By: Robert Maalouf BS, CSCS, FMSC, CPT, CF-L1
Losing weight is the most common goal in the fitness world. Yes, some of us may want to build some muscle or increase athletic performance, but the vast majority of the population would be happy if they could just shed a little of that excess weight. There many reasons why most people don’t lose weight, but I think there are two major culprits here: not implementing the proper type of exercise and not tracking nutrition.
Not implementing the proper type of exercise
My goal is to lose weight, so I should spend countless hours each week doing cardio, right? Actually, that’s probably the last thing you should be doing. This may come as a shock to you but let me explain. If you were training for a marathon, it would make perfect sense to spend hours and hours jogging on a treadmill. However, if you’re goal is long term weight loss, you don’t simply want burn calories during your workout, but you want your metabolism to be elevated long after your workout is over. When you perform steady state cardio for long periods of time, your body will realize a hormone called cortisol, this hormone feeds off of lean muscle and burns muscle as fuel to keep you going. Some of you may be thinking it doesn’t matter what you burn as long as weight comes off, but if your weight loss is mainly muscle, I can guarantee you the weight loss will be short lived. You must keep in mind that muscle in the body is significantly more metabolically active than fat. In simple terms this means the more muscle you carry, the more calories you burn…even when you’re not doing anything at all. Well then, sign me up! Therefore, we need to prioritize muscle building or at least muscle preservation while losing weight. Sorry to tell you, but steady state cardio does neither. While you may lose weight initially with hours of cardio, you will eventually reach an impassable plateau, and if you stop those hours of cardio, well, your body will rebound back in weight much faster than you expect. If you truly want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to have a proper workout program that focuses on resistance training and high intensity interval training. Keep steady state cardio for those days your body is sore/tired or if you training for an endurance event. In the end it’s all about training appropriately for your goals.
Not tracking nutrition
We all know that to lose weight, calories burned need to be greater than calories consumed. It’s a simple equation however most of us have no idea what are calories burned or calories consumed actually are. It is critical that you spend some time trying to track these numbers, you will be surprised at what you discover. Most people consume a lot more than they should, and burn a lot less than they should, more importantly they only realize this, after they track these numbers. I am not suggesting that for the rest of your life you keep tracking what you burn and consume, it’s time consuming and requires some effort. I do suggest you spend a few weeks tracking what you consume to get a general idea of where you fall. You can track your calories with countless apps on smart phones and they are extremely convenient. As far as tracking calories burned, I suggest investing in a BodyMedia CORE Weight Management System, they are easy to use and provide very detailed information about your calorie expenditure.
After you spend some time into learning what is actually going on in your body, and you begin to focus on the proper type of exercise, I can guarantee you will be on your way to losing weight and achieving that summer body. As always, make sure to keep following us for all the latest tips on exercise and nutrition. Feel free to comment and ask questions!!!