I've always thought that one must spend hours and hours in the gym, along with the daunting task of watching calories and food intake, in order to get abs and a trimmed body. In my (f)unemployment days, however, I discovered that getting lean and toned isn't so complicated after all.
It all started when my naive self decided to make the most out of my newfound freedom during my unemployed days by staying up all night in front of my laptop, only to wake up really late the next day. Thus I often miss breakfast, getting out of bed only for lunch and then straight to eating whatever meal or dessert I would fancy afterwards.
Yes, staying up late is unhealthy and I thought I was getting fatter and heavier as I drink my favourite frappe or hot chocolate once in a while but surprisingly, I was not. In fact, I was losing pounds and getting skinnier despite having several lunch outs and dinners with my friends, as well. I had no idea what was happening.
Then it got me wondering whether skipping breakfast had a lot to do with my weight loss.
I've always thought that breakfast was the most important meal of the day and so I wanted to check whether there's a sensible reason to forgo it.
Thus, I went on researching. And to cut the story short, I discovered that there's this thing called intermittent fasting (IF), a method of losing weight that basically gives you the health benefits of fasting (improved metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and immune system, etc.) without requiring major behavior change. James Clear has this elaborate, yet helpful guide about why & how one should do it. Surprisingly, doing it unconsciously was the main reason behind my sudden weight loss, alongside my short visits to the gym once or twice a week.
The whole thing is a rather easy way to lose weight and stay healthy. And if I could sum up the only things that are important based on my own experience, it would only revolve around these three: fasting, coffee, and short high-intensity workouts.
14-HOUR FASTING (16 HOURS FOR MEN)
In my experience, this one truly made the difference. While there aredifferent types of intermittent fasting, I personally like to follow Martin Berkhan's LeanGains. It's basically for people who want to lose body fat & build muscle. Plus I find it simple & less complicated than the others.
What I do is I fast for 14 hours a day (sleeping hours included) and feed for the remaining 10 hours, eating whole meat & avoiding processed food as much as possible. That means I can skip either breakfast or dinner depending on when I prefer to start my fast; but I personally find it easier to skip breakfast since coffee is the only thing that is important to me in the morning.
To illustrate it simply, here's an example of how I do it in a day:
As the illustration shows, I break my fast at 10am and eat lunch & dinner in between my feeding period 'til 8pm. Thus I start fasting again from 8pm 'til 10am the next day.
This doesn't mean, however, that I won't get to eat my favorite breakfast food. In fact, I still do; only that I take it at 10am. The best part of this type of fast is that I can still indulge on my favorite frappuccino, ice cream, or dessert once in a while, as long as I take it within my feeding period.
Studies have shown that coffee intake can help lose weight and burn body fat faster. It's the reason why people usually drink coffee before their workouts. Since I have to consume no calories during my fasting period, I only take black coffee in the morning (although not strict enough since I add milk and sweeteners once in a while). Nevertheless, drinking coffee has its own share in my workout performance and fat-burning results.
I personally like exploring different coffee shops as a coffee lover myself; but whenever I need to enjoy a cup at home before my workout, I like drinking illy Medium Roast coffee. It's one of those coffees that I can drink good as black, without milk and sugar. If you don't have a coffee maker at home, however, UCC The Blend Japanese Coffee Taste No.117 is really good!
SHORT HIGH-INTENSITY WORKOUTS
Take note of the adjective "short". One of the most important things I discovered is that there's really no need to spend hours & hours in the gym. 15-30 minutes of high-intensity exercise everyday (or even at least twice or thrice a week) can do the trick. In fact, short bursts of exercise can trigger the "afterburn" wherein your body continues to burn fat even after the workout. This doesn't just save time; but it also gives you better results as it allows you to gain lean mass & burn fat!
There are several high-intensity workout programs out there which you can follow inside the comforts of your home. You just have to invest on at least a pair of dumbbells. These workouts usually involve squats, deadweight lifts, and cardio. The one I've tried is MaxWorkouts, although it isn't for free. There are, however, other workout apps / programs that have free trial or basic versions, such as FitStar, that give you a glimpse of how such workouts really work.
I've been keeping all these things in my routine for months already and I must say that I've been happy with the results I'm getting. I'm no diet guru or fitness expert so I cannot guarantee that these things will work for anybody. Then again, I hope that this may help you get your fitness goals in the same way that it helped me. Cheers!
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