Are you looking to lose some weight but feel like you’ve hit a fat-loss slump? Don’t get discouraged, getting back to cutting out that extra layer of fat might be easier than you think. Most people are missing just a few key elements in their fat-burning arsenal to transform sluggish progress into soaring results. And the best part is that these are all lifestyle changes, no fad diets so your results continue to come to help you reach your best body and maintain it. Get moving in the right direction with these tips and tricks and learn more about maximizing your metabolism and living a healthy life long term.

Cycle Your Carbs
You don’t need to cut out all healthy carbohydrates like oatmeal, yams, fruits and berries to drop unwanted weight. What’s more important is learning to time your carbohydrate intake more effectively, AKA carb cycling. It’s a simple concept: Boost your carb intake on the days you exercise and cut back on carbs on the days you do not. You can also follow a cycle that you find works for you like 4 days of low carbs, 1 day high carb. Carbohydrate cycling may be a wiser approach than straight low-carb dieting because it will allow you to maintain a higher metabolic rate over time while providing the muscle glycogen needed to fuel intense exercise.

Increase Your Protein Intake
Protein has a higher thermic effect than carbohydrates or dietary fats, which means that you net fewer calories overall because protein costs more energy to digest. Roughly 20-35 percent of calories consumed from protein are burned through the digestive process, compared to 5-15 percent with carbs and 0-5 percent with fats. Protein also has greater appetite suppression properties, helping you calm hunger pangs before they start.

Transition to Interval Training
Kick-start fat loss with intervals! Skip steady-state cardio and alternate between periods of all-out intensity and low-intensity recovery. This form of cardio will have you burning up calories at lightning speed for hours after the workout session is over. What’s the best part? The high-intensity, fast pace means you can trade time on the treadmill for time with family and friends. Try integrating interval training into your workout 1-2 times each week if you are new to this. Start with 30 seconds of intense activity, followed by 60 seconds or low-intensity recovery, for 15-20 minutes. Once you feel comfortable, you can add time to your sprints while keeping the recovery time the same and go up to 30 minutes.

Dropset Isolation Movements
Kick up mere isolation movements with drop sets. Instead of sticking to the same weight and doing biceps curls for 3 sets of 8, for example, implement a heavy weight for your first few sets and, when you hit failure on the final set, drop the weight by 20 percent and keep repping until failure. If you feel ready, you can drop the weigh again (and again) and keep repping. Drop sets burn more calories than traditional sets and can help you build muscle.

Move Around At Least Once Per Hour
No more sedentary lifestyle! Long periods of extended sitting will crush anyone’s metabolic rate in a hurry, so make a concerted effort to get up and move around every hour. A quick jaunt around the building or walk to grab a cup of coffee at work can be enough to help spark change. My favorite way to ensure I get up often is to drink a ton of water. I use a gallon water jug and be sure to empty it at least once during a work day and I naturally get up to go to the bathroom throughout the day. This compounds your health efforts but more about water in the upcoming articles.

Log 7-8 Hours of Sleep Each Night
People who don’t get enough sleep at night not only suffer from low energy but have a slower metabolism and less insulin sensitivity—all factors that will move you away from reaching your weight loss goals. Still not convinced those extra z’s help? According to the Mayo Clinic, adults who sleep roughly seven hours per night have a lower mortality rate than adults who sleep much more or less.

Find Ways To Reduce Stress
Stress doesn’t just feel bad, it causes you to lose sleep and make you less fun to be around. It also increases the secretion of cortisol, the so-called stress hormone. Chronically elevated cortisol levels can cause reduced immune function, increased blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, and weight gain. If you live a high-stress lifestyle, you’re that much more likely to have and give in to your food cravings and accumulate additional body fat. To reduce your daily stress levels, be sure to get more physically active and take some of your workouts outside. Spend time with friends, add more laughter to your life, listen to music and spend time doing things that make you happy whatever it is.

Skip Rope Between Strength Sets
Channel your inner child for an added burn and definitely reduced stress levels. Skipping is a fast fat-burning activity that can easily be added between lifting sets. Add in some light skipping during your rest periods to supercharge the calorie burn you get from each workout.

To be continued.

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Photo By Brett Seeley Photo, MUA Salon Joa