So you come home from work one day, and your wife kindly reminds you about the beach party her company is throwing in two months. Your heart sinks. Beach party? Will that mean I’ll have to take off my shirt?
Okay, you don’t have to, but you want to impress your wife and make heads turn with your chiseled-cut body, right?
Believe it or not, there’s a way to cut the love handles and get ripped even in a short amount of time. It’s simply a matter of weight training, consistent cardio exercise, and a strategic diet. Let’s look at each of these in detail.
Heading to the gym and pumping iron not only helps you to bulk up; scientists assure increased muscle mass also boosts metabolism which allows calories to burn faster.
According to Dr. Edward Laskowski, lean muscle lost from aging increases body fat, but strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass at any age. Building and maintaining muscle mass wards off fat accumulation and makes it easier to control weight.
WebMD confirms this positive effect and explains how muscle improves resting metabolic rate. A pound of muscle burns 6 calories a day, while a pound of fat burns only 2 calories a day. They assert the small difference can add up over time. Resistance training also activates the muscles and increases the average daily metabolic rate.
Online fitness trainer Shawn LeBrun clarified that while weight trainings does not burn a sufficient amount of fat, it helps to burn fat in the future. This results from more energy being expended (and thus more calories burned) to maintain muscle tissue.
The weight loss potency of cardiovascular exercise is well-known and acclaimed. LeBrun says intense cardio exercise is where the majority of the calorie burning takes place as it boosts metabolic rate.
But for cardio exercise to be weight loss-inducing, it must be vigorous and intenseat a pace where you’re sweating, panting, huffing, puffing, [and] turning red. This kind of aerobic exercise bumps get you out of homeostasis, forcing you to work harder and burn calories faster. As LeBrun states, the more you move, the more you burn.
In addition, fitness expert Denise Austin describes how fully benefiting from cardio exercise means a workout of 20 or more minutes 3-4 times weekly and performing it at a level of noticeable increase to heart and breathing rate.
Although not typically seen as such, cardio exercise can be muscle-strengthening activity as well. Austin suggests interval training especially with weights is an excellent choice for inducing this duo-effect. She describes how one can do bicep curls or tricep toners during recovery time, which can help burn fat and sculpt muscle at the same time.
While weight loss is simply a deficit in caloric consumption, those wanting to lose weight and gain muscle must alter from this approach. This is because muscular growth requires calories. For instance, for 1 lb. of muscle growth, your body needs 2,500 calories. There are ways, however, to maintaining a high caloric intake while still avoiding fat accumulation.
Let’s start with protein, where a diet rich in this nutrient is essential for muscular development. FitDay.com described a higher protein diet as key to building muscle mass, as it acts as a building block for bones and muscles.
Protein also contains noticeable weight loss benefits as well. In a study examining the effects of various diets on weight gain or loss, scientists noted a protein-rich diet resulted in rapid losses of weight and body fat. They attributed this result to a suppressed appetite and thus a reduction of calories consumed.
But before indulging in hamburgers and hot dogs, scientists urge wisdom in choosing protein-rich food. Dr. Frank Hu of Harvard University said large quantities of processed meats not only increases the risk of type 2 diabetes but makes weight loss more difficult. He and other nutrition experts suggest consuming fish, beans, nuts, and whole grains for optimal protein consumption.
When to eat is also of importance. Instead of 3 meals a day, try spreading out food intake over 5-6 meals. According to LeBrun, consuming smaller meals every 3 hours burn calories quicker and more efficiently, while eating 1-2 larger meals slows metabolic rate. He also cautions against skipping meals altogether, which easily leads to fat storage.
While cutting fat and building muscle may be different bodily processes, the activities described above will allow both to happen simultaneously. And even if the beach party is just a couple months away, rest assured that looking as good as you want to is still possible.