With the holidays behind us, more and more guys are focusing on the year ahead, warmer weather, less clothes, and hopefully a tropical vacation cruise on the not too distant horizon. Of course, with this agenda, many see and feel the urgent need to shed a pound or two. Or maybe more? While this is a positive step forward, many will experience frustration and failure. Some expect magic, overnight results. Others start off with great intentions, but make mistakes along the way which sabotage their results. Truthfully, healthy weight loss requires planning, hard work and patience. There are no magic solutions, wonder pills or fad diets that can guarantee results, despite their phony promises and crazy hype. Here are some solid weight loss suggestions which will help you foster better eating habits as you lose fat, build lean muscle, and maintain a healthy weight all year long!

Be mindful of your calories.  To lose weight, you must operate on a negative calorie-balanced diet. One pound of body weight is equivalent to 3500 calories. If you require 2500 calories just to maintain your weight (BMR – Basil Metabolic Rate), you need to cut back to 2000 calories, daily in order  to achieve a healthy weight loss of 2-3 lbs. in one week. This is a great program for days on which you are sedentary. On days when you work out, you will need extra calories, about 250 to 300 calories, to fuel your weight training and cardio. Keep track of calories by maintaining a food journal. Implement portion control by using a food scale and measuring utensils. Learn visual cues to estimate portion sizes. For example, 3 ounces of protein is the size of a deck of cards, and one cup of pasta resembles a baseball. Don’t go getting all OCD about your calories, just use common sense and pay attention to your body!

Eat breakfast and don’t skip meals. When you cut out meals, especially breakfast (your most important meal), your body goes into a starvation mode – it shuts down its calorie-burning mechanisms and begins to store fat. Without fuel from proper nutrition, your metabolism will nose-dive and you’ll feel exhausted, or drained. This recipe for ruining your weight loss program (promulgated by many fad diet programs) can be avoided by daily having a healthy breakfast. Eat consistently throughout the day, every 2-3 hours, smaller meals and snacks. This way, your body gets a steady supply of carbs for energy, protein for healthy muscles and “good fats” for the production of essential hormones. Also, you’ll have the energy to fuel your active life-style!

An exercise program is key. Aerobic exercises, like running, walking, cycling, and swimming require you to work harder and utilize more oxygen. These activities also burn more calories and they challenge your heart and lungs to work harder and become stronger. Anaerobic exercise, i.e. weight training, burns less calories overall, but increases your body’s muscle mass. The more muscle you carry, the more fat and calories you’ll burn, even at rest. Several recent studies have revealed that while anaerobic workouts don’t burn as many calories as aerobic training initially, those who weight train, especially early in the day, jack up their metabolism in such a way that their bodies become calorie burning, fat melting machines all day long! Three cheers for morning workouts! A successful and healthy weight loss program must include healthy eating, aerobic activity (daily 30 minutes) and anaerobic resistance training (weights 2 – 3 times per week for 20 minutes).

With these basics in place, here are some other factors to consider:

  • Get enough sleep (8 – 10 hours) so that your body can rest and produce regulatory hormones that can affect your weight, appetite, and energy levels.
  • Know the numbers (1 gram of carbs = 4 calories; 1 gram of protein = 4 calories; 1 gram of fat = 9 calories; 1 gram of alcohol = 7 empty calories!).
  • Be on guard against stress eating, mindless eating in front of the TV and, worst of all, late night binge eating. Portion out your snacks and never eat out of the bag or by the hand-full!
  • Too much partying on weekends can lead to mucho extra calories and hangovers that’ll put the kibosh on your training regime. Want a gorgeous body? Party less. Period.

Remember, weight loss is gradual – it takes patience and hard work to take it all off and keep it off. Yet, the results are worth it – a healthier, more confident and attractive you in the spring of 2017.

Tom Bonanti is a certified personal trainer and licensed massage therapist with his own gym and studio, Pump’n Inc.  at 1271 NE 9th Avenue in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. 33304. Contact Tom with questions or set up a free consultation by calling (954) 557-1119.