You can learn how to lose body fat by avoiding fad diets, prioritizing cold exposure, building lean muscle mass, staying adequately hydrated, minimizing stress, and more. These efforts support lasting fat loss and improved body composition.
In today's world, everyone is constantly on the go and stressed, overworked and pressed for time. Consequently, many end up turning to processed fast foods and sacrifice the daily movement we all need for optimal health. The result? Waistlines grow, energy drags, and we’re left wondering how to lose the body fat that has accumulated in our bellies, thighs, and other areas.
Now, sure, there are plenty of fad diets that promise you can lose weight fast (e.g., “Drop 10 pounds in two weeks,” or my personal least favorite, The Master Cleanse). But these approaches aren’t good for your overall health and they don’t even do what they promise. They don’t help you in your journey to lower your body fat percentage. They simply cause you to lose water weight.
As a result, you end up putting all this time and energy into a protocol that leaves you exactly where you started — with the same amount of body fat percentage you had to begin with!
So, not sure how to lose body fat and improve your body composition in an attainable way that leaves you feeling confident, rested, and energized? Keep reading to learn our eight keys to lasting fat loss and get ready to shed those excess pounds and improve your overall well-being.
The Untold Truth About Weight Loss
When it comes to weight loss, it's important to understand the truth behind the process. Contrary to popular belief, all weight loss isn’t equal. Whenever you start any new diet with the goal of losing weight, the first few pounds you lost is all water weight.
This is because as soon as you cut down on your carb intake, as most diets have you do, the lack of carbs in your diet causes your insulin resistance to go down. As a result, your liver begins to pull water out of your cells as it mobilizes fat for energy. That’s why you may see the number go down on the scale by a few pounds rather quickly, but your body composition doesn’t really change.
Now, while it’s true that the primary way for how to lose body fat lies in taking in less calories than you use in a given day, that becomes harder as we age. Why? Well, our bodies naturally change as we get older, and these changes result in a lower basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories we naturally burn at rest each day).
And here’s the really harsh and often untold truth regarding how this happens: Beginning at age 30, the average adult loses 3 to 8 percent of his or her muscle mass each decade! This means that by the time you reach 60 years old, you could lose almost 25 percent of the total muscle mass you had at age 30!
Now factor in the fact that muscle burns 2.5 times more calories than fat! It’s easy to see how eating an unhealthy diet and living a sedentary lifestyle that leads to more fat accumulation combined with decreasing muscle mass is the perfect formula for gaining weight and unwanted fat, isn’t it?
So, if you’re curious about how to lower your body fat percentage, you naturally have to consider the importance of increasing your muscle mass. But muscle is naturally more dense, meaning a pound of muscle takes up about 20 percent less space than a pound of fat. And this brings us to the untold truth about weight loss:
It’s not the number on your scale that determines your fitness or how “fat” you are. It’s your body composition!
Now, it may sound like the answer to the question of how to lose body fat and lower your body fat percentage lies in strength training … and, in a way, it does. But there’s another piece to the puzzle that must be accounted for: What causes fat accumulation?
Keep reading to learn more about why your body may be holding on to “stubborn” fat.
Why Your Body Holds Onto Fat
Have you ever wondered why your body seems to hold onto “stubborn” fat? Interestingly, it’s a basic survival mechanism that dates back to our ancestors, who would experience food shortages. Basically, your body is programmed to store excess calories as fat to ensure your survival. And even though our modern lifestyles don’t leave us going long periods without access to food, our bodies are still programmed to store fat as a protective mechanism.
From a physiological perspective, there are several reasons why your body holds onto fat, and one of the primary culprits is a hormone called cortisol, which is released in response to stress. In fact, cortisol is often referred to as the “stress hormone.”
Here’s what happens: Anytime you experience stress, whether it's physical or emotional, your adrenal glands release cortisol. Now, cortisol is great in moderate amounts because it helps to regulate various functions throughout your body, including your metabolism, your immune system, and even your blood sugar levels.
The problem arises when you’re under chronic stress and your adrenal glands are producing cortisol consistently, causing your “stress hormone” levels to remain elevated for prolonged periods of time. When this occurs, it can have detrimental effects on your health, including causing increased fat storage, especially that stubborn belly fat everyone hates.
You see, cortisol stimulates the production of insulin, which in turn promotes the fat storage in your abdomen. So, if you find yourself struggling with how to lose upper body fat, especially belly fat, despite your best efforts, a stressful lifestyle may be to blame.
Another reason why your body may be holding onto stubborn fat and leaving you wondering how to lower your body fat percentage is a hormone known as leptin. This hormone plays a crucial role in regulating your metabolism and fat storage, as its primary job is to send signals to your brain that you have enough fat stores. When you lose weight, your leptin levels decrease, which triggers a response in your body to conserve energy and hold onto fat!
Additionally, not getting enough sleep can contribute to fat retention. When your body doesn’t receive adequate rest, your hormonal balance is disrupted. And this disruption can lead to an increase in appetite, particularly for high-calorie and sugary foods. Also, a lack of sleep can affect your body's ability to regulate insulin, leading to higher blood sugar levels and further increased fat storage.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that our bodies have a preference for storing fat in certain areas. For men, it tends to be around the abdomen, meaning when researching how to lose body fat for men, they’re often looking to target belly fat. Meanwhile, women looking for information on how to lose body fat are likely interested in how to lose lower body fat, as most of their fat storage occurs in their hips and thighs.
These preferences for fat storage are due to the distribution of specific hormone receptors in these areas. But it’s also important to note that not all fat is created equally. There are two types of fat in your body: subcutaneous fat, which is found just beneath your skin, and visceral fat, which surrounds your organs. Visceral fat is more metabolically active and poses a higher risk to your health, as it’s associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
So, how can you overcome your body's natural tendency to hold onto fat? Let’s discuss The Dearing Clinic’s top eight secrets for how to lose body fat and gain muscle for a more confident, energetic life!
8 Secrets For How to Lose Body Fat
Here are the top secrets you need to know to lose unwanted body fat and keep it off for good!
1. Get cold.
With the “New Year, New You” craze associated with losing weight in the new year, it’s unlikely that people realize that starting their fat loss efforts in the dead of winter is actually setting them up for success. And this is because winter is the perfect season for shedding unwanted fat!
Curious about how to lose body fat with cold temps? Research has shown that exposing your body to cold temperature actually activates brown fat, a type of fat that burns calories to produce heat and helps to eliminate white fat (the undesirable fat you’re looking to shed).
In fact, one study showed men who were exposed to mildly cold 66-degree weather for 10 hours each night for a month experienced a 42 percent increase in brown fat volume and a 10 percent increase in fat metabolic activity.
Cold exposure can also increase your metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity, both of which contribute to fat burning. So, by embracing the colder weather and getting outside for walks or other outdoor activities, you can harness the power of cold exposure to boost your weight loss efforts. Personally, we like to walk first thing on crisp, cold mornings when we aren’t strength training.
2. Get fasting.
Intermittent fasting is a popular dietary approach that has been shown to be an effective approach to help lower body fat percentage. By cycling between periods of fasting and eating, your body is able to tap into its fat stores for energy; plus, it’s known to help regulate hormones and improve insulin sensitivity, both of which play a significant role in fat loss.
If you’re new to intermittent fasting, it’s important to know that you don’t have to go to extreme measures. Research has shown that cutting your eating window from 12 hours daily to about eight hours, or eating dinner about 4.5 hours earlier than usual, can increase fat loss by an additional 15 grams per day!
Just remember to consult with your physician before starting any fasting regimen to account for any potential personal modifications.
3. Get your gut in gear!
You’ve likely heard that your gut health plays a significant role in your overall health, but did you know this includes your ability to lose fat? As you learn more about how to lose body fat, it’s important to keep in mind that having a healthy gut microbiome is essential for efficient digestion and nutrient absorption.
Any imbalances in your gut bacteria can lead to inflammation, extra fat storage, and weight gain. In fact, you can eat a diet full of lean meats and leafy greens and still struggle with weight gain and fat accumulation if your good gut bacteria are depleted. That’s why resetting your gut with an anti-inflammatory diet full of probiotic-rich, nutritious foods is so important.
And by resetting your gut, you can actually make your own peptides that promote fat loss. In fact, did you know that every peptide on the market is something your body can make? The problem is that as you age, you don’t make them as efficiently as you used to, which is why so many are turning to peptide injections, such as GLP-1, also known as semaglutide or Ozempic!
At The Dearing Clinic, we provide GLP-1 peptide injections in an effective way to promote safe fat loss as we help you reset your gut, as research has shown that taking semaglutide while implementing lifestyle changes can help you lose six times more weight than making lifestyle change alone (33.7-pound loss versus 5.7 pounds)!
Just keep in mind when starting any peptide therapy that it should be a temporary adjunct therapy. The ultimate goal is to heal your gut so that it can produce its own peptides. For example, GLP-1 is a hormone that promotes satiety, reduces hunger, and enhances insulin sensitivity. By nourishing your gut with a diverse range of whole foods and prebiotic-rich ingredients, you can support your gut’s production of GLP-1 and facilitate fat loss naturally.
4. Get moving (but not too much).
If you’ve been researching how to lose body fat in effective ways, you’re likely aware of the importance of regular exercise. Not only does it help to burn your calories, but it’s also great for building lean muscle mass — both of which support fat loss.
But many people who are eager to lose weight often fall into the detrimental trap of overexercising. When you exercise too hard or too frequently, it can cause increased stress on your body. And as you now know, stress can increase fat storage in your body. That’s why balancing your exercising habits with a mixture of strength training and cardiovascular exercises can help to maximize your fat-burning potential. It also will help you lose weight without losing muscle.
Consider exercising four to five days a week and focus on strength training for three of those days and incorporating cardiovascular workouts such as walking, jogging, running, or biking one to two times each week. Research has shown that exercising four times each week for a period of 30 minutes is most effective for reducing your body fat without losing muscle.
5. Get strong.
If you’re wondering how to lower your body fat percentage, focusing on strengthening your body by building lean muscle mass is a great place to start. Here’s why: According to a 2021 study in the journal Sports Medicine, strength training three times per week can burn 1.4 percent of your total body fat.
When you engage in strength training exercises, such as lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises, you create microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. These tears then stimulate your body to repair and rebuild your muscles, resulting in muscle growth. And this process requires energy, meaning your body burns calories even at rest to support muscle growth.
Additionally, muscle is more metabolically active than fat. So, for every pound of muscle you gain, your body burns more calories to maintain it compared to the same weight of fat. And while muscle doesn’t directly burn fat, each pound of muscle can burn an additional six to 10 calories per day at rest. Over time, this can add up significantly and contribute to fat loss and, ultimately, weight maintenance.
Finally, without building up your muscles during weight loss efforts, a significant portion of your weight loss can come from muscle mass. This leads to a decrease in your resting metabolic rate, making it harder to lose additional fat and improve your body composition.
When strength training, do your workouts first thing in the morning prior to breakfast to trigger the hormones that fight hunger and promote the most effective fat loss.
6. Get hydrated.
Hydration is essential for overall health, but did you know that increasing your water intake can also aid in burning fat? While being dehydrated can actually inhibit your body’s ability to break down fat, research showed that when people drank 50 ounces of water daily for eight weeks, their body fat decreased by 4 percent!
So, if you’re looking for the most effective ways to lower body fat percentage, keep in mind that drinking an adequate amount of water each day helps boost your metabolism and improves your body's ability to break down stored fat. Plus, water can promote feelings of fullness, reducing the urge to overeat.
While traditional guidance is to drink at least eight glasses of water per day to support your weight loss efforts, your actual ideal water intake is a bit more individualized. Newer recommendations include considering your body weight in pounds and dividing that number in half to get the total ounces of water you should drink daily. And to get the most out of your workouts, especially your strength training routines, drink 16 to 24 ounces of water prior to exercise.
7. Get relaxed.
One of the most effective answers to how to lose body fat and keep it off is to prioritize your ability to relax and limit stress. In fact, research has shown that staying stressed and experiencing chronically elevated cortisol levels is linked to having a higher waist-to-hip ratio, meaning you have more belly fat. This is primarily due to the fact that high cortisol is known to increase your appetite and promote excess fat storage in your midsection.
While it’s virtually impossible to limit all stress from your life, you can promote relaxation by implementing stress management techniques such as meditation, engaging in enjoyable activities, or even seeking chiropractic care. Interestingly, research has linked practicing meditation to healthy body weight, while a 2015 study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine showed that people who were more aware of their thoughts and feelings had a lower BMI and significantly less abdominal fat than those who were less mindful.
8. Get rest.
Finally, as you learn more about how to lose body fat, you may be surprised to learn that while the importance of quality sleep is often overlooked when it comes to weight loss, it plays a crucial role in the fat-burning process.
A lack of sleep can disrupt your hormone levels, particularly those involved in regulating your appetite. As a result, when you’re sleep-deprived, you may experience increased hunger, cravings for high-calorie foods, and a tendency to eat larger portions, making it difficult to stick to a healthy eating plan.
Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night to optimize your fat loss journey. And to help you settle into a restful night’s sleep, try to avoid screens at least two hours before bed and engage in a relaxing routine at least one hour before bed. This can include calm stretching, yoga, meditation, journaling about your day, or anything else you find enjoyable.
In our modern world, everyone is constantly on the go and stressed, overworked and pressed for time, leading to growing waistlines grow, low energy, and a search for how to lose body fat that has accumulated in our bellies, thighs, and other areas.
To get rid of stubborn fat, it's time to kick fad diets to the curb and focus on building muscle mass in a healthy way known to fight and prevent unwanted fat accumulation.
You can lose unwanted body fat and keep it off for good by following these eight tips: increasing cold expsoure, pracitcing intermittent fasting, prioiritizing a healthy gut, exercising at least 4 times weekly, strength training at least three times weekly, staying hydrated, focusing on stress relief techniques, and getting adequate rest.
If you're looking for a jumpstart on your weight loss journey and you're ready to restore your figure, check out our CORE Weight Loss Program that kicks off in January 2024.