Most people start on diets or join gyms because they want to lose body fat and feel better both physically and mentally. Over the years, in my experience, only a very small proportion of people actually achieve this end goal and an even smaller proportion achieve long term success with their fat loss and wellness plan.

I believe this can be attributed to 4 main reasons:

1) Focusing on weight loss rather than on improving health
2) Poor nutrition: either not enough emphasis on good nutrition or going on badly designed diets
3) Not exercising in the correct way
4) Lifestyle factors which conflict with optimal fat loss and general wellbeing (sleeping patterns, stress levels, toxin levels).

This has led me to create a simple, 5 step plan, which, if followed for 31 days, allows you to see some dramatic changes in your body shape as well as a huge increase in your energy levels and wellbeing
Ok so let’s dive straight in and find out these simple revolutionary steps:

Step 1: Detox
Your body stores toxins in fat cells. The higher your toxins levels the greater your level of fat stores will be. A detoxed body will quickly shed fat along with the toxins. We strongly recommend that you follow our 10-14 day detox program. This will help your body get rid of any toxins that it may be storing and it will also give you a quick surge of fat loss and put your body in a really strong position to accept better health into its systems.
We live in a very toxic world where our body is continually exposed to harmful chemicals and toxins. Many of the processed foods we eat are loaded with chemicals, preservatives and additives. Our fruit and vegetables are often sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, our clothes are washed in chemicals, most beauty products contain several different chemicals, our air is becoming more polluted (particularly in cities), and more people than ever are regularly taking medications.

Before embarking on your detox it is advisable to get rid of all processed foods out of your fridge and cupboards to help eliminate temptation at home. Replace these with all the foods that you require for your detox. The quality of the food you buy is also very important: eat organic foods where possible and choose only free range chickens and eggs, fish that are not from farmed sources and only grass fed meats. Eat as many raw foods as possible (nuts fruits & vegetables). Finally, when cooking, aim to either grill or steam where possible to preserve the nutrients in your foods.

Step 2: Eat in Balance
Following on from your detox, the main aim is to continue to eat as many natural foods as possible. At this stage you can introduce some more foods back into your eating regime and aim to establish a healthy eating plan that will continue to promote fat loss, maintain your increased energy levels, and will reduce or eliminate cravings for sugary and processed foods. To do this you should eat a good balance of the 3 macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats.) The main aim of this eating plan is to limit the amount of insulin you are releasing to a minimum, as insulin is the key hormone in fat storage. It is advisable to reduce your carbohydrate intake. Much of the modern diet is made up of harmful processed carbohydrates that have little to no nutritional value (breads, cereals, fizzy drinks, pasta, sweets, crisps etc.). Replace this with eating fibrous carbohydrates (vegetables, pulses, legumes and small amounts of fruit) as these do not cause the same surge of sugars into your blood stream as processed carbohydrates. It is this rush of sugars that causes a constant release of the fat storing hormone insulin.

Eating sufficient protein is also vital for anyone looking to reduce body fat and improve their energy levels. Protein is harder to digest than carbohydrates so will speed up your metabolism. It also slows down the release of sugars and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Protein is also the key macronutrient for building the vital lean muscle you will need to speed up your fat loss results. You should be including protein in every meal and snack.
Finally, it is essential that you consume adequate levels of the good fats (oily fish, eggs, nuts, olive oil etc.) and avoid the bad fats (pastries, margarines, baked goods, crisps, fried foods).
Going for the low fat option is not always the smart option as low fat often means high sugar.

Step 3: Exercise Smarter
To get the greatest benefits from your exercise plan it is vital that you do exercises that will boost your metabolism and make your body become more effective at burning fat. Spending 45- 60 minutes on the cardio machines (treadmill, bike, cross trainer etc.) or going to your aerobics class every week is not the most effective way to boost your metabolism. This will burn some calories during the workout and then perhaps for an hour or so afterwards. If this is the route you chose, to make any significant change in your body shape you will need to commit 6-7 hours per week for success.

The most effective exercise to achieve long term sustainable fat loss must involve large dynamic movements that require lots of different muscle groups to work together and will raise the heart rate at the same time.
Muscle is the key to boosting fat loss so the more of this lean energy burning tissue you have the better. To do this you need to be using dumbbells, kettlebells, body weight exercises medicine balls etc. to really ramp up the energy cost of a training session. This will also lead to the correct hormonal response where your body will release the key hormones for muscle building and increasing fat loss. You only need to commit to 2-3 sessions per week lasting 30-60 minutes and be active in between to see results doing it this way.

Aside from focusing only on cardio, another common error that people make is doing the same thing for too long. The benefits you receive from your workout start to reduce after you have done the same session for 6 workouts in a row. So having the same tried and trusted routine for weeks and months will very quickly have diminishing returns. You must keep the body guessing by continually changing your exercise routine. So make sure you are continually mixing it up by changing the movement patterns, changing the weights, reps, sets, rest time etc. This will cause your body to be in a continual state of adaptation which again is vital to boosting your metabolism.

Step 4: Hydrate To Feel Great
Everyone knows how important being well hydrated is for the body, but very few people on a fat loss plan connect good hydration to fat loss. A person’s chances of successful fat loss will be drastically decreased if they are in a dehydrated state. Lack of hydration has a negative effect on metabolism. Fat is metabolised in the liver, which also has several other functions, one of which is compensating for overworked kidneys. The kidneys need a plentiful supply of water and when they don’t get this, the liver steps in to do most of the kidneys work. When the liver is doing the kidneys’ job, it of course, becomes less efficient at metabolizing fat and this unfortunately, leads to greater fat storage.

Lack of hydration can also have an effect on our endocrine system, which is responsible for our hormone production and regulation. Often a dehydrated state can have a negative effect on our hormonal balance and increases fat gain

Step 5: Balance those Hormones
Hormones are thousands of times more powerful than drugs. If our hormonal system is out of sync our fat loss result will be fruitless. The body has a natural rhythm it should follow each day but modern lifestyles very often knock this pattern out of balance. Not getting enough sleep / rest, eating processed foods, drinking alcohol, living an over stressful life, taking pharmaceutical drugs particularly HRT or the contraceptive pill , getting too much or too little exercise, taking stimulants (caffeine, energy drinks etc.) will all depress the body’s natural rhythm. Getting our hormones in balance will have a very dramatic effect on our health, energy levels and body shape. I regularly witness clients who make a few changes to lifestyle factors and find they have addressed their hormonal imbalances resulting in some pretty amazing results.

Guest post by Paul Murphy from Get Results Fitness