Updated: Aug 11
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This 21 day fat loss program can help you shed those unwanted pounds. In addition, the program can support you in making positive lifestyle changes that will have a beneficial impact on your health.
Before delving into the programme proper, we first need to discuss diet and lifestyle factors. For exercise alone is not enough to banish the blob. As Kenneth Cooper reminds us in his book The Aerobics Program For Total Well-Being, it's the foods we eat not the miles we run that have the greatest impact on the size of our waistline.
Whenever embarking on a fat-loss programme it is of paramount importance that you make changes to your daily diet whilst looking to improve other areas of your lifestyle. For example, restricting calorie consumption (and fasting), reducing alcohol consumption and generally being more active.
But first . . .
21 day weight loss diet plan
There must be a billion blogs on the subject of diet – and a further million books to boot. Much of this diet-related literature is saying the same thing. Below I have encapsulated in a checklist the common consensus on what constitutes as a healthy, fat-loss-promoting diet. Underneath the checklist the points of primary concern have been explained in a little more detail.
Dietary dos and don'ts
When you begin the 21 day fat loss program, the single most important step you can take is to improve your diet. According to Dr Greger, author of How Not To Die, diet is the number one cause of obesity. This goes against the conventional grain. Many people still believe that being overweight is a consequence of inactivity.
However, more and more research is showing that food is the leading culprit. In his book Ultra-Processed People, Dr Chris Van Tulleken convincingly argues that poor food choices put people at risk of excessive weight gain and obesity. Below I have listed a range of foods that Greger and Tulleken identify has harmful and helpful for weight loss and health.
best foods for weight loss
Do cut out all processed food
Do cut down all refined carbohydrates
Do limit or remove sugar
Do limit or remove animal protein
Do reduce or remove alcohol consumption
Do reduce snacking
Do increase vegetable consumption
Do increase fruit consumption; especially berries
Do replace refined carbs for wholegrains
Do consume clean liquids: herbal teas, water
Do consume nuts and seeds
Do include legumes and pulses
21 day fat loss challenge
To improve health and reduce excess body fat, you will need to make a number of changes to your diet and lifestyle habits. While improving single lifestyle factors can tip the scales in the right direction, you will lose significantly more weight if you can make multiple changes.
Below I have outlined key factors that can help you lose weight. By identifying those areas that could be improved, and making the recommended amendments, you will likely notice quicker fat loss results.
Processed food has been subjected to industrial adulteration that transforms raw or natural produce into something that will eventually be eaten. However, during this process much of the nutrient value of the food is lost. For example, refining grains ‘removes the bran and germ, which contain important nutrients like B vitamins, iron, and fibre,’ (John Hopkins).
As well as being 'laden with sugars, hydrogenated fats, salt and excess calories,' processed foods are highly refined, nutrient deficient, and some contain chemical additives (What To Eat).
In addition to depleting the nutrient value of food, the refining process also strips grains of ‘roughage’ – otherwise known as insoluble fibre. The diminution of dietary fibre has been linked to increase rates of obesity and incidences of metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure and diabetes.
In a study of 40,000 males, researchers made a convincing link between high-fibre consumption and the reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
Other impacts of processed food
Refined foods have also been shown to exacerbate weight gain while corrupting healthy eating habits. (And such foods, because they have been stripped of their roughage, do not quell the pangs of hunger like their superior wholegrain counterparts do.)
People who regularly consume processed foods start to crave them – sugar is as addictive as some class A drugs. Moreover, they lose their taste for healthy foods which become ‘bland’ and ‘tasteless’. (Tulleken talks about this in Ultra-Processed People.)
This triggers a kind of negative feedback loop where the addiction and lack of satiation drives consumption and the adulteration leads to the reduction of healthy foods in the diet. Thus it is always best to abstain from eating processed, sugary foods.
ultra processed foods examples
Ultra processed food has been described by one leading nutritional scientists as 'formulations of mostly cheap industrial sources of dietary energy and nutrients, plus additives, using a series of processes and containing minimal whole food,' (Ultra-Processed People).
Dispensing with the formal scientific definition, ultra processed food 'can be boiled down to this: if it's wrapped in plastic and has at least one ingredient that you wouldn't usually find in a standard home kitchen, it's UPF,' (Ultra-Processed People).
The argument over the impacts of animal protein on health continues to be hotly debated. Health professionals, dietitians, nutritional scientists and deluded bloggers wage word wars weekly over whether the consumption of meat, poultry and dairy increase disease susceptibility.
However, the relationship between weight-gain and animal protein consumption is largely a settled matter – that is, the regular consumption of meat and dairy can cause weight gain. But this really shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the high saturated fat content of these foods.
The takeaway here is, if you are serious about losing weight you must start cutting down on meat and dairy consumption. Nowadays this is very easy to do as there are loads of vegetarian alternatives and literally millions of healthy vegetarian recipes.
'Alcohol consumption contributes to 3 million deaths each year globally as well as to the disabilities and poor health of millions of people. Overall, harmful use of alcohol is responsible for 5.1% of the global burden of disease,' (WHO – 2020).
In addition to increasing your chances of developing fatty-liver disease, mouth, throat and breast cancer, brain damage and a whole host of other health problems, alcohol consumption has been shown to contribute to weight gain.
According to Dr Greger ‘moderate drinking does appear to protect against heart disease, perhaps because of a blood-thinning effect, but even light drinking (less than one drink a day) has been found to increase cancer risk,’ (How Not to Die).
And though the link between light drinking and weight gain is tenuous, with opposing and contradictory findings, ‘recent studies have shown that heavy drinking may be more of a risk factor for weight gain’.
But, irrespective of where you class your consumption – light/moderate/high – if weight-loss is your goal, it is best to banish alcohol from your diet completely. Considering that 1 gram of alcohol contains over 7 calories a glass or two each evening or over the weekend is only going to increase over-all calorie intake which will ‘certainly promote a positive energy balance and ultimately weight gain’.
Snacking is also recognised as an enemy of health – of course that is dependent on the type of snack foods being consumed. If snacks are processed, from a packet, laden with fat and/or sugar, they will – over time – exert a deleterious effect on health and contribute to the accumulation of unwanted body fat.
Ultimately, irrespective of what foods are being snacked on, it is always best to keep this behaviour to a minimum. The body needs far fewer calories than we realise. Two to three healthy meals a day will provide us with all the nutrients and energy we need to sustain daily activity. But, as this article shows, you can select healthy snack options.
21 day exercise program
It’s old hat that we shouldn’t exercise every day. This erroneous assumption arose from the belief that if we train every day we will impede the body’s ability to repair damaged tissue.
However, research has shown that, whilst this is true in people who are performing the same exercises day in day out, if we vary our training regime then we can remain active while also giving our body the time it needs to heal damaged muscle tissue.
If you’re not a fan of exercise and you struggle to find motivation for one training session a week, let alone seven, don’t fret! A daily exercise regime is not as imposing as it might at first sound. For example, a light 30 minute jog (or fast pace walk) in the morning or whole-body circuit training session will more than suffice.
When you embark on the 21 day fat loss program, try to increase your weekly exercise dosage. Of course, the volume of exercise that you can commit to will largely be determined by a number of factors. For example, your current weight, health status, and previous exercise experience.
But remember, an effective exercise regime doesn't necessarily involve CrossFit-style HIIT sessions. While that type of training will most certainly torch the calories, for an untrained individual that is overweight walking 20 to 30 minutes each day can be equally as effective - not to mention a lot safer. Get going with this low-impact cardio workout.
The Oxford dictionary defines sedentarism as ‘The habits and routines associated with relatively low levels of activity and movement, leading to health-related problems such as obesity.’
So what does being more active look like?
It’s quite simple really. It’s about engineering your daily habits to include more movement. For example, a couple of years back I got so sick of sitting in traffic when commuting to work that I sold my car and bought a pushbike. Now I enjoy the six-mile commute. No traffic. No polluting. And an extra 40 minutes of exercise!
But of course this is not a tenable option for everyone; some people commute much further than six miles and others work from home – and others are just far too lazy. However, there are literally a million and one ways to get more movement into your life. Below I've listed a few tips that can help raise your activity levels.
Tips to being more active
Tip 1: Before turning the keys in the ignition ask yourself: do I need to drive? Can I not make this journey by foot of bike?
Tip 2: If possible go for an afternoon/evening walk. It only needs to be a 30-minute stroll at a gentle pace. That’s more than enough to burn calories and get the blood circulating.
Tip 3: When at your desk (presuming that you spend most of your day tapping away at a computer) try standing or swop the chair for a stability ball.
Tip 4: Set a 20-minute timer to remind you to get up off your arse and move. Maybe go for a five-minute walk or do some squats.
Tip 5: Start this 6 Week Kettlebell Training Program.
Tip 6: Purchase a budget exercise bike and peddle while watching TV.
During the next 21 days look to see where you can factor some additional movement into your life. Remember, when it comes to fat loss, every expended calorie counts.
Get started on the 21 day fat loss program
Before embarking on the 21 day fat loss program, it is of paramount importance that you make changes to your diet and lifestyle habits. As stated above, exercise alone is simply not enough. Thus you must reform your diet and be strict about cutting out refined/processed/sugar foods.
Moreover, you must move more. Strive to take active and meaningful steps to re-engineer your daily round to include additional and supplementary movement. It doesn’t have to be as radical as chopping the car in for a push bike. Walking and standing more will suffice as positive first steps.
21 day exercise program
Below, in the 21 day fat exercise program tracker, you will discover 21 workouts. Each workout is structured to last for one hour and they all include an element of cardiovascular exercise – for the simple reason that CV is one of the most effective and efficient ways of ‘burning’ calories.
Remember, though, all the training session can be tailored to suit your current ability, exercise preferences and/or time constraints. The effectiveness of the programme will not in anyway diminish if, for example, you decide to substitute rowing for running or burpees for squat jumps, say.
The tracker is merely supposed to act as a guide for you to follow whilst also providing training ideas. What is important is that you engage in some form of cardiovascular and resistance exercise every day and that each training session lasts for a minimum of 30 minutes.
About Adam Priest –
A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam Priest is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and wellbeing practitioner. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites. Connect with Adam via LinkedIn or firstname.lastname@example.org.