As the Biggest Loser may or may not show in-between paid advertising, the last seven pounds of fat loss are the absolutely HARDEST pounds to lose! No matter who you are, your last few pounds seem impossible to budge no matter how many extra miles you jog in the summer heat, or burpees you do to a Jillian Michaels dvd in your living room.
What I have found to be the trick to successfully shedding those last few pounds is to steal ideas from the people that do it the best.... bodybuilders! I am definitely by no means entering a competition or wanted to spray my body orange, but who else do you know who successfully sheds fat more efficiently and safely?? I respect the discipline and effort bodybuilders put towards their fitness and nutrition, and with that I will gladly piggy back off the advice I have received from them.
Below are 4 simple tricks to shed those stubborn last few pounds:
1. Increase Workload in Strength Training Workouts: To lean out you MUST systematically increase the workload in your workouts! A great way to accomplish this is by increasing the amount of sets and even reps in your training program. Be sure to keep track of the actual weight you are using, and increase that as well when the set/rep schemes become too easy!
The increased overall workload will decrease your glycogen (stored carbs/energy in your muscles) allowing your body to burn more body fat while burning more calories.
2. Cycle Your Carbs: Carbohydrate intake manipulation is a great way to shed the last few stubborn pounds of body fat, and in my opinion is the most necessary thing to do to keep your leanest. By allowing our glycogen levels to fall in our body, we can then again allow our bodies to burn more body fat. This happens through reducing the amount of carbohydrates we consume. It would be easy to just say always go low carb, but that is not the answer when you want to be active and healthy! Strength and cardio training breaks down tissue and much of this tissue is muscle, so by carb cycling you can manipulate your body to access more fat for energy without sacrificing muscle.
How to carb cycle: Go low-carb on days of lower activity and easier workouts. Maintain low carb levels throughout the day and only eat your starchier carbs as part of your post-workout meal. On higher activity and strenuous workouts, go high-carb, allowing yourself to take in more carbs and eat larger post-workout meals. Try to stick to only two of these high-carb days/week and spread them out.
What is the preferred method for many and what has given me the best results though is an even easier to follow: The 6:1 day rule!
For 6 days stick to a strict low-carb/high-protein diet. On day 7, have indulge in high-carbohydrate meals. Start over and repeat the cycle, until you achieve the results wanted, just remember that the low-carb days need to be strictly low-carb! Incorporating a high-carb day allows your body to replenish glycogen stores depleted from training, stop catabolism, and keep your metabolism rocking along.
3. More Training + More Sleep = More Fat Loss: As stated in tip #1, more intense training is needed to shed the last few pounds. Generally, with more intense and frequent training, more sleep is required in order to recover properly! Not only that, but the LACK of sleep people get is directly related to how much fat they may lose. One major problem that is associated with a lack of sleep is an increased daytime cortisol level. Cortisol is a hormone that is released within the body that works to break down body tissues. In times of stress or exhaustion, you will find that your cortisol levels raise in response to your body getting ready for the "fight or flight" response mechanism.
Another major reason why sleep is so important to reaching your fat loss goal is that recent studies have shown that ongoing sleep deprivation is responsible for a number of changes in the hormonal release and metabolism of humans, especially increased hunger and appetite. If you are dieting, you will already have your share of cravings, so additional ones from sleep deprivation are definitely not needed.
4. Cardio is weight training's under-rated BFF: So, yes it is true that cardio alone won't help you lose body fat, but when we are talking about shedding that final few pounds, cardio can help A LOT! To reach your leanest physique, you need to utilize cardio smartly! Interval training is often too intense to fully recover from before your next strength training session, so mixing in aerobic intervals and even steady-state cardio will allow you to stay at the gym longer, avoid extra food and burn more calories. When the last stubborn pounds are at stake, the extra work is needed.