Keep your muscles guessing
A change is not only as good as a rest, it has weight-loss benefits, too. “For the fastest fat-burning results, alternate between a week of high reps (12-20) and a week of low reps (6-10),” says personal trainer Dave Porter. Sticking to high reps robs your body of a constant challenge. “Muscles can grow content and plateau, and doing low reps burns more energy after the gym.” The new challenge will keep you shifting more kilojoules with each workout.
Maintain your interest
Like your weight-loss menu? If you’re sick of the same food you’ll probably rebel and gorge on something fatty. “Switch eating plans when you get bored,” says Dr Michael Dansinger, assistant professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in the US. “You’re more likely to be successful if you enjoy the food you’re eating.”
Eat a little of what you fancy
To lose weight, eat what you want – just not all the time. Dropping a few kilos can make you reward yourself with food. That’s because a decrease in body fat results in a greater desire to eat. Research in the journal Appetite found this desire increases in line with your weight loss. The solution: when you fancy food, eat it; just exercise portion control. A little goes a long way when it’s something you really want.
People who chewed gum for an hour a day ate fewer kilojoules at lunch, felt less hungry throughout the day and burnt five per cent more kilojoules because they felt more energetic, found a study at the University of Rhode Island. Minty-fresh breath just got another upside.
Eat protein before training
You want to show off lean muscle, not bones, for all your hard work. “To preserve your muscle, take 6-8 grams of branched-chain amino acids (try Musashi Ni Nourishment; mrsupplement.com.au) before a hard cardio session, especially when working out early in the morning on an empty stomach,” says Porter. It won’t bounce in your stomach like an early morning protein shake, so you’ll feel comfortable enough to go longer, while maintaining muscle mass.
You need to refocus
Thinking about the steps you need to take to improve your performance will lead to an increase in exercise. Bringing to mind the reasons why you should work out, like fitting into your old T-shirt, will not, according to research published in the Journal of Applied Biobehavioural Research. Write down what you need to do to run faster and you’ll do it.
You’re stuck in a rut
Familiarity breeds contempt and that’s definitely true with regards to training. “If you’ve stopped shedding weight, change your workout,” says Porter. “Your body is adaptable and the number of kilojoules you burn in each workout will peter out as you become fitter.” Change your program every 6-8 weeks, or sooner if you find yourself nodding off on the rower.
Don’t avoid dairy
Men who add calcium to their diet can lose up to 70 per cent more weight and 64 per cent more fat than blokes who cut kilojoules alone. Aim for 1000 milligrams of the mineral a day by scoffing milk, cheese yoghurt, sardines and almonds. Three serves a day will keep your bones and abs as hard as Wolverine’s.
Turn down the thermostat to melt fat
“Sleeping in a room that’s more than 25°C means your body doesn’t have to burn as many kilojoules to keep you warm,” says Porter. Set your air-con a few degrees below this to force your body to heat itself up, then maybe you won’t have as much blubber to keep you warm.
Get off the games console
You think playing Wii Sports is exercise? A study in the British Medical Journal found active games burn about 250kJ an hour, which is only two per cent more than what you burn playing inactive games sitting on the sofa. If you want to exercise, get out of the house and enjoy the real world.