Weight loss can be challenging and confusing if you don’t have the correct information or guidance from a knowledgeable fitness professional. To help clear the confusion, I’ve dived deep to give you detailed answers to the ten most common questions about weight loss. You can start applying the practical tips that I provide in my answers and jump-start your weight loss efforts.
1. Should I count calories to lose weight?
There is usually a big debate between those people who swear by calorie counting and those who don’t. Both groups believe their method is the best to lose weight. Calorie counting can work for some people but not others depending on their personalities and how they’re wired. Some people love measuring and calculating the number of calories in everything they eat and enjoy preparing their weekly meals in advance. For this group, calorie counting can work perfectly.
The other group of people is those who’d never go through the process of figuring out how many calories are in a slice of bread. For this group, calorie counting would be torture and they’ll never do it long term. What I’ve found over the years is that each person must approach this issue in their own way
If you’re starting out on your weight loss journey, then counting calories is not viable. Instead, focus on controlling your portions and adjusting them depending on how your body is responding to those changes. If on the other hand, you’re an intermediate exerciser with some experience under your belt and you know the basics of weight training and eating clean but are looking to lose the last 5 kilos, then calorie counting is important at this point in helping you reach your goal.
2. How many calories am I burning when I work out?
The number of calories you burn per workout depends on several factors including your weight, age, body composition and exercise intensity. This means if you walk at a moderate intensity with your friend who weighs ten kilos lighter than you for 30 minutes, you’ll burn more calories than your friend because you weigh more.
A study published in the Harvard Health showed results of the estimated number of calories burned in 30 min by people with varying weights (125-185 lbs). It found that the exercises that burned most calories are; running on the treadmill-270-400, stationary bike-210-311, swimming 300-444, circuit training 240-355, and vigorous weight training 90-133.
Weight training burns fewer calories when you are actually doing it but when you build muscle, you end up burning more calories way after the session and your metabolism stays up to the longest. I find it effective to combine these workouts to reap the full benefits instead of picking one and sticking to it.
3. To lose weight should I only do cardio?
Doing cardio only will help you lose a bit of weight but it’s not enough. If say you run a lot, you’ll lose weight up to a certain point then the weight loss will stop. You’ll become efficient at running. That’s why you’ll hit a plateau easily and it will require you to continue increasing either the distance or duration to shift your weight down further.
The best way to do this is to combine cardio and weight training. You can do it on separate days or in the same session which is harder but more effective.
4. Will weight training make me bulky?
The amount of muscle you can build is dependent on your body shape, your nutrition, the intensity of your training, the kind of training you’re doing, and whether you using any performance-enhancing substances. Because of higher levels of testosterone, it’s easy for men to bulk up from doing weight training as compared to women.
For a woman to bulk up, you’ll need to lift very heavy weights consistently and literally live in the gym. The women who become bulky are not training naturally but are using drugs to boost their performance and in effect change their physique.
However, if you only train hard and eat clean, it is unlikely that you’ll build big muscles but instead, you’ll become leaner and stronger.
5. I want to lose fat on my stomach only. What should I do?
This is a common weight loss question that has refused to die and I still get it all the time. This is called spot reduction. Picking on certain body parts to lose fat from is a myth, will not work and will just leave you frustrated. Unfortunately, you have no choice on where you lose fat from. When you start working out and controlling your food intake, you’ll lose fat proportionately all over your body and where you hold a lot of fat, that’s where you’ll lose fat last.
You can’t train your stomach doing endless crunches in the hope of having a flat tummy. Normally, fat is stored and distributed all over your body depending on your shape and genetic makeup. If you carry a lot of fat on your stomach, it means that’s where you store fat the most just like other people might store fat on their hips or upper body.
6. It’s one month and the scale is not moving, what I’m I doing wrong?
You’re not doing anything wrong. When you start working out, your body takes the first few weeks to adjust to the new demands that you’re placing on it. There’s a lot going on inside your body as it tries to adapt your nervous, cardiovascular and respiratory system to better handle the exercise you’re doing.
In fact, if you happen to lose any weight in the first 4 weeks, it’s highly likely that its water weight. Stick to whatever program you’re doing for at least three months to figure out whether it’s working or not. If nothing happens after 3 months, change the program or look at your nutrition.
It’s also not a good idea to focus on the scale alone to track your progress. You might be building muscle and losing fat. This means your weight won’t change despite the fact that you’re losing fat and thus becoming healthier.
7. Are there supplements to help me shed weight faster?
There are lots of weight loss supplements on the market that promise quick weight loss. But, in all my years as a trainer, I’m yet to meet anyone who has used them and got permanent results. In short, they don’t work.
Use your money wisely by paying for a gym or hiring a trainer and investing in fresh unprocessed foods. You’ll get better returns from doing this than from any pill in a bottle.
Besides, it’s very hard to know exactly what goes into those pills. Most have enormous amounts of caffeine which might result in heart palpitations for some people and a host of other problems. Forget short cuts to weight loss. Losing weight healthily only works if you have a long term strategy. Avoid any magical pill that promises faster results with little to no effort.
8. Should I eliminate carbs to lose weight?
Eliminating carbs is a short term strategy for weight loss. When you eliminate carbs, you’ll lose weight faster but you’ll feel terrible and thus not sustainable. Carbs hold on to water so cutting them out will cause your muscles to dump the water leading to weight loss on the scale.
However, when you resume eating carbs normally, you’ll put the weight back on again. The best strategy is to gradually reduce your overall carbohydrates intake while increasing your protein and fats. Doing this will help you lose weight slowly but permanently.
The other downside of cutting out carbs is that you won’t have the energy to train intensely during your workouts. Carbs fuel your training sessions and not having enough will limit your output at the gym.
9. Which is the best diet to follow?
No single diet is the best for anyone. All of us are different and unique in every way. Through my own experimenting with different diet protocols, I’ve found that there’s no single diet that can work effectively for any two people.
So try out different diets to see what works for your body. Maybe your body will respond well to high protein and low carb or high fat and moderate protein. Figure things out until you find a sweet spot that works for you.
At the end of the day, it’s not about sticking to a particular diet because most diets are not sustainable. Cut out simple and processed sugars and focus on eating natural foods before trying any diet. Doing this is sustainable and will get you to your goal in the long run.
10. Which is good for weight loss, moderate intensity or HIIT?
If you’re looking to lose weight faster, then HIIT will give you the biggest bang for your buck. However, not everyone person can do HIIT. If you have lots of weight to shed then starting your exercise regimen with a HIIT workout is not a good idea.
Your form will not be good because you won’t have learnt the movements correctly. Your joints and the nervous system won’t be ready to take on the stress that comes from HIIT workout. It will, therefore, depend on the amount of weight you’re looking to lose and your level of fitness.
Combining moderate intensity and HIIT in different sessions will give you better results than picking only one of the two. A good workout program must have a bit of everything to be balanced and effective.
It must work on improving your strength, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. So mix them up. If you have four days to work out, lift weights on two alternate days. Add a session of HIIT on another and a walk or stretching on the fourth day.
Have I answered your common weight loss questions? If you have any other question about fitness, training and nutrition, feel free to ask in the comments section below.