Are you tired of not looking your best? Not feeling your best? Or not being able to perform like you know you can? Do you want to start taking steps towards improving your general health & fitness? One of the first things you can do is begin to improve your body composition. Lose fat, gain muscle. Here are 3 ways to get on the fast track to the better looking, better feeling, and better performing version of you.
Eat better quality foods in appropriate quantities. Living in southeast Texas, we have a ton of opportunities to make poor food choices. Their are Mexican food restaurants and fast food establishments around every corner. While many of these places make food that is delicious, there are way too many opportunities for us to over-eat or eat foods that cause us to store more body fat.
In order to change our body composition, specifically the ratio of fat to lean muscle, we need to eat foods that will not spike our insulin levels. Anytime we put anything in our mouth, our body elicits an insulin response. If this food or drink is low in sugar, the resulting insulin response is low. If this food or drink is high in sugar or a simple carbohydrate that breaks down fast, the response is high. When our insulin levels spike, our brain thinks that we are starving and goes into conservation mode. Our cells open up and store the nutrients for later use. In the form of fat.
While there are many more bio-chemical reactions that take place when we eat, going into any more detail than this would be going outside the scope of this article. In general, it is recommended that anyone that has a goal to lose body fat and improve their body composition understand and follow the Glycemic Index Scale. This scale grades your food from 0-100. The lower the number assigned to the food you are eating, the less of an insulin spike you will have as a result of eating that food. Google it and print a copy to keep in your purse or pocket. Try your best to eat foods that are assigned a value less than 50. Minimize your intake of food or drinks in the 50-70 range and dont eat anything 75 or higher. This is step 1.
Step 2 is to eat foods in the appropriate quantities. While eating foods lower on the glycemic index scale will, essentially, allow you to eat more food without negative effects, you must be mindful of how much fuel your body actually needs. Your goal should be to eat enough quality foods to support your daily life AND exercise, but not body fat. If you are consuming more food than your body can convert to usable energy, the energy will be stored. Ideally, during a fat loss phase, we want to eat just enough food so that we run at a mild deficit each day. You may have read that "3,500 calories equals 1 pound of body fat". While this may not be completely accurate (and most definitely isn't for everyone), it's a good guide. Eat 500 fewer calories per day than your body needs and in a week, you will lose 1 lb of body fat...give or take. 1.5 to 2 lbs per week is ideal for weight loss so you want to stay in this range.
To calculate how much fuel your body needs, you'll need to do some research or hire someone to help you. We offer this service at Ternion Athletics but if you want to do it on your own, start with reading "The Zone Diet" by Dr. Barry Sears. This is an excellent starting point and will teach you as much as you need to know to be successful with dialing in your intake.
- Lift weights to add lean muscle. We all know that muscle weighs more than fat. If you get too wrapped up in what the scale says, you may be afraid to add lean muscle but, don't be. We need muscle to support our bone structure. Strong muscles protect us from injury and if we're ever in need, gives us a better chance to defend ourselves against a physical assault.
Lean muscle also increases our Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the rate at which we burn calories and accounts for about 60-70% of the calories we burn each day (at rest or while carrying out activities of daily living). Those with more lean muscle burn more calories than those with a higher percentage of fat. In the past, it was common belief that we needed to just do a bunch of cardio to burn fat and increase our BMR. However, the latest research proves that anaerobic activity, like weightlifting, jumping, & sprinting, actually helps increase our BMR more significantly.
If you've never lifted weights before it is recommended that you seek out instruction from an experienced weightlifting coach. While lifting weight off the floor or squatting with a loaded barbell across your back seems simple, it isn't. There is a right way to do it and if you're just starting out, invest the time in learning to lift the right way. You'll get better results faster and more importantly, greatly reduce your chance of injuring yourself. Technique is KING. Don't ever forget it. This coach should also have a knowledge of loading principles and can help you determine the volume (how much to do) and intensity (how heavy) that's best suited for you.
- High Intensity Interval Training. This type of training is the most effective for burning off excess body fat. Bar none. Not only during the training session, but the 24 hours following the session. High Intensity Interval Training or "HIIT" is, basically, pushing your body to the max for a period, followed by a low intensity "recovery" period. These periods of MAX EFFORT followed by LOW EFFORT place a physiological demand on the body that requires more calories in a shorter amount of time, produces more human growth hormone (which aid fat loss), and increases our resting metabolic rate (BMR). At Ternion Athletics we employ HIIT daily. We combine weightlifting, basic gymnastics, kettlebell training, bodyweight exercise, plyometrics, and cardio (running, rowing, jump rope), to give our clients a well-balanced fitness program designed to address all general fitness goals; Look better, feel better, perform better.
It is not necessary to combine a lot of different types of exercises during a HIIT session. You can get in the street and alternate sprinting with walking. Do this for a mile instead of just jogging the mile at one speed and you'll be burning more calories in less time. If you don't have 2 hours per day to devote to cardio, do 30 minutes of high intensity interval training instead and see great results. Incorporate weights and watch your body begin to express the best form of your genetics.
At Ternion Athletics, we train everyone like an athlete. Weight loss clients, weekend warriors, soccer moms, high school and collegiate athletes... everyone. The reason we do this is because every person that walks through our door has an athlete inside them. Some people are better at expressing their athleticism than others or "look the part" because they've spent more time practicing. We practice for 1 hour per day and over time, elevate the athleticism and improve the body composition of every single person that trains with us.
If you would like to see what our program can do for you, click here to sign up for a free class and one-on-one consult. We'll take the time to learn about your goals and customize a plan that FITs you!