When you’re trying to lose weight, hitting the gym is a great first step. Unfortunately, not everyone benefits the same way from exercise. Often, you end up spending a lot of time between the treadmill and stationary bike completely unaware you’re missing something. If you’re doing the wrong workouts, you’re never going to get the results you want. Here’s why.
The ‘calories in, calories out’ method works … sort of
You have to burn calories — more than you consume — in order to lose weight. However, longer stretches of exercise might not be as effective as shorter bursts of physical activity. Many experts swear by HIIT and similar workouts — exercises that burn more calories in a short amount of time. The workouts you choose could set you up for weight loss success. They could also set you up for failure.
Next: You have to do this to lose weight.
To lose weight, you have to burn fat
Your body uses protein, carbs, and fat as fuel. Of these energy sources, says Livestrong.com, carbs are the first to go. During exercise, your body burns through your carbohydrate stores before it dips into other forms of stored energy. When fat is the most readily available fuel source, it gets “burned off” as you sweat through the last stretch of your HIIT workout. This is one way weight loss happens.
Next: Be careful, some popular workouts don’t promote fat-burning.
However, many popular workouts don’t promote fat-burning
There’s a widespread misconception that your local gym’s yoga and barre fitness classes are designed to tip the scales in your favor. They aren’t. They have many pros and cons, but when it comes to weight loss, they might be the least effective.
Men’s Fitness warns that group fitness classes especially promote over-training and don’t tend to the specific needs of the individual. They might motivate you to get moving and keep things consistent — which is great. In the long-term, though, you’re going to need more than a group sweat session.
Next: This type of exercise won’t fix everything.
Lifting weights won’t fix everything
No matter how much weight you deadlift, there’s no guarantee you’ll lose weight. Strength training is designed to help you build muscle. The easiest way to guarantee staying at the weight you’re at now — and the fastest way to gain weight — is to pick just one workout and stick with it.
There are also workouts that just don’t work the way you think they will. As fun as they might be, they’re not your key to a slimmer figure.
Next: Here are the worst workouts for weight loss.
Here are the worst workouts for weight loss
According to Rodale Wellness, CrossFit, yoga, pilates, and Boot Camp are among the worst workouts to try if you want to lose weight. These aren’t bad workouts — they just aren’t going to help you accomplish your weight loss goals.
Save these for when you need to de-stress and get your body out of a sitting position for awhile. If you want to take your training more seriously, there are better, more effective workouts out there.
Next: Here are the most effective workouts for weight loss.
What are the most effective workouts for weight loss?
There’s no one exercise that’s best for weight loss. However, a combination of strength training and high-intensity cardio will help you burn fat and build muscle in no time.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are important if you want to burn through your energy stories quickly. But to make the most of your workouts, both upper and lower body lifting (either using bodyweight, free weights, or weight machines) and light cardio need some attention, too. Just don’t stick to one thing and expect it to work in your favor.
Next: You’ll also need to do more than just exercise.
Can exercise alone help you lose weight?
If you feel like you’re working out harder than you should be, and you’re not making any progress toward your weight loss goals, you’re doing it wrong. Over-exercising won’t help. Neither will repeating the same workout routine over and over again.
To lose weight, you have to commit to a combination of strength and high-intensity cardio training, a balanced diet, and an overall healthier lifestyle. The right workouts are important — but it’s only one of many ingredients that make up the ideal fat-burning, waist-shrinking recipe.
Next: Here are some of the best foods for weight loss.
If you know much about dieting, you might have guessed that leafy greens would make the list. A giant salad made with kale, spinach, and chard is a great diet meal. These greens are low in calories and carbohydrates, but loaded with fiber. A giant, leafy green based salad makes you feel like you’re indulging in a large meal without overloading your body with extra calories. Studies have found that low energy density foods like leafy greens help dieters eat fewer calories. In addition to filling you up, leafy greens are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Next: These are the types of beans you should be sneaking into your meals.
It’s easy to incorporate black beans into your daily diet. Like tacos? Make them bean-based rather than using hamburger or pork. Beans are great on salads or mixed with quinoa and steamed veggies. Not only are they easy to use and find, but one cup of black beans contains an impressive 15 grams of protein without any of the saturated fat you’d get from other protein sources, like red meat.
Next: The perfect meal for winter and weight loss.
Soup is one of those water-based foods that fills you up without contributing a worrisome number of calories to your day. Since most broth-based soups are low in calories you can eat more, which will make you feel as though your meal is more substantial. Research published in the journal Appetite reported that people who started their meal with a vegetable based soup ate 20% fewer calories over the course of their meal. A low-sodium, veggie-packed can of soup makes for an easy lunch or the base of a great last-minute dinner.
Next: This is a great fruit to help you lose weight.
If you’re on a diet, put apples at the top of your shopping list. They’re a great thing to eat first thing in the morning as they have carbohydrate-based energy that can get you up and moving quickly with an effect similar to coffee. They’re also an easy-to-tote snack that will help you resist the temptation of the office candy bowl or vending machine when the mid-afternoon munchies hit.
Next: Don’t forget to start your day with oats!
One of the main reasons people skip breakfast is because they just don’t have time to make an egg breakfast or sit down for a bowl of cereal. One of the easiest grab-and-go breakfast options is oats. You can buy them in instant packet form or dole them out in single-serving containers to bring to work. All you’ll need is hot water and your favorite toppings.
If there’s no hot water at the office, make a big batch of steel cut oats for the week and pack them along to work with you. Throw on some dried fruit, nuts, or banana and you’ve got a no excuse breakfast. Oats are rich in fiber, which will keep you full until lunch. Just a half a cup has 4.6 grams of resistant starch, a healthy carb that boosts your metabolism and burns fat.
Next: This food often gets a bad rap.
Sometimes potatoes get a bad rap, and while they won’t win any health awards in French fry form, boiled potatoes are a great food for weight loss. On the satiety index, a system to measure how filling foods are, boiled potatoes came in at the top. Eating potatoes will make you feel full and can help you eat less of other foods. They are high in potassium and after being boiled and cooled, they have a large amount of resistant starch, a fiber-like substance that has several health benefits, including weight loss.
Additional reporting by Jessica Wick.
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