Countless hours on the treadmill and weight machine and a seeming eternity spent resisting those chips in the pantry, yet your waistline is getting bigger, not smaller. This is a simple matter of biophysics and psychology. Amend your weight-loss tactics to drop those pounds and trim your profile. But before you do, consult your doctor to rule out a medical condition and get advice on what will help you lose pounds.
Basically, losing weight and inches boils down to decreasing your caloric intake or increasing your calorie expenditure, or both. You achieve the best results by combining exercise with a balanced, calorie-wise diet.
Exercise, especially moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking, running, swimming or biking, uses the large, calorie-burning muscles in your lower body and also causes your heart and lungs to work harder. This adds burn to your workout and enhances your cardiovascular and respiratory fitness. Do 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise on most days of the week to bolster weight loss and improve fitness.
Unless you work out many hours every day, exercise alone will probably not strip you of your excess weight. A moderate-intensity, hour-long aerobic workout might burn 800 or 900 calories, tops. More likely, your workout will burn 300 to 600 calories. One Whopper with cheese gives you 770 calories. A couple of sodas, a muffin and a number of other foods can easily pack on calories. Also, after you work out, you may be hungrier and more likely to indulge in a calorie splurge.
To lose weight, also reduce portion sizes. Many who struggle with weight have portion-distortion: super-sized expectations as to how big a serving size is. Use a measuring cup to portion out your servings while you adjust your expectations.
Burn Fat, Not Muscle
If you reduce your protein intake to reduce calories, you promote burning amino acids from your muscles as a source of energy. You need amino acids to restore and build muscles, so load up on protein before heavy resistance training, which increases metabolism for 24 to 48 hours after exercising.
Low protein intake and infrequent, big meals sabotage your weight-loss efforts by replacing lean, metabolism-boosting muscle with fat. Instead, eat several small, balanced meals that include protein, lots of low-calorie vegetables and modest amounts of whole-grain foods.
- Men’s Fitness: 10 Ways to Lose Muscle; Rachel Cosgrove
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Portion Distortion and Serving Size
- National Institutes of Health: Muscle Atrophy
- “Obesity”; Internal and External Cues of Meal Cessation; Brian Wansink et. al.; 2007
- “Time” Magazine; Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin; John Cloud; August 2009