Summer will be around the corner, and as much as we don’t want to admit it, our bodies aren’t nearly as close to being “beach-ready” as we had planned them to be when the ball dropped at midnight on January 1st, 2017. The New Years resolutions have been put to the wayside, as we tend to do, compromised for the sake of delicious food, long nights at the office leading to a lack of workouts afterward, and just general lethargy. Hey, we’re only human. But here we are, on the precipice of warm weather, and we need to start making moves. We’ve come up with some dietary changes and workout tips to get your body looking right—quickly.
The Paleo Diet
Chances are, you’ve heard of this one, amid all the other diet fads of the moment. The Paleo Diet’s a little different, because it’s proven that it has some staying power—specifically, since the beginning of man. Yes, the big benefit of the Paleo Diet is that it consists of what cavemen ate long before the beginning of civilization: nothing artificial, nothing processed, strictly products from the land. Honestly, it isn’t that bad. We’re talking meats, fish, nuts, greens, vegetables, and seeds.
The reason why the Paleo Diet works is that it eliminates things like bread, grains, wheat, and sugars from our diet. Many people claim that all one has to do to lose weight is to minimize their calories. But it’s more than that. If you want to truly build muscle—which will effectively allow you to burn body fat—you have to put the proper fuel into your system. The Paleo Diet ensures that the fuel you put in burns cleanly, and will give you enough energy throughout your day without making you sluggish or adding unwanted body fat to your frame.
Mankind has adapted over hundreds of thousands of years to eating simple, unprocessed, healthy food from the land. The timeline of our evolution can be equated to a football field. For the first 99 yards, our bodies have become finely tuned to eat things found in nature, and not tampered with from their original, natural form. The last yard, and really even less than that, consists of the food we now eat after the Agricultural Revolution, which saw a boom in processed foods. While this is good for mass production, allowing our ever-growing populations to have more than enough sustenance, it’s not so great for our health. The massive amount of grains we consume each day make us bloated and look nowhere near as svelte as we could.
If you want to simplify your diet and start looking good quickly—and I’m talking about a month before you start to see some reasonably significant changes—definitely look into the Paleo Diet.
An Extra Cup of Coffee…?
Now, I know you’re excited after reading that heading. “What? All I have to do to burn body fat is just up my coffee intake in the morning?” Before you go out and hand over your monthly paycheck to Starbucks, be forewarned that this tip is to be taken in moderation. However, studies have shown that an increase in caffeine consumption can speed up our metabolism, sometimes drastically so. This boost leads to increased calories burned, not only at the gym, but in our day-to-day lives.
The way caffeine functions to burn those unwanted calories is it increases heat production in your body, which frees up more space in the body for fat to be burned for fuel purposes—key if you’re going to shed the pounds. Additionally, caffeine is a stimulant. Stimulants have been shown to increase motivation and, perhaps even more pertinent, decrease appetite. So when you’re dieting, not only will you be less of a grump that you can’t eat your old favorite snacks—you won’t even be craving them in the first place.
A good tip is to drink a cup of coffee before you go work out. Don’t overdo it, and certainly don’t do it late at night if you’re trying to go to sleep right after. But a cup of strong joe before the workout will not only increase your performance in the gym, it’ll also make that performance pay stronger dividends toward your body burning that belly fat.
High Intensity Workouts
Studies routinely show that 15 minutes of high-intensity training—sprinting, box jumps, alternating rope swings, etc.—is far more effective at burning body fat than 30 minutes of basic cardio. This is because for this brief period of time, your heart rate gets far higher than it does during a longer cardio session. While the latter is great for clearing the mind and burning a fair amount of calories, the former is what you should utilize if you’re really trying to take your body to the next level.
A great routine is to hop on the treadmill and do interval trainings. Crank it up to a brisk pace that you could maintain for, say, 30 minutes. Run at that pace for a minute. Then, crank it up to the top pace you can maintain for a minute at about 90% maximum exertion. Do that for another minute, then crank it down to a brisk walking pace for the third minute. Rotate through that set five times for a total of 15 minutes. If you incorporate that little routine into your workouts three times a week, you will be amazed at the results you witness.
It Starts and Ends With the Diet
I honestly can’t stress this enough. As important as exercise is, your diet is what’s going to have the largest impact on your body fat. Believe me, it is extremely hard to make a large overhaul in what you consume on a daily basis. But, if you can make the change, you will begin to see results quickly. The human body is extremely resilient. You will look better, and you will feel better—heck, you’ll be feeling better partially just because you’re looking better!