There was a time not so long ago in the fitness industry when “cardio”, or aerobic training, was all the rage. When one of the first questions people at the gym would ask is Kettlebell cardio Workout“what type of cardio do you do?” Cardio was elevated to god-like supremacy by experts in the field as the ultimate way to lose belly fat and get the body you had always dreamed of. Aerobics classes at local YMCA’s were full of overweight people earnestly trying to lose weight while trying to follow an overly enthusiastic instructor in neon spandex gyrating at the front of the room.

Cardio’s close relative, the high carbohydrate diet, was often part of the formula as well. Unfortunately, what the industry didn’t realize at the time was that cardio training plus a high carbohydrate diet were a couple of the most ineffective paths to weight loss. It’s not to say it couldn’t be done, it was by many people. However, this trend completely, and incorrectly, ignored the role of weight training and muscle building as part of the weight loss equation. Had people been thinking and not simply following the latest trend, they would have incorporated both cardiovascular exercise and strength training into their weight loss programs, therefore setting themselves up for greater success.

Thankfully for all, recent times have demonstrated a shift towards more productive methods for losing weight. The pendulum seems to have finally shifted back towards the center as the fitness industry corrects itself for years of spreading half-truths and where the focus is rightfully back on losing weight with weight rather than avoiding it like the plague.

The Truth behind Weight Loss

At the time, who could have predicted that the truth about losing weight actually revolved around building muscle? Some might have, but the idea never gained traction and certainly wasn’t promoted widely. There are four simple truths that now favour weight training as the prime method for fat loss rather than strictly aerobic training:

1. Body fat is not metabolically active. During aerobic activity, if glucose is limited as an energy source, the body will burn body fat as its preferred source of energy. However, once the activity stops the body will no longer be in a fat-burning mode, so fat loss rapidly diminishes.

2. Muscle is very metabolically active. It requires a lot of energy during the day to maintain itself; its engine is always running, as it were. Logically then, this means that even while you’re not exercising your body will be a fat-burning machine, 24/7.

3. Points one and two are subject to a specific change in diet, namely a move towards a diet more focused on healthy fats, lean proteins and leafy green vegetables and a move away from an overabundance of carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice, bread, etc.

4. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the king when it comes to fat loss. So much so that aerobic training can’t even compete. HIIT makes you work harder in a shorter period of time, that’s good for efficiency and great for fat loss.

These four points in conjunction form the basis for the design of more effective weight loss programs. The final factor for our purposes is the growth in popularity of the kettlebell.

The Kettlebell Advantage

Kettlebells are the Swiss Army knife of the strength training world. They are arguably the most versatile tool out there for building strength, muscular endurance and improving cardiovascular fitness. Four our purposes we’re going to outline how you can use kettlebells, in combination with the aforementioned change in diet, to produce some truly incredible physical results.

The Workout Routine

When it comes to workout routines I’ve always believed that simple is best. During my training I want to be able to focus on the effort I’m putting out and not worrying about all the other extemporaneous factors like counting time under tension or looking for a spotter. Thankfully, there’s one kettlebell exercise that, when made the main focus for your workout, will give you results like no other, enter the kettlebell swing.

The beauty of the swing is that it’s a very simple movement to learn and perform, yet works so many muscles at one time; glutes, hamstrings, hips, lats, abs, shoulders, pecs and grip. It’s your one-stop shop for losing weight fast. There are dozens of “how-to” videos on youtube.com, so I suggest you go there for directions on form. Below are a couple of good instructional Youtube links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-LvhjWh1vA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAYZ9gKZaI0

Regarding routines, again, it need not be complicated. I would suggest four days a weeks starting out; Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Each of those days perform 20 sets of 20 reps of the swing. Rest between a minute to two minutes between sets. If you’re using a kettlebell that’s approximately 70% of the max weight you can handle you’ll be breaking a pretty good sweat by the end of your workout. Do this for six weeks, back off the starches and carbohydrates, and I guarantee that the pounds will melt off. Good luck!

Losing weight is a difficult proposition at the best of times. It’s often an uphill battle, especially if it’s your first time trying to make sense of the multitude of fad diets and trying to wrap your mind around the hundreds of workout routines and weight loss programs out there. You can be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed sometimes. Luckily, as gravity or E=MC2 are fundamental unarguable truths about our physical universe, there are fundamental unarguable truths about losing weight that when taken into consideration can make the battle much easier to win.

As you’ve no doubt already noticed the fitness industry is booming and the marketing machine is working overtime. You can’t turn on the TV without seeing the latest infomercials touting the newest and best workout routines, weight loss programs, or health products. Stop by your local chain bookstore and browse the fitness section and you’ll find hundreds of titles dedicated to making you stronger, slimmer, bigger and leaner, among dozens of other physical attributes ending in “e-r” that the fitness industry thinks you should find important.

The truth behind the hundreds of millions of dollars spent annually on coaxing, prodding and guilting you to part with large sums of your hard earned money in exchange for a hard earned body is that most diet books, infomercials and weight loss articles are actually saying the same thing. Strip away the marketing veneer and what you’re left with are a few unarguable, fundamental truths about weight loss that apply to everyone, all the time. They aren’t complicated and they aren’t earth shattering, but they are true. Unfortunately, the fitness industry in its zeal to continue making millions, has tricked people into believing that the secret code to physical perfection lies only with a few gifted individuals. Let’s debunk this myth right now. Understand and follow the weight loss do’s and don’ts below and you’ll know a least 70% of what you have to in order to beat the bulge and lose that belly fat forever.

Do’s

Drink water – Water keeps your metabolism, namely your kidneys and liver, working efficiently to break down and remove waste from the body. This allows more efficient fat burning. Water also plays a role in thermogenesis, a process that increases body temperature, therefore increasing your metabolic rate and finally burning more calories at rest.

Eat your vegetables – Fibre is the key with vegetables. A high fibre intake will leave you feeling full longer therefore reducing your overall caloric intake. Eating a high veggie diet will also keep your metabolism revved up longer therefore allowing calories to be burned for a longer period of time. So don’t be shy and make leafy green and multi coloured cruciferous vegetables a big part of your daily diet.

Eat fat – To beat fat you have to eat fat. The fats found in cold water fish (salmon, mackerel), avocados, almonds and olive oil all play a beneficial role in regulating your appetite. There is some discussion that these type of “fatty” foods help increase thermogenesis, therefore forcing the body to burn more calories at rest. The heart healthy and anti-inflammatory benefits of such foods can’t be ignored either as a sick or injured athlete isn’t going to be spending their time hitting the gym or going for a run.

Take your time – Be the turtle, slow and steady wins the race. Impatience can be a killer when it comes to staying consistent on a diet and achieving your goals. The key is to work in manageable chunks with defined goals attached to each one so that you never get overwhelmed and you know ahead of time that the timeline is reasonable. Choosing to lose 6-8 pounds through diet and exercise over the course of one month is a reasonable and attainable goal. Physically and mentally a goal of this size shouldn’t be overly taxing which means you would stand a good chance of achieving it. On the other hand, working to lose 30 pounds in one month would undoubtedly leave you feeling physically and mentally exhausted, with no reasonable chance of achieving your goal. Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to weight loss programs.

Eliminate processed foods and sugary drinks – There is perhaps no easier way of improving your odds of success while following a diet plan than eliminating processed foods and sugar-laden drinks from your daily diet. Highly processed foods such as cakes and sweets, luncheon meats, sugary cereals and all fast foods (except the salads) do nothing but ravage your body with high levels of high fructose corn syrup, sodium and countless unpronounceable ingredients added for taste, colour and preservation. Scale these items way back and you’ve already done yourself a huge favour. Also, be wary of fruit juices and “energy” drinks that promote fluid replacement during exercise. Basically, they are the same thing, sugar water. A fruit juice like orange juice would even be the better choice, especially if it has the pulp. The bottom line is stick to water to remain hydrated. One final weight loss tip, imagine your grocery story like a doughnut (ironically enough), spend 90% of your time on the perimeter because that’s where the fruits and veggies, milk products, meat, fish and grains are usually found. Virtually all the processed foods are located in the doughnut’s hole, in the isles, so cruise there sparingly.

Don’ts

Skip the protein – Eating the right combination and an abundance of amino acids builds muscle. Since amino acids are the building blocks of protein you have to get enough. There is a lot of talk about protein amounts regarding muscle growth, fat loss and fat gain. Some say athletes should consume 2-3 times their body-weight in grams of protein in order to build mass (i.e. eating 300 grams of protein for a 150 lb. individual). Others say extra protein isn’t necessary, so don’t worry about it too much. In the end, keep it around the middle, consume about your body-weight in grams of protein and you’ll avoid muscle loss while dieting ad will build some muscle as well.

Focus on the scale – For far too long the scale has been the “go to” device when it came to dieting. Fortunately, times have changed and the scale has pretty much gone the way of the dodo. Your diet plan should have you get a skin fold test to determine your ratio of lean mass to fat mass. Other than weighing yourself in a tub of water, this is the most accurate method of determining how much muscle and fat you have. Focus on your body’s ratio of lean to fat mass and simply looking in the mirror, those two ways are pretty good indicators. Scales distort the fact and give inaccurate information. They don’t take into account the differences between muscle weight, bone weight and fat weight. Stop using one and move on.

Skip meals – Never skip meals, period. You may think you’re doing yourself a favour, but you’re not. You’re body is very smart. It can tell when there’s a lack of calories coming in and it’s first response to this assumed calorie deficit is to hold on to any body fat you have in order to ensure that there is enough energy for it to function correctly. Did you get that? Your body will keep your body so that it doesn’t starve. The only way it will release this fat is by feeling that there are enough calories coming in. This is why yo-yo dieting doesn’t work. Your body feels like there are going to be lean times ahead so it protects itself by keeping all the energy stores it has. Therefore it becomes nearly impossible for you burn this fat as you’re fighting against your body’s own survival mechanism. Just eat 4-5 small, well-balanced snacks and meals a day and maybe a small protein shake after your workout and this shouldn’t be an issue.

Eliminate carbohydrates – Not entirely true, eliminate simple, processed carbs and you’re getting the picture. Cakes, cookies, pies, candy; anything made with a lot of white sugar is a no-no 95% of the time. You actually want to keep some carbs in your diet, but make sure they are of the complex variety; oatmeal, whole grain breads, whole grain rice, whole grain pasta’s sweet potatoes, etc. The key with complex carbs is portion size. Remember, just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it can’t help you gain fat. Moderate portion sizes are important here, although I know the temptation of heading back for a second helping of spaghetti and meatballs. Complex carbs are important because of the fiber they bring to your diet plan. So don’t eliminate them, just control them.

Listen to Fad diets – Fad diets are a dime a dozen. Some may work, some may not. The fact of the matter is that nothing will beat intense exercise coupled with a balanced diet containing complex carbs, healthy fats and lean proteins. Stick to this equation and you’ll be fine. Whether it’s the Grapefruit Diet, Atkins, The Zone Diet or the South Beach Diet, stick to the basic principles listed in this article and they become irrelevant.

Eat well, but eat smart and losing weight is easy as one, two, three.

 

 

Weight loss tips that anyone can master

Much like any new skill, it’s easy once you know how. Losing weight doesn’t have to be complicated, although you’d never know it from the hundreds of diet plans, books, videos and products that we’re bombarded with whenever we turn on the television. It’s a wonder anyone makes any progress at all for the sheer volume of information out there. From juicers to circuit training videos to Ab Rollers, never has there been such a variety Weight Loss Tipsoptions to choose from. The trick is just choosing a few of those options and sticking with them. If you try and do too much you’ll get bogged down in the coordination and management of all the individual factors. Just do a few things, and do them well, and you’ll get ahead, guaranteed.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of weight loss programs and diet plans we need to make a distinction that’s often overlooked; the difference between weight loss and fat loss. Always remember that your ultimate goal is fat loss, and that can’t be stressed enough. While doing any weight loss program it’s possible to loss water weight and some muscle mass, but while the scale might go down temporarily, you’re actually hurting your progress. Granted, if you cut back on carbohydrate and salt intake your water retention may be reduced, this is good as a natural by-product of a diet plan, but shouldn’t be your goal in and of itself. Preserving muscle mass should be a priority, even when dieting, as muscle actually helps burn fat more quickly and efficiently.

There are three major factors that can dictate the amount of fat you’re able to lose and how quickly this might happen; diet, workout routine and genetics. Let’s dive into the specifics of each one to help you determine your best course of action and then we’ll wrap things up at the end with some simple and effective weight loss tips.

Diet

When it comes to losing fat weight, nothing has more of an effect than diet, nothing. If you can get your diet dialled in then 70% of your work is done. A correct diet plan is just that important to your overall progress. The foods we eat come in essentially three different forms; protein, fats and carbohydrates.

Proteins are the “building blocks” of our bodies. It is what we’re made of. Protein plays an extremely important role in building muscles, organs, tissues, hair, skin and with the regeneration of your bodies cells. Skimping on protein can be a disaster if you’re trying to lose weight because it’s what keeps your muscles growing and active, which leads to more efficient fat loss. A diet that aims to cut out a lot of protein (high carbohydrate diet) will actually do much more harm than good. Some examples of proteins are animal products, dairy (milk, cheese), nuts and seafood. So keep eating your lean proteins.

Carbohydrates have really developed a bad reputation over the last few years and it’s a reputation that’s not entirely deserved. Carbohydrates actually have the distinction of being your bodies preferred form of energy (after being converted to glucose within the body). We all know many sources of carbohydrates; cereals, grains, potatoes, breads and fruits for example. The main distinction that needs to be made is between simple and complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates are sugars that enter the bloodstream very quickly and provide a quick source of energy for a short period of time, think chocolate bar or energy drink. Complex carbohydrates on the other hand are digested more slowly and provide sustained energy over a longer period of time, think apple or oatmeal. What you want to do is stick with the complex and eliminate the simple. The bonus is that complex carbohydrates are often chocked full of fiber and whole grains which lead to other healthful benefits. The best reference you can use to distinguish between complex and simple carbohydrates is the glycemic index. You can buy a pocket book version of it at most book stores.

Fats have really taken a beating in the media, but as with the other nutrients they have their rightful place and are necessary for good health. Fats protect our organs, make us feel full longer (it’s digested slowly), keep our hormones in check, help transport fat soluble vitamins and help keep our cells healthy, among other things. So trying to eliminate all fats from your diet is a bad idea.

As with carbohydrates, there are fats you want to avoid and fats that should be a regular part of your diet. The one we all know is saturated fat. Saturated fat comes from animals, and if you’ve ever left bacon grease out on the counter for a few hours you’ll know what happens, it turns hard and white, much the same as it does within your blood vessels. You don’t have to avoid it completely, but keep it too a very minimal amount and when you buy meat, purchase the leanest options. The fats you need to be focussing on come from sources such as nuts and seeds, avocados and olive oil. These types of fats are beneficial in that they boost your immune system, reduce the risk of cancer, lower cholesterol and decrease blood pressure among other healthful benefits. So the focus should be on eating the right fats and not eliminating all fats completely.

The second part of the equation is calories. Calories are the unit of energy given to each nutrient. So, both protein and carbohydrates have four calories per gram, whereas as fats are much denser and have nine calories per gram. So already you see that fat is more than twice as calorie dense as both proteins and carbohydrates. Each of us, based on our energy expenditure and body size, require a certain number of calories daily to function optimally. Too many calories will lead to extra calories being stored as fat (regardless of where they come from) and too few will lead to muscle loss, low energy levels and poor overall health. So the goal is to eat just the right amount of healthy calories to promote healthy weight loss, but not too few as to scare our bodies into thinking we’re starving and not too many as to force fat production. It’s a delicate balance.

So, how do you determine the number of calories you need daily, the foods you should eat and how much of each nutrient you should be eating? Easy, see below:

Calorie Calculator – http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm

Calorie Counter – http://caloriecount.about.com/

Calorie Percentages – http://www.ehow.com/facts_7403826_recommendations-daily-caloric-percentage.html

Workout Routines

The simple fact you have to remember is that muscle burns fat. So, if fat burning is your main concern then lift some kettlebells rather than hopping on an elliptical machine or treadmill. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s true. Performing high rep kettlebell swings will burn fat like nothing else. Workouts don’t need to be complicated, check out below for some options:

Workout Routines – http://www.dailyspark.com/blog.asp?post=6_kettlebell_workout_routines

Genetics

Genetics is one area that you can’t change. You are your parents’ child and the genetic material they passed on to you will help determine your strength and muscle mass and general ability to gain both.  In scientific language your body type is referred to as your “somatotype”, of which there are three; endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph. These body types all have specific physical characteristics associated with them which are referenced below:

Endomorph – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endomorphic
Mesomorph – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesomorphic
Ectomorph – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ectomorphic

Regardless of which type you are genetically predicated towards progress can still be made. As long as your particular weight loss goals are kept in mind.

Weight Loss Tips

Now to the good stuff. What simple things can you do daily to lose that belly fat? Follow the tips below and you’ll be well on your way:

  1. Cut out all fruit juices and soda pop from your diet (only drink water as your thirst quencher)
  2. Cut out all white starches (white bread, white potatoes, white rice), they are nutritionally poor and encourage fat retention
  3. Avoid oily and sugary snacks (chips, chocolate bars). Four cups of plain popcorn has fewer calories than one chocolate bar and has the added benefit of fiber.
  4. Build muscle to lose fat. Only doing cardio is a mistake. Combine it with weight training and you have a good combination for overall health and weight loss
  5. Drink one litre (four cups) of water immediately after waking up. A dehydrated body isn’t efficient at burning fat.
  6. Workout first thing in the morning before eating if possible (this will help burn more fat)
  7. Stick to it. Consistency and time are the key. Nothing will happen overnight so be prepared for a long-term commitment, but set small measurable goals in order to keep yourself motivated.

With the information presented here you have the tools to start losing weight fast.  Remember that diet is critical and is more than half the battle, get it right and you’ll start losing without even hitting the gym. Once your diet is keyed in make sure you’re doing an activity that builds muscle (i.e. kettlebell training) on a consistent basis, this is the second part of the equation. Best of luck in your quest to lose weight, stick to these 8 weight loss tips, and check out other great articles on Personal trainer, and you won’t even recognize yourself in a couple of months.