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Tuesday 21 October 2008

Double your chances of success

Achieving a healthy body weight involves a bit of a math equation.

There are approximately 3500 calories in one pound of stored fat, so you need to create a 3500 caloric deficit in order to lose one pound. If you're trying to accomplish this by diet or exercise alone, you may be setting yourself up for frustration and failure.

By making a few small changes with both your eating and exercise habits, changes won't be quite as dramatic and the process will be easier to manage.

Try combining a couple of the following nutrition and fitness strategies to approach it from both sides and double your chances of success.

Tips to top up your nutrition

Think small. Using smaller plates and bowls can help you with portion control. In research studies, diet participants who used smaller dishes and utensils lost more weight than participants using dishware we have come to know as normal.1

Slow down. Take your time when eating meals or snacks. When you eat on the run or too fast, you can easily lose control of portions. Eating slowly and chewing your food more thoroughly encourages a "full" feeling, which can help prevent overeating that can lead to weight gain and an upset digestive tract.2

Another trick to slowing down your pace of eating is to talk more and eat less!

Prep and pack nutrition. You often hear that eating small meals throughout the day is better for weight loss. Although there is some controversy about the exact timing with this strategy, making healthy choices for those meals and snacks is key. This is where preparation and planning are required so that you don't get caught hungry without healthy choices. Whether you chose to eat 3 meals with snacks or 6 small meals, eating at regular intervals can help maintain both your energy and will power.

Pumping up your workouts

Adding more time to your workouts can be one way to help push past a plateau but it may not be practical or possible in your busy schedule. A more time-efficient option is to increase the intensity and the density of your workouts. Here are some tips and strategies for getting more results in the same amount of time.

Head up hill. Increase the number of calories burned and work your muscle more by adding resistance with your next cardiovascular workout. Depending on your aerobic activity of choice, there are a few quick and easy ways to add intensity here. Add an incline of 10-15 degrees on your favourite treadmill or elliptical machine. If you walk outside, find a small hill. In both cases, start with one or two hills and then start to increase the number and the incline when possible. If you're biking in the gym or taking a cycling class, add a bit more resistance on and off throughout your workout time.

Add weight to lose weight. Although cardio is important, resistance training is also an essential inclusion in your workout routine to successfully change your body weight and shape. Muscle is a highly metabolic tissue, which means it burns calories much faster than fat tissue. When you add even small amounts of muscle, you end up increasing the amount of calories you burn 24 hours a day.

Step it with a circuit. Circuit training is a face-paced workout where you move from one exercise to the next with little to no rest. A circuit can be all muscle conditioning or include short cardiovascular bursts for variety and challenge. Because these workouts include a lot of work time and a lot of muscle groups, they rank very high for calorie burning. 3

Remember that all the small steps and choices you make during the day add up. This means that a few extra calories saved or burned will help you to create that 3500 caloric deficit more quickly. It also means that one decision doesn't need to derail you. If you miss a workout or indulge in something on your diet list, simply try to balance it out with the balance of choices in your day.

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