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Simple steps to shed body fat with food and exercise

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Turkey is a particularly good form of protein because it is so lean.

Turkey is a particularly good form of protein because it is so lean.

Turkey is a particularly good form of protein because it is so lean.

Question: I am in the process of trying to reduce my body fat and was just wondering if you had any tips?

Karl Henry replies: Body fat is incredibly important to reduce. We know that the higher your rate of body fat, the greater your risk of developing health problems. This is especially true with visceral fat, which is the fat around your stomach area and is always the most dangerous type, especially because you cannot see it.

Visceral fat surrounds your internal organs, such as your liver, causes a host of medical issues and puts you at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders, to name but a few. This is especially important in Ireland because we have such a high risk of cardiovascular disease in the first place.

To achieve the best reduction in body fat, there are two key areas you must look at: your food and your training.

In terms of food, the key components are protein and good fats.

Protein is the nutrient that helps your body recover from a hard session, and it is best found in chicken, meat, eggs, pulses and fish. You should be aiming to have protein with each meal, and ideally have five or six small meals each day, every two or three hours. Turkey is a particularly good form of protein because it is so lean.

Good fats are essential, too, and are great for your skin, hair and nails. They come in the form of coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. You should combine these with green vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach, which are full of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals.

To all this, add three litres of water a day and you will see your body fat come down nicely, especially if you pair all this up with some training. Here, you should focus on increasing your lean body mass and combining this with some hard, testing cardiovascular work.

To achieve a lean body mass, you need to concentrate on full-body routines, picking one or two exercises per body part and aiming for 10 repetitions per exercise. You will know you are doing it right if you struggle with the last two repetitions. If you are struggling too early, the weight is too heavy. And if you are not struggling at all, it is too light. Again, you are doing it right when you struggle with the last two, so adjust your routine to ensure this is always the case. You should aim for three to five sets of repetitions, keeping the intensity of the session high by reducing your rest time between sets to a minimum.

The other trick is to pick new exercises every time you go the gym because this forces the body to keep adapting all the time, especially when you are feeding it the correct nutrients.

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You need to combine all these tips with interval cardiovascular work. You can pick any machine in the gym and give yourself two intensities: easy and hard. You can vary the speed or the effort level and then pick a timeframe - for example, one, two, three, four or five minutes, or really any time at all. You simply go hard for your chosen time, then go easy for the same time.

The alternating intervals will help burn off body fat quickly and effectively and will also speed up your metabolism for several hours afterwards, which is great for your body and for your mind.

These may be simple tips, but they are tips that should work for everyone.


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