28 Fundamental Laws for Getting Lean
Burning body fat is the goal of most people who seek out a fitness and nutrition plan. The thing is, burning significant amounts of body fat isn’t easy. It takes time, patience, discipline, and knowing what to do and the right way to do it.
After 21 years of helping people burn body fat and achieve the body of their dreams I have come to realize that there are a set of rules, laws if you will, that need be followed if you want to maximize fat burning.
You do not have to follow ALL 28 of them to get results but following as many as possible is certainly ideal if you want results in the fastest time possible.
Read the following laws and see how many you are already doing and which ones you need to be more diligent about incorporating into your life.
Law #1-When it comes to exercise…strength training is the king
Muscle burns fat. The more muscle you have the more fat you burn. Strength training builds muscle. Ergo….you must strength train to maximize fat burning. It’s science.
Law #2-Eat less than you burn
Calories in/calories out matters. A lot. Like, a lot a lot. It’s not the ONLY piece of the equation but if you eat more than you burn you will not burn fat. Period. You must create a caloric deficit to burn fat.
Law #3-Steady-state cardio is not the best way to burn fat
Long hours on the treadmill is not the most efficient way to burn fat. Steady-state cardio, once you get good at it does not burn a lot of calories. To keep the calorie burning count high you have to keep adding mileage and minutes to your cardio. And, unless you really enjoy 2 hour runs every day (I, for one, do not) then there are better ways to burn fat through exercise. Oh and, steady-state cardio can also burn precious muscle tissue which we already established is your fat burning hero.
Law #4-Interval training is better
Four out of five dentists agree…high intensity interval training (HIIT) beats steady-state cardio for fat loss. Ok so maybe no dentists have weighed in on this topic but the truth still remains that when it comes to exercise HIIT is second to only strength training for fat loss. HIIT burns a ton of calories (most of which happens in the 48 hours after the workout has ended…this is pretty cool). HIIT also salvages lean muscle tissue unlike steady-state cardio. It can even build muscle when done correctly.
Law #5-Sleep more
Due to the stress response associated with a lack of sleep and the havoc it can wreak on your hormones it is almost impossible to burn fat when chronically sleep deprived. Lack of sleep also greatly slows your recovery from workouts. Most recovery happens while you sleep. Focus on getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep at least 5 nights a week. Try to avoid sleep aids as the sleep you get with those isn’t quality sleep. There are numerous ways to improve your sleep. Establishing the right nighttime routine is imperative.
Law #6-Must have a “why”
You need a motivator. A motivator that actually KEEPS you motivated. That’s difficult to do so it actually needs to be deeper than just a motivator. You need a “why”. A personal and deeply meaningful reason to why losing fat is important to you. An upcoming reunion or beach trip won’t cut it. Those things might work in the short term but are fleeting at best. Not dying is a pretty strong “why”. Being able to play with my kids without almost suffocating is a strong “why”. Having confidence and not feeling like crap all the time…you know actually enjoying life again. That’s strong “why”. Find your “why” and you’ll find your results.
Law #7-Nutrition > exercise when it comes to fat loss
When it comes to fat loss, nutrition is more important than exercise. As the old saying goes…you can’t out-train a bad diet. The bad diet will be victorious every time. Well, if I am being honest you probably CAN out-train a bad diet. After all, Michael Phelps used to eat 10,000 calories a day when he was training for the Olympics. The thing is…I don’t think you will be investing 10-12 hours a day…every day…to exercise and training anytime soon. So for the average Sally and Joe let the cliche reverberate in your head…YOU cannot out-train a bad diet.
Law #8-Exercise is still incredibly important
Nutrition is more important than exercise when it comes to fat loss. Yeah I know I just said that. But that doesn’t mean exercise is unimportant when it comes to fat loss. It is, in fact, very important. The RIGHT kind of exercise builds muscle (quick review for the kids in the back…muscle burns fat). You can’t build muscle with nutrition alone. It’s impossible. Exercise also helps you achieve that ever elusive caloric deficit…and allows you to do it without cutting calories so low you are starving. Oh and, exercise just happens to be really good for you. It gives you more energy. It gives you more confidence. It makes you fit and strong. Fit and strong people are harder to kill.
Law #9-It’s always easier with support and help
Don’t try to embark on a fat loss journey alone. Your chances of success increase exponentially when you do it with a partner or group. Humans are tribal by nature. We thrive in packs. We tend to wilt when left alone. Recruit a friend (or friends) who will do this with you. Choose the right ones, however. Ones who will stick with it, not bail at the first sign of struggle, who are motivated, and who will push you and hold you accountable. If that friend doesn’t exist in your life find a group of people who fit that description…ahem…there may just be a boot camp in Woodstock that can provide that….just sayin…
Law #10-Sustainability beats rapid fat loss every time
To quote the great Strength coach Dan John…”a little and often over the long haul”. That is the best approach to fat loss and weight loss. Losing really fast usually means you underrate dramatically and lost water, muscle, and maybe some fat. This also means it will be unsustainable and you will eventually gain all the weight back and more. When people ask me what is the number one thing you need to lose fat my answer is…patience. If you want to do it the right way that is. Patience along with a great plan. This will ensure you are burning fat, maintaining muscle, and turning your body into a fat burning machine…for the long haul.
Law #11-Track results
It is so important to track your results as you proceed on your fat loss journey. Nothing fuels motivation like tangible results and data. On the flip side, nothing can kill results like the perception that you are working so hard but not getting results. We are our own worst critic so when we look in the mirror we pick ourselves apart and only see the areas that still need improvement. We miss the areas that are leaning out. Having a body fat test done takes the assessment out of our own heads and instead allows us to use the real data to determine our progress.
Law #12-Most will lose in the midsection last
As I said in Law #11, we are our own worst critics. When we are doing the “eyeball” assessment in the mirror we always look at our midsections first. Unfortunately, that is where most people will loss fat last. This will lead to frustration and cause some to give up too soon. If you know going in that the midsection will lose last it can be a little easier to deal with. This is also where having an assessment to track results comes in handy. A body fat test will show you that you are losing in other areas and if you hang on and keep moving forward you will eventually start losing more in the midsection. If you are one of those freaks that loses in your midsection first just know that we all hate you. Just kidding. Sort of.
Law #13-Protein and fiber (vegetables) are most important
Get as much protein and fiber (from vegetables) in your diet as possible. Protein has a very high thermic effect which means you burn a large percentage of the calories from the protein just from digestion. Protein also builds muscle. And in case I haven’t mentioned it yet, muscle burns fat. Protein keeps you fuller longer too. Fiber also keeps you full for a longer period of time. The combo of protein and fiber and the satiation they provide will help you eat less. When you get the fiber from vegetables you are getting it from the healthiest foods on the planet. You make your mama and the Jolly Green Giant happy too…sweet bonus.
Law #14-Work hard at the gym (easy won’t cut it)
The days of walking gingerly on the treadmill while watching Oprah are over. It took some people a few decades to realize it but you can’t get results in the gym that way. The caloric expenditure isn’t enough (unless you are walking for hours) and walking does nothing to address lean muscle (have a mentioned that lean muscle burns fat? Oh, okay just checking). You must bring some intensity to your workouts. Intensity is relative to the individual but you need to find your appropriate intensity level and deliver almost every time you hit the gym. You’ll will burn more calories, build some muscle, and get great cardiovascular benefits.
Law #15-Control your blood sugar
Eating a diet full of sugar and processed carbs will greatly slow your fat loss progress. When your blood sugar is perpetually raised and insulin is constantly being produced it becomes extremely difficult to burn fat. That’s because your main fat burning hormone, glucagon, cannot be produced when insulin is being produced. Try to limit the sugars and processed carbs. You don’t have to eliminate them. Just stop eating like an 8 year old boy and limit them greatly.
Law #16-Rest and recovery matter as much as the workouts
When you workout you break the body down. You build it back up while you are not working out (especially when you are sleeping). Your body likes to use stored fat to aid in the rebuilding process. Allowing this process to happen is very important. Also, when you fail to recover you up the odds of continually breaking the body down and getting sick, injured, or burned out.
Law #17-Be consistent
Consistency is the secret sauce to success with fat loss. Fat loss doesn’t happen overnight and will not happen at all if you don’t eat right and exercise on a consistent basis. You cannot have a couple of good days followed by several bad days or a good week followed by a couple bad weeks. You need a bunch of good days that create a bunch of good weeks that then create a bunch of good months. Note: I did not say perfect days, weeks, and months. Just really good ones.
Law #18-You must pre-plan
Pre-planning your nutrition and pre-planning your workouts is the secret to being consistent. Since being consistent is the secret to getting long term results this makes pre-planning super duper important. Pre-plan your meals. Shop for the ingredients ahead of time. Make your meals ahead of time. Also, plan the days you are going to workout and know what workouts you are going to do. This makes a huge difference. Please don’t skip this one.
Law #19-Add SOME steady state cardio
Yes, I did say that HIIT training trumps steady state cardio for fat loss. No, I’m not talking out of both sides of my mouth. HIIT is very demanding on thebody. You can’t do it every day. You also need days off from weight training. These days are great for steady state cardio (steady state cardio is performing cardio at a steady heart rate. i.e. no intervals). Adding a day or two a week of steady state cardio will allow you to burn some additional calories as well as actively improve your cardiovascular system. Steady state cardio can also help with recovery from your HIIT and weight training. Be careful, though. Too much steady state cardio can cause muscle loss. And in case you haven’t heard the news…muscle burns fat.
Law #20-You can’t spot reduce. Fat loss is a total body experience.
Spot reducing is a myth. I thought this myth was busted years ago but I still see people talking about it and I still get questions about it. You can do sit-ups and crunches until you puke but that will do nothing to address the pouch of fat you have on your stomach. Your body is going to burn fat from areas that you are genetically designed to burn from. When you are doing the sit-ups, and IF your body is using body fat to give you energy for those sit-ups, that fat can come from anywhere in the body. Your ab muscles aren’t pulling fat from the layer above to get energy. Fat is moved through the bloodstream. So, stop doing sit-up and crunches all day and start following the laws in this article if you want that pudgy stomach to turn flat.
Law #21-Everyone goes off the rails. The ones who succeed are the ones who get right back on.
We all have weak moments. We all have bad days. We all have times where we access our inner 12 year old and eat crap and miss workouts. The ones who succeed in their long term fat loss journey are the ones who don’t let a bad meal turn into a bad day. Or a bad day turn into a bad week. Or a bad week turn into a bad month. So you ate an entire pizza and a pint of ice cream while watching Netflix? Oh well. Wake up tomorrow and get right back on track. Maybe even eat a little less the next couple of days to help offset the calorie bomb you consumed. Falling off the horse is fine. Staying off isn’t.
Law #22-People who journal succeed at a much higher and faster rate than those who don’t
Food journaling is incredibly important. Professional fat losers journal. Amateurs don’t. Journaling allows you to see EXACTLY how you are eating. Not just what your brain thinks it remembers eating. You can’t walk into a room without remembering why you were in there. You think you are going to remember what you ate for lunch last Thursday? Journaling highlights mistakes that may not have otherwise seen. It matters. A lot. Leave it to your memory and you will fail. Almost every time.
Law #23-Count calories (for a while)
While you are journaling go ahead and count calories. For a time anyway. This will teach you just how many calories are in the foods you eat (I promise you will be shocked by some of them) and it will give you an idea of how much you are eating in a day. Do this until you feel like you have a good handle on it. Does this require work? Yes. But so does being fat. When choosing between counting calories and being fat…choose counting calories.
Law #24-Don’t drink your calories
High calorie and high sugar drinks can wreck a diet and your fat loss efforts. They are calorie bombs that offer no nutritional value, they don’t fill you up, and they go down so tasty and smooth that you drink way too much way too often. Limit your liquids to water, unsweet teas, and no sugar coffees (limit the creamers too).
Law #25-Get out of your comfort zone
Comfort zones are where plateaus and frustrations thrive. Outside of your comfort zone, however, is where results thrive. Stop doing workouts that are comfortable. Once a workout becomes comfortable it stops working. You don’t have to expend as much energy to get the workout done. Once you get comfortable with a workout. Change it up. Immediately. Doing so will keep the results coming at a furious pace. Push yourself. Challenge yourself. Always.
Law #26-Compound exercises over isolation exercises
Compound exercises are those which utilize more than one joint in the movement. Therefore they work more than one muscle group at a time. Think squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, shoulder presses, bench presses, etc. As opposed to isolation exercises that work one muscle at a time (i.e. biceps curls, triceps extension, leg extensions, calf raises, etc). These moves are great for already lean body builders who are trying to get a little more symmetry on their body but if fat loss is the goal then compound movement win every single time. When you perform compound movements and work multiple muscle groups at one time your energy expenditure far surpasses that of isolation exercises where you are working one muscle at a time. More energy expenditure = more fat loss.
Law #27-Weight loss and fat loss are not the same
Weight loss can be muscle, water, and/or fat. Fat loss is…well…fat loss. When people say they want to lose weight they are really saying they want to lose fat. I don’t think people set out with the goal of dropping their overall water percentage. You can drastically cut your calories down and do a bunch of cardio and lose weight. But what will that weight consist of? I’ll kill the suspense…it’ll be mostly water and muscle. Focus instead on fat loss. How do you do that? Follow these laws!
Law #28-Change your workouts often
I mentioned this above in Law #25 but it bears repeating. In fitness and fat loss, routine is the enemy of success. Changes to the body happen due to the adaption process. A new workout is something the body isn’t used to and it is forced to adapt by breaking down and building back bigger, better, and stronger. This process utilizes fat as its energy source. Once the body adapts, results cease and plateaus happen. You need to stay ahead of this curve by constantly changing your workouts and forcing your body to constantly be adapting.
There you have it. My 28 Laws for fat loss. As I said in the beginning, see how many you are already doing and which ones you need to be more diligent about incorporating into your life.
Try to follow as many as you can and you will see significant results in a short amount of time!
If you have any questions or need any help feel free to reach out to me. My email is:
[email protected]. You can also check out our website at www.FuryFitnessWoodstock.com