Sure, there are some complexities to weight loss; but the foundations are actually quite simple.

Food is fuel.

A healthy diet is an essential part of losing weight and building muscle; but it’s difficult for many Americans to break away from bad habits, including fast food, sugar and soda addictions.

Many people eat food to benefit their taste buds or emotions and not their bodies, which means changing your diet is more than changing your eating habits: it’s about changing your thinking habits.

Remember, food is fuel. Calories are little energy units that allow us to walk and talk and function. We need them! However, we also need vitamins and other nutrients to function at an optimal level. Often, the food that we eat quickly (fast food and frozen meals) has very little nutritional value and high sugar and fat content.

This is a bad combo. We have plenty of calories, but we can crash after a sugar high or just feel tired from not getting enough vitamins. By simply cutting out sodas, sugary foods and quick meals; you can begin to lose weight without counting calories.

However, you must also understand that losing weight is formulaic. Specifically, burning 3,500 calories over the course of a week will eliminate one pound. If that sounds scary, think again. That’s 500 calories a day. You could probably lose that just by cutting out a daily soda, candy or a trip to the drive-thru.

Replace processed foods with fresh foods, whole milk with skim and fatty meats with leaner cuts. Eliminate soda and drink water. Yea, it’s a really, really simple start!

Movement is exercise.

After eliminating unhealthy food from your diet, you’ll actually feel more energetic. Take a walk. Play catch. Go for a swim. Get out and enjoy life the way you did when you were a kid. You’ll be happier doing something you enjoy. Any increase in physical activity will help you lose weight when paired with a healthy diet.

For those who want to pursue a more aggressive weight loss plan, you will want to find something enjoyable that allows you to function at a sustainable intensity. If your goal is to live a healthier life, you will want to create lifelong habits.

If you combine weight lifting and cardio in one workout segment, begin with weights. This will increase your metabolism before your cardio routine.

Building muscle is more than just bulking up. For every one pound of muscle gained, your body will burn 30-40 more calories a day. There are already some great guidelines on this blog for weight lifters, so I’ll move on to cardio.

It takes time and oxygen to burn fat cells, so you will need to keep your heart rate up (130 beats per minute) for 22 minutes. Talking is a good way to measure your heart rate. If you have trouble squeezing out two or three words, slow down to a pace that allows you to express an entire sentence.

Liposuction is the only spot reduction.

You mean I can’t regain the washboard stomach I had in college by doing 50 sit-ups a night?

Well, it’s not guaranteed. Sure, you can lose that weight if your sit-ups burn enough calories, but you will be burning fat from all parts of your body, not just your tummy. When you target different areas of your body, you are actually building the muscle beneath the fat, not burning the fat.

Yes, there are ways to bulk up or tone different parts of your body, but weight loss is an overall measurement of body composition. You can’t target the fat on different areas of your body. I know, it’s disappointing, but it’s true.

Author Bio:

Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger who loves writing about education, new technology, lifestyle and health. As an education writer, she works to provide helpful information on the best online colleges and courses and welcomes comments and questions via email at blauren 99 @gmail.com.

(photo credit Mason Masteka)

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If you’re interested in increasing your muscle mass quickly then this article is definitely for you. No matter whether you want to build muscle to improve your sports performance, enhance your health and well-being, or to simply look good at the beach, then these principles will work for you!

The first point to understand is that building muscle is a process made up of 3 essential steps and each step must be taken. If you don’t take each step then your results will be compromised, meaning they will be slow at best or non-existent at worst. Each step in the muscle-building process is essential and plays a role in helping you build muscle fast.

Here are the steps you need to take:

1. Stimulate the muscles to grow.

2. Provide the nutrients for muscle growth.

3. Allow the muscles to grow.

Now, let’s cover each of these steps in more detail.

1. Stimulate the muscles to grow.

This involves forcing the muscles to adapt to the stress being placed upon them. In the case of building muscle this means lifting weights on a regular basis.

It is amazing how many people think they can simply take a protein powder or the latest ‘magical muscle-building supplement’ and get their muscles to grow without ever having to touch a weight! Nothing could be further from the truth! Stimulating the muscles to grow through weight training is the first essential step in the muscle-building process.

Of course, there are a countless number of weight-training programs available and they all tend to promote different training regimes (sets / reps), different exercises, and different workout structures. However, if you simply follow a few fundamental training principles, virtually any weight training program will get you results.

Here are the few principles you may want to follow:

  • Train all of your body parts (including legs)
  • Don’t train for longer than an hour per session
  • Don’t train any muscle (group) more than twice a week
  • Have 1-2 days of rest each week

Now let’s consider the second essential step in helping you build muscle fast!

2. Provide the nutrients for muscle growth.

In order to build muscle fast you must provide the body with an adequate amount of nutrients. This means you must have a slight calorie excess as well as enough protein. Lacking either of these criteria means that your body simply cannot build muscle.

Furthermore, it’s important not to have too many calories because then you’re likely to put on body fat.

Another effective nutritional strategy is to split up your daily food intake into 5 or 6 meals. This ensures that you supply your body with the nutrients it needs throughout the day and minimises the chance of your body entering a ‘catabolic state’, which means your body is likely to be breaking down muscle rather than building it.

In addition to providing your body with an adequate amount of nutrients from food, it is also a good idea to use a few supplements if you’re serious about building muscle fast.

There are only a few supplements that are really beneficial when it comes to building muscle fast so you can ignore all the marketing hype that tends to go along with most bodybuilding supplements these days.

The best supplements to use for muscle growth are: high-quality whey protein, creatine monohydrate and l-glutamine. The whey protein powder ensures you have an adequate amount of protein in your diet in order to re-build the actin and myosin filaments (contractile elements) after each training session and the creatine monohydrate and l-glutamine both have powerful ‘cell-volumising effects’.

Since muscle is approximately 70% water, increasing the water stored inside the muscle cells through cell volumisation goes a long way in helping you build muscle fast! It is best to take all of these supplements together immediately after your workouts.

Of course, these are very plain bodybuilding supplements compared to the ‘flashy’ supplements that you see lining supplement store shelves as well as being featured in the glossy magazines these days, but rest assured you can save yourself a lot of money by simply sticking with the basics that have been proven to work for years.

Don’t allow yourself to be convinced by the slick marketing tactics used by some supplement companies, especially if they’re using elite-level bodybuilders in their marketing. Who do you think is paying for that?

Let’s now examine the final step in the process of helping you build muscle fast.

3. Allow the muscles to grow.

The final step in the 3-step muscle-building process is all about recovery. Since a muscle grows when you’re resting it is essential that you make an effort to ensure adequate recuperation and recovery after each training session.

This means not training the same muscle group too soon after a workout, having 1-2 days of complete rest from the gym each week, and of course, having an adequate amount of quality sleep each night.

It is theorised that during a workout you cause microscopic tears in the muscle fibres, which then initiates a biochemical reaction in the body in order to repair the muscle fibres as well as make them thicker and stronger. This repair and re-building process occurs away from the gym when your body is resting.

Therefore, it simply makes sense not to train the same muscle group before it has had a chance to recover and re-build the tissues. As a result, it is recommended to only train a muscle group once or twice a week.

Training in a gym not only places stress on the muscular and skeletal systems but also places stress on your nervous system because the nerves are what innervates the muscles, stimulating them to contract during a workout. Therefore, it is best to allow your body 1-2 days of complete rest in order to allow the nervous system to recover completely from your workouts.

At night when you’re sleeping is when the majority of muscle growth occurs. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative that you get good quality sleep for approximately 6-8 hours each night. Here are some tips to help you get the best possible sleep each night and therefore build muscle fast:

  • Ensure that your bedroom is as dark as possible at night
  • Keep your body away from any electronic equipment (clock radios, mobile phones, etc.)
  • Maintain a comfortable temperature whilst sleeping at night
  • Have a high-protein, low-carb meal several hours before going to bed to maximise the release of growth hormone and other anabolic hormones in your body during the night
  • Minimise any outside noises as much as possible whilst sleeping (perhaps use ear plugs if need be)
  • Consider taking 2-3 grams of glycine before bed

There you have it! The 3 simple steps for building muscle fast. If you’re serious about getting the best possible results from your workouts, then make an effort to follow the steps here as closely as possible. You’ll be glad you did!

Author Bio:

Stephen Smith is part-owner of Body Concepts, an Australian supplement company and Focus On, a health and lifestyle magazine. His website, www.quick-weight-loss-principles.com has over 350 free articles on the topic of weight loss.

(photo credit Pasukaru76)

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The male hormone, testosterone, goes through regular cycles of highs and lows. It is understandable that most men want to keep their hormone level at its peak, since it relates to male sexual desire as well as muscle mass. According to the experts, a few good workouts in the mornings can trigger the release of increased testosterone and raise the hormone level naturally.

Raising Testosterone Naturally

With a few ideas for boosting testosterone naturally you could be on your way to muscle – especially since you’ll be hitting the gym at the same time. Testosterone is the hormone that naturally builds muscle. As it synthesizes proteins, it rebuilds muscle fibers that have been damaged by weight training. If your testosterone count is low, it will also be harder to build muscle.

Research has shown that dieting in order to trim down quickly decreases testosterone levels. While trimming inches and body weight is important to increasing the hormone level, caloric intake should not be cut by more than 15 percent in order to build testosterone.

Develop a plan of compound exercises in your work-out in order to boost testosterone naturally. Involve muscle fibers in more than one joint or muscle group. Exercises such as weight-lifting, using an elliptical machine, cycling, and bench press work benefit multiple muscle groups.

Workouts That Raise Testosterone Levels

Exercising your lower body provides a healthier flow of hormones that could increase the level of testosterone. Mixing sets of exercises and repetitions while adding increased weights to power sets with lower reps will work better to naturally increase hormones.

  • Dead lifts: Dead lifting weights should be in your exercise routine, especially if you are wanting to increase lean mass. Dead lifts will help to build overall strength and size while helping to release hormones.
  • Squats: Much like dead lifts, squats work to increase overall size and help increase testosterone naturally.
  • Olympic Lifts: These are the ultimate power movement exercises. Start with light weights and increase, paying careful attention to your form. Add more weight as you increase strength.
  • Sprints: This exercise will truly expand your lungs, burn fat, maintain muscle and increase testosterone.
  • Plyometrics: Works to increase power, add definition and inches to muscles.

Maintaining Testosterone Levels

Rest

According to findings published in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, resting two minutes between sets during exercise showed increased levels of testosterone in research participants. Remember that exercising every day will not allow muscle fibers to heal and overworking them can compromise your goal of testosterone release. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University determined that using heavy weights, the elliptical machine or other muscle building machines three to five times per week should naturally accomplish a higher testosterone level.

Refrain

Don’t drink too much alcohol. For a healthy testosterone count, cutting yourself off after three drinks is the secret. Researchers say binge drinking causes testosterone levels to plummet and could permanently affect the endocrine system and the your levels of sexual desire.

Eat Sensibly

Eat sensibly with a steady intake of calories. Skipping meals can cause testosterone to decrease. Having a midnight snack is not a bad idea as long as it is healthy. Balance your diet with proper cardiovascular exercises to control excessive body fat that can inhibit testosterone. Run, swim, climb stairs, use the elliptical machine or other cardio active machines. Experts say about an hour three times a week is an ideal cardio workout.

Sleep

Get enough sleep. Testosterone is released as you sleep, so without the rest your body needs, an adequate amount of testosterone will likely not be released, and your numbers could remain low. Aim for about seven to nine hours of sleep each night. You will awake feeling refreshed and pumped for the day.

Author Bio: Russell Clark is a certified personal trainer who enjoys writing about health and wellness. When he’s not working out, he’s doing what he can to help others achieve their goals.

(photo credit MarcoGomes)

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