The scale is not necessarily your friend. You may want to lose fat – but the scale measures muscles, bone and internal organs as well. Gaining muscle is a good thing. Thus weight or BMI are imperfect ways to measure your progress. This is especially true if you’re just coming off a long period of semi-starvation (calorie counting), as your body may want to restore lost muscles etc. Starting weight training and gaining muscle can also hide your fat loss.
Real talk: It could take weeks or months to see the metabolic effects of exercise on the scale, and even then, building muscle, which is denser than body fat, could lead to weight gain. "Do what you like because it’s good for you," Dr. Seltzer says, noting the way exercise is awesome for your heart, mental health, and more—and that not all measure of progress can be seen on the scale.
Meal prep is one of the best ways to ensure you’re eating healthy all day long and prevent the vicious cycle of skipping meals during the day and binging on unhealthy foods once you’re finally home in the evening, one of the problems many people who are struggling with losing weight are facing with every day. Plus, it’s so much easier to grab and eat food you’ve already prepared than to struggle with also cooking and/or prepping it when you’re hungry.
Preheat oven to 400°. Slice 1 small potato into fry shapes; toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon chili powder. Roast on baking sheet until golden (about 30 minutes). Grill 1 (3-ounce) sirloin steak until desired degree of doneness; slice into thin strips. Fill 6 Romaine lettuce leaves with steak. Top with 1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper; drizzle with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette.
For even more impressive effects on body composition: aim for exercise forms which elicit a positive hormonal response. This means lifting really heavy things (strength training), or interval training. Such exercise increases levels of the sex hormone testosterone (primarily in men) as well as growth hormone. Not only do greater levels of these hormones increase your muscle mass, but they also decrease your visceral fat (belly fat) in the long term.
To reach your get-lean goal, you must also follow a get-lean diet, filled with the best foods to burn fat. Why? Even if you work out hard for an hour every day, that still leaves 23 more hours for you to wreck all your hard work in the gym with just one slip-up: a measly handful of chips, a beer with the guys, or a burger at lunch. Diet is a huge, so to speak, part of the fat-loss equation. It's the backbone of your entire plan, the foundation of a hard body.
This nutritionally sound book-based food plan is based on the research of Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutrition at Penn State University. Rolls says you can lose one to two pounds per week on the plan. The theory is that by swapping out calorie-heavy fat-laden foods with fruits and vegetables that have a lot of water in them, you can eat more for fewer calories. To boost weight loss, you will need to be active—aim for 10,000 steps a day. You might not lose weight as fast, but Rolls has both short-term and long-term evidence to support her approach. Read more about it in Rolls’ latest book, The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet.
Make sure that the diet has been studied extensively for safety — and discuss any changes with your physician or registered dietitian before beginning a new diet. (If you don’t have a dietitian, find one in your area at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.) And do a self-check to ensure the diet fits with your own values and preferences.
If you do it right, snacks also make a healthy contribution to your weight-loss plan. Keep them snack-size and know ahead of time when you're going to eat them, such as in between lunch and dinner or after dinner. Keep snack calories to 200 or less. Good options include 2 cups of air-popped popcorn tossed with 12 peanuts; a container of nonfat yogurt with 1/2 cup of unsweetened whole-grain cereal; 2 cups of raw veggies such as broccoli, cucumbers and carrots with 1/4 cup of hummus; or 1 tablespoon of almond butter with a small apple.