Are you ready to punch and kick your way to a lean, fit body? If the answer is yes, then combining Tae Bo and diet choices that emphasize nutrient-rich, minimally processed foods may be your ticket to fast, healthy weight loss.
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Why Tae Bo and Diet?
Although both increasing physical activity and establishing healthy diet habits can help you lose weight, research findings from the National Weight Control Registry show that the vast majority of people who lose weight and keep it off do so with a combination of both methods.
There's nothing particularly outstanding about Tae Bo for weight loss when compared to other physical activity — any activity that burns calories will help you toward your goal. The best reason to focus on Tae Bo (or any other activity) is if you enjoy it enough that working out becomes a reward instead of a trial.
And although this martial arts-oriented, DVD-based workout is primarily associated with its heyday in the late 1990s, as pointed out in a research paper for Vanderbilt University, there's still a lot to love about it.
Read more: The 19 Funniest Fitness Fads of All Time
About Tae Bo
The only clinical study focused specifically on Tae Bo was published in the spring 2013 issue of Ethnicity and Disease: A small group of 60 participants participated in a 10-week program of three 60-minute Tae Bo workouts every week. At the end of the study period, the participants showed statistically significant improvement in their weight, BMI, waist and hip circumference, and other factors associated with overall health and weight loss.
Martial arts and kickboxing programs like Tae Bo can also have a great effect on your physical fitness. In a small study of 30 participants, published in the April-June 2014 issue of Muscle, Ligaments and Tendons Journal, the subjects showed significant improvement in power, fitness, flexibility, speed and agility after just five weeks of thrice-weekly kickboxing training sessions.
Although Tae Bo focuses on martial arts movements, it also emphasizes keeping your entire body moving rhythmically and continuously. Since there is a lack of specific data on this workout's calorie burn, the best comparison is high-impact aerobics. According to estimates from Harvard Health Publishing, that means a 185-pound person would burn about 622 calories in an hour of exercise.
That said, one of the key disadvantages of Tae Bo is its relatively high impact. Even though you're not actually hitting or kicking a punching bag (or an opponent), you're still repeatedly snapping both arms and legs out to the limit of their range of motion. If this proves uncomfortable or if you're worried about your ability to tolerate a high-impact workout, you can always modify the workouts.
Bringing It All Together
What about an effective diet for weight loss? Even if speed is your focus, it's best to stick to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for a healthy rate of weight loss, which is 1 to 2 pounds per week. This helps ensure that once the weight goes off, it stays off. For most people, achieving that rate of weight loss means establishing a calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day.
Some people will be able to achieve this by following the Department of Health and Human Services recommendations for healthy eating, which include focusing on nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, high-quality lean protein, healthy oils and fat-free or low-fat dairy.
Although this strategy helps minimize calorie intake while maximizing nutrition, counting calories may be very helpful too. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute notes that most women can lose weight safely on 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day, while most men can lose weight safely on 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day. If you intend to consume fewer calories, speak to a medical professional first.
- National Weight Control Registry: "NWCR Facts"
- Vanderbilt University: "Tae Bo"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- Ethnicity and Disease: "A 10-Week Aerobic Exercise Program Reduces Cardiometabolic Disease Risk in Overweight/Obese Female African University Students"
- Muscles, Ligaments and Tendons Journal: "The Effects of Five Weeks of Kickboxing Training on Physical Fitness"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Losing Weight"
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: "Healthy Eating Plan"