When people say they want to lose weight, what they usually mean is they want to lose fat. Unfortunately, besides losing fat, many weight loss programs can also cause you to lose muscle. The result is a body that looks (and often is) skinny and weak… not shapely and fit.
If you want to lose weight while also building the kind of lean body that turns heads wherever you go, the key is to lose fat… not muscle.
Here are some tips on how to lose weight and tone up at the same time.
Choose the right type of cardio
The first tip is something a lot of people struggle with, and that’s what form of cardio should you be doing if you want to lose fat but not muscle.
Many people just go to the gym, jump onto the treadmill, run for 45 minutes and call it a day. This is called steady-state cardio.
Now, if you’re going to the gym and you’re doing steady-state cardio you will use weight and you will actually burn fat. However, you’re also going to burn muscle! As we already discussed, when you’re trying to tone up you want to maintain as much muscle as possible.
In other words, doing steady-state cardio three days a week may help you to lose weight, but it’s probably not going to get you that figure you really want.
So, what should you be doing?
There’s another form of cardio which is much more effective at burning fat and prevents you from losing valuable muscle. That is HIIT (high intensity interval training)
If you want to lose weight while maintaining as much muscle as possible HIIT is the way to go as far as cardio is concerned. You can do this on the treadmill, on the rower or using bodyweight exercises.
An added benefit is that a typical HIIT workout burns a lot more calories in a lot less time than steady-state cardio. For instance these bodyweight-only HIIT workouts only take 10-20 minutes to burn a massive amount of calories and while preserving and even building lean muscle mass.
See also: HIIT Workouts At Home For Beginners
Long story short, if you want to lose fat while getting toned at the same time, stop doing steady-state cardio and switch to HIIT.
Now, as mentioned before, the key factor to a lean and ‘toned’ physique is muscle. This is equally true for women as it is for men.
This brings us to our next tip:
Start a strength training routine
If you want to lose fat while also toning your body, maintaining and building muscle is an absolute must!
Even if your goal is not to get toned, strength/resistance training is one of the very best things you can do to maintain and improve your overall fitness level. It has such a huge number of scientifically proven benefits that there really is no excuse not to start making it a regular part of your exercise regimen.
Some of the main benefits of strength training are that it:
- Boosts metabolic rate, causing you to keep burning calories even hours after you finished your workout.
- Improves physical function and increases your ability to perform daily activities. It also helps maintain mobility. This becomes increasingly important as you grow older.
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Increases bone mineral density. Inactivity and the aging process lead to weaker bones. Regular resistance training is a proven way to prevent combat this.
- Reduces the risk of injury. Strong muscles act as a biological suit of armor, shielding you from injuries and making you more resilient.
- Reduces blood pressure. Different studies have found that two or more months of regular strength training can reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people with hypertension.
- Reverses aging factors. Scientific evidence suggests that one of the health benefits of strength training is a reversal of aging factors in skeletal muscle.
And ladies, if you’re afraid resistance training will make you look bulky… fear not! Unless you have some kind of freak genetics or start a serious bodybuilding regimen in combination with steroids, there’s no possible way weight training is going to make you look bulky.
Want to know what really happens when women start lifting weights? Check out Bekky Holman.
The method she uses is called the F4X protocol. It’s a form of moderate weight/high fatigue resistance training. This type of training is a great way of strengthening and building lean muscle while preventing the injuries and joint problems associated with heavy lifting. This also makes it a great exercise method for older people to maintain, improve or regain their strength and mobility. For more info on this system check out Old School New Body.
Now for the third important step for losing fat while getting toned at the same time, which is of course…
Eating the right foods
Many people are struggling with their diet. Not really a big surprise, considering the ginormous amount of diets to choose from these days.
Your diet is essential if you want to get rid of fat and achieve a toned physique. However, you don’t have to go crazy about it. Just sticking to some simple principles will go a long way!
Here are some of the most important ones:
Reduce your calorie intake
This is the one basic principle that pretty much all weight loss meal plans are based on.
What’s the best way to do this? Start switching from processed to natural foods! Most processed foods contain a lot of added sugar and are relatively low in nutrients. Natural foods (fruit, veggies, fish, meat) are low in calories and extremely high in nutrients. A great guide on eating ‘real’ foods for fat loss and better health is The Fat Burning Kitchen.
Increase your protein intake
Every time you lift weights you’re breaking down your muscle fibers. Protein is the building block for muscle (as well as for the structure, function, and regulation of your body’s other tissues and organs).
In order to repair the muscle you need to make sure you’re having the right amount of protein.
Protein will also help boost your metabolism. This is because the body will actually expend a large number of calories just breaking that protein down. This increases your total daily calorie burn. Protein is a great example of what fitness coach and nutritionist Dave Ruel (Metabolic Cooking) calls thermogenic foods.
Some of the best natural sources of protein are eggs, chicken and poultry, lean red meat, fish, and pork. Using a quality source of whey protein powder in your shakes and smoothies is also a great way to up your protein intake.
- Healthy Protein Shakes
- Post Workout Protein Balls & Energy Bites – No Bake, Easy To Make!
- Reasons To Eat Protein After Your Workout
Drink more water (and less sugary beverages)
The next tip is to cut down on sodas and fizzy drinks and start drinking more water instead. Liquid calories, like those in soda and energy drinks, are one of the main reasons for the dramatic growth of obese people worldwide. That’s the reason they rank number 1 in our ‘Top 10 Foods To Avoid For A Flat Belly‘ article.
Water, on the other hand, contains zero calories. Many people could dramatically reduce their calorie intake by simple switching their soda’s and energy drinks with plain old water. Besides being good for fat loss, water has a ton of other health benefits as well.
If you think water is too plain you can also infuse it with fruit. This is not only going to give it more flavor but will also infuse it with some extra vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
See also: Detox Water Recipes for Weight Loss and Health
This brings us to our last tip for losing fat and getting toned at the same time…
Stick with it
The key to lasting success is making sure you stay consistent with your exercise and nutrition. It took time for your body to become how it is now and it’s going to take time to get it to where you want it to be.
Aim for about three 30 minute resistance workouts per week. Throw in two or three cardio session. Start implementing the simple nutrition principles mentioned above. Most importantly… stick with it! Within 4-6 weeks you will start seeing some real changes in your body composition (less fat, more muscle tone)