From StairMasters to kettlebells, Rosemary Conley to Natalie Cassidy, we understand and expect that getting in shape is going to require serious effort on our part – and the reverse is true, too, that we expect exercise to pay back the hours of boring, sweaty graft with a leaner, lighter body. Since the days of the Green Goddess, we've known that the healthiest way to lose weight is through exercise. It's science, isn't it?
With so many health supplements and protein products available from supermarkets, health shops and the internet, it’s easy to be tempted. But a wholesome, balanced diet is the best plan of action for most people. If you’re an athlete considering taking a dietary supplement, it’s important you get the right advice from a sports dietitian. If you’re worried about having a deficiency, speak to your GP or a dietitian.
Based on my experience in nutrition counseling, most of us tend to snack on foods that aren’t nutrient-dense, but are high in calories. For example, skipping sugary beverages is often the easiest way to lose weight faster. You don’t feel full from drinks — even the ones that do contain calories — so swapping those out for sparkling water or unsweetened tea and coffee is the best place to start. Other major culprits often come in refined grains like cereals, chips, crackers, and cookies.
“If weight loss is the goal, I recommend learning how to properly deadlift. Deadlifting recruits more muscle fiber at once than any other exercise. More muscle working equates to more blood flow, an increased heart rate, more metabolic demand and output. It’s compound, multi-joint and more bang for your buck, not to mention you’ll develop an excellent posterior from them.” — Victoria Viola, PN Certified Nutrition Coach, NSCA CPT, Co-Founder, Excelerate Wellness, LLC
Spinning, whether it's on an actual bike or a stationary one, is one of the best ways to burn calories and build endurance. If you don't like running, spinning is a low-impact alternative that'll crank up your heart rate. But there's more to pushing the pedal than speed. By practicing good form and engaging your core as well as your thighs and glutes, spinning can be a full-body workout, too. Whether you're doing a heavy climb in first position or sprinting in second, your core is the key to spinning efficiently and quickly. And as you drive your foot down with each stroke, it's all about squeezing your inner thighs.
Here's the thing: Working out isn't enough on its own to make weight loss happen. There's so much else that goes into weight loss and body fat loss; in fact, exercise isn't even technically necessary in many cases. If you want to lose weight—and it's totally cool if you do and totally cool if you don't—adopting healthy eating habits has got to be step numero uno. To get technical, you need to create a calorie deficit, which means using more calories in a day than you consume—and the consumption part plays a much bigger role in that than burning calories in the gym, or while carrying your groceries home, or any of the other myriad ways you put your muscles to work each day. Other lifestyle habits, like sleep and stress management, and health conditions (think thyroid issues, to name just one of many) also affect your weight. Point is, weight loss is a complicated and extremely personal journey that doesn't look or work the exact same way from one person to the next.
Harvie, M. N., Pegington, M., Mattson, M. P., Frystyk, J., Dillon, B., Evans, G., … Howell, A. (2011, May). The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: A randomized trial in young overweight women. International Journal of Obesity (London), 35(5), 714–727. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3017674/
Continuing weight loss may deteriorate into wasting, a vaguely defined condition called cachexia. Cachexia differs from starvation in part because it involves a systemic inflammatory response. It is associated with poorer outcomes. In the advanced stages of progressive disease, metabolism can change so that they lose weight even when they are getting what is normally regarded as adequate nutrition and the body cannot compensate. This leads to a condition called anorexia cachexia syndrome (ACS) and additional nutrition or supplementation is unlikely to help. Symptoms of weight loss from ACS include severe weight loss from muscle rather than body fat, loss of appetite and feeling full after eating small amounts, nausea, anemia, weakness and fatigue.
“When you’re anxious, your body feels like it’s under a tremendous amount of stress all the time. This is why anxiety is a powerful trigger for weight gain. Two of the most proven cures for anxiety are exercise and spending time in nature. Combine both with an outdoor run or bike ride and race away from the anxiousness. Making this habit part of your lifestyle can help you stay lean for life.” — David Zinczenko, author of the Zero Belly Cookbook
Here's how your body makes up for the major calories you torch at the gym: As you get used to your workouts, you might not burn more calories—even if you're consistently active, says California-based trainer Mike Donavanik, C.S.C.S., “Think about your job. When you first started, there were some learning curves, it took more energy and more time, but you became more efficient,” he says. Exercise works the same way. Your body adapts to a specific demand. So you naturally become more efficient, and use less energy [a.k.a. calories] to meet that demand."
“It’s no big surprise, but my go-to weight loss tip is to eat more vegetables. They are the most low-calorie food you can consume, and they’re filled with health-boosting, satiating nutrients. From smoothies and eggs to soups, main and side dishes, they can fit in anywhere and boost volume and nutrition. If you want to eat more while still losing weight, veggies are your answer. —Laura Burak, RD, CDN
You may think hand sanitizer will zap germs and prevent you from getting sick, but it could also be making you fat. Hand sanitizer contains triclosan, which researchers have found to be an “obesogen,” meaning it could cause weight gain by disrupting your body’s hormones. A study published in the journal PLOS One found that people who had detectable levels of triclosan in their bodies were associated with a 0.9-point increase in body mass index (BMI). If you’re really worried about germs, it’s best to rely on good ol’ soap and water.
“Use a VersaClimber or take a VersaClimber class. These machines are still not that common, but in my opinion they are far more effective for weight loss than other forms of cardio. They require you to use a large portion of your muscles and it’s functionally better for you than other forms of cardio like spinning. Everyone is talking about Rise Nation in LA at the moment as they are the first dedicated VersaClimbing studio. There’s no harder cardio workout I have tried. To lose fat you have to put in the work. — Dan Roberts, celebrity trainer and creator of Methodology X
There is a substantial market for products which claim to make weight loss easier, quicker, cheaper, more reliable, or less painful. These include books, DVDs, CDs, cremes, lotions, pills, rings and earrings, body wraps, body belts and other materials, fitness centers, clinics, personal coaches, weight loss groups, and food products and supplements.
Swimming workouts burn fat, trim inches and help you get stronger, fitter and healthier than ever. Swimming vigorously can burn up to 500-700 calories an hour, whether you do a breaststroke or freestyle. It's a highly effective form of exercise for weight loss and toning. Swimming engages all of the major muscle groups, from your abdominals and back muscles to your arms, legs, hips and glutes. It can be your sole form of fitness but can effectively compliment other exercises like walking and running as well. So go ahead, make a splash, lose weight and feel great.
Rough day at the office? Take a walk or head to the gym for a quick workout. One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working up a sweat can help manage physical and mental stress. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. So go ahead and get sweaty — working out can reduce stress and boost the body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension. Win-win!
It might help to politely ask family and friends not to buy you food as gifts. And to understand if you want to change your regular meet-up at the local burger joint to a restaurant with healthier options. You'll be making changes to your whole lifestyle, so it's good to get your family and friends on board so they can support you every step of the way.