Slow down to lose weight may seem counterintuitive, but we are not talking about a physical slow down here.
We need to mentally slow down. All too often, we make weight loss plans with a focus on fast outcomes. We want to lose a stone in a week and unrealistic promises online only help to reinforce the message that this is achieveable.
Putting yourself under pressure to lose a large amount of weight in a short space of time is stressful and unhealthy.
If we slow down our timescale to lose weight and focus on building muscle, we get bigger better outcomes in the long term.
Create realistic goals
Did you put the weight you wish to lose on in such a small amount of time. I’m quite sure you did not wake up one morning one stone heavier than you were the previous week.
We need to think about weight loss as a lifestyle change. Yes you have weight you want to lose now, but then what? What will you do to maintain that new weight?
Think about what weight loss means to you. Losing weight on the scale can be many things. It can be dehydration, it can be muscle wastage or it can be fat loss.
We are aiming for fat loss.
Let’s say it was possible to completely starve yourself without any problems. If you require 2000kcal per day to maintain your weight, it would still take you 25 days to lose a stone of fat. Over three weeks!
So we can see, it’s unlikely that we will lose a stone of fat quickly.
Fat takes time to build up and it takes time to burn off.
We also want to preserve valuable muscle while we burn that fat. We may not be looking to build huge biceps and become a pro body builder, but lean muscle mass actually burns energy faster. It is also more dense, meaning it may weigh more, but takes up much less room.
Building and preserving muscle means lifting weight or using resistance and eating enough protein.
The body fat you store at the moment can be used to fuel your workout, meaning fat burn.
Strength training does not burn as many calories as cardio.
True, but it creates muscle which is just as important for creating a toned figure and ongoing additional fat burn.
Cardio has its place. We may wish to burn more calories than strength training provides, and cardio is great for that, but should be as well as strength training.
If you only focus on cardio alongside a calorie deficit, you will get skinny. Skinny!
Skinny is a low body fat coupled with low lean muscle mass. This is where we start to see bones and joints sticking out. Is that your end goal?
Likely you want to see those nice lines created by muscle definition. For that, you need muscle.
If you drastically slash calories and do too much exercise, your body will destroy muscle in an effort to preserve fat. You body will think it’s starving and do everything it can to keep hold of its precious energy reserves.
It is all a balancing act. Provide enough fuel with a modest calorie deficit. Add strength training and eat enough protein to preserve muscle and do moderate cardio.
Give it time and effort
Your body will adapt and adjust. It needs time to do this. You will gradually reduce fat and become lean. You will become healthier and fitter. Your heart and lungs will become stronger, your blood will circulate more and carry oxygen to all the cells in your body. Couple this with great nutrition and your cells will be stronger and healthier too.
Taking it slow when you lose weight comes with far greater health benefits than placing your body into starvation and malnourishment.
In the long term it’s easier too. Nobody can sustain a miserable existence of eating very little and demanding so much energy. Your body will break down and you will feel terrible.
Instead, eating a balanced, nutritious diet will give you plenty of energy and make you want to exercise more. That is much more sustainable in the long term.