Focus on increasing muscle mass through weight training to boost your metabolism.
When it comes to weight loss, there is no magic pill or quick solution. Everyone is different, but more research is favoring weight loss that does not rely heavily on cardio. Dr. D.H. Keifer states that distance steady-state cardio can actually damage the metabolism in the long run, because in order to keep seeing results, you have to increase cardio over time until you are up to two or more hours per day with little or no results. He suggests other alternatives, such as high-intensity cardio, proper diet and strength training as means for long-term weight loss.
The problem with long bouts of cardio is that it burns a proportional amount of fat as muscle, so your weight may initially decrease on the scale, but your body fat will stay the same. According to Bodybuilding.com, increase your muscle mass through weight training to boost your resting metabolism and burn more calories throughout the day. Work each muscle group twice per week, for a total of three to four sessions. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends lifting a weight that fatigues your muscles in eight to 12 repetitions to build muscle.
Once you start a weightlifting program, you still need to burn calories to lose weight effectively. Circuit your weight-training workouts and hit the whole body in each session. This method keeps you moving with little to no rest between exercises so your heart rate remains high, effectively replacing cardio while maintaining muscle mass. Move from an upper-body exercise, to a lower-body exercise and then to a core exercise. Do three sets of each circuit before resting, for a total of eight to 12 exercises per session.
To increase the intensity of the circuits, add some high-intensity intervals. These exercises include 30 to 60 seconds of mountain climbers, jumping jacks, jump rope, burpees and plyometric exercises like squat jumps, lunge jumps and tuck jumps. You can add these exercises to your circuit or add five minutes of sprints after each circuit. Do sprints on a treadmill, bike, elliptical or rower, and do a high-intensity sprint for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of recovery. The Idea Health and Fitness Association affirms that high-intensity intervals raise your metabolism for up to 24 hours post-exercise because of the high energy demand of the exercises.
One of the most important aspects of weight loss, and the most overlooked, is a healthy diet. Avoid crash diets and fad diets, but focus instead on lifestyle choices. To avoid blood sugar spikes and valleys that can lead to cravings, hunger and binges, eat smaller meals every three hours. Include a small amount of protein with each meal to decrease hunger and promote muscle growth. Avoid simple carbohydrates like white rice, bread and pasta, sugar and overly processed foods. Stick to clean foods with whole ingredients that you can pronounce. Eat a variety of vegetables, and avoid large amounts of carbohydrates in the evening or when you are inactive.