So you're doing the work -- training regularly and eating right -- but instead of shrinking, you feel like you're bulking up. Instead of your clothes fitting more loosely, you've gone up a size. Sound familiar? While some people may want to increase size, it's not for everyone. If you're looking to shed pounds and inches while building strong, lean muscles, it may be time to make some changes.
Rethinking Your Diet
Your diet is half the equation when it comes to meeting your fitness goals. A big mistake people make when beginning a new fitness program is either cutting their calories back too far or overdoing it. When we eat less than our bodies need, our metabolism slows to hold onto the energy we have stored. If we eat too much, especially after training, we can negate our results. Our advice is to cut back on the unnecessary carbs like sugar and white flour and focus on whole grains along with lean protein, healthy fats and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Aim to eat a meal an hour before you workout so you have enough fuel to power through and another within an hour of ending your training to assist in muscle recovery. Be smart about what you eat after though, especially considering the time of day you work out. Sure, our metabolism is revved up after we train, but that doesn't provide a free pass to go for junk food. No big meals within three hours of going to sleep.
Lastly, tracking your calories in and out is the best way to see how your diet is serving you -- or working against you. You many not realize how much you're taking in, so measure out proper portions and try keeping a food journal.
Changing Up Your Fitness Routine
Our bodies love a challenge but doing the same types of exercising over and over can build up certain muscles more than others in addition to making us bored. If you're going for a leaner physique, you may not want to up the amount of weight you lift, but change up the type of exercises you perform to work the muscles in a new way. Try several forms of strength and resistance training to keep your muscles guessing and improving.
The second element of your workout to consider is cardio. Cardio is a necessary evil when it comes to exercise and maintaining our health. If you're noticing you're bulking up, it may be because you aren't doing enough cardio to burn off the fat that sits on top of your muscles. The next thing to consider is the type of cardio you're doing. A more consistent type of cardio like running or spinning, will also primarily work the same muscles in the same way, which can lead to some bulk. Try changing up your cardio regularly to work the entire body.
One final tip, make sure to stretch every single day. Not only does stretching prevent injury and strengthen the joints, but it can also help elongate the muscles.
Follow these tips to quit bulking and start shedding. Stay well!