– The Hierarchy:
1. Correct Nutrition
2. See #1
3. Activities that burn calories, maintain/promote muscle mass, and elevate metabolism
4. Activities that burn calories and elevate metabolism
5. Activities that burn calories but don’t necessarily maintain muscle or elevate metabolism
– So why is there a hierarchy? The reason is based on time. Depending on how much time you have to commit to your goal of fat loss, the hierarchy tells you the order in which to spend that time most efficiently.
For example, if you have little to no time to commit to your goal (not a great starting point, but sometimes it is what it is), the most efficient thing you can do is to commit yourself to cleaning up your diet (more on this in a second). The more time you have, the more of the hierarchy you should be including in your efforts.
– The most important thing to notice about the hierarchy, are #1 and #2. Nutrition is BY FAR the most important factor at work in fat loss. So what should you do/eat? Unfortunately there is no one answer, but as many other answers here noted, there are certainly foundational elements that are non-negotiable:
- Eliminate your intake of processed food. Eat real, whole, nutrient dense foods, particularly veggies and some fruit.
- Make sure to get adequate protein (how much will depend on how much you are exercising, and your gender)
- Significantly reduce your consumption of complex carbohydrates (essentially, to lose fat you want your body to use it for energy, this is much less likely to happen if there is plenty of readily available energy in the form of carbohydrate always in your body).
- Cut out any excess sugar from your diet (there is no nutritional reason for eating excess sugar, in fact it may be poisonous to your body).
– Let’s quickly take a look at the types of physical activities that constitute, #3, 4, and 5:
1. Metabolic Resistance Training (i.e. total body resistance training – this will create the biggest metabolic demand during training, build muscle mass which will increase your resting metabolic rate, and will help you look lean and healthy regardless of weight)
2. High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training (i.e. intense anaerobic complexes and intervals – high intensity interval training, or HIIT, creates greater metabolic demands on your body than steady state cardio, and it takes less time, thus it’s a more efficient component to add to your program)
3. High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training (i.e. intense aerobic intervals)
4. Steady State High Intensity Aerobic Training (i.e. intense cardio work)
5. Steady State Low Intensity Aerobic Training (i.e. walking around)
So what is the most efficient way to lose fat?
Start with changing your diet.
Have 3 hours (a week)? Add some full body resistance training.
Have 5 hours? Add some high intensity interval training.
Have 8 hours? Add some steady state cardio
Have more than 8 hours? Use the extra time to just move.
Good luck to you!