I have been weight training and doing cardio for 7 months now. I do weights 3-4 times per week and cardio 5-6 times a week. I eat 6 small meals with a total caloric intake of around 1,200 calories a day. I tend to eat protein and complex carbs. I haven’t lost an inch or dropped a pound yet! What can I do differently?
There are several factors that could be contributing to why you have not lost an inch or a pound on a strict 1,200 calorie diet. The first thing is that you may be consuming more calories than you actually think you’re eating and drinking. A lot of people don’t even realize how many random calorie laden drinks they consume during the course of a day. The delicious café mocha for breakfast or that tasty frappuccino at lunch can easily add another 500-1,000 calories to your overall caloric load each and every day. How about those alcoholic drinks at dinner or at the bar with your friends from work? A normal glass of wine and even a light bottle of beer has 100-150 calories in each one. When you start having fun and gulp down 4-5 drinks during the night, those numbers add up very quickly.
On the other end of the spectrum, you might not be eating enough calories to optimally fuel your body especially when you include an intense workout routine to the mix. The human body needs a minimum amount of calories to function effectively on a daily basis. The body needs food to provide energy for hard workouts and to build up lean muscle tissue so it can unleash its full weight loss potential. Each pound of muscle you have on your body burns about 6-10 calories, so if you are able to add 5 pounds of lean muscle to your physique through strenuous weight training, you will be able to burn some extra calories every day (even at rest). A super low 1,200 calorie daily diet along with hard workouts will force your body into starvation mode, which pushes your body to hold on to all the extra fat as storage to use for energy which causes your metabolic rate to plummet!
To burn calories and lose body fat, you need to have both your nutrition plan and exercise routine integrated correctly into your daily fitness program. Your main consumption of nutrient dense whole foods should include lean protein (chicken, steak, turkey, fish, egg whites), lots of fiber (beans, legumes), healthy fats (olive oil, fish, peanut butter), whole grain carbohydrate foods (whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, yams) and tons of fibrous vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini, romaine lettuce).
Try to eat 5-6 small meals (every 2.5 to 3 hours) and drink at least 10-12 glasses of water each day. When following a rigorous exercise routine, water flushes your body to remove toxins and also replaces fluids that you have lost from excess sweating, so it’s helpful to drink up to a gallon of water per day to be optimally hydrated.
Along with incorporating a strength training program into your routine, you also need to choose the best type of cardio exercises for burning the maximum amount of body fat. If you have been doing low intensity steady state cardio where you train at a light to moderate intensity level (walking on treadmill, riding stationary bike), then you might need to kick it up a notch and really start sweating to see results. Doing 20 minutes of high intensity cardio 2-3 times per week might work wonders to help ignite additional weight loss. Cardio exercise not only burns excess calories and fat from the body, it also strengthens the heart and lungs while increasing your metabolism. Including weight training with HIIT cardio will help turn your body into a fat burning machine. Cardio exercises such as jumping rope, jogging, sprinting, swimming, cycling and running are all excellent choices to include in your cardio plan.
As mentioned earlier, weight training is an absolutely crucial element in weight loss and burning fat. For all the women reading this, don’t be scared to push heavy weights when you’re training in the gym. If the weights you are lifting are too light, you will not be able to overload the muscle group well enough in order to break down the muscle fibers and stimulate new growth. Don’t worry about bulking up too much and getting big because it’s not going to happen. Females do not have high enough levels of muscle building hormones (testosterone and growth hormone) needed to gain substantial amounts of lean muscle tissue, so you are definitely not going to start looking like a guy if you hit the weights hard. What will happen is that your body will be much more toned which will make you look lean, sexy and fit!