Two "Not So Secret" Tricks I Used To Burn Fat And Stay Lean Year Round In 2016
I'll admit it - 2016 has been a crazy year for me. I did not keep a clean diet year round, and I've eaten a lot more junk food than normally would. I'm a big fan of IIFYM ("if it fits your macros") and respect people who practice it. However, I just can't let myself nor my clients eat ice cream every single day and feel good about it.
The human body is a machine that needs to run on premium gas to perform at peak performance and ice cream is more like a feel-good reward that I give to myself after the end of a hardworking week in the gym, rather than a diet staple.
If that's you, awesome, and I have no problem with that. However, if you want to make serious strides and feel energized on short amounts of sleep (without neglecting it), then having a clean diet filled with healthy greens will work in your favor.
Like I mentioned earlier, I haven't kept the cleanest diet in 2016. Junk food is dirt cheap and quick and easy to make. This is one of the reasons why people decide to eat it instead of more nutritious foods. Staying close to 8%t body fat 365 days of the year is not an easy feat!
I've been able to remain right around the 10% mark for most of the year by using some "not so secret" tricks. These have allowed me to stay lean year round, even while destroying way more Domino's pizza than I should.
The good thing is that these tricks work even better if you're a caloric deficit and actively trying to burn fat. If you want to know my two tricks, continue reading.
#1: Green Tea Extract & Coffee
Green tea extract is the first weapon I use to burn fat and stay lean year round. Green tea extract contains a strong antioxidant called EGCG - epigallocatetchin gallate- a catechin that works towards easing the process of breaking down fat cells in your body.
A 2008 study published in the American Journal of Clinical nutrition showed that acute green tea extract ingestion can increase fat oxidation during moderate-intensity exercise. The same study concluded that it can also improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance in healthy young men.
For the highest fat burning effect, you want your green tea extract to be standardized at minimum 45%. The extract will have a stronger effect on your metabolism.
At the time of writing, my green tea extract pills are standardized at 30%, which is also totally fine. It only means you might have to consume more mg'(more pills) to have the same fat burning effect.
Green tea extract is a great addition to any supplement cabinet. If you don't have immediate access to green tea extract, you can also consume green tea with similar effects:
There's more research to back up the claim that green tea is an excellent beverage to burn fat.
Ever wondered why people on weight loss diets are told to drink tea? Now imagine what green tea extract can do for you.
Green tea has been consumed for thousands of years. I could find a hundred more studies, but I think you understand my point. Green tea extract not only helps you burn more fat, but it also can help in other areas of your health.
Some also combine green tea extract with Synephrine to stimulate their metabolism to burn a few extra calories while in the gym. However, this is to your discretion. You can check out your local pharmacy, supplement, or health store to find green tea extract. You can also take a look at the best selling green tea extract products found on Amazon.
If you want to learn more about green tea extract and its positive effects on the human body, here are some good resources for further reading.
Caffeine through coffee consumption
That's right, your boy drinks coffee! No, not the super espresso double mint chocolate latte from Starbucks filled with useless calories and fat. I'm talking about regular black coffee.
Here are some of the reasons why I drink coffee:
Caffeine is the most popular stimulant in the world. It peaks in your bloodstream after about 45 minutes, jump starts your metabolism, and helps increase thermogenesis - a raise in body temperature. Thermogenesis helps ease the process called lipolysis. In short, this is when your body releases fatty acids from your fats cells into your bloodstream to be used as energy.
2. Energy boost
Not only does caffeine helps with lipolysis, but drinking coffee will also give you an energy boost and increase alertness. Head to the gym after consuming caffeine and you'll definitely feel it. Your regular 25lbs dumbbell bicep curl might feel easier and you will probably feel like you can exercise for a longer period of time. You'll simply be able to do more at the gym - and more at the gym equals more calories burned.
3. Chlorogenic Acid
This is a chemical found in coffee and it is known for it's antioxidant properties. Although the dosage of chlorogenic acid in coffee is relatively low, chlorogenic acid has been associated with many benefits. One of these is a reduced insulin and glucose spike following a meal without affecting overall levels of insulin or glucose significantly. In addition, a small reduction in glucose absorption in the intestines has also been noted.
All of this means that you'll be able to consume your carbs without having to worry too much about gaining fat.
There's more than one way to consume caffeine. You can decide to skip the act of drinking, and opt for caffeine pills instead.
Personally, I don't feel the need to purchase or consume caffeine pills when coffee's been around for years and provides the same effects. It's also important to note that you will not get a number of antioxidants found in coffee, if you decide to go with the pills.
I personally choose to cycle my coffee consumption (2 weeks on, 2 weeks off) to continue to see the effects of it on my metabolism while also eliminating the tolerance I might develop.
If you cut out caffeine completely after an extended period of use, you will more than likely deal with withdrawal symptoms - headaches and drowsiness, amongst others. I'm speaking from experience because I've felt these symptoms myself.
You can even do 1 week on, 2 weeks off, 1 and 1 - whatever you decide works best for your body.
It's also important not to consume caffeine close to your bedtime, as it might interfere with your sleeping patterns. I've also felt this, even after a killer workout. You're better off keeping your caffeine consumption for the morning or midday.
Coffee is not a long term fat burning inhibitor.
It's simply a trick you can use to help you burn a little more fat and calories along with improving your workouts in the gym. World class athletes have been using caffeine for decades in order to boost performance. However, there have not been enough clinical studies to prove that coffee has a direct effect on prolonged weight loss.
If you have major weight to lose, you can include coffee in your plan. You first have to make sure that you are in a daily or weekly caloric deficit.
The best scenario is to combine both coffee and green tea extract for maximum results.
The 8th chapter of the book "Antioxidants in Sport Nutrition" dove in to the use of green tea catechins in relation to sports performance. The conclusion is that consumption of green tea catechins has shown to increase fat oxidation and energy expenditure, particularly if combined with caffeine. That effect was observed in both sedentary and physically active individuals during exercise.
Some solid resources if you want to read more about coffee and caffeine consumption.
One more thing - if you don't like the taste of black coffee, consider adding a bit of unsweetened almond milk and a small teaspoon of sugar for the taste.
#2: Intermittent Fasting & Carb Back-loading
I'm going to make this as simple as possible. What will your body use as fuel during your workouts when you don't give it anything to feed from? That's right, it's going to burn fat.
The lower your glycogen stores, the easier it is for your body to switch from glucose to free fatty acids as the primary source of energy.
Keeping a low glycogen intake will force your body to burn fat throughout your workout, while keeping your metabolism more receptive to insulin. This means that you can indulge in a high amount of carbohydrates that will head straight to your muscle cells for energy & recovery.
I use a very simple technique where I will spend 16 hours of any given day without eating and the next 8 hours is spent consuming food to reach my daily calorie intake. This works best on a evening work schedule, when you can wake up and head directly to the gym.
Intermittent fasting has multiple scientific studies to back up it's effectiveness.
A 2014 study published in the International Journal Of Health And Science showed astonishing results. Intermittent fasting on consecutive or alternate days can do the following:
- Help facilitate weight loss preventing the progression of type 2 diabetes.
- Increases longevity & reduce disease.
- Limit inflammation.
- Improve circulating glucose and lipid levels.
- Reduce blood pressure.
Another 2015 study conducted by Oxford University studied the effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and clinical health markers in humans. This study found that alternate-day fasting lasting 3 to 12 weeks in duration can reduce:
- body weight by approximately 3-7%
- body fat by approximately 3-5.5 kg
- total cholesterol by approximately 10%-21%, and
- triglycerides by approximately 14%-42%
These results have been seen in both normal-weight, over-weight, and obese participants.
Need I say more?
The funny thing about intermittent fasting is that a majority of people already practice it without even realizing it!
Do you wake up late every morning, skip breakfast & hurry to the bus stop to catch the bus on time for work? Do you value your sleep to the point where you set an alarm only allowing you time to shower, get dressed, and head straight out the door without eating breakfast?
If you have your first meal of the day around 11-12pm, and don't consume food again until late in the evening, congratulations! You already practice intermittent fasting.
I've been there myself, unaware of potential effects this had on my metabolism. It's not a bad thing though - it's a good thing. Now that you're aware, you can use this to your advantage with your weight loss or lean muscle building efforts.
There are more than one way to attack intermittent fasting. Moreover, I will not take the time to write a guide about it - it's already been done! Here's what you can read:
Lean Gains' Intermittent Fasting guide by Martin Berkhan (a bit older, but still contains solid info)
Check out these two resources for more information if intermittent fasting is right for you.
Keep your carbs for later
Carb backloading is not so similar, but still works effectively when trying to burn fat. Carb backloading is the principle of restricting your carbohydrate intake for a determined amount of time and then consuming a big amount in one particular meal or day - when your body is more receptive to insulin.
When attempting to stay lean year round, it's important to know the role insulin plays within your body to understand why both intermittent fasting and carb backloading works.
Some people will go through small cycles of carb backloading. For example, consuming little carbs for 6 days, and on the 7th day they'll consume enormous amounts. Some people go 9 days, other do 13. Those are more aggressive carb backloading tactics which can work in your favour.
Carb backloading can be done everyday. That's how I do it and it works. What time of the day is your body most receptive to insulin? That time frame is usually later, closer to the night.
This means that you'll spend the entire day extremely low on carbs and keep them for your pre/post workout meals. This is a great strategy is you're on a lean bulk. If you're looking for a little bit more aggressive fat loss, stick to post workout carbs. Have some coffee prior to your workout instead!
Keep in mind that you won't be able to burn a noticeable amount of fat using intermittent fasting or carb backloading in a high calorie overload. The better scenario is to eat close to your maintenance level with a high protein intake. By undertaking one of these dieting protocols, you'll be able to alter your body composition and have the results you're seeking for.
Read these two short carb backloading guides. They will breakdown the entire process & help you understand how it works.
Carb Backloading: Eating Carbohydrates to Get Lean, Muscular and Strong by John Keifer (Author of carbackloading.com)
There you have it - the two not-so-secret techniques I've been using to stay lean year round. You can incorporate everything together to take this even a step further. My upcoming workout programs will include these tricks with precise step-by-step instructions. You can minimize the effects of a calorie overload and gain lean muscle by applying some of these techniques. If you're attempting to lose weight, even better. Keeping a clean diet will put all the odds on your side and will only improve your aesthetic look or athletic performance.