I have five months to lose 60 pounds and I need some ideas on a diet that will assist me. I have a carbohydrate and sugar addiction. I’ve tried the Atkins diet for about a week and it nearly killed me. I exercise 5 days a week and do 3 days of cardio and 2 days of weight training. What more can I do that will allow me to see quicker results and lose the 60 pounds of body fat so I can reach my weight loss goals?
I think the most important point is to find a diet that you enjoy but is also effective at reducing body fat levels while supplying enough nutrients to provide a high level of energy to power you through your workouts. As with so many other people who follow an intense workout routine, a low carb diet can wreak havoc and is usually a very difficult nutritional regimen to follow due to the lack of energy provided by the body’s number one source which is derived from carbohydrates. The argument from the low carb experts is that fat is a much better source of energy since it provides 9 calories per gram versus only 4 calories per gram for carbohydrates and protein. The way low carb diets work is by providing energy through something called ketosis and gluconeogenesis. When you go on a low carb diet, your body switches from burning carbs for energy to burning fat for energy and this is called ketosis. However, if your fat intake is not high enough, your body also uses muscle proteins to provide energy which is called gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is the body’s way of creating glucose, or sugar carbs, out of the breakdown of proteins in the liver. Breaking down muscle protein to use for energy is not a good thing for anyone who wants to add lean muscle tissue to their physiques, so it’s a very fine balancing act between eating enough dietary fat and making sure that your body does not start tapping into hard-earned muscle tissue for energy.
Now that we have the low carb background out of the way, I want to go into a more important area that concerns your diet and the overall mental outlook when trying to stick to a healthy nutritional plan to provide the best results. It’s extremely important to choose a diet plan that is truly enjoyable and can be modified and tweaked in order to get optimal results. The best “fat burning” diet plan is absolutely worthless if you can’t stand any of the approved foods on the menu and you basically can only stay on it for longer than a few weeks. Variety and taste are huge components to a successful diet strategy. Now, this is not saying you can eat chocolate cake and ice cream for dinner since its tasty but it does mean that you should be able to include healthy carbs during the day, eaten at the right times to provide your body with the energy it needs to perform at a high level while providing the enjoyment and taste you desire.
Switching gears now to the exercise component of your fitness plan, your current workout routine looks good but you will need to increase the total number of cardio days and add in a few additional weight training days in order to burn the amount of calories needed to lose those 60 pounds in 5 months. I recommend increasing your cardio to 6 days per week for a minimum of 45 minutes per session. Ideally, shoot for 45-60 minutes of cardio and try to mix up different exercises like riding the bike for 20 minutes, walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes and then ending with the elliptical machine for the last 20 minutes. Cross training like this provides a great way to shock your body with new stimuli while making your cardio workouts interesting and fun. If you will be doing cardio and weights on the same day, make sure to always do cardio AFTER your weight training workout and not before. You can also try bumping up your weight training workouts from 2 times per week to 4 sessions per week. Using a 4 day split routine works very well for training your entire body over the course of a week. You can break up your muscle groups like this:
- Monday: Chest and Abs
- Tuesday: Back
- Thursday: Legs
- Friday: Shoulders and Arms
Along with increasing your cardio and weight training workouts, it will really come down to tweaking your diet in order to lose those last few pounds to reach your weight loss goals. You mentioned you love carbs and hate low carb diets. Obviously, you will not be able to fully indulge in all of your high carb dream foods in unlimited amounts during the day, so you will need to apply some restriction on the overall quantity in order to see results. Choose high quality nutrient dense carbs like oatmeal, yams and brown rice over processed ones like packaged foods and sugary cereals. Although your diet will be nowhere close to an extreme low carb regimen, you will need to be disciplined in choosing the right sources of carbs if you want to succeed. Read our Nutrition 101 article for ideas on which carbs to include in your diet and for a sample meal plan you can implement into your program.
Another great tip is use “carb tapering” throughout the day for great results. Carb tapering means that you will front load your carbs earlier in the day (morning and afternoon meals) and then cut back on starchy carbs (eliminating all grains and starches) later in the day (after 4-5 pm). Reducing carbs at night helps to control your blood sugar and insulin levels which allows your body to burn more fat during the night while you sleep. Later in the day, your body’s insulin sensitivity is decreased which means it becomes less effective at lowering blood sugar levels after eating carbohydrate loaded foods. By eating the right foods later in the day (like lean protein and veggies), you are able to control your body’s hormone levels in order to produce the best fat burning results you desire.