As summer approaches, we begin to see where all those holiday treats have settled; our belly, hips, and the unsightly phenomenon known as back fat. We all have seen it; those folds of skin that hang symmetrically to each side of our middle back. A common question I hear as a personal trainer is, “How can I burn back fat”?
Unfortunately there is no secret food or exercise that will get rid of these flappy wings, instead, it is a combination of changes you must make and commit to in order to burn back fat.
Do NOT Skip Breakfast
We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, there is truth behind that. Eating breakfast jump starts your metabolism to start burning fat, this is why Sumo wrestlers skip their first meal to avoid the fat-burning effect of breakfast. People who skip breakfast will feel hungrier the rest of the day and end up consuming more calories throughout the day.
Eating often sounds like it would put on weight, but in reality will help accomplish the opposite. Eating frequently, 4-6 small meals per day will revamp your metabolism to burn fat as compared to eating just 3 meals (or 2 if you skip breakfast).
Eating every 3 hours will help keep your metabolism going and keep your body working as a fat-burning machine throughout the day. It will also help prevent mindless snacking throughout the day and overeating at night.
Get Enough Sleep
Ever notice that when you get only a few hours of sleep that sugary, unhealthy foods seem to call your name? There is a strong correlation between sleep deprivation and hunger.
When we don’t get enough sleep, our body produces hormones that stimulate appetite and decrease hormones that make us feel full, which is a huge obstacle in losing weight. So do yourself a favor and get 8 hours of sleep each night.
Cardio and Weights to Burn Back Fat
If you thought you could get away with burning fat without exercising, think again. Cardio alone will help burn fat, but it will also burn muscle which will give you the saggy skin appearance, which is why we all must do some form of resistance training along with our cardio to help preserve our muscle mass.
This will help to achieve that toned, fit look that we all strive for. Be sure to include some strengthening exercises for the latissmus dorsi muscle in order to help burn back fat.
Stay Away From Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are public enemy #1. Avoiding excess carbohydrates will help you lose weight and burn off lower back fat. Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of fuel, however, most of us are not running marathons or competing in triathlons every day.
When we consume more calories than the body physically requires, whether it be from carbohydrates or protein, the excess calories get stored as fat. However, carbohydrates are not filling and usually we can finish a bag of pretzels, crackers, or popcorn and still have room to eat dinner.
Protein, healthy fats (like nuts, olive oil, seeds) and fiber, are much more filling and satisfying and therefore, we tend to consume less calories when we make our meals primarily of protein, vegetables, and fiber. Not all carbs are dangerous; some of the better choices include vegetables, fruit, and multi-grain bread.
One of the most common roadblocks to weight loss is alcohol. Alcohol is full of empty calories, offers no nutritional value, and is loaded with sugar that goes straight to your stomach (think beer belly), hips, thighs, and back.
If you are going out and feel the need to have a drink, stick with a shot of tequila or a low-calorie beer and avoid all the colorful, fruity cocktails which have more calories than most ice cream sundaes.
In order to target the lower back fat, aim for core-strengthening exercises such as planks, side planks, and most importantly, back extensions. A combination of lifestyle, diet, and exercising modification will all promote fat loss and improve our general well-being.