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O: How do I lose my love handles and get that lean, ripped-waisted look?

A: Most people make drastic cuts in their calorie intake when they're motivated to lose weight, and they lose lots of muscle. They also have no energy and eventually go on an eating binge because their cravings careen out of control due to the starvation mechanism. Here are the things you need to do to lose fat while maintaining muscle:

  1. Gradually cut your calories. Each week reduce your daily intake by 50 to 100. That should prevent the starvation mechanism from kicking in and help you preserve muscle.
  2. Don't eat the same thing every day. Slight calorie fluctuations will also help keep the starvation mechanism at bay.
  3. Don't reduce your daily calories below 2,200. Eating less than that can reduce your nutrient intake to levels that are too severe for a healthy body.
  4. If you need to get leaner after you've been holding your daily calories at 2,200 for a few weeks, gradually ramp up your activity. Fast walking is probably the best fat burner around. If you do it on an empty stomach—say, first thing in the morning— it's even better. No matter when you do your aerobic exercise, always try to fast for a few hours beforehand. That will force your body to use fat for fuel rather than the glucose circulating in your bloodstream.
  5. Weight train five to seven days a week. The more often you jolt your metabolism with weight training, the more fat you'll lose. Remember, muscle tissue is the true fat incinerator.
  6. You have to eat small, balanced meals and eat them often. Eating five to six times a day is perfect. See the back of this book for a complete diet.
  7. Strive to eat balanced meals at most of your feedings—45 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 25 percent fat. Lean more toward protein, especially as the day wears on, as it will help spare muscle tissue. Carbs eaten at night tend to favor fat deposition, so cut carbs in the late afternoon and evening.
  8. Never eat carbs alone, and always look for low-glycemic carbs—the ones that don't shoot up your insulin levels, which can cause more fat deposition.
  9. Try not to eat anything after 7 p.m.
  10. Use a couple of good fat-burning supplements, such as Syntrax Innovations' Adipokinetix and Muscle-Link's Thyro Stak. If you can't afford one of those, try two cups of coffee before you train. The caffeine will step up the fat burning.

—Steve Holman, editor in chief, IRONMAN

O: I've ordered Muscle-Link's Thyro Stak. How exactly do I use it?

A: Thyro Stak, which is essentially a blend of guggulsterones and phosphates along with other supporting nutrients, is designed to help maintain a normal thyroid function in conditions that would otherwise

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