is one of the major issues of modern life, and is often due to a combination of many factors, such as lack of sleep, too many refined sugars and junk foods, and environmental toxins.
This is why it is vital you do as much as you can for your health now, and exercise is one of the major things you can do to help negate some of the constant damage being put upon your body. An alkaline plant ased diet will work wonders for cleaning out your system and detoxifying your body.
5. DECREASED RISK OF DIABETES
As exercise keeps your heart and muscles strong, and your weight down, it stands to reason that all these things combined lesson your risks of diabetes. And those who keep themselves in shape physically are more likely to eat LESS sugar and junk foods, and if they do will ‘burn’ them off as energy expenditure much more readily.
6. LOWERING OF BLOOD PRESSURE
Resistance training is by far one of the best ways to lower high blood pressure, for the simple fact that making your heart stronger enables it to pump blood around the body with less effort. This means less force on the arteries, and therefore the lowering of blood pressure.
7. STRESS RELIEF
When you resistance train, or lift weights, your body releases its own painkillers called opiates, which are anti-stress messengers. These opiates literally dissolve stress, frustration, and irritation – making you feel calm, relaxed, and happy again.
This also applies for taking a brisk walk or run in the great outdoors as the sights and sounds of nature, coupled with breathing in deeply the fresh air, is also a great stress reliever.
As well as the reasons above, it cannot be stressed enough the importance of resistance training when it comes to fighting depression. A cascade of feel good hormones called endorphin’s will flood through your system, making you feel stronger and more balanced in body, mind, and soul. It really is true what they say about a strong body equalling a strong mind.
9. BETTER SLEEP
This goes without saying; the more you tire the body out, the more deep REM and restful sleep you will be rewarded with. This one simple thing in itself can drastically improve your quality of life, giving you more focus, drive, energy, a stronger immune system, stronger mental strength and ability, and also will lower your risk of anxiety and depression.
Sleep is also vital for healing the body after exercise. Continual training when you are tired (especially when coupled with a bad diet) can eventually lead to adrenal burnout, and all sorts of other problems can escalate from this. So to say sleep is important is an UNDERSTATEMENT!
10. STRONGER IMMUNE SYSTEM
When you exercise your body boosts its production of the cells that kill bacteria, so over time and with consistent training, your immune system will get stronger and stronger.
Just take caution that over training can have the opposite effect and actually knock your immune system temporarily. Be sure to build up incrementally so you don’t over do it.
Something that may help you on your fitness and health journey could be a fitness tracker. This gives you reminders to move, counts the amount of steps taken every day, measures your heart rate, and tracks your sleep to let you know if you’re getting enough of that good quality REM sleep that is so vital for health.
Creating accountability really works!
A fitness tracker will also create accountability by tracking every activity you do. This way you can see where you need to make changes; these changes will then rewire your neural pathways, which is a vital process in achieving long term success.
I use the Fitbit Charge 2 because it is one of the newest in the range, and out of the reviews I read many people testified that out of all the fitness trackers they had tried, the Charge 2 was the one they always went back to. It has the best features, plus it is easy to use (major plus point) even for those who are not tech savvy.
This tracker (which I still use daily) helped me rewire my brain to exercise regularly, AND get into a good sleep routine. Plus, for good meausure it’s guided breathing feature tracks your breath and helps you wind down for 5 minute intervals throughout the day. Very helpful, and vital when your’e leading a busy life.
HOW TO BURN FAT AND BUILD MUSCLE:
HITT (high intensity interval training) is a fast all round fat burner, especially for burning that hard to lose belly fat as it combines high intensity cardio with resistance training for an all round body blast. Doing explosive movements of cardio, then a round of resistance or weights, elevates the heart rate, burns higher amounts of calories, and builds muscle.
HIIT can be done in shorter amounts of time than other training sessions, but the fat burning effects can carry on for hours, even days afterwards.
Get your body into the FAT BURNING mode!
When it come to burning fat it’s all about the intensity. Medium pace cardio such as jogging, swimming, or cycling may help to keep your heart healthy, but they aren’t the best fat burners. Much higher intensity and shorter workouts with fast blasts of exercise, will kick start the fat burning process much more effectively and flood your system with fat burning hormones.
You can incorporate HIIT into your normal training routine whether it be swimming, cycling or jogging, by going for 6-10 fast bursts of activity for 30-60 seconds. Start off slowly and build up as you become more accustomed to it. DO NOT push yourself to the complete max during the short bursts, but instead keep it just under maximum capacity.
Pushing yourself to the limit can not only compromise your immune system, but puts a massive strain on your whole body. It may even encourage fat storage as the body enters fight or flight mode, therefore it’s best not to push yourself to absolute maximum capacity too frequently.
Please check out this ‘build muscle and lose fat workout’ for some ideas on how to do HIIT training.
Another brilliant all round fat burner and cardio workout is boxing. A boxercise class, or boxing session with a friend, can burn up to 800 calories and uses all the major muscle groups, plus it’s a fantastic way to release pent up stress and frustrations.
Boxercise, or boxing in general, will give you more power and strength, better core stability, higher self-esteem, extra confidence in everyday life, AND your coordination will improve vastly – making it one of the best all round exercises out there.
Try sparring with a partner indoors by using an inexpensive sparring kit, and take it in turns to really let those frustrations out.
If you don’t have any time to exercise, or you cannot afford a gym membership or classes then there are many things you can do in your own home for minimum, or no outlay, and also many exercises you can do outdoors.
Take advantage of your surrounding areas as everywhere has something unique to offer. For example, I live by the coast where there are lots of cliffs and steps so I can do an amazing workout just by running along the beach, climbing up and down the cliff side steps and hills, and on a warm day even jump in the sea for a swim!
If you live in the country then obviously you have other great ways to exercise that you should most definitely be taking advantage of. Plus you have the added bonus of all that wonderful fresh air to make you feel alive.
IN YOUR HOME:
If, for whatever reason, you can’t get outside, then the home itself offers some great opportunities to exercise. You can invest in a kettlebell, which is fantastic for toning and building muscle, and just happens to also be a MASSIVE fat burner!
The best kettlebell to invest in should be made of cast iron, and not the cheaper vinyl versions which make your hands all sweaty and slippy (not a good thing considering you are going to be swinging that thing all over the place). Best of all, the cast iron kettlebell will be an investment that will literally last forever.
What to buy:-
I would start no lower than a 6kg kettlebell for the average female, and 8kg for the average male. You will quickly build up to the next size so you may want to purchase a couple. You will also find that you probably require a couple of different weights as some exercises are easier than others.
Check out this awesome video for a quick at home kettlebell workout.
A wonderfully cheap and easy belly fat burning exercise is hula hooping, and it gives you the best toned stomach EVER! I kid you not, when I started hula hooping regularly I got myself a serious flat stomach more quickly than anything else I had ever tried.
For more about how I did this and the best kind of weighted hula hoops to buy, please read ‘Best Ever Belly Fat Blaster’. If a toned stomach us your thang then you need to read this!
USING THE STAIRS
This may seem too simple and easy to be true, but boy is it effective. If you have stairs in your home, then you can do a great fat burning workout by simply climbing up and down for 10 minutes at a speed – make sure it’s fast enough to get you huffing and puffing.
This will work your thigh and buttock muscles, helping you to achieve buns of steel. In fact, this along with squats really is one of the best exercises you can do for this particular area.
There are numerous fitness DVD’s out there, and lots of free tuition’s on YouTube from professionals if you need inspiration. Using a fitness DVD will also give you a lot more incentive to keep going, and to keep up in time with the instructor. They are also fun to do with a friend.
OTHER HOME EXERCISES
One of my favorite free, easy, and super effective exercises is using a chair, or anything else of similar height (maybe the side of your bath before you get in) and do tricep dips to tone your arms. These are great as no equipment is required and you use your own body weight to do the work.
Of course, it also costs nothing to get down on the floor and do some push ups and stomach work, and having some good tunes playing in the background will give you the impetus to work twice as hard.
If you have any comments about this post I would love to hear from you and am happy to answer your questions. Please post them in the comments thread below. Thank you.