Some things happen slowly in life, and as the years pass, changes can sneak up on you when you are not looking. This is definitely the case with weight gain. In your 20s, it may not matter if you have another beer or eat some tempting but unhealthy fast food now and again. Add on a couple of decades, though, and you may find that you have added on more than a couple pounds.
As you age, your metabolic rate, the base amount of energy your body burns just to get you through the day, tends to drop. This is partly due to the natural processes of aging, but diet and lifestyle choices have a lot to do with this decline as well. If you have started to add on the pounds, your percentage of fat relative to lean muscle mass will increase, causing your metabolism to slow even more. This vicious cycle of more body weight making it harder to lose weight can seem impossible to break. Thankfully, there are ways back to a fitter, healthier you.
For men, trying to lose belly fat is about more than seeing if you can uncover those chiseled abs from days gone by. Belly fat has been showing up in more and more studies as a culprit in many deadly diseases. From heart attacks to some of the deadliest cancers, excess visceral fat around your organs puts you at a higher risk of serious and even deadly health concerns.
No one likes to think obesity is something they are going to struggle against, but for many Americans, as the years pile on, so do the pounds. Getting back into shape is something nearly everyone has talked about or even tried at some point, only to find short-term losses lead to weight gain that brings you back to where you started, or worse.
One of the first mistakes many people, and certainly many men, make when dropping body fat is to get on the lose-weight-fast train. One of the most common reasons diet and exercise plans don’t work is people treat weight loss like a sprint rather than a marathon. It can be tempting to think dramatic fat loss could be just around the corner, but changing your lifestyle, your diet, and your body for the long-haul takes time.
Dropping body weight quickly with fad diets or intense exercise programs is not likely to get you the long-term results you are looking for. It also puts you at risk of damaging your body by not getting the nutrients you need, particularly if you are increasing your amount of physical activity. To lose weight, it is important to achieve caloric deficit, taking in fewer calories than you use in a day, but what those calories are matters if you are going to make headway toward a healthier life.
If there is one thing that is more common among men than women, it is definitely the “do it alone” mentality, particularly when it feels like you need to fix something. This is particularly ineffective when it comes to weight loss. Especially when you are starting out with a new exercise program or weight loss plan, you will need some help to keep you on track to meeting your goals.
Weight loss might fill your head with visions of never-ending bike rides or marathon runs, but if cardio is not your thing, there is good news. It turns out cardio workouts aren’t the only kind of exercise that helps drop excess pounds and build lean muscle mass. Strength training can provide distinct benefits by adding muscle mass that helps raise your base metabolic rate.
One type of strength training in particular that can provide dramatic benefits is high-intensity interval training or HIIT workouts. This form of short duration workout is designed to keep your heart rate at high levels by combining resistance training with explosive bursts of running, cycling, or similar activities. Not only do HIIT workouts keep your heart rate high, they can also be very effective in helping you build muscle, especially when they include exercises you may not be targeting by merely hopping on the bike or lacing up some running shoes.
These potential gains come with a caveat, though. If you are over the age of 40, have a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30, or simply haven’t worked out in a while, you should use extreme caution in starting a HIIT workout routine. Carrying extra body fat can place incredible strain on your cardiovascular system. Working out too hard too soon can put you at risk of heart disease. Before starting any program of fitness you should consult your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to try the workout program you have set your sights on.
The answer, it turns out, is “not in a healthy way.” If you are carrying a large amount of body fat, and have a high salt diet that increases fluid retention, it might be possible to temporarily drop ten pounds in a week, but this is neither sustainable nor recommended. Crash dieting, dropping large amounts of water weight, and suddenly increasing your physical activity are all very stressful on your body, and do not contribute meaningfully to long-term weight loss.
If you have paired a diet with any kind of exercise program, you need to be sure you are getting the nutrition your body needs to rebuild damaged muscle fibers broken down during a workout. What is more, if you are obese and have not been maintaining a lifestyle of consistent physical activity, you are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. Suddenly stressing your body by starving it of food and demanding it do workouts you are not used to could put you at an increased risk of a heart attack.
The basics of losing weight are the same no matter how much you are trying to lose. If you burn more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. This effect is helped, or hindered, by the kind of calories you eat, how much stress you are under, and how well you are sleeping. Getting rid of fried foods and heavily processed foods, drinking lots of water, cutting alcohol and tobacco, focusing on eating a balanced diet high in lean proteins, healthy fats and vegetables, all while increasing your levels of physical activity, will help you safely lose weight as fast as possible.
The bottom line is you simply need to take in fewer calories than your body can use over the long haul to lose weight and keep it off. Crash dieting will lower your calorie intake for a short period of time, but study after study shows that this kind of dieting puts you at risk of just gaining the weight back later. It is a bit of a stereotype that men try to find a quick fix when they finally see a problem, but in dieting, this approach often leads to failure.
It is more important to focus on better nutrition than simply trying to eat less to lose weight. This means adding more veggies into your diet to replace junk food or simple carbohydrates. The carbs and sugars found in refined, processed foods can contribute to high blood sugar levels, which contributes to weight gain. Eating healthier doesn’t have to mean everything you eat tastes like cardboard and roots either. Depending on your weight loss goals, your diet plan may include healthy fats like olive oil and avocados and some very delectable proteins.
Let's face it—for most of us, there is nothing particularly inspiring about a kale and beet smoothie. If you are in the group that thinks dieting means starting your day with a handful of chia seeds and bland vegetables, you may be in for a pleasant surprise.
Yes, vegetables are almost certain to be part of any weight loss program. There is no way around the health benefits of plant-based foods, and if you can eat them fresh, so much the better. Losing weight, especially when you are exercising to burn as many calories as possible, doesn’t mean you have to be stuck at the salad bar. Below is a list of food that, when consumed in moderation and prepare the right way, can play a role in helping you trim down:
What you eat is not the only factor that will help determine how effective your diet might be. How and when you eat is going to play a major factor. When you consume food, your body has a brief period of time to decide what to do with the glucose in your blood. Eating large meals right before bedtime or the beginning of a prolonged period of working at a desk can increase the amount of your food that is converted to fat. Timing meals with moderate exercise like walking can help your body make the most of what you eat rather than turning it into fat to store for later.
Stress is another major factor that affects weight gain. Living with a high level of chronic stress, which can be a problem for many men, increases the levels of cortisol and other stress hormones in your body. This can lead to disruptions in your normal metabolic processes, and can cause your body to store more energy as fat. Stress has been linked to increases in belly fat in particular, which has worrisome links to cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.
One of the other major facets that is often overlooked in weight loss is getting enough sleep. Though you may feel like an extra shot in your latte is enough to get you up and going after a rough night, your body sees things differently. Lack of sleep, especially if it becomes chronic, can lead to increases in stress hormones and disrupt your natural levels of ghrelin and leptin, the two hormones that help regulate feelings of hunger and fullness respectively. A few of the best lifestyle tips for success in weight loss include the following.
No matter what your plan for weight loss, it is important to remember that men and women lose weight differently. Due to their larger percentage of lean muscle mass, men may lose weight faster than women on similar meal plans, but that does not mean that losing weight is easy.
Long-lasting weight loss is important for many reasons, not least because large, repeated fluctuations in weight over time can cause tremendous stress on the body, possibly even increasing your chances of serious cardiovascular disease later in life. Losing weight and keeping it off is essential for your health. If you have been struggling with a BMI that puts you into the category of obesity, it is time to get help achieving a healthy weight.
At True You Weight Loss, we are committed to helping both men and women find freedom from excess body weight. Everyone is different, which is why our services cover everything from medical nutrition therapy to reversible weight loss procedures like the ORBERA® Managed Weight Loss System or even minimally invasive weight loss procedures such as endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty. We even perform bariatric revisions if you have already undergone traditional weight loss surgery but have gained back the weight you lost due to your stomach pouch expanding.
Men have a reputation of not asking for help, but if you are carrying a significant amount of extra body fat, your life could literally be on the line. Getting a clear picture of the reality you are facing, and what it will take to change it, is the first step toward finding freedom from the limitations and dangers of excess body weight. There is never a better time than now to get started on the path to a healthier body and a healthier life. Request a consultation today to learn more about what True You can do for you.