I am a huge advocate for fueling your body with the right foods and with the RIGHT amount of calories. When starting on a weight-loss journey, many start by cutting calories too low, and exercising (usually cardio). You lose weight quite quickly and you feel great because you have accomplished what you set out to do. But then the scale stalls. You feel frustrated, angry and confused, so you drop your calories even more in a bid to shift the weight. After doing this for a few weeks and/or months you get frustrated, and a lot of the time, you give up.
During the period of your low calorie weight loss journey you have been doing cardio and eating too little, burning away precious muscle and slowing down your metabolism. Then when you drop your calories even more your body responds by holding on the every bit of fat that it can as it thinks you are starving (which you probably are). Then once you try to consume more food (because you are realising that you are hungry and you cant sustain eating low calorie forever) you gain weight. Why? Because you have cardio’d away your muscle tissue which has reduced your metabolic rate so you are now burning even less calories at rest than when you first started! You have created a less than perfect fat burning environment. So how do you prevent this happening?
1. Combine Strength Training (no you won’t get bulky) and Cardio.
Strength training is the best way to increase your metabolism – the more muscle you have the more calories you burn! If you want a ‘toned’ body, then strength training is the way to get it! Below are some commonly asked questions when it comes to strength training:
How many times per week?
At least 2-3.
How much weight should I lift?
Lift as heavy as you can without compromising form. By the time you get to your last rep, if you feel like you could have busted out 3 more reps, then you need to increase your weight.
How many sets/reps should I do?
If you are starting out I would recommend 3 sets of 12 reps.
Full body/3 day split/5 day split?
Do what works for you. If you are a beginner, I recommend doing full-body weights 3x per week.
2. Eat the CORRECT amount of calories.
If you eat too little or too much you will not lose weight, the same goes for if you eat below your BMR. Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is the amount of calories your body would need if you were to lay in bed all day doing nothing. NO ONE should be eating below their BMR. Follow the formula below to find out your BMR and work out the amount of calories you need each day. If you are new to counting calories I recommend Sparkpeople or Myfitnesspal, but DO NOT use the calorie amount that they set for you as it is usually way too low.
To determine your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure), multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:
- If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
- If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
- If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
- If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
- If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
This is the amount of calories you need to maintain your weight with the current exercise you are doing. If you wish to lose weight, follow the calculations below.
Lose fat – 15% calorie reduction
TDEE x 0.15 = number
TDEE - number = calorie needs
Lose fat - 20 % calorie reduction
TDEE x 0.20 = number
TDEE - number = calorie needs
I recommend starting out with 15%. If you feel like you aren’t seeing results after a few weeks then you can increase to 20% or between 15-20%, but I do not recommend going any lower than 20%.
3. Lose weight SLOWLY: Slow and steady wins the race! There is no quick fix when it comes to weight-loss.
We all want to see the scale go down quickly, because lets face it, we are all impatient when it comes to weight loss! But losing too much too quickly can mean you are burning muscle, which we want to avoid as this will make weight-loss difficult in the long run. You want to aim to lose 1lb (.5kg) per week. Some weeks you may lose more than this, but if you are continually burning 2lb (1kg) or more each week, then it is highly likely that you are burning muscle. Even if the scale doesn’t budge for a few weeks you could still be making progress – this is why measurements and photos are a must!
Be consistent, have patience and stick with it and you will see results, I promise!