Losing fat can be a difficult challenge, particularly if you feel you already eat a healthy diet and perform regular exercise. While a nutritious diet and exercise are the key components to fat loss, you may be under- or over-estimating how much you eat or how efficient your exercise routine really is. This can lead to weight gain or a weight plateau, making it difficult to lose stubborn pounds or a belly pooch. Lose and burn off excess fat by making some simple changes to your healthy lifestyle.
Make vegetables the foundation of your diet. Vegetables are low in calories, have little to no fat, have no added sugars and are rich in a vast amount of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Eating foods that are naturally low in calories replaces alternative high-calorie foods such as cookies that lead to weight gain. Vegetables are also a source of fiber and are high in water content, which means they fill you up to prevent hunger cravings. Aim to include one to two servings of vegetables at every meal as well as snacks by munching on celery, carrot and bell pepper sticks. Vegetables should be the foundation of your diet in addition to lean proteins, whole-grains, healthy fats and fruits.
Lift weights to lose and burn fat. According to Redbook, weight-training increases the metabolic rate, which increases caloric burn for fat loss. Muscle also has a higher metabolic rate than fat, meaning you will burn more fat even while at rest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests engaging in two to three strength-training sessions per week to target the body's major muscle groups. Try doing a series of exercises at home when you're short on time such as squats, pushups, lunges, abdominal crunches and jumping jacks to raise the heart rate.
Exercise the cardiovascular system to lose fat and keep it off. Cardiovascular exercise, such as running, cycling and swimming, increases the heart rate to raise the metabolic rate. This in turn increases caloric burn to burn off excess fat on the body. The CDC recommends healthy adults do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. These standards should be exceeded if you need to lose weight. Aim for five 45-minute moderate-intensity cardio sessions per week in which you can carry on a conversation. Alternatively, amp up the effort with three 30-minute sessions in which it's difficult to talk to somebody else.
- The average adult woman needs approximately 2,000 calories per day to maintain her weight, according to the NHS. Caloric intake varies with individual characteristics, however, such as age, height, weight and physical activity levels. To lose weight, you will need to take in fewer calories than what you burn off. The Mayo Clinic says a pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so to lose 1 pound a week, you will need to slash that number of calories from your daily diet, or roughly 500 calories per day. You can cut fewer calories through diet if you burn more calories through exercise. Aim for approximately 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day to lose weight and adjust according to your needs.
- Consult with a medical professional prior to starting any new exercise programs that could affect your health.
Jennifer Andrews specializes in writing about health, wellness and nutrition. Andrews has a Master of Science in physical therapy from the University of Alberta as well as a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. She teaches yoga and pilates and is a recent graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.