Life, they say, is full of contradictions, so why shouldn't that also apply to working out? You train regularly with both weights and cardio and carefully watch what you eat, which together are supposed to produce a fit, toned body. That's the catch: supposed to. But what if you do practically everything you can-truly giving 100% to your training and nutrition efforts-and you're still left a little soft around the middle?
I have compiled a few tips for you to add to what you're already doing during the course of a day. Instead of asking you to drop your workouts and follow some one-size-fits-all program, I've come up with a list of ways you can increase your caloric deficit each day.
All of the tips presented here use one or more of three bodyfat-fighting strategies:
Reducing the amount of food you eat (calories you take in)
Increasing the amount of exercise you perform (the calories you burn)
Boosting your metabolic rate (the number of calories your body requires for bodyweight maintenance).
Added together, these tips and strategies could theoretically help you synergistically burn up to 1,500 calories a day without requiring a significant change to diet or training regimen. You can still perform the same weight-training exercises and routines- just add these training and nutrition tips to the mix.
1. Add Intervals To Your Cardio Work
The Caloric Effect: 150
The Technique: "Internal training burns more calories than steady-state training because you can do more work in the same amount of time," says Tom Seabourne, who has a PhD in exercise science and is author of Athletic Abs with Scott Cole (Human Kinetics, 2002). To use this calorie-burning technique, Seabourne suggests that you include sprints with your jogging, add jogging to your fast-paced walking or increase the difficulty level or pace when using cardio equipment.
"Add 60 seconds of interval training every other minute or so. The harder you work, the more calories you'll burn,'' Seabourne advises.
Comment: Not only do you burn more calories during these intense interval cycles, but they also rev up your calorie-burning during the hours following your training.
2. Increase You Training Weights by 5% - 10%
The Caloric Effect: 500-600
The Technique: "This technique shakes up your workout," says Steve Zim, fitness expert for NBC's Weekend Today. "A lot of people get stuck using the same weights and reps over and over. Their bodies acclimate to the workload, and they don't burn as many calories as they would if they provided their body with unexpected stimulation." Increasing your training weights 5%-10% is a great way to do this.
Comment: Research shows that heavy training (in the 6-8 rep range) increases metabolic rate over the subsequent two days, helping you burn up to 600 calories more than after lightweight training (12-15 rep range). In addition, by raising your weight just 5%, you may find yourself more inspired, encouraging you to work harder and burn even more calories.
3. Reduce Carbs Later In The Day
The Caloric Effect: 200-300
The Technique: Cutting back on carbs during the latter part of the day is smart for two reasons: One, you decrease the number of calories you consume each day, and two you reduce the amount of insulin your body must produce, which decreases the amount of fat your body stores. You don't need to eliminate pasta or potatoes, but cut back on them late in the day, eating one-third to one-half of your normal servings.
Comment: Body-builders know this is one of the most significant ways to reduce stored bodyfat. But if you train late in the day, get some carbs after your workout to replenish muscle glycogen stores.
4. Record The Food You Eat
The Caloric Effect: 300-500
The Technique: Keeping a food journal can have a surprising effect on your discipline, because it makes you think about everything you put into your mouth. Just by committing to write down all the food you eat, you're less likely to include unhealthy foods in your diet.
Comment: Whether this has a minimal or profound psychological effect on you, it provides you with valuable information about your nutritional habits.
* Number of calories burned is based on a 200-pound man who exercises four times a week and currently consumes enough calories for bodyweight maintenance. The total number of calories you burn will likely vary. - Condensed from Muscle & Fitness June 2005.
Also see our handy calorie calculator