Have you been skipping the gym lately? No judgment: So you overdid it on gingerbread lattes at Starbucks or grabbed too many fast-food meals after marathon shopping trips? No biggie—as long as you stay active in other ways. "A lot of people skip workouts completely when the holidays get busy and promise they’ll exercise in January,” says Mike Donavanik, a personal trainer in Los Angeles. “But it’s that much harder to motivate when you’ve skipped the gym for two-plus weeks.” While you don’t have to maintain your exact same exercise routine, keeping your body in motion will help you balance out the indulgences and start the year strong. To help you do that on the quick, we’ve rounded up a dozen research-backed ways to get more out of your workouts and improve your metabolism to boot.
When we decided Nick should join the FWTFL through the first Men’s program, we thought it would just be a way to help support each other through the process, especially to provide additional accountability to avoid stress eating. Prior to the FWTFL, every time our son would have his quarterly brain MRIs, a follow up appointment, or a scary fall at daycare- we would immediately begin stress eating. The awful food choices started a cycle in which we would stress eat, feel gross because of the fatty processed foods, then go to bed, sleep awful, wake up and do it all over again. Our days were full of processed foods, large portions, and increasing displeasure in the way our bodies looked, especially at such young ages (26 & 30). After I had successfully completed 3 weeks of the women’s FWTFL with Amanda, Nick was ready to join the Men’s version so we BOTH looked better, and more importantly FELT better. During our FWTFL cycles, we faced our son’s one year “cancer-versary” along with his scan and follow up appointment. For the first time in the last year, we felt in control. Not just of our food, but of our lives, as we were always REACTING to bad news, bad days, etc. and now we were able to take control of our choices and especially our bodies. Yes, we have seen victories on the scale, and in the form of inches lost. BUT our non scale victories have been SIGNIFICANTLY more amazing and impressive. We have more energy to play with our three kids, we are in better moods, and are happier throughout the day, we don’t get “hangry” like we used to, and most importantly for us, we don’t eat out of stress. We eat to fuel our bodies appropriately for the right reasons. We are also saving money as a NSV, as we were eating out 3-4 days PER WEEK, and now we are cooking more than ever at home- and I. ATE. SALAD! I used to hate the idea of anything green, and last week I bought and ATE salad on my own. Nick is no longer drinking Energy Drinks (he used to drink 1-2/day for the last 10 years) and hasn’t had A SINGLE DRINK since starting the FWTFL, and doesn’t NEED the energy. I am no longer drinking soda, which I can easily say was an addiction, as I needed the caffeine in order to stay awake because my body was SO out of whack.
Life changing and life saving. Bill and I both have more energy and sleep much better. We have a 10 1/2 year old son and we "older" parents, both mid - 40s. We started this challenge with the goal of feeling better and trying to keep up with him. The weight loss and the loss of inches (and in some places gained inches (yea!) are just a bonus. We are now planning our meals and spending our leg day working out together as a family and encouraging each other! The past 6 six weeks have been a challenge, but we did it! We are ready for Round 2!!
This could be because the body increases insulin secretion in anticipation that sugar will appear in the blood. When this doesn’t happen, blood sugar drops and hunger increases. Whether this chain of events regularly takes place is somewhat unclear. Something odd happened when I tested Pepsi Max though, and there are well-designed studies showing increased insulin when using artificial sweeteners.
Creatine may be the most scientifically proven supplements on the market. It has been proven to lead to significant muscle growth over time. Although creatine doesn’t directly increase fat utilization within the body it will lead to a higher metabolism indirectly. Creatine intake boosts muscle growth and retention. That extra muscle tissue will, in turn, create a higher metabolic rate. This is why creatine supplementation is a good choice for any fat loss plan.
Weight loss isn’t a linear event over time. When you cut calories, you may drop weight for the first few weeks, for example, and then something changes. You eat the same number of calories but you lose less weight or no weight at all. That’s because when you lose weight you’re losing water and lean tissue as well as fat, your metabolism slows, and your body changes in other ways. So, in order to continue dropping weight each week, you need to continue cutting calories.
We don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. All too often, we turn to food when we’re stressed or anxious, which can wreck any diet and pack on the pounds. Do you eat when you’re worried, bored, or lonely? Do you snack in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day? Recognizing your emotional eating triggers can make all the difference in your weight-loss efforts. If you eat when you’re:
"Feeling stressed can wreak havoc on our bodies. It can cause our body to produce the steroid hormone cortisol, which can make you crave sugary foods that provide instant energy and pleasure. Short-term bursts of cortisol are necessary to help us cope with immediate danger, but our body will also release this hormone if we’re feeling stressed or anxious. When our cortisol levels are high for a long amount of time, it can increase the amount of fat you hold in your belly."
After setting your “Kitchen Closing” time, determine the set dinnertime that works for you and your family most nights of the week. Sure, every now and again, life (think: sports practice, late nights at the office, etc.) will interfere. But by eating earlier in the evening, you’ll leave time for a brisk walk after dinner and certainly give yourself more time to digest before retiring for the night (and your heart and digestive system will thank you).
For our purposes here, high-intensity cardio falls between about 80 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate (MHR) or, if you're not using heart rate zones, about a 6 to 8 on a 10-point perceived exertion scale. What this translates to is exercise at a level that feels challenging and leaves you too breathless to talk in complete sentences. But you're not going all out, as in sprinting as fast as you can. There's no doubt that some high-intensity training work can be helpful for weight loss as well as improving endurance and aerobic capacity.
Obviously, it’s still possible to lose weight on any diet – just eat fewer calories than you burn, right? The problem with this simplistic advice is that it ignores the elephant in the room: Hunger. Most people don’t like to “just eat less”, i.e. being hungry forever. That’s dieting for masochists. Sooner or later, a normal person will give up and eat, hence the prevalence of “yo-yo dieting”.
That’s a big deal considering time and opportunity are some of the biggest hurdles people face when trying to make fitness a priority. “Everyone is dealing with full schedules and competing priorities, so it’s often difficult to add something new to your routine without trading something else out,” O’Connor says. You’ll still need to shift some things around to make running a serious part of your life, but being able to run right out your front door, free of charge, eliminates some very real roadblocks. (For proof, see: 20 Incredible Stories of Weight Loss Through Running)
A 2014 Harvard study found that men who did twenty minutes of daily weight training had less of an increase in age-related abdominal fat compared with men who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic activities, and other studies have shown similar levels of success when guys hit the gym to cut down on fat. The implication: Guys can cut belly fat most efficiently with weight training.
Is a calorie truly a calorie? Not always, because different types of calories can affect your body and your results differently. Dietary fat, for example, is more "fattening" than protein or carbs because it's less likely to be used to build your body. Granted, carbs can potentially make you fat, but they also directly fuel your training. Protein? That's a no-brainer: It builds muscle. Fat does neither, but it isn't useless; moderate amounts of it support vitamin absorption and help manufacture hormones.
Whole-grain rye crackers, sometimes called crispbreads, offer a low-fat, fiber-packed alternative to traditional crackers. Research suggests people who replace refined grains with whole grains tend to have less belly fat. Whole grains also provide a richer assortment of plant nutrients. This doesn't just apply to crackers. You can get the same benefits by switching to whole-grain breads, cereals, and pastas.
So, your goal is to lose weight. But that’s not a “why.” Why do you want to lose weight? Keep asking yourself why until you get to the heart of why you want to get healthier. Once you know why you’re starting your diet, print out this out form, fill it out, and keep it in your pocket or on your fridge. Remind yourself several times per day why you’re changing your eating habits.
High carb days need to be inserted into your fat loss plan regularly to prevent a metabolism stall, but high carb days cannot be taken too frequently without slowing progress. The frequency with which to take high carb days will depend on how fast your metabolism is and how lean you are. Below is the guide for determining the frequency of high carbs days based on body type.
When it comes to food, don’t be a militant dietary fucknut running around telling people certain foods are “good” and certain foods are “bad”; this isn’t nursery, you’re not getting sent to the “naughty chair” because you ate a slice of pizza. Fuck, man, chill. But, at the same time, you probably – definitely – shouldn’t be eating like a fucking 10 year old let loose in Willy Wonka’s factory.
Setting the right goals is an important first step. Most people trying to lose weight focus on just that one goal: weight loss. However, the most productive areas to focus on are the dietary and physical activity changes that will lead to long-term weight change. Successful weight managers are those who select two or three goals at a time that are manageable.
At its core, burning fat comes down to the process of lipolysis—the breaking down of fat lipids, explains Seedman. This happens in the mitochondria of the muscles, or the powerhouses of the cells, responsible for generating the energy our cells need to do their jobs. Exercise has been shown to improve mitochondria function, which then promotes fat breakdown, Seedman adds. Plus, working out helps regulate pretty much all the hormones that optimize fat loss.