Are you looking to lose 10, 20, 50, or more pounds? Have you tried numerous diets and all the latest fat loss workout programs, but still have not received the results you wanted? If so, do not be discouraged. You can lose the excess weight. But, you must use the proper formula. This formula is no secret it only consists of five components. They are: nutrition, strength training, interval training, goal setting, and making a life long commitment to exercise. The reason your past efforts to lose weight came up short is because they only consisted of one or two of the components and were short-term programs. By combining all 5 of the components you will lose the weight and keep it off for good. Let’s take a look at each of these.
1. Nutrition. Nutrition is the most important aspect of any weight loss program, which is why dieting, has become so popular among those trying to lose weight. However, nutrition alone will not get the job done. You must incorporate the other four components. I’m sure many of you have tried a fad diet (e.g. Atkins, Zone, South Beach, Weight Watcher’s, Grapefruit, etc.). Some of these diets hold merit others just are not healthy. The largest problem with fad diets is that they only focus on a short-term outcome and are not possible to stick to in the long run. This is why so many people yo-yo diet.
The majority of Americans continue to lose the same 10 pounds over and over on these fad diets and then they typically gain the 10 pounds back plus a couple pounds more each time they go off of their diet. These diets would provide better results if they were based on sound nutritional science and focused on teaching people how to eat a balanced diet and make better food choices. The reason you do not see a fad diet that does this is because the fad diets offer quick results. It would take much longer for someone to learn how to eat properly than it would for someone to simply follow a program laid out meal by meal in a book. But, after you go on the diet and lose the weight, what have you learned? Nothing, which is why as soon as you discontinue the diet the weight returns because you have gone back to your old eating habits. To achieve long lasting weight loss we need to do away with dieting and learn how to eat properly and healthfully.
2. Strength Training. Muscle tissue is the key to increasing metabolism. An increased metabolism means that you will burn more calories all day with everything you do. Why is this so? Because muscle tissue requires more energy to maintain than fat tissue does. So the more muscle tissue you have on your body the more energy your body will require to maintain that muscle. This does not mean that you have to develop the figure of a bodybuilder to burn fat. But, it does mean that the majority of your workout should consist of strength training. By focusing on strength training you will be able to develop a lean fit looking body.
This can be accomplished through total body workouts 3-4 times per week using multi-joint exercises and training movement patterns rather than muscle groups. For example, most people’s workouts consist of single-joint exercises such as a bicep curl that only targets one muscle and only involves the movement of one joint. A multi-joint exercise like the squat will require the effort of multiple muscle groups and involve the movement of 2 or more joints to perform the exercise. It is typically recommended that you perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps for fat loss. By training this way you will receive the most bang for your buck because you will be using exercises that require a large amount of energy to perform, resulting in more calories burned and the potential for greater fat loss.
3. Interval Training. I know I am going to push some buttons here but the research doesn’t support steady-state cardio training for fat loss, it supports interval training. Steady-state cardio is any activity (e.g. as walking and running) that is performed at the same level of intensity for 20 minutes or more. Interval training is a higher intensity form of exercise that can be any type of activity done continuously, but with varying the intensity frequently from high to low during the workout. Interval training also only takes 20 minutes to complete. Less than half the time most people spend when they run or walk continuously at the same speed. So how can interval training be better than steady-state cardio? Well let me first give you the research then I’ll explain. In 1994 Trembley et al. at Laval University in Quebec, Canada made a breakthrough study on fat loss training. They compared 20 weeks of steady-state cardio training versus 15 weeks of interval training.
At the end of the training the interval training group showed a nine times greater loss in body fat than the steady-state group. There have been other studies done since then all reproving this first study. These studies have shown us that it is not how long you exercise, but how intensely you exercise that determines how much body fat you lose. With interval training you also do not burn as much muscle tissue as you do with steady-state cardio. As I mentioned earlier, the more muscle tissue you have on your body the higher your metabolism will run, which results in more fat burned throughout the day.
4. Goals. If you are truly serious about losing weight you need to set goals. Set your long-term goals first and work backwards from there by setting short-term goals. Once you have set your goals write them on note cards. Keep these note cards near you and read them to yourself several times each day. Stay focused on your goals and you will soon see them become a reality.
5. Life Long Commitment. Fitness is more than just losing those unwanted pounds or getting into shape for your high school reunion. It is a life long commitment and lifestyle that needs to become a part of your daily routine. Once you have made fitness a lifestyle you will look and feel better, keeping those lost pounds off and not worrying about regaining them.