How to Lower Your Body Fat Percentage
By Ellis Friedman
, last updated January 29, 2012
Lowering your body fat percentage is not all about looking like or becoming a body builder; instead, it’s useful for making your body fitter, healthier, and more toned by losing fat and replacing it with muscle. Although lowering your body fat percentage is not easy, making and committing to a few simple lifestyle changes, you’ll be on your way to a toned, fit body. Here are some ways to lower your body’s fat percentage.
Don’t Sweat the Numbers
First, it’s important to realize that losing fat isn’t tied to weight or size. You can lose fat and inches and not see the number on the scale budge a pound. On the other hand, you can be slim with a high body fat percentage. If you want to track your progress by numbers, instead consider measuring your waist, thighs, arms, and other body parts and tracking the difference that way.
Cardiovascular activities like running, swimming, and walking help burn fat. Regular, moderate aerobics will help you slim down and shed fat. However, straightforward cardio will only get you so far. To lower body fat percentage, it’s important to include strength training and the right diet.
One of the most effective ways to lower body fat percentage is to build muscle. Muscle uses more calories than fat, so as you build more muscle, your body will burn more calories. Some people worry about getting too bulky or looking like a bodybuilder; these fears are mostly unfounded, as gaining that much muscle doesn't happen overnight. It’s better to get started on a strength training routine and then modify it according to the results you desire.
Change the Fats You Eat
Chances are you won’t be able to lower your body fat percentage without adjusting your diet. First, cut back on saturated fats found in meat and dairy products. Foods like beef, pork, chicken with the skin, cheese, butter, and whole milk all contain saturated fats. Decreasing consumption of saturated fats will help lower cholesterol and will also help in your quest to lose body fat. Replace foods high in saturated fat with lean proteins like skinless chicken breast and turkey, as well as salmon, beans, and tofu.
Fewer Carbohydrates, More Protein
Cutting out refined carbohydrates like white flour and sugar is essential to lowering body fat. Refined carbohydrates contribute to creating excess fat stores, and can also adversely affect your energy and blood-sugar levels. Low-carb diets are helpful in lowering body fat, though certain complex carbohydrates like brown rice and whole grains are healthful in moderation and will help fuel your body. Additionally, sticking to a diet high in protein will help you feel full and give your body the fuel it needs to build muscle. Make sure to add lots of vegetables, especially leafy greens.
Another strategy that may be useful is eating four to six small meals a day instead of three large meals, as this can help keep up your metabolism. No matter what, be sure to drink a lot of water. Never let yourself get thirsty, and if you’re wondering if you’ve consumed enough water for the day, chances are you need to drink some more!