Looking to lose some weight? Should you start exercising or should you change your diet? Can you change the number on the scale with just one or the other or do you have to do both?
I’ve heard from individuals who have lost weight by altering their nutrition and not working out at all.
I’ve also met with people who after starting exercising, slimmed down without changing their eating habits.
I even have spoken with some individuals who made changes to both their diet and exercise routine and didn’t lose anything.
So what should you do?
Weight Loss Basics
Let’s start by reviewing the basics of weight loss. To lose weight you must have a calorie deficit, that is you must be burning more calories each day than you are taking in with food and beverages.
Of course, this simple equation can become very complicated with issues like insulin resistance, unbalanced hormones, lack of sleep and other medical conditions. We won’t get into those situations here.
If you feel you have any medical conditions inhibiting your weight loss, please contact your doctor. However, even without medical reasons making weight loss even more difficult, while a simple equation, creating a calorie deficit and losing weight isn’t easy to do! But it is possible with patience and dedication.
How do you know how many calories you need each day? Your body needs a certain number of calories to maintain your normal bodily functions. That number is your resting metabolic rate (RMR) and it is different for everyone.
There are online calculators to determine your RMR or you can use an app like My Fitness Pal to figure it out for you. The calculator or app will ask you about your activity level.
Your RMR will be multiplied by your activity level; sedentary, lightly active, moderately active or very active. That will give you the number of calories you should be taking in each day.
Subtract 500 calories from that number to give you an updated number of daily calories to put you on track to lose a pound a week.
Studies show it takes a 3,500 calorie deficit in a week to lose a pound, which breaks down to 500 calories a day.
When you have your number of calories to take in each day, keep track of your food and drink intake for at least a few days to ensure you are staying near to your goal. There are many free apps on the market that can help you track your food and can also add in your physical activity.
The calories you burn exercising can be added back to the number of calories you can take in that day and still be on track to lose.
For example, say I should be taking in 1,500 calories daily to lose around a pound a week.
If I run for 30 minutes and burn 200 calories (calorie burn is different for everyone and depends on your height, weight, age, gender and exertion level) then I could eat 1,700 calories that day and still be within my goal for the day.
By making any necessary changes to your nutrition, as well as ensuring you are exercising, you will achieve weight loss faster and in a healthier way. Plus you will be healthier overall!
Here are 5 tips to maximize both diet and exercise for fat loss.
1. HIIT and FIIT
These are important acronyms when it comes to ensuring you are getting the biggest calorie burn from your workouts. HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training, will burn more calories than steady state cardio (like running or walking at the same pace for a period of time).
Plus, with HIIT workouts, your body continues to burn calories hours after your workout as it recovers. This is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC.
EPOC can elevate your RMR up to 38 hours after very high intensity exercise. This number of EPOC boost varies based on the intensity of your workout, your genetics, current fitness level and muscle mass.
Your body will get used to any stimulus you provide it with so what was very difficult a few months ago seems easier now and requires less calories to do. That’s where FIIT comes in.
FIIT stands for frequency, intensity, time and type. By changing either how often you exercise or the number of sets you preform, the intensity of your workout, how long you complete your exercises or how often you work out or the type of your workout, your body will be challenged in a new way and will burn more calories than it would have with your prior workout it was used to.
For example, if you usually do the same five exercises with dumbbells three sets of twelve repetitions, switch to machines that work the same muscle groups or change it to four sets of ten reps with dumbbells.
Change it up! Try a new class, get out your bike, do something different to move your body.
2. Use Weights
More muscle means more calories burned. A pound of muscle burns six calories per day, versus a pound of fat burns which only two calories per day. This increases your RMR and metabolism, which means you will be burning more calories every day even while at rest. A pound of muscle also takes up considerably less space than a pound of fat, so it is not only healthier and burning more calories, it is making you look leaner too.
If you are new to strength training, take a look at our exercise library for instructional videos and instructions.
3. Prioritize Clean Eating
Limit added sugar, focus on lean protein, healthy fats and whole carbs from fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
All calories are not created equal. If you are eating processed foods and other foods with mainly sugar, saturated fats and salt, you will develop consistent cravings and never feel satisfied.
Processed carbs like white flour and foods that are high in sugar or artificial sweeteners will cause your blood sugar to rise sharply but then will crash leaving you hungry again and craving more in an hour or two.
You will feel more satisfied when you are eating lots of foods rich in fiber like legumes (dried beans, lentils), veggies (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach squash, sweet potatoes) and fruit (apples, berries, oranges, pears).
Fiber helps improve blood sugar control, helps lower cholesterol and reduces your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, colorectal cancer and heart disease as well as keeping you feeling full longer.
Replace processed carbs like white bread, bagels, muffins or donuts for breakfast with high-protein foods like eggs, or Greek yogurt mixed with chia seeds and berries.
For lunch and dinner focus on lean proteins like fish, chicken, turkey, beans, lentils and veggies.
There are many diet trends out there that are not always sustainable and some are not healthy. No gimmicks are necessary if you are eating a well-balanced diet that is within your calorie limits and prioritizes lean proteins, vegetables and whole grains.
If you have questions about a certain diet plan or way of eating, please contact your doctor or a registered dietitian.
4. Watch Liquid Calories
Alcohol, Juice, Coffee Drinks (not just black coffee) can be huge calorie bombs and provide no nutritional value. For example, a Grande Mocha Frappuccino is 410 calories. Imagine your calorie goal for the day is 1,500.
That Frappuccino is over a quarter of your daily intake and doesn’t provide you with much nutritional value. Plus it will probably leave you with a sugar crash in an hour and wanting more. Stick with water, black coffee or unsweetened tea.
5. Make Sure You Are Eating Enough
If you want to lose weight, you may think you need to eat less. Which might be true, but make sure you are eating enough and not starving yourself. Literally.
Extreme calorie restriction can result in amino acids/proteins being used for energy (instead of carbs or fat), meaning muscle loss instead of building lean muscle during a workout.
This would actually reduce your RMR. In other words, slow your metabolism. In general, no one should be consuming less than 1,200 calories per day.
Making sure your nutrition is where it should be is very important to weight loss as well as your overall health. Exercise has many benefits beyond weight loss, but also assists in weight loss by adding to your calorie expenditure.
The key to successful weight loss is a commitment to making lifelong healthy changes in both your diet and exercise habits.
Want a partner in your weight loss journey or don’t know where to start? Schedule a complimentary fitness assessment with a LivRite Personal Trainer to discuss how they can put a plan together for you and work with you to reach your goals!
Topics: LivRite News
It is finally spring here in the Midwest! The warmer weather, flowers starting to bloom and trees starting to bud can bring about lots of motivation to get moving and start fresh.
Don’t stop at spring cleaning your house, think about a spring clean for your health too!
Whether you kept up your workouts all winter, are still working hard on your resolution to get fit or are just starting out on your fitness journey, now is a great time to refresh your workout regiment.
It doesn’t have to be a complete deep clean, you can make small adjustments that will add up to big benefits.
Make A Schedule
This is especially helpful for those just starting out or getting back into a routine.
Each Sunday look at your calendar and plan your workouts. Be realistic, if you have taken a break from exercise most of the winter, don’t say you will workout an hour six days a week.
Start out with something more like a 30 minute session on three non-consecutive days.
Put your workouts on the calendar along with all of your other important appointments. And don’t cancel those appointments!
Check Your Gear
Spring is a great time to clean out your closet as you are transitioning from a winter to a spring/summer wardrobe.
Don’t forget your workout clothes and shoes! Recycle, reuse or donate any old worn out workout clothes and shoes.
Ladies, don’t forget your sports bras too. A typical bra has a lifespan of about six months depending on how often you wear it.
Running shoes last between 4-6 months depending on how many miles you put on them.
Now might be the time to go into a running store and get fitted for new kicks.
New workout clothes can be motivating and other gear (like your shoes) can help prevent injury.
Change Your Workout
If you have been doing the same workout for months, it might be time to switch it up.
Not only can the same old routine become boring, your body gets used to the stimulus which can prevent you from progressing.
There are many ways to change your training, like the number of sets or reps you perform, changing exercises or even changing your training schedule completely.
Altering the frequency, intensity, time or type of your workout will get your body and muscles challenged again.
Tidy Up Your Thoughts
Instead of creating goals based purely on weight loss, think about how you feel.
If counting calories has become a drag, think about your portion sizes instead. Dreading your workout?
Chances are you need to find a workout you enjoy. Check out different classes or work with a trainer to get new ideas on what type of exercise you will look forward to (or at least not dread!).
Take the opportunity with this new season to look at your workout routine and see if any of these tips will help you get energized about your health and wellness!
If you haven’t already, sign up for a free fitness assessment and talk with a trainer about how to spring clean your workouts and get ready for spring and summer.
Topics: LivRite News
Have you ever heard a trainer or group exercise instructor say “engage your core” or “tighten your abs”? Some might cue you to pull your navel to your spine. These are all ways to remind you to tighten your abdominal muscles while performing certain exercises so you can reap the most benefit from the moves as well as reduce your risk of injury. But how do you do it? What does it even mean?
First, a quick look at what makes up your abdominal muscles (abs) which are a big part of your core. Everyone has four layers of abs. The deepest layer is called the transversus abdominis (TVA). The TVA wraps around your waist to connect the ribcage to the pelvis. On top of the TVA are the internal and external obliques which criss-cross your torso. Last but not least, the top layer is your rectus abdominis which are the muscles that form that often discussed six-pack. When all four of these ab muscles are braced together, working with the muscles that line your spine, you have what is called an engaged core. Keep in mind, your core also includes your glute muscles and adductor muscles in your hips along with your lower back and abs.
Why do you want to engage your core? Engaging your core during your workout helps reduce the risk of injury, especially injuries of the lower back. For example, think about completing shoulder presses. As your shoulders get tired you may start arching your lower back which puts a dangerous strain on your spine and the muscles around it. By zipping up your abs and squeezing your glutes, your spine is more protected and you can move your shoulders through a safer range of motion.
Practice engaging your core while doing my fast ab circuit!
Also, engaging your core when performing abdominal exercises especially, ensures your abs are doing the work instead of recruiting other muscles to take over. This will make those moves more effective. Since your core is the basis of almost every movement we make in our day to day lives, it is important to keep it strong.
So how do you engage your core? Your abs should be tight and pulling in but you should be able to breathe and move normally. It is NOT sucking in your stomach and holding your breath. You can practice engaging your core at any time by feeling your ribs expand to the sides while you inhale, then as you exhale contract and zip up your abs, thinking about pulling your navel up and in toward your spine. Keep breathing normally while you continue to hold your abs in.
Keeping your core engaged properly while exercising will help keep your core strong and reduce your risk of injury not only while working out, but also in your day to day activities.
Look for more great core exercises? Check out our ab workouts database!
Topics: LivRite News
Are you looking to strengthen your abdominals? Whether you want to have a six-pack or improve your balance, there are many reasons to strengthen your stomach muscles and the other muscles around your mid-section that make up your core. Your core muscles are used in just about every movement you make so it is important to keep them strong. If you have extra around your middle, check out my post with 5 tips to lose belly fat.
Here is a fast circuit workout for your core. These are exercises you can do at home or at the gym.
Set your timer for 30 seconds. You'll do each move for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds in between each. Rest for a minute then repeat all three exercises two more times.
Here is a basic explanation of each move:
Scissors - Lie flat on your back. You can extend your arms along the sides of your body with your palms pressing into the floor, or you can bend your elbows and place your palms under the back of your head. Pull your navel in towards your spine (engaging your abs) and actively press your lower back flat on the ground. Lift both legs straight up toward the ceiling, continuing to engage your abs and press your lower back into the ground throughout the exercise. Slowly lower your right leg down toward the ground, until it is a few inches above the floor. Then scissor your legs, so you lift your right leg back up as you lower your left leg down towards the ground. Keep this up with slow and controlled movements.
Russian Twist - Sit with your knees bent and heels on the floor. Engage your abs and lean back until your upper body is at a 45 degree angle to the floor, keeping your back long and flat. Rotate your torso, reaching both hands toward the floor on the side before returning back to center then reaching for the other side. A weight or medicine ball can be held and/or feet lifted off the ground to make this more challenging.
Plank - Lie facedown with legs extended and elbows bent and directly under shoulders; place your hands flat. Feet should be hip-width apart, and elbows should be shoulder-width apart. Contract your abs, then tuck your toes to lift your body (forearms remain on the ground); you should be in a straight line from head to heels. Hold for 30 seconds.
Do this two to three times a week on non-consecutive days for stronger abs!
Looking for more great ab exercises? Take a look at our full list of ab workouts.
Ready to start exercising? Great! Physical activity benefits your physical and mental health in so many ways, it should be an important part of your lifestyle. However, there is so much information out there, and our lives or so busy already, it can seem overwhelming to begin. It doesn’t have to be so complicated or take up that much time. Whether you are getting back to working out after some time off, or are beginning an exercise habit for the first time, here are some things to keep in mind as you get started.
Four Workout Tips for Beginners
1. Get Physical – a physical that is. You might need an actual physical from your doctor before you start exercising. Anyone with major health issues or health risks should get clearance from their doctor prior to beginning any exercise routine. No matter your medical condition, you can probably workout in some way. But it’s best to get those details and any restrictions from your doctor.
2. Set A Goal – What is your workout goal? Do you want to run a 5k? Lower your blood pressure? Hold a plank for a minute? Think of goals that are specific and measurable that you can work toward and achieve in a shorter period of time. For example, instead of saying a large overarching goal like “workout more” or “lose 100 pounds”, make a starting more specific goal of exercising twice a week.
3. Start Slow – Starting out too aggressively may result in injury. Doing too much too soon is not good for your body and will not provide instant results. Exercise should be a lifelong habit so it should be sustainable and something you can stick with. Slowly progress the time you exercise and the weight you use.
4. Plan a Balanced Routine – a good exercise routine will contain some cardiovascular activity, strength conditioning and stretching.
- When starting out with cardiovascular activity like walking, running or the elliptical, shoot for 20-30 minutes at a pace where you can carry on a conversation if you had to but couldn’t sing a song. If you can sing, you aren’t going fast enough. For heart health, the American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week. According to the CDC, moderate intensity means your heart rate should be between 50% - 70% of your maximum heart rate. An approximate way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220.
- Strength conditioning should be done at least twice a week. Start with working each major muscle group with a weight that you can lift for 10-12 repetitions with the last reps being very difficult. Don’t work the same muscle group on consecutive days and be sure to warm up with a 5 minute walk or other dynamic activity prior to strength training.
- Stretching should be done after each workout. Static stretches for each major muscle group should be held for 10-30 seconds.
Don’t be intimidated by all the information, all of the gym equipment or all the different ways to exercise! It can be as simple as adding walking 20-30 minutes to your day. Follow the tips above to get started. Want more information and to get a workout created especially for you? Contact a LivRite personal trainer today!
Topics: LivRite News