6 Strategies to Lower Body Fat Percentage

6 Strategies to Lower Body Fat Percentage

Are your clothes fitting tighter than they used to?

If you've gotten your body fat percentage tested and it's higher than you'd like to see, or you're just not feeling like yourself or fitting in your clothes lately and you want to do something about it, the next step is figuring how to lower your actual fat levels. 

It is important to keep in mind that body fat percentage is just one piece of information. You can use it to assess whether or not the efforts you put into fat loss are working or if something needs to change or adjust. But, it isn’t the only measure of progress.

Just like the number on a scale is part of a bigger picture, your current body fat percentage is also just a number. 

Connecting back to other factors like how you feel in the gym, increases in energy, food quality, changes in measurements and how your clothes fit are all other measures of progress to keep an eye on through your journey.

1. Try High Intensity Interval Training for Fat Loss

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, involves alternating short bursts of high-intensity exercise with slightly longer periods of low-intensity exercise.

The goal is to spend 20 to 90 seconds working as hard as you can to increase your heart rate and then backing off a little to allow for a quick recovery before you rinse and repeat. 

Research shows that HIIT can increase your metabolic rate and reduce both subcutaneous fat and belly fat better than other types of exercise, including moderate-intensity training and aerobic exercise.

For optimal fat burning, try to do some HIIT workouts a few times per week. If you're new to the concept of HIIT, a personal trainer can show you the way.

2. Resistance Train for Fat Loss

Along with high-intensity interval training, you'll also want to incorporate resistance training, aka strength training or weight training, regularly. 

Resistance training can help improve your body composition by helping you build muscle and lose fat at the same time. 

In one study, a group of overweight women was instructed to start resistance training, with resistance bands, three times per week. After a 12-week period, the women lost a significant amount of overall body fat and belly fat without any muscle loss.

When compared to other types of exercise, resistance training also has a higher excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC, for short. This means that your metabolism may stay higher for longer after weightlifting, so you can burn more calories even after your workout is over.

When you gain muscle, it can increase your resting metabolic rate, or RMR, which means you burn more calories, even when you're not doing anything.

3. Eat at a Calorie Deficit (& Hit Your Macros Consistently)

You may have heard “you can’t outrun your fork” or that fitness is 20% exercise and 80% nutrition. Those percentages aren’t exact — they’re just part of the saying — but the point is that lowering body fat percentage requires a balance between exercise and food.

While regularly hitting the gym is an essential part of improving your body composition, spending an hour or two working out every day won’t offset constant hours of snacking and eating meals. Think about it, you spend 1-2/24 hours in the gym. The rest of that time you’re either sleeping or in an environment with tons of treats and temptations that are easy to grab.

If you want to accelerate fat loss, it’s important to hit your macros — or carbohydrates, protein and fat recommendations — consistently.

Macros are based on your caloric needs, so when you prioritize hitting them, you naturally stay on the right calorie diet for you. This will prevent you from taking in extra calories that can make it harder to burn fat.

Not sure what your macro needs are? Reach out to us! We'd love to help.

4. Focus on Micronutrient-Rich Foods

One of the really great things about flexible dieting is that it’s, well, flexible. There’s a lot of room for you to eat all of your favorite foods while still staying within your macros. 

But if you’ve noticed a stall in your progress or you just really want to dial it in, try to focus on including as many micronutrient-rich foods into your meal plan as possible.

In other words, choose foods with high amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants over foods that don’t have as much to offer in that department. 

This will naturally lead you to choices like fruits, fiber-rich vegetables, lean proteins and slow-digesting carbs that keep you full and balance your blood sugar, while also helping to slim you down.

5. Manage Your Stress Levels

It's not all about dieting and exercise, though. Your body composition also has a lot to do with your mental health and the way you handle stress. 

When you're stressed out all the time, it increases the amount of cortisol in your blood. High cortisol levels can make you store more body fat, especially in the form of belly fat.

While it's impossible to get rid of stress completely, you can become more resilient to the effects of stress by regularly practicing things like yoga, meditation and deep breathing. 

Learning how to say "no" and making sure you have a good work-life balance are also critical to healthy stress levels.

6. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep plays an imperative role in weight maintenance. There have been several studies linking getting less than seven hours of sleep per night with a higher body fat percentage.

When you don’t get enough sleep, the resulting low energy causes you to move less through the day. This makes it much more tempting to skip your workout and your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) naturally decreases as well. This decreases overall calorie burn throughout your day.

Lack of sleep also triggers a spike in your stress hormone, cortisol. This triggers your body to conserve energy (aka, body fat). Your hunger and fullness hormones are also impacted. Your “I’m hungry” hormone, ghrelin increases and your “I’m full” hormone, leptin, decreases. This is a double-whammy when it comes to hunger. When you’re hungry, tired and stressed, this is a recipe for overeating and putting on weight. What can you do about it? Here are a few quick tips to help you increase your sleep quality:

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule
  • Turn off electronics at least 30 minutes (preferably more!) before bed
  • Keep your room cool, dark and quiet
  • Get more sunshine
  • Exercise regularly

Let CNU Fit Help You

We know that you’re eager to reach your goals, but long-term results require long-term commitments, and that’s why we’re here.

A CNU Fit coach  or personal trainer can help guide you through the process of reducing body fat in a way that works for you. You get accountability, unlimited support and access to a like-minded community that will encourage you to work toward your body composition goals.

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