Here are the facts: if you eat more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. So, if you burn more calories, will you lose weight? Maybe. Burning calories alone isn’t enough to turn you into a fitness model. Keeping your nutrition in check as you torch calories is the way to lose body fat and build lean muscle. Therein lies the issue with the scale. As you get lean, the numbers on the scale may go up, but your body fat will go down. Score!
Calories to Pounds
Burning 3,500 extra calories equals 1 pound. So, if you cut 500 calories per day, in 7 days, you’ll lose a pound. You can choose to burn 500 calories during a sweat session, or cut some from your diet and burn some at the gym. However, if you are burning those calories at the gym, the chances are you’ll be hungrier. That’s where your nutrition comes into play.
Nutrition, Not Diet
The word nutrition refers to a healthy diet that you can maintain for your lifetime, which includes all macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fats. Proper nutrition from whole, unprocessed foods – all that stuff on the outer edges of the supermarket – with lots of nutrient variety is paramount. Even better than just gnawing on raw carrots, though, is coming up ways to love your food, or make it work for you and your situation. Love Mexican food? Try grilling your own fajitas so you can omit the oil and use light cheese and tortillas. Always in a time crunch? Try stir fried veggies and shrimp for a meal that’s ready in less time than you’d wait in line for fat-laden takeout.
As you trudge away on the treadmill, you’ll see the calorie monitor ticking away. Even if you set the machine for age and weight, the monitors usually register pretty far from accurate. Ensure that you have investigated your calorie burn online or with use of a personal calorie monitor. It’s like getting a second opinion!
Sizzle or Scorch?
Why hang out on the elliptical for 45 minutes when you could burn twice the calories in just 20 minutes? Push yourself through an intense interval session by sprinting (or increasing the resistance on your machine of choice) for 1 minute and completing 2 minutes of active rest. You can do that by jogging slowly or walking. As you improve your cardiovascular fitness, switch to 1 minute of the high interval and only 1 and 1/2 minutes (or just 1 minute) of active rest.
When you’re done, take a 1/2 hour to do some strength training. You’ll burn more fat and calories, and benefit from a longer after-burn with more lean muscle mass. Bicep curls, squats, tricep dips or kickbacks and lunges can be alternated with jumping jacks, short sprints or stair runs in between each set to make that weight workout a cardio workout as well.
Pick the Lower Number – Scale or Clothes?
With this hard work, it can be disappointing not to see the numbers on the scale go down. Take your measurements every few weeks instead, or have one pair of jeans that you can try on to gauge your progress, rather than relying on those numbers on the scale. After all, you want to look and feel smaller, not just have one person – you – see the numbers on the scale go down!