So you want to lose some weight? Here are 5 tips that will help you melt some body fat and lose some unwanted weight.
1. Throw away your scale
First off throw away your scale (okay don't literally do that). You naturally gain and lose weight throughout the day due to slight changes in your metabolism and how well hydrated you are. Body weight is not always an accurate measure of a healthy body composition. Instead you should focus on your body fat percentage.
There are many inexpensive tools available to measure your body fat. Many electronic scales now come with electronic body fat measurements. These can be fairly accurate although they can have up to have 25% margin of error depending on your hydration levels (and if your taking supplements). If possible visit your local gym to get a body fat test. The caliper test (pinch test) can be very accurate. Also ask about getting your basal metabolism measured. Your basal metabolism is how many calories your body burns a day at rest. There are now many devices such as bodygem that accurately measure this.
2. Get off the treadmill and hit the weights
Unless you train cardio like Lance Armstrong you must do weight resistance exercise if you want effectively lose weight (i.e. bodyfat). The obvious goal of resistance exercise is to gain more lean muscle mass. One pound of lean muscle burns up to 50 calories a day in comparison to one pound of fat which burns around 9 calories a day. If you are able to gain 10lbs of lean muscle mass you will be burning an additional 500 calories a day. At this rate you will lose 4 lbs of bodyfat a month.
Don't get me wrong about cardio; I think it is also extremely important for your weight loss program. It also has a benefit list about a mile long from decreasing your chances of heart disease to lowering depression. However you must put your weight training program before cardio if you really want to lose body fat.
If you are unfamiliar with weight training exercises it may be a good idea to hire a personal trainer to get you acquainted with the gym. Also try subscribing to magazines such as Men's Health and Shape which often write beginner programs for people looking to start weight training programs.
If you are woman and are afraid of "bulking up" please repeat after me, "I will not become bulky from weight training". This is perhaps the single biggest misconception that women have about weight training. Too "bulk up" your body requires the presence of anabolic hormones which naturally exists in much higher levels in men. Unless you are a female body builder taking steroids your chances of bulking up are slim to none. Weight training will only leave you with a toner, slimmer much better figured physique. Interesting fact: Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe lifted weights.
3. Mix it up
Fitness professionals use the fancy term "periodization" for adding variety in workouts. Periodization is a strategy to keep your body from hitting plateaus in training. A suggested cycle would look like this.
-Phase 1: 4-6 weeks of heavy resistance exercise (6-12 reps per set). Please limit cardio to 1-2 days week. Yes I do mean only 1 to 2 days a week of light cardio. Intense cardio can inhibit your weight training efforts to put on more lean muscle mass for the end goal of a higher metabolism.
-Phase 2: 4-6 weeks of moderate weight training/cardio. This phase is when you already built up some muscle. Now is the time to add some cardio on top of your elevated metabolism to reduce fat stores. Your week should have 3 days of cardio workouts and 3 days of resistance exercise.
-Phase 3: 1-3 weeks of mostly cardio and some weight training. You should be doing 5 days of cardio and 2 days of full body weight training.
After this cycle is complete repeat back to Phase 1.
3. Your Diet
This is probably the most confusing and misrepresented component of healthy weight loss. I've decided to break it down to a few key points
-Eat 5-6 small meals a day. Eating the traditional diet of 3 meals a day will inhibit your weight loss goals for several reasons. When you go past 4 hours without a meal your blood sugar levels begin to drop. When you finally do eat your insulin levels spike which encourages your body to store more calories as fat. You are also much more likely to binge which pushes your stomach out further and leaves only more hungry for the next meal
-Eat whole grains, fiber and veggies. Okay I know you've probably heard that million times. But complex carbs (not sugars), fiber and good fats (peanut butter) are crucial for your weight loss regimen. If you really miss your tasty fatty foods allow yourself one day a week where you can eat whatever you want. If you break this rule you will end up just cheating yourself.
-Drink up! Not only does water help your body recover quicker and keeps your skin looking healthy but it can help you burn more calories too. How? Try drinking ice cold water. It requires more energy from your body to warm up and will help you burn some additional calories.
4. Get to bed!
I know sleep is becoming a more of a luxury in modern day America. But not getting a full night of sleep (6-8 hours for adults) can make you fat! Here are a few reasons why:
First is lack of sleep interferes with your body's natural mechanisms from recovering from a workout. Remember that when you exercise you are only creating an opportunity to get in shape. The final hours of a good night's sleep is when your body releases growth hormones to rebuild you're broken down muscle tissue. If you cut out a couple hours of rest you are cheating yourself out of gains from the hard workout earlier.
Lack of sleep can also throw off other hormones that regulate your metabolism and fat storage. Studies have shown that sleeping less than 5 hours a night can reduce bloodstream leptin levels by 15% (slowing down metabolism) and increases ghrelin by 15% (increase appetite).
Lack of sleep will inevitably make you less motivated to hit the gym because you are already fatigued! You want to be as well rested as possible before any workout. Get some sleep!
5. Supplements can help
I'm not telling you to go out and down a bottle of ephedrine every day. Supplements are intended to exactly what their name entails...they supplement your weight loss program. If you are on a weight loss program you should be taking a multivitamin everyday. There are some excellent weight loss supplements that can aid your weight loss efforts. If you can use these supplements responsibly I would recommend the following:
V/M Multivitamin complete by ISS - This is complete multivitamin supplement that is fortified with antioxidants.
Hot-Rox by Biotest - This non-ephedrine weight loss supplement can help increase your basal metabolism rate.
Lipo 6 by Nutrex - This supplement works to reduce your appetite. It can be very effective.
Lean System 7 by iSatori - This is a very potent weight loss product.
Myoplex Whey Protein by EAS - It is crucial to up your protein intake to gain more lean during resistance training.
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