Summer, or this year’s version of it, is now upon us. For many of us, the panic has set in about the increasing amount of flesh that we will inevitably have on show and we start searching for quick fixes to help us get in shape fast. Before you buy in to the latest detox tea that will do nothing but dehydrate you, or the 15 minute jumping-Jack routine that will leave you hot and sweaty but lead to little else but injury: take a minute to read The Fitting Rooms’ top tips for diet, exercise and lifestyle habits to adopt to help you get in your best ever shape this Summer and ensure you step outside with confidence:
1. Give yourself a realistic time frame for improvement. One month generally isn’t long enough to get yourself in shape healthily and you really should allow between eight to twelve weeks. Remember: the shorter time frame you use, the more drastic your changes will need to be, making them far less sustainable in the long term.
2. Lower your calorie intake but don’t do so drastically. A 10-15% reduction is plenty so long as your calories are coming from the right sources. Home-prepared meals made from whole food sources should always be favoured over pre-prepared, processed meals, and sugary snacks should be swapped for satisfying savoury snacks like nuts, hummus and celery sticks or a chunk of cheese. A good way to check your daily intake is to use diet tracking apps, like MyFitnessPal, which easily show how quickly those pesky calories add up and how sugar levels can really sneak up on you. For most people, a reduction of 200-300 calories should be sufficient.
3. In terms of exercise, you should favour high-volume weight training which generates a huge calorie expenditure both during and after training making it far more effective than cardio alone for fat-loss. Specific methods that are proven for great results in fat loss and toning are: German volume training (GVT); giant sets; drop-sets and strength circuits. A quick browse through YouTube should give you a good explanation of these methods. Aim for two to three weight sessions a week.
4. With weight training in place, now is also the time to add some cardio into your routine. Opt for 20 minute high intensity sprint interval sessions (the simplest method of this is to sprint for 60 seconds followed by 60 seconds of light jogging or walking and repeat) or 30-45 minutes of slower, steady-state cardio. Two cardio sessions a week on top of your weight training would be enough. Be sure not to over train however: if you stress your body too much you will knock your hormones out of sync, hampering your results.
5. Eat a protein rich diet. Protein not only supports lean muscle growth, but the energy expenditure from digestion is also higher than for fat or carbs, which in turn speeds up your metabolism. Good sources of protein include: meat; fish; mozzarella; tofu; eggs; cottage cheese; beans and whey protein.
6. Reduce your sugars and processed carbohydrates and instead get the majority of your carbs from green vegetables, sweet potatoes, oats and rice (and no: your rice does not need to be brown!). As you reduce your overall calories and up your protein intake, your carbohydrate intake should naturally come down a little anyway.
7. Don’t waste endless time in the gym doing ab exercises: 1000 sit-ups a day does not give you a six pack or flat stomach. What does is a well-balanced training programme focussed on building lean muscle, alongside a reduction in body fat. Core exercises should be in your programme, but alone they are simply not enough. Focus on ‘compound’ exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, rows and pull-ups, which use multiple muscle groups at a time, meaning a much higher calorie burn!
8. Don’t demonise junk food: in moderation it really is ok. Try to get most of your food from good natural sources (fresh meats, veg and grains) but if you cut out everything you love you won’t stick to it so treat yourself every now and then.
9. Get plenty of sleep! Your body recharges and regulates its hormones during this time and it can really hamper fat loss if your stress levels don’t have time to balance. Seven to eight hours a night is ideal.
10. Limit alcohol. Alcohol adds empty calories to your diet as well as spiking your insulin levels and playing havoc with your body composition. By all means have a drink, but a reduction in your overall intake really will boost your results.
Remember: small, incremental modifications to your diet and lifestyle are the most sustainable way to a better you so please don’t fall for the crash diets and exercise fads. A bit of dedication and hard work will have you feeling a million dollars this summer and set you on track for results that last across the seasons!
To find out more about how we can help you get in the best shape of your life, get in touch today: [email protected].
The Fitting Rooms