There are few people who are entirely happy with their bodies, and for most people, the idea of toning up, building a bit of muscle and losing some extra weight is high on their list of goals. However it’s something that most people also find hard to do- after all, it’s much easier to eat poorly than it is to hit the gym and focus on your diet.
If you find yourself giving up after a week of working out and dieting, you’re not alone. We’re results-orientated, and when we don’t see that our hard work and dedication is paying off, it’s easy to throw our hands up, say “what’s the point?”, and reach for another cookie.
That’s why it’s important to recognise that losing weight and building muscle isn’t something that will happen overnight, and instead you should look at it as changing your lifestyle. Many successful dieters don’t focus on what’s on the scale, and will instead use measurements or how their clothes fit to know if they’re heading in the right direction.
One of the best things you can do when you’re learning how to build muscle and lose weight, is to track your food for a week. And that means every single bite, even if you’re just eating a mouthful or two of mashed potatoes off your kid’s plates or sneaking in a small bowl of ice cream before bed. You’ll quickly get an idea of how many calories you’re actually eating (try a tracker like My Fitness Pal), and can see your level of protein, carbs and fats.
Ideally, you want a diet that’s relatively low-carb (the carbs you’re eating should be complex like sweet potato and brown rice), moderate fat and high protein. That will allow your body to refuel after your workouts and will keep you fuller for longer- preventing high blood sugar which leads to cravings and can undo all of your progress.
Many people underestimate exactly how important protein is when you’re trying to build muscle. Your muscles simply can’t grow without adequate amounts of protein, so it’s crucial that you load up. There are many different protein shakes on the market, and these are an excellent idea for your post-workout snack, and can then be followed by a high-protein meal like chicken breast and vegetables. It may take some time to find the best protein shakes for you, but there are some delicious and nutritious options on the market.
At the gym, you want to stay away from long cardio sessions, as this can actually eat into the muscle that you’re trying to keep. Instead, focus on HIT sessions where you continually get your heart rate up, rest, and then repeat, and be sure to lift heavy. If you’re not sure about your form for some of the exercises, it can pay to hire a personal trainer who can teach you how to do them without injuring yourself.