Whenever you start a new weight loss kick, you have to change up your entire regime.
New diet plan, new workout schedule, new mindset. But do you need anything else?
Over the last few years, more and more people are turning to fitness supplements to help support their weight loss. But do you really need them, or is it all aggressive marketing by big supplement corporations?
In this article, we see if you really do need supplements, and what other things you can do if you’re struggling to shed the pounds.
Asking an expert: How necessary are supplements for fat loss?
For this part of our article, we spoke to Doug Brown, a supplement expert from Muxcle.com and asked him how necessary they are for getting in shape.
“Supplements are not essential to fat loss. They can help, but you really have to know what you’re looking for.”
Over our conversation, Doug explained that a lot of the supplement industry seems to be based more on marketing than actual research.
“If you want results from supplements, you should really do you homework. Look at the ingredients label on the product, and research what goes into it. There are plenty of good websites out there like Examine.com that do full write ups on individual ingredients along with the studies that support them.”
Doug also explained that many manufacturers choose to use proprietary blends, a method which hides the dosages of individual ingredients and how it causes problems for the consumer.
“You don’t know how much of each ingredient you’re getting – so how can you know if it is well dosed enough to be effective? If you’re choosing a supplement like a fat burner, make sure all the ingredients are clearly listed along with their dosages.”
At the end of our interview, we asked Doug if there are any ingredients in particular he recommends for fat loss.
“Green Tea, Cayenne Pepper and Glucomannan. All three of those are safe, natural and have plenty of studies behind them to help with fat loss. Green Tea can help your body burn more fat and boost your focus. Cayenne Pepper helps with burning fat and to some extent with appetite suppression. And finally, Glucomannan is great for suppressing your appetite and can also help regulate your cholesterol.”
What can you do instead of taking supplements?
Supplements aren’t for everyone. However, if you’re still struggling to cut fat there are numerous things you can do which can help get your fat levels down quicker.
Here are some methods that you can add to both your diet and your workout to get better results from your body.
This sounds like basic advice, and it is – but you’d be amazed at the amount of people that don’t follow it as strictly as they should.
When it comes to burning fat, one of the best methods is working out how many calories you eat on a regular basis to maintain your current weight – and then lowering that amount. This method is also known as ‘calories-in, calories-out’ and it’s pretty fool proof.
The secret is to track everything. Keep a journal of what you eat, and how many calories were there. This can help you stay under your limit and start shrinking down to a healthier weight.
The idea is that you take in less calories than your body uses, this makes your body burn stored fat to make up the difference. Obviously it’s not as simple as that, you do need to be eating the right foods as they have an effect on your metabolism on hormones.
But as long as you are staying healthy with your diet choices, you shouldn’t face any problems. Which brings us to our next point…
Beware of Sugar: It is Everywhere
One of the major stumbling blocks for most diets is sugar, it’s a high calorie, tastes good and gives your body nothing to work with but more stored fat.
Most of the time, it isn’t the dieter’s fault either. It’s food that is marketed as low fat. These meals and snacks are usually marketed as diet aids, boasting how low they are in fat. What they don’t tell you, is how high they are in sugar to still make it taste good. We’re constantly told that fat is bad – when the real culprit is sugar.
If you’re dieting, and not impressed with your results despite your dedication, this could be one of the reasons why. Check the nutrient information on the food you’re eating to make sure you’re not being supplied with too much sugar – as that can be your down fall.
If you’re not familiar with intermittent fasting, here it is in the most basic form: eating in a time window. That’s it.
For example, let’s say you’re doing a 16 hour fast. You would pick 8 hours throughout the day where you would consume your daily calories and then nothing else after that. No calories at all. That means no snacks or caloric drinks, stick to water, black coffee or green tea.
What are the advantages of doing this?
- You’re more aware of what you eat.
- Fasting creates a better hormonal environment in your body for fat loss.
- You’ll preserve more muscle fasting.
- It’s free and saves time!
Let’s unpack a few of those benefits:
- More Aware of What You Eat
As you’re only eating for a small amount of time throughout the day, you’re more likely to plan what you eat in that time frame. You want to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients and vitamins your body needs to keep you healthy.
In doing so, you won’t be impulsively buying anything to eat during your window, as you know you won’t be able to eat again once it closes. This helps guide towards making more sensible decisions while in your eating window, which can help you drop the fat.
- Better Hormonal Environment
Another advantage of intermittent fasting is that it can help your body to balance your hormones. When you’re not eating, your body changes certain hormonal balances in your system to make stored energy more available to you.
One of which is your insulin levels. Without food coming in, your insulin has no reason to spike to manage it. When your insulin levels are high, your body stores fat more easily in case of emergency. However, when it is lower, fat is much easier to burn as your body will want it available as a resource.
There are some other changes too, such as a rise in growth hormone and in norepinephrine – which breaks down fat cells.
- Preserve More Muscle
As we’ve already mentioned, fasting can change your hormonal balance, including your levels of growth hormone. This is good for both fat loss, and gaining muscle mass.
Fasting helps your body to have more of it, as growth hormone can help break down stored glycogen in your body to help keep your blood sugar levels up during a fasting period.
Not only that, an increased amount of human growth hormone in your body can also aid in repairing and maintaining healthy tissue in vital organs in your body.
- It saves time and money!
This is more of a lifestyle benefit than a fat burning boost. Intermittent fasting is incredibly convenient for those that have a busy lifestyle.
Why? Because you get to skip meals!
Most people who intermittent fast find themselves having one large meal a day along with a few other snacks throughout their eating window.
This means you only have to prepare one meal a day, as opposed to the three that you’re typically responsible for.
If you’re taking it seriously, you’ll find yourself not going out to eat a lot less. Less fast food and restaurants and more fasting and a fatter wallet.
High Intensity Training
If you’re looking for new ideas when it comes to working out when cutting down – it may worth considering High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
What is HIIT?
It’s a form of cardio that involves switching between low intensity training and very high intensity. Constantly back and forth. You can either do this in a gym on a cardio machine like a bike or in your home.
It’s easy to do, and hurts like hell, here’s a good example.
If you don’t have access to a gym, a good way to perform HIIT could be outside on a run.
Start by jogging for 30 seconds, then sprint for 30 seconds, then walk again and so on. You should be close to exhausted within 10 minutes.
Why is this better than normal cardio?
The fat loss benefits are much better. Because of the constant on-and-off intensity, your body takes a serious beating.
To recover from this beating your body increases your oxygen consumption throughout the day to get your body back to normal. To do this, it uses more energy and burns more fat.
It can also help lower your blood pressure and strengthens your heart’s health. VeryWellFit.com has a great article on this if you want to know about how it’s better than traditional cardio.
As you can see, supplements are not the be all and end all of fat loss.
However, if that is what you’re looking for you should definitely take Doug’s advice and do thorough research before making any decisions.
There are other ways to reach your fat loss goals. Strategic dieting and exercising methods can help get the results you’re looking for without spending a penny. Our vote is for intermittent fasting and high intensity interval training. Give them a try, you might surprise yourself.