Why do people want to lose weight so much?
Well for most people it is about -
Improving their health
Boosting their confidence
And looking better
There are a lot of people who just do it to try and get a lower number on the scale.
But is that really the most important bit?
If you just wanted to lose weight, you could not eat anything and you would definitely lose weight.
However, you would lose both fat and muscle, which isn’t the best way to go.
Because you would just end up looking like a smaller version of your current self.
Without maintaining muscle, you won’t look any leaner for losing the weight.
Would you rather be 11 stone and have a flat stomach or 10 stone and still feel flabby (and probably very hungry)?
There is a big difference between fat loss and weight loss.
Why you can’t trust the scales
It is great to have a goal in mind.
And most people base it around how much weight they want to lose.
But are the scales the best way to decide whether you are making the kind of progress you want?
The main problem with them is, they only tell you your weight.
That means it doesn’t show -
Your body fat
Your lean body mass
How well your clothes fit
How you feel when you look in the mirror
Whether you have reduced the size of your waist, leg, or arm
Our weight will, however, show you when you’ve had a large glass of water or eat a large meal, even though there hasn’t been any change in body fat.
This can end up being quite demoralising, which isn’t a good way to try to maintain motivation and keep yourself going.
You should measure yourself in different ways so not just the scales are relied on.
Using a measuring tape is a great way to gauge whether your stomach is shrinking.
Body fat calipers may seem scary, but anyone can use them and get a rough idea of whether they are getting leaner.
Just how your clothes fit and how you feel when you look in the mirror are some of the biggest and most important indicators.
You could stay exactly the same weight, but lose fat and gain muscle and end up dropping a dress size without the scales budging.
Stepping on the scales can help you monitor your progress, but it shouldn’t be the only way you measure yourself.
Build muscle to burn fat
If you lose weight without any weight training (bodyweight or otherwise), you can end up losing muscle as well as fat.
That means it can be a struggle to keep the weight off since you won’t burn as many calories when you have less muscle mass.
If you just perform cardio you won’t build any muscle mass, so if you stop doing cardio the weight will pile back on.
Instead, if you try to build and maintain muscle, this will mean your body burns more calories and so you can get rid of the fat a little easier (and keep it off).
Doing weight or bodyweight training will help you build and maintain muscle, which can help boost your metabolism.
That means the weight will be easier to keep off because you are naturally burning more calories…
...even when you sleep!
Eat right to burn fat
You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.
No matter how much exercise you do, if your diet isn’t good, weight loss will always remain a struggle.
Yet we don’t want to starve ourselves because, as I said earlier, we want to lose fat, not just weight.
We want to maintain as much muscle mass as possible because that makes it easier for us to burn fat and keep it off.
But how do we do it?
You need to eat plenty of protein because this makes up our muscle mass.
If you start eating less protein while losing weight, your muscle will begin to break down as well as fat.
That will mean your metabolism goes down and you’ll burn fewer calories - making it harder to lose weight in the first place.
However, making sure you eat enough protein alongside weight training, you’ll be able to maintain your muscle and the weight you lose will mainly be fat.
As much as you may think that carbs are evil, they aren’t all that bad.
It is best to still have some carbs but try to swap them for wholemeal varieties.
Also, if they are something you usually end up overeating, try to limit how much you are having them.
Eating slightly fewer carbs will help you reduce the number of calories you consume which will help you lose weight.
However, carbs are still a great source of energy and can help fuel your workouts.
If you don’t have any energy, you can’t put as much effort into your exercise (if you actually feel like doing any).
If you are eating fewer calories than you burn you will lose weight.
That doesn’t mean however you should just stop eating.
Like I said earlier, you don’t want to lose muscle mass too.
Instead, trying to reduce your calories by around 200-300 calories per day, to get the weight loss started.
However, keep your protein intake up.
Try to take these calories out of your carbohydrate and fat consumption so you can maintain muscle while getting rid of fat.
Exercise is essential for any weight loss plan.
And if you want to burn as much fat as possible while still maintaining muscle tone, you have to be exercising.
How can you maintain and build muscles if you don’t use them?
So what is best to do?
Any bodyweight or weighted exercises are great as they work the muscles while burning calories (think squats, press-ups, lunges etc.).
You could do these by:
Going to the gym
Doing HIIT circuits
Joining a local exercise class
But as long as you are raising your heart rate, working your muscles (with weight-bearing exercises) and working hard you will be burning fat while maintaining muscle and you’ll get the right kind of weight loss.