Exercise and diet at your own risk
This is addressed at men, but the principles are the same for women
Aerobic Exercise and the Fat Burning Zone = Rubbish!
Please forget the old school notion of the ‘fat burning zone’.
Although working at a low intensity does use more fat as the fuel; it does not induce any favourable hormonal responses post exercise and does not burn hardly any calories!
In addition, it’s very catabolic – meaning that you can actually lose muscle tissue/mass if you overdo it.
This is not cool – loss of muscle mass, means your basal metabolic rate will drop. I know Wiki isn’t the best reference, but have a look here for some evidence of what I’m saying (Fat free mass = muscle (generally)).
This problem of losing muscle-mass is increased if you are in an energy deficit – i.e. if you are dieting and eating less calories than you are burning. This alone will result in a significant loss of muscle mass; unless you are doing some resistance/weight training.
Aerobic exercise and dieting will definitely make you lose weight if you have the right amount of discipline, it just isn’t the optimal way to do it.
Just to illustrate the ‘advantages’ in terms of keeping body fat low; I’m 5ft 10 and around 200lbs – not sure but probably holding a stone or so of ‘additional’ muscle, obtained through weight training.
I have to eat around 3000 calories a day just to maintain my weight and muscle mass. Sometimes I can overdo things and pile on some body fat, but generally speaking I actually lose weight very easily because my metabolic rate is pretty high; when I go on holiday I’ll usually lose weight because I can’t manage to eat as much. I’m not trying to big myself up saying this – I’m by no means in awesome shape, but I can lose body fat pretty quick if I put my mind to it (although it does seem to get harder as I approach mid-30s).
Also, by having more muscle mass, people not only burn more calories each day, by doing nothing, they also burn more calories when exercising. And after exercising, if you are training at a high-intensity.
My point is –
don’t diet to lose weight, because this will include losing muscle, diet and exercise to lose body fat.
High Intensity Exercise & Resistance Training is the way forward
Personally, I would recommend circuit training or a similar, high intensity exercise class twice per week, and weight training twice per week as exercise protocol. Intermittent sprinting or similar would be ideal, but exercising under supervision, in a class is probably easier in terms of motivation and safety.
Also, I’d recommend getting a good (if possible, lots of poor ones about) personal trainer, to show you the fundamentals of weight training. You would probably need just 3 or 4 sessions to pick up correct technique. Also use youtube and exrx.net to check proper ‘form’.
Generally speaking it is good form to take 2 seconds to push/pull a weight and 2/3 seconds to lower it back to the starting position. Don’t let a weight drop back down/up once you’ve lifted it, and don’t hyperextend your elbows/knees.
Monday – Circuit training
Tuesday – rest
Wednesday – Circuit training
Thursday – rest
Weight Training –
warm up – 5 mins of cardio
do 1 warm up set before each exercise
Dumbbell squats – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Leg extension – 1 set of 10-15 reps
Hamstring curl – 1 set of 10-15 reps
Lat pull down or chin ups (if possible) – 1 set of 8-12 reps
Bench press (ideally free weights but machine will do) x 1 set of 8-12 reps
This is by no means a workout programme to be following exactly, it’s just to give an idea. Try and work every muscle group at least once – i.e. at least one pushing exercise e.g. bench press, 1 pulling e.g. lat pull down and 1 (at least) leg exercise.
For another possible routine, see stage 1 of ULTIMMA 100
Once you are comfortable doing squats you can ditch the ‘isolation’ exercises like leg extensions and hamstring curls. Deadlifts are great too but you really need to make sure your technique is good and it might be worth building up your strength with bodyweight and dumbbell squats first.
Ideally, do 2 sets of every exercise but doing 1 produces most of the benefits in terms of maintaing/building muscle mass, as long is form is good and effort is maximal. 1 set to failure is often touted as being just as effective as 3 sets. Again, keep safety in mind though, a good personal trainer should supervise your first few sessions with you pushing your weight training 100%
People always say that machines are rubbish etc. but when you are starting off and struggle with free weights and the technique/stabilisation required, I personally think it’s a good idea to do 1 set to failure on a machine in addition to free weights.
Saturday – rest
Shoulder Press x 1 set x 8-12 reps
Bench Press x 1 set x 8 – 12 reps
One arm row x 2 sets x 8-12 reps
Lunges / squats / leg press x 2 sets x 10 – 15 reps
crunches – 1 set to maximum reps
Dorsal raises – 1 set maximum reps
The above session should take about 30-40 mins. You could no doubt do a lot more, but in order to be fully recovered for the circuit session the following day, I’d keep the session short and intense. If you want to do more sets/exercises however, then feel free!
You can do a lot of these exercises at home using resistance bands and dumbbells. For some exercise-at-home ideas, take a look at this workout
Diet at your own risk – Advice only based on personal experiences
“Diet is 80% of the equation when trying to lose weight” Jon Aby, 2013
This is my first infographic, I know it’s rubbish but I tried to summarise the Drew Diet:
Where to start with this one! It’s so confusing, with some many different diets and ‘nutritionists’ about (not a protected term that by the way, anyone can call themselves one), all with different ideas and protocols, and all 110% sure that their way/method is the best.
One thing I want to definitely add in here is – don’t eat in front of the TV!
Mindful eating is key. Take a moment to think about what you’re eating, where it’s come from, appreciate it and focus on it. Don’t eat mindlessly while watching the TV.
Generally I’d recommend a diet which is high in fibre, relatively high in omega fats, relatively high in protein (controversial I know) and with a moderate amount of carbohydrates, all medium/low glycemic. Go easy on the gluten too.
4 or 5 (even 6) meals per day, spaced out by at least 3 hours; each with some protein, some carbs such as buckwheat, sweet potato and/or oats are ideal. Wholewheat bread or pasta is good too, but some people will state that eating gluten is not ideal.
Generally speaking avoid white carbs – sugar, rice etc. These cause your blood sugar to spike and then when insulin is realised, blood sugar plummets making you feel rubbish and hungry again. If you do need a sugar hit, get it post workout, this will help replenish your carb stores in muscle and liver.
Oatmeal/porridge with ground almonds and sesame and pumpkin seeds, manuka honey
Drink of coconut milk
with drink of green tea
Chicken sandwiches on wholemeal or wheat-free bread with salad (not ideal but this is quite convenient and easy to make)
Fresh salad and cucumber with the sandwhiches
Drink of green tea or hemp milk
Possible cheat/easy meals:
Banana and handful of nuts
In addition, eat as much fresh & organic vegetables as possible, eat high amounts of omega 3 or supplement with fish/krill oil.
When you’re hungry, try having a green tea.
Handful of almonds, apple and a protein drink or a glass of milk (many nutritionists hate normal cows’ milk, look into the benefits of goats’ milk, or any high protein alternative. Soya is okay but contains phytoestrogens).
Just to confuse and contradict what I’ve just said; intermittent fasting has been proven to be beneficial in terms of health and body fat percentage. However, I personally wouldn’t recommend it, I think psychologically it’s 1 stage away from an eating disorder (kind of).
Have a look anyway at this article
Weight loss is all about discipline.
If you cut out take-aways, sugar and sugary foods, you should start to lose weight.