When it comes to learning how to lose body fat it’s information overload. One gym promises 1,000 calorie torching workouts, while another will tell you its near-impossible to burn that in a workout class.

So, it’s no surprise that confusion still persists among women on the best ways to lower their body fat percentage into a healthy range safely: what is the best way to you lose body fat? And can you shed it fast while not putting your health at risk?

Something to remember though, regardless of your shape, size or body-fat percentage, is that healthy looks different on everyone. Plus, as a woman, if you taking losing body to the extreme it can dangerously mess with your hormones.

Contents

Remember, body fat is important

First off, your body needs fat. It’s critically important for health and longevity, and is your protection against starvation when you can’t access food.

‘Body fat acts as an energy store for the body,’ says Nicola Addison, personal trainer and wellbeing expert for Healthspan. ‘It protects your organs, cushions joints, regulates body temperature and is responsible for the secretion of certain hormones. In short, it helps to keep you alive.’

But like anything, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing…

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Healthy body fat percentages for women

‘Excess body fat can adversely affect health, possibly leading to heart disease and diabetes,’ Addison says.

So, what golden figure should you be aiming for when planning how to lose body fat?

Well, if your body fat percentage is somewhere between 20 and 30%, you can rest easy. If it’s around the midway mark, even better. But if you’re in that range, don’t worry too much about exactly where you sit.

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What happens when you have too little body fat

Going too low also comes with its own health warnings. ‘You could expect to feel lethargic and irritable, and your monthly cycle could stop,’ says Katie Morris of Matt Roberts Training. As per our favourite wellness mantra – it’s a question of balance.

Generally in women, a body fat level of lower than 15% can be associated with depleted levels of the hormone leptin, which can in turn influence menstruation. But that’s not all.

Other dangers of having a low body fat include…

  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Low blood pressure
  • Poor concentration
  • Hair loss
  • Dental and gum problems
  • Bradycardia (too slow heart rate)
  • Hypogonadism (poorly functioning activity of the ovaries)
  • Hypoglycemia (condition caused by blood sugar being too low)
  • Muscle cramps

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If you think it’s got to the point where you feel restricted and are dieting or exercising compulsively, then it may be a good time to press pause and reach out.

The best way to measure body fat

OK, so this is where it starts to get tricky. There’s the old-school calliper test, which involves pinching fat at certain points of the body and measuring the thickness in the fold of skin, which, according to many health professionals, is an inaccurate, error-prone method.

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But, ‘body fat percentage is a difficult measurement to take on your own,’ says Morris. ‘I would recommend asking a personal trainer for assistance.’

Then there are high-tech (read expensive) machines such as bio-electrical impedance, DEXA and 3D body scanners. ‘The latter can calculate fat mass, lean mass and bone mass in just 35 seconds in a simple, quick and non-invasive way by capturing millions of data points to digitally measure and track the circumferences of your whole body,’ explains Tracy Morrell, UK and Ireland sales director for 3D body scanner Styku.

Holland & Barrett branches in London’s Marble Arch and Canary Wharf allow customers use of super-accurate body composition machines, and so do many gyms and fitness studios, including…

  • Third Space (various in London)
  • Virgin Active (nationwide)
  • F45 (nationwide)
  • David Lloyd (nationwide)
  • The Harbour Club (Chelsea)
  • Surge Fitness (Hammersmith)
  • Get Focused Body Transformation Studio (Southampton)
  • 3-1-5 Health Club (Lancaster)
  • Waterside Hotel and Leisure Club (Didsbury)
  • Lanserhof (at the Arts Club in London)
  • ELITE Gym (part of Grantley Hall, Yorkshire)
  • No1 Fitness (London)
  • James McLaren Fitness (Bury St Edmunds)
  • Urban Fit Company (Scotland)
  • Well Measured (Gloucester)
  • Top Condition Personal Training and Nutrition (Kent)
  • Better Body Group (Sevenoaks)
  • James McLaren Fitness Ltd (Bury St Edmunds)
  • Anytime Fitness (King’s Lynn and Knutsford)
  • Fit to Last (London)
  • Matt Roberts Personal Training (London)
  • Ana Rito (Guildford)
  • The Langley Spa (Iver, Buckinghamshire)
  • MVMT42 (Findon, West Sussex)
  • Raw Performance – Hitchin
  • Healthy For Life Fitness by Shane Noden (Northampton)
  • BelleCell (London)
  • Top Condition Personal Training (Gillingham)
  • MOKO Clinic (Spalding, Lincolnshire)
  • Two Lions Group (London)

How to measure body fat at home

A multitude of body composition scales available online and on the high street as a way to measure body fat percentage yourself.

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Do they work? Think of them like measuring cups; they’re best used as a rough guide. ‘The reading will vary according to which software you use,’ says Sarah Lindsay of Roar Fitness (roar-fitness.com).

‘Invest in a good set of scales so you can measure the change, but don’t rely on the actual number being 100% accurate.’

How to lose body fat fast but safely

Straight up: Reducing body fat might not be as simple as burning more calories than you’re consuming. That’s because shifting weight doesn’t necessarily equate to losing fat.

Pounds dropping off the scale may just mean you’ve lost water and muscle. And who wants to trim down, while losing functionality and strength in the process? Thought so.

But don’t panic – read on for how to lose it safely – and most importantly – sustainably.

It really does depend on your starting point but, according to Lindsay, dropping around 1% of fat per week is a healthy weight loss.

How to lose body fat without losing muscle?

‘The secret is to find that sweet spot where you’re losing fat, while gaining muscle, says PT Aaron Vine of The Watson Gym. ‘You can slash calories and lose a lot of weight but to lose fat, it’s always a much slower process – and one best addressed through both diet and exercise.’

Vine recommends beginning by calculating your weight, body fat percentage and muscle mass using one of the aforementioned methods. Watch how these figures change over a few days.

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Is your weight and muscle mass dropping, but your body fat increasing, despite regular workouts, for example? ‘That could mean you’re eating too many carbs and not enough protein to sustain your muscle,’ Vine says.

Tweak your regime accordingly and monitor the numbers again. Repeat until it’s solely fat coming off. Need help? Learn how to count your macros.

Exercise for fat loss

The best type of workouts for fat loss? ‘Those you can consistently commit to,’ Vine says. ‘Whether that’s sweating it out every day or a couple of times a week, it’s more important to focus on the quality of your workouts over their quantity.’

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Sounds like a win-win, right? Save time, gain more. But not all exercise is equal.

‘To lose body fat, HIIT workouts, which include some weight-bearing exercises using either body weight or dumbbells and kettlebells, work best,’ Vine recommends. ‘Aim for a mixture of compound exercises (squats, lunges, press ups), isolation exercises (hamstring curls, leg extensions, lateral raises) and a bit of cardio.’

‘Ultimately, the more muscle you have, the faster you’ll burn fat, and the more time you spend working out at around 75% of your maximum heart rate, the greater the after-burn effect – which basically means the longer you’ll be burning calories after you’ve left the gym.’

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All well and good, but what does that look like IRL?

Try Vine’s sample workout to get you started. ‘I like to set trackable targets in the gym to get people working harder,’ he says. ‘So instead of just doing 20 burpees, record how quickly you can do them and focus on getting faster.’

Up first, cardio:

  1. 8 minutes on the cross trainer at a fast warm-up pace
  2. 1000m sprint on the rowing machine
  3. 4 minutes on the stair master at 80% MHR

Then perform 3 sets of 15 reps of the following:

  • Kettlebell squat
  • Kettlebell deadlift
  • Shoulder press
  • Chest press
  • Leg extension

Or, try this home workout from Kayla Itsines.

What to eat to lose body fat

The general consensus on the best diet for fat loss is sticking to nutrient dense produce and being mindful of portion sizes.

With this in mind there are a couple of across-the-board recommendations for what not to eat when trying to reduce body fat:

  • Alcohol: the ‘hidden’ calories in alcohol are hard to swerve thanks to their association with relaxing and unwinding or celebrating and having a great time. However, these can quickly add up to the equivalent of a few extra snacks or a small meal should you imbibe a lot.
  • Processed foods: not-so-nutrient dense but usually quite moreish, processed foods often pack a calorie wallop without the satiation of more nutrient rich foods such as lean protein, vegetables and treats such as dark chocolate which contain anti-oxidants and can be lower in sugar.

The fat-protein efficient diet

When getting to grips with how to lose body fat there’s plenty of food for thought. You may have heard of a ‘fat protein efficient diet’, which means that you do better on a higher carb, moderate protein and lower fat diet.

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But how you plan your meals really depends on your individual body and what you’re trying to achieve.

‘Most women do perform better on a high protein, moderate fat and lower carb diet,’ Vine says. ‘To maintain muscle, you typically need 0.5g protein per lb of body weight – this can be increased to 0.75g if you want to build more muscle (which will ultimately help to reduce body fat more quickly).

For carbs, I suggest starting with 1g per pound of body weight then reducing down, if necessary, until it’s only fat coming off, not muscle.’

So best stock up on protein-enriched products then? ‘Supplements should only be used if you can’t meet your targets through a healthy, balanced diet alone,’ Vine says.

‘The more nutritious sources of energy you feed your body with, the more it will want to use them – meaning your training will improve, you’ll burn more calories and build more muscle, and you’ll lose more body fat.’

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Lindsay suggests monitoring your food intake using a calorie counting app. ‘Add up what macros you’re currently eating,’ she says. ‘It’s much easier if you’re consistent – i.e. eating the same thing every day.

‘It may be dull but remember, it’s only for a short period of time while you work out why you aren’t losing fat. Having this base will make adjusting your diet easier. Aim for a balance of lean meat, fish, complex carbs and lots of veg.’

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And, lastly, drink. No, not G&Ts on ice – we’re good, but not that good – but water. Lots of it.

‘If you’re dehydrated, your performance will suffer, so you won’t be able to push yourself as hard during training,’ Vine says. Which means? ‘You won’t burn as many calories or build as much muscle.’

And for Morris and Addison, it’s not just diet and exercise that are worth bearing in mind when it comes to maximising fat burn.

‘Sleep quality and too much stress are the most underestimated lifestyle habits in relation to fat loss,’ Morris says.

How to maintain your body fat percentage

You made it. Well done. So now how to sustain that well-balanced bod? ‘You may need to increase your calorie intake,’ Vine says. What?

‘You’ll need more calories to maintain the muscle you’ve built.’

And before you think the lower you go with the whole body fat percentage thing, the better, woah. ‘If your body fat gets too low, your body will need to find alternative energy sources – and will start to eat your muscles,’ he adds.

How to tell if you’re teetering on the edge? Vine explains: ‘You’ll feel tired, headachey and weaker in your workouts – watch out for not being able to lift as heavy as you used to. It could be a sign that you need to put some fat back on.’

Looking for some gym-spo?

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The Skinny on Burning Body Fat

If the word refined sounds classy, it’s actually anything but… when it comes to carbs, at least.

Refined carbs have undergone processing to remove bran and germ from grains. This means their fiber and nutritional awesomeness has also been stripped away.

What’s more, consuming too many refined carbs can lead to fat gain, specifically — (dun dun dun) visceral fat.

By reducing the amount of refined carbs in your diet, you can reduce the amount of fat build-up in your body.

Refined carbs are found in some of the yummiest party foods, such as pastries, pastas, and cereals. Because they often have a high glycemic index, these sneaky carbs can increase the ebbs and flows of your blood sugar levels — leaving you all sorts of hangry.

Try swapping out refined carbs with delicious whole-grain alternatives, like quinoa, barley, oats, and whole wheat. We guarantee you’ll feel happier and healthier when you do!

Bottom line

Refined carbs make us hangry — literally. They’re stripped of their nutrients, they raise blood sugar levels, and they increase belly fat. Go whole wheat and whole grain, or bust.

8. Fiber arts

Soluble fiber moves through your digestive system slowly, absorbing water as it goes and making you feel full for a long time.

A 2012 study that included 1,114 adults found those who increased their soluble fiber intake by 10 grams per day saw a loss of 3.7 percent in belly fat over 5 years without changing their diet or exercise habits!

In the same study, increased fiber intake helped participants lose almost 4.4 pounds (2 kg) during a 4 month span of time.

Fill up on these high-fiber foods:

  • fruit
  • veggies
  • whole grains
  • nuts and seeds

Eating a high-fiber diet will boost your overall health while helping you stay lean.

9. Sayonara soda & bye-bye booze!

Regularly sipping on sweetened beverages like soda, juice, and frappuccinos can add tons of empty calories, which can contribute to body fat.

Another culprit? Alcohol. Booze contains a bevy of calories — and it’s generally not listed on the bottle. So that rosé you’re sipping during The Bachelor every week contains more calories than empty promises made in the fantasy suite.

Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions, which can cause you to overindulge or make unhealthy food choices.

What’s more, studies show that these types of drinks are also linked to increased belly fat.

Swapping these drinks for a refreshing glass of water or sparkling essence water is a refreshing, zero-calorie alternative.

Another alternative is hot or iced green tea. It’s loaded with antioxidants and caffeine to boost your energy, immune system, and fat-burning potential at the same time.

Can’t quit those calorie-rich drinks? Start small. Swap one or two of your sugary drinks each day with water or green tea, or replace that rosé with a single glass of heart-healthy red. You’ll soon reap the benefits!

Sugary drinks and alcohol are high in calories and increase the risk of belly fat. Boost weight loss and burn fat by switching to water or green tea.

10. Be pro-biotic

Probiotics are a type of good bacteria that targets your gut.

In a recent review of 15 different studies, researchers found that those who added probiotic supplements to their regular diet showed a decrease in weight and body fat percentage, compared to those who were given a placebo.

Adding probiotics to your diet is as simple as taking a daily supplement or eating yogurt, kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut, or kombucha.

Probiotics promote gut health, which can help you lose weight and reduce fat.

11. But first… coffee

For those of us who worship at the temple of Starbucks, here’s some welcome news: coffee can aid in weight loss!

Coffee contains caffeine, which stimulates the body’s nervous system, helping to rev up your metabolism and break down fat.

Studies have revealed that caffeine can boost your metabolism (and energy levels) by 3 to 11 percent! With more energy comes more activity, which is perfect for pushing through those early morning or evening workouts.

In fact, one study of 2,623 people found higher caffeine consumption was linked to maintaining weight loss.

The caffeine in coffee stimulates the nervous system, speeds up metabolism, and bolsters fat breakdown. Have another cuppa.

12. Unleash your inner Iron-(wo)man

Who knew pumping iron and consuming it burned fat? Iron is an essential mineral that your body needs in order to create healthy blood cells.

Most folks don’t get enough iron and are at risk for adverse effects of iron deficiency. This is even more prevalent for women, kids, and those who are vegan or vegetarian.

Low iron levels can affect your thyroid — a gland found in your neck that produces hormones which keep your metabolism in check.

Low iron levels can throw your thyroid out of whack, stalling its ability to produce these important hormones, leading to weight gain, fatigue, weakness, and a slew of other crummy effects.

In one study, 21 women who were treated for iron deficiencies not only lost body weight, they also saw smaller waistlines.

Having low iron levels can cause headaches and make you tired, dizzy, or short of breath.

Have your iron levels checked at your next physical. A simple blood test can signal if you need to take a supplement.

Food sources of iron include:

  • meat
  • seafood
  • fortified grains
  • dried fruits
  • leafy greens

Low iron levels can throw your thyroid out of whack, which can lead to tiredness, weakness, and a slowed metabolism. Consider eating iron-rich foods or adding a daily supplement to your regimen.

13. Cruising down the intermittent fasting lane

To eat or to fast? That is the question. But wait, you can do both — with intermittent fasting! With this type of diet, you alternate periods of eating with periods of fasting, which can help you shed pounds and lose fat.

There are many different approaches to intermittent fasting. Some involve eating only during certain hours, while others take it a step further and restrict eating to certain days.

In one small study, participants who only ate during an 8 hour period each day while doing resistance training showed signs of both decreased fat mass and maintained muscle mass.

Intermittent fasting can be adapted to your lifestyle.

Some of the more popular approaches to this diet are:

  • eat stop eat
  • the 16/8 method
  • the 5:2 diet
  • the warrior diet

Intermittent fasting combines alternating periods of eating and fasting. Studies show it can help shed body fat, decrease weight, and maintain muscle mass.

14. The keto diet (Atkin’s 2.0)

You’ve likely heard about the keto diet, but what is it really? The key to keto is increasing your intake of healthy fats and proteins, while decreasing carb consumption to under 30 to 50 grams per day.

This puts your body into a state of ketosis, meaning your body doesn’t have enough blood sugar to burn for energy, so it burns fat instead. Cutting carbs can lead to significant weight loss.

Research has shown that keto is more effective in promoting weight loss than traditional low-fat diets. And don’t worry about feeling hungry or unsatisfied — thanks to the emphasis on extra proteins and fats, you’ll feel full for longer.

There are several variations of the keto diet, and you can choose what’s best for you based on your lifestyle. As with any major diet change, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor or nutritionist to find what version will work best for you.

The keto diet helps promote weight loss by significantly decreasing carbs and increasing proteins and healthy fats. The lack of carbs in your system means your body has to burn fat instead.

3 Reasons You Don’t Lose Fat

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A man can learn a lot from observing women in a book club for five minutes. I would know because my wife is part of a one, and every time I spend a little time with those ladies I come away much wiser and more convinced that men and women could not be much more different-unless you’re talking about exercise.

You see, the exercise techniques that work best are universal to men and women. And yet most women wouldn’t dare approach the gym like a guy. How do I know? Because the 10 women at my wife’s book club told me so last night, and it’s the same thing I’ve heard for the last 10 years in the fitness industry. The reality is that training “like a man” will actually make you leaner, sexier, and have your friends dying to know your secret.

So forget gender differences for a moment. Here are three tips that are part of the foundation of my New York Times best-selling book, Man 2.0: Engineering the Alpha. They work well for men, but like most things in life, by following these simple rules, the end result will look even better on a woman.

Rule 1: Stick to the Basics

Everyone loves to create exercises that make working out more fun. And that’s fine; your workout should be enjoyable. But thinking that Bosu ball balancing acts or one-legged plié jumps while holding a kettlebell will get you fitter faster just isn’t accurate. If you want results, you have to stick with what we know works. And that’s classic, multi-muscle exercises like squats and deadlifts. These exercises work because they force you to use multiple muscle groups at once. And the more muscles you activate, the more fat you’ll slash.

These may seem like exercises for guys, but not all squats are done with a barbell loaded with lots of weight. (Although women shouldn’t fear heavier weights; they don’t make you bulky.) Variations of these exercises are timeless and extremely effective. Grab a pair of dumbbells and try Bulgarian split squats (). Your legs and butt will thank you.

Rule 2: Less Cardio

More women perform cardio as a means to lose weight than men. This is not a stereotype-it’s reality. That’s not to say men aren’t equally guilty. (We spent part of an entire chapter in Engineering the Alpha busting the cardio-fat loss myth.) It’s true cardio helps you burn calories… but so does eating. So that’s not the issue; you want to find the most efficient ways to burn calories and more importantly fat. And you want to build a body that makes it easier for you to enjoy the foods you love, right?

That’s why cardio isn’t the answer. Or, at least, it’s not the primary solution. Cardio will burn calories, and weight training is more likely to burn fat. If you’re going to do cardio, make it secondary to weight training. That means either doing cardio on separate days (if you have the time) or after a weight training workout. The best thing about lifting weights is that your body adapts to the new muscle mass you’ll build, which means your metabolism will be higher, you’ll burn more calories, and you’ll change your hormones (like insulin) to be able to handle the foods you love.

Rule 3: More Intensity

I’ve spent enough time in the gym to know that making fitness social is a great idea. Few things are better than going to gym with friends or being part of group fitness, whether it’s bootcamp, Crossfit, or Zumba. What’s not okay is focusing on the social aspect more than the workout itself. Most guys go in with a “go big or go home” mentality. While this can lead to injuries, it’s closer to the right mindset in terms of getting results.

When you go to the gym, you want to get in and get out. Longer workouts are not better workouts. Intense workouts are what works. Your heart rate should be elevated and you should be sweating and feeling your muscles work. Completely transforming your body does not take a lot of time-but it does take a lot of effort. If you want an idea of what all out effort feels like, try this simple two-exercise sequence. It’s called a countdown. It might only take 10 minutes, but it might feel like the hardest workout you’ve ever performed. Use this as a baseline for how hard you should be pushing to get the body you want.

Countdown Workout

Perform 10 reps of a kettlebell (or dumbbell) swing

Without rest, do 10 reps of burpees

Still without resting, do 9 reps of the swings

Now do 9 reps of burpees

Continue this pattern until you do just 1 rep of each exercise, trying to rest as little as possible (or not at all) between moves.

  • By Adam Bornstein

Fat Loss For Women: Adjustments You Need To Make!

If you’re a female aiming for fat loss, you’ve likely noticed by now, much to your disgust, that your male counterparts seem to have a much easier time than you.

Unfortunately, males do have some advantages when it comes to fat loss, which is why they tend to get leaner faster than you do. This does not mean you might as well throw in the towel, however. With some adjustments to your approach, you can realize the success you are looking for provided you are willing to put in some hard work.

Why Males Have It Easier

There are two main reasons why males can achieve fat loss faster than females. The first one is due to the fact that they naturally tend to have a slightly higher basal metabolic rate than females do, allowing them to either eat more calories while losing the same amount of weight (thus making the diet more manageable), or allowing them to accelerate their fat loss for faster results. This is partially due to the genetic make-up of the male body compared to the females, so there isn’t a great deal you can do to change in this regard.

The second major reason why males seem to lose fat effortlessly is due to the higher amount of muscle mass. Your muscle tissue is one of the most metabolically active tissues in the body, therefore the more of it you have, the faster your basal metabolic rate will be.

It’s unreasonable to expect a female to ever develop as much muscle as many males have, but this is something that you can work on and why strength training is highly recommended as a way for females to boost their rate of weight loss.

The Female Body Type

Females tend to have a body type that stores excess body fat in the thigh, hip, and lower abdominal region, so if these are your trouble spots, don’t be too surprised. The fat in these areas also tends to be much more stubborn to lose, partly due to the fact the receptor cells that control the rate of lipolysis (fat metabolism) are different in these areas of women, making it harder for the stored fat to become mobilized.

While men will struggle more with lower back fat in this respect, for females, it’s typically the thighs that prove to be most annoying when it comes to leaning down.

In addition to different types of receptors, these areas on a female body also typically experience lower levels of blood flow, further reducing the amount of fat from this area that is mobilized.

Exercise Techniques To Boost Fat Loss

Because of the decreased blood flow to these areas on a woman’s body, one way to help boost the rate of fat loss is to be sure you’re performing activities that will get the blood moving. Running tends to do this quite well, so that’s a good option for lower body fat loss (running uphill will be even better since it’s of higher intensity).

Many women will have to accept the fact that more cardio training will be required for them to lose body fat, especially as they approach the leaner levels.

Keep in mind though that there are also many women who go too far with this. When you’re doing hours and hours of cardio a day, the body, particularly the lower region, can start to hold water weight, actually giving you a softer appearance. In this situation many women find that after dramatically decreasing the amount of cardio they are doing, they tend to look a great deal leaner.

Weight training will also be a must for females since that causes the greatest boost to the metabolic rate immediately after the session, really promoting faster fat loss. Women who place a much higher emphasis on cardio training in comparison to weight training are the ones who typically lose greater portions of muscle mass, becoming softer looking rather than lean and defined.

Nutritional Techniques To Increase Fat Loss

Potentially even more important in the war against fat loss for women will be their diet. This is not something most enjoy hearing, but it’s s a fact that must be accepted if you are to really succeed with taking your fat loss to the next level.

Since diet will make the most difference regarding total calorie balance, it’s far easier to reduce back on your food intake then try and aim to bring exercise levels extremely high. Some women will try to just do more and more cardio as a means to achieve the negative calorie balance, but this often leads to overtraining or overuse injuries.

When you get to the advanced stages of fat loss, carbohydrate cycling seems to be the best option for women, where you will consume a very low carbohydrate much of the time, periodically bringing the carbohydrate intake a great deal higher in order to ‘reset’ the thyroid hormones and get fat loss moving once again.

Women who use a very low carbohydrate diet for an extended period of time also seem to notice that fat loss begins to slow, further making it a good reason to boost your calorie intake once every two weeks or so.

Keeping A Realistic Mindset

Finally, it’s going to be a good idea to maintain a realistic mindset throughout the whole process. It’s not practical to expect that you would be able to obtain levels of body fat similar to that of a male you train with since women do require higher amounts of essential fat just to function effectively.

Males generally need 2-5% total body fat at bear minimum while females need 10-13%. As you can see this is a dramatic difference that is going to prove to be somewhat limiting to your trying to get into the single digits.

Unless you’re preparing for a fitness, figure, or bodybuilding contest, you’re better off aiming for a body fat level slightly higher than this (15-20% is typically ideal for most females), which will help promote healthier energy levels, a fully functioning reproductive system, and help prevent extreme food cravings from setting in (which often occurs at very low body fat levels).

Conclusion

So, keep these points in mind if you’re a woman in search of fat loss. It’s a great thing that you want to better the way you look and feel, but it’s important to keep in mind that as a female, your body does react slightly different than a males will.

Women’s Guide to Burn Fat and Build Muscle: The Holy Grail

Why Build Muscle? I Don’t Want to be Bulky.

Have you ever felt frustrated in your attempts to burn fat, change your shape, and improve your body composition? Whether you are young or old, this is something that a lot of women struggle with. It does not have to be as difficult as it seems though. In my years as a physician, and experience working with athletes, I have found 3 key elements that will determine your success at burning fat, while at the same time, building muscle. Follow the 3 keys and you’ll burn fat and build muscle in no time!

Why shouldn’t your goal be to just lose fat? That is a great question. First off, we are not talking about gaining muscle and being bulky. I am a Plastic Surgeon and I see a lot of women who are competitive athletes in my practice. It is darn near impossible for a woman to get bulky with muscle without adding anabolic medications (often illegal), to their systems.

So do not worry about bulking up with muscle. This false notion came from the 1950’s when coaches didn’t have their football players lift weights because they thought it would limit their flexibility and athleticism. Boyd Epley disproved this old wives’ tale in the 1960’s when he transformed the Nebraska Cornhuskers into a powerhouse.

Remember, your individual muscle groups will only respond depending on how much work you put into them. So if you concentrate on that booty, that is where you are going to see the most results.

We are talking about creating lean, defined muscle that is stronger, which allows you to exercise harder and more efficiently. Lean muscle also makes your body much healthier by improving glucose metabolism, insulin response, inflammatory markers, and your cholesterol profile.

Lean muscle also burns more calories than your other bodily tissues. This, in turn, will help you burn more fat, which is going to be a game-changer for your appearance and how you feel.

You’re a Doctor… What About Lipo?

People often ask when I speak about the ‘Burn Fat and Build Muscle Holy Grail of Fitness’, “You’re a Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Schneider, why not just do liposuction?” Liposuction is a great operation and I love the results. I also love the satisfaction and gratitude that my patients express. It is ideal for contouring areas that are diet resistant. However, liposuction is not ideal for someone who has 20 or 30 pounds to lose or more.

Women come to me because most of them have tried diet plans, workout routines, trainers at the gym, fat burners, appetite suppressants, and pre-workouts… and they always end up the same. They are not satisfied with their body image. Most want to decrease the fat around their middle, and really want to make that booty look great.

Burn Fat and Build Muscle

Usually, when a person is trying to burn fat and lose weight, they end up losing two things: they lose fat and they also lose muscle. They get thinner but that all-important muscle decreases at the same time. That is because dieting decreases the number of nutrients in your system that the body needs to maintain the muscle.

But there is a way to burn fat and build muscle, not lose muscle, and do it all at the same time. I am going to show you how and you will not have to starve yourself or spend countless hours in the gym. Don’t get me wrong, it is hard work, it is not a magic pill, but if you can eat right, exercise right, and optimize your body’s natural muscle growth factors, you can accomplish it.

The Three Keys to Burn Fat and Build Muscle

1: The Right Exercise to Burn Fat and Build Muscle

It is important for women to have adequate muscle mass. As we age, both men and women tend to lose muscle, and in fact, they may lose as much as 1% of their muscle mass per year after a certain age. Where women commonly see this muscle loss is in their buttocks, back, and arms. This, of course, creates the dreaded dropped butt, back rolls, and saggy arms. Losing some of the muscle you have can also lead to frailty, altered estrogen levels, and lower Vitamin D levels.

The goal of exercise is to make your body better both internally, and externally. There are several different types of exercises, and combining them in the right fashion will help you achieve your goals. We do not want to just do one or the other, and we do not want to do them at the same time.

Cardio and HIIT for Fat Loss

Low-intensity aerobic exercise, or cardio, will build your cardiovascular system, and it will help burn fat. It will also positively affect certain hormone levels. However, it will also increase cortisol levels, and this is bad. The goal ideally is to not have elevated cortisol levels.

Cortisol is the primary stress hormone, and cortisol will tend to increase the amount of fat around the internal organs (visceral fat). Women who are obese have demonstrated higher cortisol levels in clinical studies.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) will have a similar benefit as cardio, however, HIIT will have a much greater impact in a significantly shorter period of time. HIIT will also preferentially change your hormonal levels to a better fat burning profile (higher growth hormone levels, lower glucose resistance, lower cortisol levels).

A typical HIIT program would consist of running, stepping, etc for as fast and as hard as you can for 60 seconds, followed by resting for 2 minutes. Classic HIIT programs have you repeat these intervals for 10-15 minutes. This is classic interval training.

Interestingly enough, some recent studies have shown that a single, 2-minute bout of full-out HIIT is as beneficial as 10-15 minutes classic 1-2 interval technique.

Resistance Training for Building Muscle

Resistance exercise works differently than cardio or HIIT, and it is necessary in order to build muscle and build your strength. It will also significantly improve your metabolic profile (a test of your overall health). Studies show lifting weights dramatically reduces C-Reactive Protein, which is a marker of inflammation in your body, and it will increase testosterone and growth hormone levels.

I know what you are thinking… “I don’t want testosterone as a woman!” Testosterone though will help you burn fat, increase lean muscle, and improve sex drive. Everyone needs testosterone to function at full, healthy, optimal levels.

Both aerobic and resistance exercise have significant benefits in helping you find the ‘Burn Fat and Build Muscle Holy Grail. They create different changes to your hormone levels, and both are necessary for you to burn fat and build muscle.

However, we recommend not doing cardio and resistance exercise during the same workout session. That is because when you perform cardio and weightlifting in the same session, your body converts to only the aerobic exercise hormone profile, and you lose the benefits of the resistance session.

I cannot emphasize this enough. Do not do your cardio and weight training. during the same session. You should do cardio and weight training on either separate days or at different times of the day if you have time to hit the gym twice a day. Separate your workouts to burn fat and build muscle!

2: The Right Diet to Burn Fat and Build Muscle

Let’s face it, no one likes going on a diet, and I am not recommending that you either starve yourself, eliminate all carbs, or go on a specific paleo or keto diet. However, you will have to modify what you eat and how you eat. Don’t worry though, I am going to show you that it can be very satisfying for your tummy.

Protein Intake

Believe it or not, young men and women have the same muscle building responses to resistance exercise. This is called muscle protein synthesis. However, women are smaller to start with, and so their percentage of gains is much smaller.

Muscle protein synthesis requires that you eat adequate amounts of protein. Most women that I see just do not eat enough protein. The average woman in my practice (young and old alike, athletes and non-athletes), eat far less protein than the recommended daily allowance (0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight). And this is far less than the modern recommended amount of 1.4 – 2 grams of protein per kilogram body weight for those looking to build muscle.

For a 130-pound woman, under a 0.8 grams/kg recommendation, she would have to consume 48g of protein. A large chicken breast can contain anywhere from 30-40 grams of protein. Do you eat more than 1 large chicken breast a day? I doubt it. 1.4 grams/kg for the same sized woman is about 80 grams.

Women have specific health needs, and their bodies respond differently to exercise and nutritional intake than do men. Interestingly, studies show that women who combine resistance exercise with protein supplementation have a greater response in muscle protein synthesis than men do!

Women also have a higher body fat composition than do men. Moreover, women burn more carbohydrates than fat at rest than men do. This means it is harder for women to burn fat as female bodies are more prone to burning sugars.

Learn about the various types of protein that you can consume in our in depth article on the best proteins.

Essential Fatty Acids

The fat that women store around their hips and thighs has a high concentration of DHA, a type of omega-3 essential fatty acid. DHA is used for a variety of purposes by your body, but in women, it is also used for the production of breast milk.

Because American diets are low in Omega-3, American women’s fat stores are low in DHA. DHA is an essential fatty acid meaning that you have to eat it, and you have to eat a certain amount of it. If your diet does not have enough Omega-3 in it, it may lead to overeating as the brain sends your mouth signals to maximize its Omega-3 levels.

Calories

In addition to consuming perhaps more protein than you would normally, and definitely more Omega-3 fatty acids, you also need to bring your daily total calorie count below what your daily calorie burn is.

How many calories do you burn? For the average 135 pound, 5’4” woman, their daily calorie burn would vary from about 1700 calories a day if you were completely sedentary (meaning only walking to the bathroom or the fridge), to 2200 calories a day if you exercised moderately 3 – 5 times a week, to 2500 calories a day if you exercised vigorously 6 -7 times a week.

The calorie count I recommend to most of my patients is to make sure you eat 500 calories less per day than your daily calorie burn. How can you increase your protein and omega-3 intake, and make it delicious, and decrease your calories?

Easy, I recommend that you add an instantized (dissolves easily in water), 100% grass-fed whey protein powder to your diet. Grass fed cow’s milk is what grass-fed whey protein is made from. Grass fed whey protein has higher levels of Omega-3 and vitamins than does non-grass fed milk sources.

If you pick the right grass fed whey protein you will find that it is amazingly delicious and it will taste incredible when mixed only in water. Eliminating the milk or almond milk will also save you some calories. In addition, if it is super pure, you can satisfy your cravings for dessert by creating puddings and snacks with it.

Please refer to this article if you need help counting calories or to better understand what macronutrients are.

Recommendations

I recommend to all my patients that they take grass-fed Grass-Fed Ultra Whey twice a day. Taking Grass-Fed Ultra Whey twice daily will provide 54 grams of protein with only 280 calories.

Here is how I recommend you take NZWP: It is instantized so you can mix it in just 5 ounces of water and drink it right after your workout. You can also mix it into a tablespoon of yogurt, or peanut butter, or almond butter and eat it as a pudding dessert. By creating a pudding or toffee you trick your brain into thinking it is a full meal even though you are consuming very little calories. I personally love the strawberry or coconut flavor mixed with almond butter.

I would also highly suggest that you supplement your diet with a high potency Omega-3. For most people, it will not only have an amazing effect on their mood, but it will satisfy your DHA needs, and help your physical recovery after exercise.

3: Muscle Protein Optimization to Burn Fat and Build Muscle

The third factor necessary for finding the ‘Burn Fat and Build Muscle Holy Grail’ is muscle protein optimization. Your muscle needs certain naturally occurring organic compounds to turn on the muscle protein synthesis system that will allow you to get stronger and prevent your muscle from breaking down.

Muscle Performance Optimization (MPO), when added to a proper exercise and diet plan, is a game changer. I have identified 4 key components to optimize muscle protein synthesis and spark your metabolism.

  • Increase the energy inside the muscle cell. ATP is the molecule in all your cells that provides this energy. If we increase the ATP in the muscle cell, it will have more energy to fire more effectively.
  • Decrease the amount of acid in the muscles. Muscles do not operate as well in an acidic environment, and you have probably heard that alkalinizing your system is beneficial. Scientists call the acid that builds up in the muscle with exercise lactic acid. Lactic acid
    decreases the endurance of the muscle.
  • Decrease the amount of muscle that is broken down by both exercise and by a lower calorie count. Breaking down muscle is called catabolism, and if we can decrease how much catabolism occurs, your muscles will benefit.
  • Increase the amount of muscle protein synthesis. Muscle protein synthesis is done through a protein system in the muscles called mTOR. Stimulating mTOR will turn on several systems that promote muscle protein synthesis.

When these 4 components are turned on and stimulated together, there is a large improvement in human exercise performance, and the ability to burn fat and build muscle simultaneously.

There are several naturally occurring organic compounds that are not hormones or hormone precursors, and that individually either increase cellular ATP, decrease lactic acid, decrease muscle catabolism, and/or increase muscle protein optimization. Some of these compounds are well known and their results are well known. The results of some of these compounds, however, have only been proven in athletes over the last several years.

Ingredient Synergy

This is something we call MPO ingredient synergy, and the result is a significant improvement in human performance in the gym, and in your body composition.

The ingredients we are talking about are creatine, beta-alanine, HMB, HICA, and phosphatidic acid, and they have been combined at scientifically effective doses in Dioxyme MPO (Muscle Performance Optimizer). It’s a game changer.

By putting these 5 ingredients together, we have created an entirely new class of supplement that increases your strength, power, endurance, and recovery when you exercise.

You are able to exercise harder, meaning you are able to burn more calories. In addition, it increases your endurance meaning that you can work longer, which as we all know, will build muscle and burn fat simultaneously.

And finally, MPO ingredient synergy provides for a faster recovery between sets and also between workout days. You will see less delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

Not only do my patients love MPO, but both male and female top professional athletes in ice hockey, football, fighting sports, weightlifting sports, and track, swear by it.

MPO can work for you and help you achieve your goals. I recommend taking it about 30 minutes prior to your exercise. It works for both cardio, HIIT, and resistance training. It mixes simply in 6-7 ounces of water and can be drunk on the way to the gym.

One of my patients mixes it the night before with a little lime juice and sticks it in the refrigerator. She says when she drinks it the next day, she is sad when it is gone.

When you combine MPO with adequate protein intake, a mild decrease in your calorie intake, and a well-designed exercise program, you will see results you haven’t been able to achieve before. That’s my doctor recommended ‘Burn Fat and Build Muscle Holy Grail.’

Wrap Up

I am not saying you do not have to exercise: you do. But you have to do the right type of exercises. It is not as simple as doing 30 minutes on the treadmill at a fat-burning pace, but it really is not that complicated.

You also have to eat the right foods and the right quantities of food, and yes you should probably eliminate the chips and beer (#cheatday).

More importantly, though, you are most likely not eating adequate amounts of protein. In my experience as a physician, most of my female patients consume far too little protein. Amazingly, this will cause you to gain fat while your body hoards every nutrient it needs.

And you do have to take some key nutritional ingredients to turn on the right building blocks for your muscles. You may not have had success taking supplements in the past, but that is probably because you have not taken the right ingredients at the right dose.

References to Burn Fat and Build Muscle

1. Effects of strength or aerobic training on body composition, resting metabolic rate, and peak
oxygen consumption in obese dieting subjects. A Geliebter, M M Maher, L Gerace, B Gutin, S BHeymsfield, and S A Hashim Am J Clin Nutr September 1997 vol. 66 no. 3 557-563

2. Dietary Protein and Exercise Have Additive Effects on Body Composition during Weight Loss in
Adult Women. Donald K. Layman, Ellen Evans, Jamie I. Baum, Jennifer Seyler, Donna J.
Erickson, and Richard A. Boileau J. Nutr. August 1, 2005 vol. 135 no. 8 1903-1910

8. Smith GI, Atherton P, Reeds DN, et al. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids augment the muscle protein anabolic response to hyperaminoacidemia-hyperinsulinemia in healthy young and middle aged men and women. Clinical science (London, England : 1979). 2011;121(6):267-278. doi:10.1042/CS20100597.

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How To Lose Body Fat Now: The Most Effective Methods Explained

Losing body fat is not the easiest of propositions; just ask anyone trying to lose that last ten pounds. It often seems as if the more persistent a person is, the harder this stubborn body fat is to lose. Whether your goal is to get into top shape for a bodybuilding contest or to look good for the beach, fat loss is arguably the biggest incentive to train.

But just how much body fat should be lost to achieve the kind of definition that accentuates the separation between muscle groups, and highlights that all-important abdominal area? It really depends on one’s goals.

An extreme level of conditioning is needed for bodybuilding purposes, while a smaller reduction is often all it takes to reveal a nice “beach body.” A certain amount of body fat is needed for survival purposes—around 3-4 percent for males and slightly higher for females—with higher percentages (around 10 percent for males and 15 percent for females) deemed within the healthy, acceptable range.

Losing the last 10 or so pounds of body fat is generally a hard thing to do, and the reasons for this are many and varied. Losing even more is, as would be expected, even harder. The best ways to lose fat are often dependant upon the level one is at, so it is best to plan accordingly.

Let us examine the most effective ways the severely overweight through to the advanced trainer can lose unsightly body fat.

The Most Effective Fat-Loss Methods

The following methods can be used together or separately, depending on the goals one has, or the fat-loss stage they are at. Guidelines will be given (see “What to Do and When” section below).

1. Exercise Moderately With Aerobics & Weights, Gradually Increasing The Intensity As Fat Is Lost

If you’re severely overweight, it is probably best to start your fat-burning phase with low-intensity aerobics and weight training, to ensure your body is not placed under undue stress at this early stage. When significantly overweight (over 25 percent body fat in males and 30 percent in females), it is best to work moderately as a way in which to gradually ease into a higher-intensity program.

Moderate aerobics are likely to burn a greater amount of body fat if the intensity is kept at around 70 percent of maximum heart rate, and taken beyond the 30-minute mark (with one hour being the eventual goal).

With weight training, high repetitions with moderate weights would work best for an obese client during the initial stages of training. It is important to remember that lower-intensity weight training and aerobics should both be done in the same program to maximize results.

Walking is a perfect, low impact aerobic activity for anyone who is obese. For weight training, all body parts should be targeted with basic exercises that work larger muscles.

You should probably also dedicate yourself to one of the Weight Loss Workout Plans in Bodybuilding.com BodyFit Elite. The plans are guided by professionals and offer detailed workout and nutritional assistance for anybody looking to lean out while improving their overall fitness.

2. Gradually Cut Back On All Bad Fats, While Strategically Cutting Back On Carbohydrates

It has been shown that fat intake of the wrong kind will result in increased fat gains. This stands to reason, as the body will typically burn carbohydrates for fuel and use protein for repair. Therefore, it makes sense to cut back on bad fat while increasing the good type.

Good fats such as the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids will actually have a fat-burning effect, as they enhance metabolic function (the metabolic rate is an indicator of how the body uses stored energy). Their use—as opposed to the saturated bad type found in meats and hard at room temperature—should be encouraged.

Strategically cutting back on carbohydrates means eating specific carbs at certain times to achieve a fat-burning effect. Complex carbohydrates will generally maximize the fat-burning effect because they stimulate the metabolism without causing the outpouring of insulin, which causes greater fat storage.

Complex carbs include brown rice, beans, oats, and potatoes, and their use is to be encouraged. However, the short-burst simple-sugar carbohydrates are to be avoided during a fat loss phase, as they can cause a large insulin spike and resultant fat gains. They are also concentrated, and generally higher in calories.

A third type of carbohydrate, fiber, which can be found in high-wheat foods and certain fruits and vegetables, is an important one for fat loss because it increases feelings of fullness and pushes fat through the system to be eliminated.

Best times to eat complex carbohydrates for fat loss are at all meals before 6:00 p.m. Simple carbohydrates can be eaten directly after training, as the body will more readily store them as glycogen, not fat, at this stage. For general health, the recommended intake for fiber is 30 grams per day. For fat loss, an additional 10 grams is advised.

3. Mix Up Aerobic Sessions

For variety—to eliminate boredom and encourage adherence—it is worthwhile to do a range of aerobic activities. These various activities will also have differing fat-burning effects. Combined, they may stimulate the metabolism to greater heights, therefore enhancing fat loss on a larger scale.

4. Exercise Aerobically After Weight Training Or First Thing In The Morning

One school of thought has it that training aerobically directly after weight training, or first thing in the morning, will stimulate greater gains in fat loss. The idea is that glycogen stores will be depleted at this time and therefore fat will be used directly for fuel. In many cases, this strategy has worked. However, some feel it is not a valid method. It is worth trying though.

5. HIIT Training

HIIT (High intensity interval training) is an advanced form of aerobics designed to strip body fat at a faster rate.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is an advanced form of aerobics designed to strip body fat at a faster rate. Although not for everyone, as it can be very demanding, HIIT is one of the more effective fat-loss methods for the intermediate to advanced trainer.

As the name suggests, HIIT requires training at high intensity (near maximal) for a series of intervals, before backing off to a lower work rate. The interval can last anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds, and the entire session might last only 20 minutes, depending on the stage (both in terms of fat storage and fitness level) one is at.

An example of a HIIT session could be as follows:

Two minutes of walking followed by fast running for 30 seconds, for 20 minutes total.

6. Stagger Food Intake

At the smooth stage(a thin layer of fat—independent of water—covers the body) or in the shape stage (around six percent body fat), it is probably acceptable to stagger food intake so that high calories (1000 or so above normal) can be eaten for two days followed by lower calories for three days.

There are many variations on this practice, but the guiding principal stays the same: After a period of low calories, the body will tend to hold onto fat; on this basis it is thought that upping the calories will up the metabolic rate to burn more adipose tissue.

Generally the extra calories will not be stored as fat as long as the high-calorie days are limited to a certain period and are promptly followed by the lower-calorie days. The higher-calorie days are not open invitations to pig out on all manner of forbidden foods, but should be comprised of clean proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

This strategy is best practiced when aiming to lose that remaining five to ten pounds of fat, and when a person is in reasonably good shape to begin with. If the client is overweight, the higher-calorie days could sabotage their weight loss due to a more sluggish metabolic rate.

A greater degree of excess fat would probably require consistency in terms of low-fat, low-calorie eating, as will be shown in the success stories featured later in this article.

7. Drink At Least One Gallon Of Water Per Day

In most of the weight loss success stories I have read, one common theme emerges: a higher than normal water intake is crucial for fat loss. Water intake is important for fat metabolism because it helps the liver perform the function of fat conversion for energy purposes.

Unfortunately the liver also has to work on behalf of the kidneys (if the kidneys are water-deprived), therefore lowering total liver productivity, which has deleterious consequences for the fat-conversion process. Therefore drinking enough water is an important step toward fat reduction. Drink at least a gallon of water per day, more if obese and/or living in a hot climate.

8. Weight Training

Weight training is a perfect activity for fat loss. Although it doesn’t directly burn a greater number of fat stores than aerobics, weights will build muscle, which in turn will increase the metabolic rate 24 hours a day. The more muscle you’re holding, the better your chances of losing body fat.

What To Do & When

Obese Stage

A combination of methods is needed for those who have a significant amount of weight to lose. These are the people who typically need to lose around 40 pounds of fat before they even consider achieving muscle definition. The best strategy for these people would be to lose weight slowly with a realistic, longer-term approach.

Crash-dieting and intense training probably would not be the best option. In the case of training, the amount of weight to be lost might present excessive strain on the vital organs and joints if the training is excessively intense and/or high-impact.

Crash diets—where calories are severely restricted—will likely result in initial losses in water weight and a failure to stick to the diet due to the restriction these kinds of diets place on total nutrient balance. Use the following approach for someone who is overweight:

  • Exercise moderately with aerobics (walking or cycling) and weights (12-15 repetitions, gradually increasing the intensity as weight is lost.
  • Gradually cut out all bad fats while strategically cutting back on carbohydrates.
  • Drink plenty of water to maintain feelings of fullness and help with fat mobilization.
  • Cut out junk foods.
  • Use a personal trainer for motivation.
  • Cut back on alcohol, or eliminate it entirely.
  • Make a plan.
  • Be consistent.
  • Use a fat-burning supplement.

Moderately Overweight Stage

At this stage one is visually overweight, but not obese. Typically they are holding around 20 pounds of fat and have a body fat percentage of around 17-18 percent in males and 25 percent in females.

The best strategy would be to gradually drop excess body fat through a combination of low-intensity and high-intensity training, coupled with a sensible eating approach. The following guidelines can be used:

  • Exercise moderately with aerobics (a combination of walking, cycling, and rowing) and weights (8-12 repetitions), while incorporating the occasional HIIT session after the first few pounds are lost.
  • Gradually cut out all bad fats while strategically cutting back on carbohydrates.
  • Drink plenty of water to maintain feelings of fullness and help with fat mobilization.
  • Cut out junk foods.
  • Use a personal trainer for motivation.
  • Cut back on alcohol, or eliminate it entirely.
  • Make a plan.
  • Be consistent.
  • Use a fat-burning supplement.

Smooth Stage

The smooth stage could be defined as a puffy appearance with a small amount of visible body fat (around 11 percent in men and 15 percent in women; about 10 total pounds to lose to become “in shape”).

This look would probably be regarded as normal and healthy, but there is an absence of muscle definition due to a thin layer of fat—the off-season bodybuilder is usually at this stage. To drop these additional 10 pounds to reveal a muscular physique, use the following methods:

  • Train aerobically with one moderate-intensity session and four HIIT sessions per week.
  • Weight train all muscle groups using 8-12 repetitions.
  • Gradually cut out all bad fats while strategically cutting back on carbohydrates.
  • Stagger calories (three lower-calorie days followed by two higher-calorie days).
  • Drink plenty of water to maintain feelings of fullness and help with fat mobilization.
  • Cut out junk foods.
  • Use a personal trainer for motivation.
  • Cut back on alcohol, or eliminate it entirely.
  • Make a plan.
  • Be consistent.
  • Use a fat-burning supplement.

In-Shape Stage

For those who only have three or four pounds of fat to lose in order to reveal a ripped, muscular physique, it is probably also best to do HIIT, as this should more effectively rev the metabolic rate while one is at an advanced fat-burning level.

For the out-of-shape beginner, HIIT might be overkill, but for the in-shape, advanced trainer, it could prove to be perfect because it’s an effective way of improving an already efficient metabolism. HIIT sessions can be done five times a week, independent from any other form of training. The following are additional ways to burn remaining visible body fat:

  • Train with weights using 8-12 repetitions.
  • Gradually cut out all bad fats while strategically cutting back on carbohydrates.
  • Stagger calories (three lower-calorie days followed by two higher-calorie days).
  • Drink plenty of water to maintain feelings of fullness and help with fat mobilization.
  • Cut out junk foods.
  • Use a personal trainer for motivation.
  • Cut back on alcohol, or eliminate it entirely.
  • Make a plan.
  • Be consistent.
  • Use a fat-burning supplement.

Additional Fat-Loss Tips

1. Cut Alcohol

One of the worst practices when wanting to lose weight, drinking alcohol will not only add empty calories but will reduce appetite and lower testosterone levels for up to 24 hours (testosterone helps to burn fat). Alcohol will also reduce the number of fat calories burned for energy.

After alcohol is consumed it is converted into a substance called acetate, which is used in place of fat for energy, thus helping the body to maintain its fat stores. For the overweight person, alcohol is a definite problem on this basis alone.

2. Make A Plan

Making a plan will ensure fat loss is achieved with greater certainty. Having predefined goals and a progress diary will help your client stick to their plan, and allow for a greater degree of accountability. The first step is to determine exactly what their goals are.

The ability to do what is required every day without fail is the hallmark of a winner. For fat loss, all the right steps need to be taken at the right times to realize this goal. As will be shown in the following success stories, the individuals unwaveringly stuck to their plan and achieved their fat loss goals—they were consistent.

3. Use A Personal Trainer

A personal trainer can add help to motivate and inspire a person to lose body fat. Having someone on hand to lend support and expertise can really make the difference for those who are struggling with their weight-loss efforts. The best personal trainer is the one who has the right amount of knowledge and who knows how to plan a program for the specific needs of their client.

4. Use A Fat-Burning Supplement

Fat-burning supplements can have a thermogenic effect on the body, which causes fat to be burned at a faster rate. It is important to realize that these are supplements that can help if they are used in conjunction with an adequate diet and training regimen.

Fat-Loss Success Stories

The following stories show how fat can be lost to attain a specific goal. They serve as inspiration for those wanting to lose stubborn body fat.

Amer Kamra theHAMMER3

233 lbs Age: 22 Height: 6’0″ Body Fat: 30%

191 lbs Age: 23 Height: 6’0″ Body Fat: 5%

Amer eviscerated 25 percent body fat and became a proud owner of striated abs. His story compels people to live in his image and follow his principles!

Johnathan Zamora fitchef1

365 lbs Age: 24 Height: 5’7″ Body Fat: 45%

195 lbs Age: 29 Height: 5’7″ Body Fat: 18%

Simple day-to-day activities were painful for Johnathan at 365 pounds. See how he lost 170 pounds in 18 months and built a massive fitness following!

Aaris Wiggs wiggsaaris

160 lbs. Age: 24 Height: 5’4″ Body Fat: 28%

122 lbs. Age: 25 Height: 5’4″ Body Fat: 18%

Aaris traded drive-thru convenience for weight room dominance. She added to the definition of motherhood and represents a growing movement toward healthy living!

Jennifer Hobbs Jenn2224

275 lbs. Age: 24 Height: 5’4″ Body Fat: 57.8%

168 lbs. Age: 25 Height: 5’4″ Body Fat: 25.6%

Every time Jennifer lost 10 pounds, she gained 20 back. See why she committed to the hardest goals of her life, lost 32 percent body fat, and 107 pounds in one year!

GET 60+ FITNESS PLANS Access our entire library of more than 60 fitness programs. We’ll help you gain muscle, lose fat, and change your life! GO NOW

One of the best things you can do at any age is shake up your routine and try something new. Follow these tips to help you drop the pounds, and keep them off for good, courtesy of some of the world’s best weight-loss experts, dietitians, and personal trainers

1. Talk to your doctor about a weight-loss plan.

First stop after you celebrate the big 5-0—your doctor’s office. She can assess your current state of health, address any health problems that may be affecting your weight (like pre-diabetes or sleep apnea), and help you come up a plan for diet and exercise, says Dr. Petre. She may even be able to recommend a physical therapist or personal trainer for you.

2. Get your hormones checked.

While you’re in the doctor’s office, have her check your hormone levels. As we age, progesterone, testosterone, and other hormones decline, which sets the body up for storing fat instead of losing weight, says Jennifer Burns, N.M.D., a naturopathic physician in Phoenix. “Simply getting your thyroid, adrenal glands, and other hormone levels checked—and then taking the appropriate steps to bring them back into balance—can go a long way toward helping people in their 50s lose weight,” says Burns.

Tami Meraglia, M.D., author of The Hormone Secret: Discover Effortless Weight Loss and Renewed Energy in Just 30 Days, agrees, adding that she believes the hormone to focus on is testosterone—especially for women over 50 who are trying to get fit. “There is ample discussion in the medical community about the effects of estrogen loss, but few people are aware of the importance of sufficient testosterone levels, which can help a woman slim down,” says Dr. Meraglia. In fact, research shows that balanced testosterone levels reduce blood glucose levels, which may help promote weight loss and shrink stubborn belly fat.

3. Set realistic goals.

Declaring that you’re going to lose 20 pounds before your beach vacation next month is unrealistic, not to mention unhealthy. “Be honest with yourself. How do you feel? How healthy are you? Making life changes takes courage and mental fortitude,” says Dr. Petre. Break up big goals into smaller, more achievable ones. Focusing on how you’re feeling and the positive changes you’re making to your lifestyle, instead of the number on the scale, will help you stay motivated to reach your goals. “Triumphs make your courage grow,” she adds. “Small achievements amount to large goals achieved.”

sveta_zarzamoraGetty Images

4. Consult a dietitian.

There are dozens of different eating plans buzzing around the internet, each claiming to help you shed the pounds without feeling deprived (some of best diets for weight loss in 2020 are the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH Diet, and WW Freestyle). If you’re not sure which one works best for your lifestyle, talk to a dietitian, who can break down the pros and cons and help you choose one that fits your nutritional needs and goals. An RD will also give you ideas on how to resolve road blocks that may get in the way of your goals, like emotional/stress eating, food sensitivities, nutritional deficiencies, and meal-prep fatigue.

5. Follow a structured plan.

At 50, you’ve been around the block enough times to know that fad diets don’t work. “No crazy fasts, cleanses, cutting out fats, or complex carbohydrates or proteins,” says Jillian Michaels, health and wellness expert and author of The 6 Keys: Unlock Your Genetic Potential for Ageless Strength, Health and Beauty. Instead, consider following a medically supervised, clinically proven plan. Dr. Petre explains that these types of programs have a weight-loss success rate of more than 75%, especially if they involve personal support and weekly check-ins.

6. Embrace strength training.

Even if you’ve never picked up a dumbbell in your life, now is the perfect time to learn to love the weight room (but seriously, if you’re a newbie, work with a trainer first so you don’t hurt yourself!). Because the secret to losing weight over 50 is this: Build more muscle mass to increase your metabolism (you’ve got about 20% less now than you did when you were 20). “The good news is you can turn all of this around with a well-structured weight-training routine,” Durbin says. “That can help you regain the ability to lose weight like you were able to 20 years ago,” he says. Aim to lift weights at least twice a week, whether you use free weights or machines or do bodyweight exercises. It doesn’t hurt to lift every day—just make sure to work different muscle groups or train differently each day.

7. Choose activities that are easy on the joints.

Janna Lowell, a Los Angeles–based personal trainer, says she gets the best results among her 50-somethings when she has them do some cross training in the pool. Tired joints can keep you from getting a great workout, she says, and aches and pains can turn some people off exercise completely. “Water exercise is easy on the joints and can boost range of motion as well,” says Lowell. “Even better, caloric expenditure is about 30% greater in the water than on land due to the resistance water creates.” No pool? No problem. Walking is another great, low-impact cardiovascular exercise, as are cycling, kayaking, yoga, and dancing.

8. Make the most out of every workout.

If you’re going to put in the effort to block out the time, squeeze into your sports bra, and get to the gym, don’t let your.exhaustion or aching joints hold you back from going all out! Alex Allred, a former national and professional athlete turned personal trainer, says this is one of her biggest pet peeves among 50-year-olds. “Far too many people think that just because they showed up, they’re working out,” says Allred. “But really, you need to be focused on what you’re doing and pushing yourself hard enough to break a sweat or at least complete the full range of motion of a certain exercise.” Not sure if you’re doing a move properly? Ask! “I wish more people would flag down a trainer and ask, ‘Am I doing this correctly?’ ” says Allred. It can make the difference between making the most of your exercise time to lose weight and wasting your time and injuring yourself.

9. See a physical therapist.

If an aching back, wonky knee, or creaky hip has kept you from working out on a regular basis, make an appointment with a physical therapist, suggests Samira Shuruk, an ACE-certified personal trainer. “After 50, many people have sustained injuries and don’t know what their activity options are,” she says. “Getting advice from a professional can truly help.” Physical therapy can also help you rehabilitate an old injury or ease joint and muscle pain, setting you up for pain-free workouts.

10. Overhaul your diet.

Just like pop music isn’t the same as it was when you were in your 30s, your metabolism has changed, too, which means you’re burning about 250 fewer calories each day. So if you continue to eat like you did in the early 2000s—and don’t increase your exercise—you’ll inevitably gain weight, says Katie Ferraro, R.D., a dietitian and assistant clinical professor of nutrition at the University of California–San Francisco School of Nursing. Eliminating the junk food in your diet and replacing it with loads of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can make cutting calories painless, she says.

11. Change how and when you eat.

It’s not just what you eat, but how you eat that matters in your 50s, claims Anthony Dissen, M.A., R.D.N., Vice President of Nutrition at WellStart Health. He suggests focusing on fullness, not portion control, when you are planning your meals. “If our stomachs aren’t full, we don’t feel full, and we’ll stay hungry,” he points out. “When it comes to healthy weight loss and management, we want to strike that important balance between eating until we feel full and satisfied while still decreasing our overall calorie intake.”

12. Get your stress in check.

Between paying college tuition for your kids, juggling more and more responsibilities at work, and dealing with aging parents, your 50s can be a prime-time for stress, says Durbin. The result? Emotional eating and a schedule that seems too jam-packed for regular exercise sessions. The solution: Schedule your workouts like they’re doctor’s appointments, he says. Sticking to a consistent routine can not only help ease stress, it can also help you stay on track with your diet. After all, who wants to ruin the benefits of a tough sweat session by eating a donut?

PeopleImagesGetty Images

13. Get your sleep.

One great thing about being 50—you are completely over the social pressure to stay out late. (Though hormonal changes from menopause can have you staring at the ceiling at 2 a.m.) Doing your best to get 7-8 hours of snooze time every night is key to helping you lose weight, says Michaels. Dr. Petre adds that the two hormones that regulate appetite—leptin and ghrelin—go into overdrive without regular shut-eye. “This can trigger excessive hunger and lead to poor food choices and weight gain at any age,” she says. Find a list of proven of sleep strategies right here.

14. Be mindful—and meditate.

It’s important to practice mindfulness, especially when you’re eating. “The more we try to multi-task while we eat, the more likely we are to overeat and not feel as satisfied by the meal or snack we’ve just eaten,” Dr. Dissen explains. “By simply taking a breath and treating our mealtime as special, it allows us to really taste our food and notice its flavors, textures, and tastes.” Mindfulness can aid in stress relief, too. Michaels suggests practicing five to 10 minutes of meditation a day.

15. Practice self-care.

Whether it’s treating yourself to manicure or taking a mental health day from work, taking care of yourself shouldn’t be looked at as a luxury. The smallest gestures can make a big difference in reducing stress, which can make a big impact on your weight loss. Plus, when you show yourself a little more love, you can use that energy to do things that support your goals, like eating healthy, exercising, and meditating. Not sure how to start a self-care routine? First ask yourself why you need more time to take care of yourself. Are you working too many late hours at the office? Do you feel burned out and wish you could be calmer? Once you figure out why you need to make some more time for yourself, it can help you decide what will be a good activity or routine for you.

Stay updated on the latest science-backed health, fitness, and nutrition news by signing up for the Prevention.com newsletter here. For added fun, follow us on Instagram.

Leah Groth Contributor Leah Groth is a news writer and regular contributor to Prevention.

Fat Loss for Women | 4 Tips for Losing that Fat Once and For All

Your jeans feel tighter, your doctor’s scoldings are becoming increasingly stern and your self-image has slowly retired to the basement. Your role as a mother, daughter, employee, boss and more has siphoned your time and energy away from your own health. As a result, your imbalances of stress/recovery, eating/exercise and yourself/others has manifested in an unwanted layer of body fat.

An analysis of large population medical-assessment data comparing body mass index and percentage of body fat suggests the average American female now has about 40% body fat. Female body-fat percentages over about 30% start to carry with them increased risks for morbidity and mortality.

Negative emotions tied to accumulating excess body weight and fat make women easy prey for gurus, gadgets and gimmicks promising “overnight” results with little-to-no effort. While some find short-term success with these diet and exercise fads, most are unable to sustain the novelty of the “hot” new trend in their life. Body fat and frustration repeatedly return with a vengeance.

While the recommended interventions for fat loss for women and men are fairly similar, it’s important to understand a few unique aspects of female physiology and how to overcome the commonly accepted mistruths and misunderstandings associated with fat loss and women.

Women and Fat Metabolism

While it appears that women rely more on fat for fuel during exercise (compared to men, they have a greater amount of type 1 “slow twitch” muscle fibers), they burn far less fat during rest. This is most likely due to having less lean muscle mass than males. A majority of daily caloric expenditure is due to basal metabolic rate, which is largely determined by the amount of lean muscle mass we each have.

Women’s fat metabolism is also greatly impacted by hormone levels. Factors such as age, menstrual cycle, pregnancy and other natural phenomena all have an affect on women’s fat-burning hormone profiles. While men naturally produce relatively large amounts of muscle-building, fat-burning testosterone, women produce larger amounts of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones tend to increase the storage of fat, which has been linked to the essential process of childbearing.

While it’s well established that sustained fat loss is a product of sensible nutrition, exercise and lifestyle habits for both men and women, common societal misbeliefs confuse and misdirect many women’s attempted interventions for losing fat. These can prove to be one of the largest obstacles to women experiencing long-term success with losing fat.

Here are four strategies for fat loss for women that maximize their physiology, hone their psychology, and end frustration forever:

1. Prioritize resistance training.

As mentioned, women are at an evolutionary disadvantage for losing fat partly due to lower amounts of lean muscle mass, which results in a lower caloric expenditure during rest. Furthermore, it appears women lose lean muscle mass at a faster rate as they age.

Resistance training has consistently been shown to increase amounts of lean muscle mass in both men and women. Given that this is associated with an increase in resting caloric expenditure, it’s clear that resistance training should be paramount in women’s exercise programs.

Performing exercises that use large muscle groups at an intensity that allows for eight to 12 repetitions before failure, two or more days per week, can “convince” the body to increase the amount of calorie-burning muscle. Consider progressively cycling weekly from 12 repetitions per exercise, to 10, to eight and then returning to 12, adding more resistance each week.

A common myth associated with females and resistance training is that women will accrue “too much” muscle and end up appearing masculine. In reality, however, women lack the necessary amount of anabolic hormones (testosterone, growth hormone, etc.) necessary to build large amounts of lean muscle mass.

Even with high training intensities and volumes, it can be difficult for women to substantially increase lean muscle mass.

As a general rule for resistance training, prioritize strength vs. elevating the heart rate. While there are various resistance-training protocols that can aid in fat loss, the primary benefits from resistance training and increasing lean muscle mass come from a focus on increasing overall strength. Don’t be afraid to recover between sets.

2. Utilize high-intensity interval training.

The low-intensity “fat-burning zone” was touted as an aerobic exercise intensity that would prioritize the burning of fat. While there is some truth to low-intensity exercises preferentially burning fat, the “bigger picture” tells a different story.

During high-intensity exercise (exercise that brings the hear rate above 70% of one’s maximum heart rate), glycogen is used at a much higher rate than fat to fuel movement. However, after the exercise bout is over, the body continues to use oxygen at a higher rate, which means the body is continuing to burn more calories, even while at rest. Furthermore, hormones released during the high-intensity bout stick around in the blood stream for up to 48 hours after exercise is done. Many of these hormones are those that increase metabolism and rates of fat utilization.

To sustain an intensity of exercise that would have this physiological effect, “intervals” of high intensity and rest are recommended. For example, perform a high-intensity sprint on a treadmill for 30 seconds, walk for 60 seconds and then repeat 10-12 times.

As with anything, there can be “too much” of a good thing. Relentless daily exercise intensity can increase the likelihood of injury and actually suppress fat-burning, muscle-building hormones. High-intensity interval training performed one to three days a week, in addition to lower-intensity exercise, allows for the proper rest/recovery ratios necessary to prolong the fat burning effect long term.

3. Don’t starve yourself.

Diet trends are a billion dollar industry, so there is always one right around the corner promising a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Many of these diets focus on severely restricting calories. When calories intake is reduced, body weight decreases. However, the body also thinks it’s going into a time of starvation. When caloric restriction is prolonged, lean muscle mass is decreased. The body believes there will now be limited calories, so it gets rid of its biggest calorie burner: muscle.

Under starvation conditions, additional calories are stored as fat very quickly. It appears that women are even more sensitive to fluctuations in caloric intake, storing fat quicker after meals. When food was scarce and physical activity was frequent, this storage process kept us alive. In this time of abundance, we have a physiological system designed for scarcity.

Without opening Pandora’s box of inconsistent research on which diet is the “best” for women, the most effective nutritional approach for long-term fat loss is to reestablish a connection between the foods and the amounts of these foods we need to optimize health and performance. Consider the following tips to fuel your body with the right amounts of healthy foods to promote forever fat loss.

  • Consider the size of your hands (hand size is often associated with overall body size). For most grains and starches, one to two handfuls is most likely an appropriate serving size. For proteins, match the size and thickness of your palm. For added fat, look at the size of your thumb.
  • Make green, leafy vegetables a feature of as many meals as possible.
  • To ensure lean muscle maintenance, include protein in every meal.
  • Whole, unprocessed food doesn’t have the added flavor and texture enhancers that tend to make us eat more. Sticking to whole, unprocessed food can help decrease the likelihood of overeating.
  • Limit alcohol and be aware of how much sugar is in the foods you eat. Both sugar and alcohol can add substantial calories to a diet without nutritional benefits.

4. Smash your scale.

Scale weight can tell you very little about the amount of body fat you have. Because muscle gives your body its form, function and metabolic drive, focusing on your ratio of fat to muscle is far more important than scale weight, for both health and aesthetic reasons.

For women in particular, scale weight can fluctuate significantly due to water retention during the menstrual cycle. Furthermore, muscle tissue is much more dense than fat tissue and weighs more for the amount of space it occupies.

Improvements in lean muscle mass and, consequently, body composition, often renders no change or a slight increase in scale weight. Find an accessible way to monitor your body fat. Hand-held body-fat assessment tools and other devices have small margins of error, but are generally effective for highlighting trends. And even simpler approach is to monitor how your clothes fit—looser around the mid-section means you’re making progress.

Knowledge is power. By understanding the unique elements of women’s physiology and applying specific exercise strategies to overcome obstacles, women can get off the roller coaster of frustration and lose fat forever.

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