3 Major Fat Loss MISTAKES

AVOID these 3 mistakes and start burning fat faster!

by Dr. Kareem Samhouri - CSCS, HFS
Neuro Metabolic Fitness & Rehab Expert
Author of the popular program:  Abs Strength Guide

If you want to lose stubborn abdominal fat faster, don't make these 3 common fat loss mistakes below... 

1. Relying on Abs-Specific Training:

For some reason, the misconception of spot reduction continues.  No argument has ever convinced me that you can lose fat in a specific area by contracting the muscle in that specific area.  Fat loss just does not work this way.  Yet for some reason, we see hundreds of people every day at the gym doing hundreds of crunches and situps and thinking that they are somehow burning fat from their abdomen, when in reality, they're just wasting time!

Fat loss is a systemic effect that takes place as your body morphs into a healthier you.  Fat storage patterns vary person to person according to hormonal levels, genetic fat storage patterns, myofascial restrictions, and inflammation.  Reducing body fat in those areas through exercise is only done if you are working to modify hormonal levels that have related fat storage areas, for example.

However, there has yet to be convincing evidence that you can do tricep presses, for example, and lose fat in the back of your arms... Just doesn't work that way.  The same is true with your abs.  In this case, even if you do 3000 sit ups per day, you wouldn’t be doing much for fat loss.  Fat loss is about: 

1. Energy system training
2. Compound movements targeting many joints at once
3. Muscle balancing
4. Motor unit recruitment, and
5. Multi-planar movement

It’s impossible to add all of the above into an abs exercise, or even a series of abs exercises.  The goal is to tire as much of your body as possible, to a safe extreme.  This is referred to as momentary muscular failure, and it’s when lactic acid onset takes place.  Remember, lactic acid, which is what makes you sore, is a very good thing.  It means your body is working hard to reduce inflammation and repair.  You’re well on your way to rapid fat loss.  You’ll see incredible results when you accept this:

I believe muscle soreness following a fat loss workout should be a 5 - 7 (on a 0 to 10 scale), most of the time, where:

0 = no pain whatsoever, no muscle soreness
10 = extreme muscle soreness, emergency level

This is a big wake-up call for a lot of people, but it may just shed light on why you're not seeing the fat loss results for which you were hoping.

2. Low To Moderate Intensity Cardio For Long Duration:

Walking.  This, alone, simply won't work for long-term fat loss results. It may work at first for somebody who is extremely obese and has been sedentary, but not for most people.  While I strongly believe in the benefits of walking for stress relief, personal time, reflection with movement, blood pressure and cholesterol modification, etc., I do not consider it a good method to lose body fat. 

Losing fat is about shocking your body and stimulating a repair process.  Giving your body the chance to adapt to a demand over time doesn't help you lose fat quickly.  Sure, you can see some initial results, often masked as 'toning', but in the end you're turning your Type IIa muscle fibers (oxidative-glycolytic, or medium speed fibers) to Type I (oxidative, or slow muscle fibers that have great endurance).  The only trouble is that the Type II muscle fibers do a much better job of getting you lean. 

By stimulating muscular strength (not necessarily "bulking") you are enhancing your metabolism.  It takes energy to build and restore lean muscle tissue.  Allowing it to grow consumes a bit more energy, but you don't have to bulk up to see great results.  Rather, just create a muscle repair process while stimulating your metabolism with fat-burning foods and you'll see your results go wild. 

After a full-body resistance-based alternation-style workout session, you'll spike your metabolism for 2-3 days as your body re-uptakes the lactic acid from your bloodstream, restores oxygen to the muscle tissue you've worked, and repairs the micro-tears that took place in your muscles.  Supersets or circuits in full body workouts is one example of this, and interval training accomplishes this too, but what if we take things a step further and get you off a machine?

I suggest that we alternate body parts, directions, speeds, intensities, and muscle synergies, or pairs.  Alternation in any form, even when the intensity is a bit lower, is still a rapid fat loss signal to your body.  You're sure to see wild fat-burning results once you start thinking about fat loss as "shocking the fat away".

3. Caloric Restriction:

Caloric restriction = muscle starvation = fat loss grinds to a halt.

Muscle requires calories to grow.  Without some degree of muscle growth, it will atrophy under duress.  If you're exercising intensely, which you should be, your muscle will be eating itself to survive. 

It's really important that you feed your system so it can grow and maintain its level of function.  Your body requires food for muscle repair, concentration, heart health, and digestive health.  Regular meals are best.  There are 2 schools of thought with eating for fat loss:

1. Eat 3 meals per day and up to 2 snacks.
2. Eat 5-6 small meals per day.

Normally, I recommend #2, because I find this is a great way to ensure you are not snacking on things that are bad for you, because you are eating healthy small meals often enough.  Also, I tend to never feel hungry when I'm eating on this schedule.  That's very helpful for fat loss.

Contrarily, eating 3 meals per day seems like it should also allow you ample time to digest and re-spike your metabolism.  I believe there should be a small bout of exercise in between each meal if you choose this approach.  If thats the goal, let's go at it.

Again, my recommendation is 5-6 meals/day, where you pre-plan your week's meals over the weekend, cook many meals at once, and prepare yourself for fat loss.  The most helpful resource I've read to date, on this, is Fat Burning Kitchen .  I recommend you read this also.

Most importantly, make sure you are getting enough calories.  Yes, you do need a caloric deficit to lose fat over a certain time period, but taking your daily calories too low can reduce your metabolism and halt your fat loss.

Under no circumstance should an active female eat less than 1300 calories or an active male eat less than 1500 calories when trying to lose weight.  Within a few months of coaching, most of my female clients are eating 1800 - 2000 calories, and my male clients are eating 2100 - 2800 calories.  ...and they keep losing fat faster and faster.  The goal should be to stimulate your metabolism to be able to eat more, not less. 

In summary, there are 3 major fat loss mistakes you absolutely want to avoid:

1. Low to moderate intensity cardio for long duration - great way for your body to adapt to exercise and stop burning fat.  Plus, you're converting your muscle fibers to the wrong type.

2. Abs-specific training - 3000 sit ups and no result?  That's just depressing.  Train for full body systemic fat loss.  You'll be glad you did.

3. Caloric restriction = starving muscle = no more fat loss; instead, make the goal to eat more and build more fat-burning muscle to ramp up your metabolism, permanently.
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