WH&F contributing trainer, Brooke Stacey shares her top tips for fat loss; from cardio and calories to cheat days and supplements, she shares her insights.
Weights or cardio?
The way to sculpt and tone your body is by lifting consistently with resistance training. The amount of time it will take to get results will vary depending on your starting ability, current weight, muscle mass and body fat. You should see results and progress within 12 weeks of consistent training and eating better. When you do resistance training you are building muscle, burning fat and creating the body shape you are after, such as a slimmer waistline, more shapely hips and glutes and stronger, more toned legs and arms.
Weight or measurements?
I don’t regularly weigh myself or take body fat percentages or measurements unless I am about to start a new 12-week training program and wish to evaluate my body’s response. I normally measure my appearance from the way my clothes fit and how I feel and look in the mirror. Placing less emphasis on measuring and how I look and more emphasis on how I’m feeling helps me to maintain a lifestyle and consistent body image. For people starting their fitness journey or a new training program, measurements can be helpful so you can gauge progress – but weight is not a good measure as muscle does weigh more than fat and weight loss isn’t necessarily good if it’s mostly muscle. Instead go with girth of waist, glutes and legs or body fat percentage.
Carbs or no carbs?
When lifting weights several days a week, you need to fuel muscle growth with lean proteins, good fats and whole grains. You don’t always need to eat chicken, sweet potatoes and asparagus. For lunch, I recommend a homemade sandwich with wholegrain bread, turkey, mustard, spinach and lettuce. What you do need to realise is that what you need to eat is determined by your current activity level and adequately fuelling that. If you stop training as much, you need to prioritise adequate protein to maintain the muscle mass you have and not overeat carbs.
Calories or macros?
If you are training five days a week in the gym lifting weights, you will need to eat more and fuel your body for that activity level. The biggest mistake I see among people pursuing fat loss is cutting back too much on eating or not eating at all. You don’t need a competitor’s diet to live a healthy, fit lifestyle. You must eat throughout the day to fuel your body; it is what food and how much you eat that determines whether you will lose fat or gain it. If you have good muscle mass but can only get to the gym a couple of days a week, you need to be more strict, limiting carbs and moderating portions.
Cheat days or intuitive eating?
Before a competition or photo shoot, I will tighten down my eating and make sure that I am not enjoying extra indulgences like dessert or too many nights eating out at restaurants. My favourite indulgences are sweet potato fries, ice cream or sorbet, and cheese.
For eating out, I recommend learning how to order healthier at your favourite restaurants – for Mexican, think broth-based tortilla soup rather than chips and cheese as an appetiser.
Food or supplements?
I like to take whey protein as a post-workout snack or midday snack if I am on the go as it’s a great way to get the amount of protein necessary to fuel muscle growth. I also like to support my workouts with branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are the building blocks of protein and therefore muscle. BCAAs make up almost one-third of skeletal muscle tissue in humans, and leucine, isoleucine and valine are the three most important aminos for feeding hungry muscle. I also take a one-a-day women’s multivitamin and fish oil.
Yoga or no yoga?
I love to incorporate hot, vinyasa flow yoga into my weekly workout routines as I find it helps me stay limber and flexible and keeps me from getting too stiff from lifting.