The thinking of many people when it comes to weight loss, especially now that we start with the bikini operation 2018, is usually to diet, of course, and start exercising. It often happens that we go from “zero to one hundred” from one day to the next: we went from doing absolutely no exercise to spending two hours a day in the gym because “I have to lose weight”.
And many times it does not work. Hey, but how is that possible? If I’m killing myself doing sit-ups or running on the treadmill, why do not I lose weight? We explain the reasons why, even though you are spending entire afternoons in the gym, you can not lose weight: this is what you are doing wrong.
You are looking too much at weight (and not body composition)
Possibly the big mistake we make is the fact of wanting to lose weight at all costs, regardless of whether that weight comes from our fat mass, our muscle mass or the amount of fluid we lose. This, in addition to being an incorrect starting point, can generate a huge frustration to see that the numbers on the scale do not go down even though we know we are more in shape.
Stop focusing on the scale and take note of other measures, such as the waist, leg or arm circumference
The weight is just a number and does not respond to the state of health or the state of form of the person. We saw a few days ago how weighing the same, a person can have a different percentage of fat and visually have a very different figure. The only thing that indicates weight by itself is the force of gravity that acts on that body. And that’s it: nothing more.
Stop focusing on body weight and do it in other parameters more interesting as the amount of muscle mass, the amount of fat mass or the perimeter of our waist can save us many unnecessary tantrums during the bikini operation.
You are focusing exclusively on cardio training
Cardio training is great to improve the functioning of our cardiovascular and respiratory system, but is it the best option when losing weight or losing fat? The truth is that, if we want to be practical, cardio is an exercise that demands more of what it offers and is not optimal if what we want is to improve our figure (which, in the end, is what we try to do in the months before the summer).
Cardiovascular training is very demanding in terms of time and effort, and does not return very significant improvements if we talk about aesthetics, especially in the short term. Running half an hour on the treadmill can make us spend a lot of calories and lose a lot of water through sweat, but once we have finished that “calorie burn” it stops and the lost water is recovered as soon as we ingest a liquid.
Cardio training makes us more and more efficient: you will need more and more time or more intensity to burn the same calories
In addition, cardiovascular training produces metabolic adaptations in our body. This means that the more cardio training we do, the more efficient our body becomes, and will need more cardio time or a greater intensity to spend the same calories that we used to spend when we were newbies.
What is the best alternative to this? On the one hand, strength training: building muscle mass and toning our muscles will cause them to expend more energy, even when we are not training. In addition, they will also shape our body giving us aesthetic improvements.
On the other hand, HIIT (high intensity interval training) is much more effective than long-term cardio when it comes to burning calories. This is due to the EPOC or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: while with the traditional cardio, once we got off the tape we finished burning calories, with the HIIT our body continues to burn for several hours afterwards to repair the tissues and to recover.
Be careful, because HIIT does not have to be for everyone: if you are a beginner or if you suffer from severe overweight or obesity, it may be too demanding training for you. You can start with trainings of the same type but less demanding as for example the Gibala method.
You are spending your time with food (because you are training more)
As our colleagues at Xataka told you a few days ago, we are very efficient at accumulating calories and very inefficient at spending them. It is not that your organism is boycotting you: it is a question of adaptation, evolution and survival.
It is very possible that now that you are going to the gym, especially if you did not do it before, you are allowing yourself to eat more because “I have earned it” or because “I have to replace what I have lost”. But beware, because this does not give us carte blanche to neglect the diet, especially if what we are looking for is losing weight or losing fat.
Maintaining a hypocaloric diet, where the calories we eat are less than the calories we spend, is essential to lose weight (although we know that it is not the only thing that matters and that there are many more factors involved in weight loss and loss of fat).
We are very efficient at storing energy and very inefficient at spending it: training does not give you carte blanche to eat whatever you want, if you expect to lose weight.
On the other hand, knowing approximately how many calories we are spending in each workout can give us an idea of what kind of deficit we have to create in our diet. How can we know this in an approximate way? We can use a device such as a smartwatch or activity wristband that will give us an approximate (never exact) value of the caloric expenditure we are making with the exercise.
Approximately how many calories can we spend with a workout? This will depend on many factors: the intensity and type of exercise, our body composition (how much muscle and how much fat we have in our body), the level of training we have, etc. Generally, they are usually fewer calories than we think, but a one-hour cardio workout (for example, a spinning class) can help us spend about 300 or 400 calories.
To give you an idea, about 300 calories are two cans of beer, a couple of cans of Coca-Cola or about 60 grams of worms (the bags are usually 85 grams): snacks and products very fast to consume and appetizing they make us lose that deficit that we created with the exercise.
Maintain a healthy diet, based on food and not products, and make a good contribution of carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats, and that we can maintain over time is more important when losing weight.