So you're doing everything right -- training regularly and going nutrition heavy with the diet -- but instead of shrinking, you feel like you're gaining weight. Instead of loose clothes, you still can't fit into your target size. Sound familiar? While some people may be aiming to build up their muscle, it's not for everyone and you're looking to shed pounds and inches while building strong muscles. This could mean 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 back too far or overdoing it. When we eat too few calories, our metabolism slows to hold onto the energy we have stored. If we eat too much, especially after training, we can negate the results.
Muscle is built with protein and energy comes from carbohydrates. To lose weight, power your workout and repair your muscles, your want a good balance of these. Half your plate should be complex carbohydrates and we suggest these come from vegetables and whole grains. The other half should be split between protein, fruits and healthy fats. You should be eating a lot of colors every day to power your nutrition needs, boost your metabolism and give you enough energy to get through the workout without extra fat storage.
If you're starving after your workout, you're not eating enough beforehand. This can really be a downfall to your progress. Aim to eat an hour before your workout and stick to real, not just energy drinks and protein bars. Those make good snacks on busy days but the majority of your diet should be made up of real food. Also keep away from eating three hours before bed. Being active stimulates the digestive system and that stops as soon as you hit the pillow.
Lastly, tracking your calories in and out is the best way to see how your diet is serving you -- or working against you. You may not realize how much you're actually taking in, so measure out proper portions and try keeping a food journal.
Changing Up Your Fitness Routine
Many looking to exercise for weight loss hit the treadmill for hours at a time and see no results. The problem is the type of cardio you're aiming for. If you're not pushing your heart rate higher, your body isn't burning off as many calories as it could. High intensity interval training (HIIT) could burn more calories and fat than longer, steady jogging.It can speed up your metabolism and keep you burning calories after your workout as well. If you're not seeing results from your runs, try switching to a more intense training.
Cardio is a necessary evil but so is weight lifting. And you can't shed pounds without strength training. If you're worried about bulking out, check out our article on common workout myths. Keep exercises interesting to avoid your body becoming too used to them and getting bored. You don't always have to increase the weight but you can switch up movements to work muscles in a new way. Make sure to ask or consult a trainer if you're unsure about proper form of a new exercise.
Hang in there! Reevaluating and adjusting your diet and workout is common and you may do it a few times to figure out what really works for you. Stay well and live healthy!