You've been exercising regularly, doing cardio and strength training, but your body hasn't really changed. What gives? It can be so insanely frustrating that you're working so hard for what seems like nothing, but unfortunately, just because you exercise doesn't automatically mean weight will fall off you and reveal toned arms, toned legs, and a flat belly.
What you eat directly impacts whether or not you'll lose weight, and certified dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD, of Whole Health Nutrition, says the number one reason she sees people working out and not losing weight is because they're eating too many calories a day. Aside from exercise boosting appetite, there's "the rationale that you worked out so you deserve to have a treat or more food!"
Leslie says to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. If you walk for 60 minutes or run for 30 minutes, which burns about 300 calories, and you suck down a 300-calorie post-workout protein smoothie, you haven't created a calorie deficit — you're just coming up even at the end of the day.
Leslie suggests using a calorie-counting app like MyFitnessPal to determine your recommended daily calorie intake, putting in that you want to lose one pound per week in the settings so you're not cutting out too much. "Then when you exercise, add in the exercise calories but only eat back half," so if you burn 300 calories working out, only eat back 150 calories.
What you eat is important, too. Leslie suggests focusing on more protein, more fibre, and fewer refined carbs and sugar. Basically aim to eat healthy most of the time, prevent overeating by eating until you're satisfied but not stuffed (80 percent full), and drink lots of water.
The kind of workouts you do also matters. A light walk three times a week isn't going to budge the scale. If you're trying to lose weight, fitness instructor John Kersbergen says, "The most efficient way to get results is to do some form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for a total-body workout and to focus on strength training certain body parts (upper body, lower body, core) on different days of the week." We're talking 45-minute sessions three to four times per week. You'll not only burn calories from the actual workout, but the muscle mass you're building will help to burn extra calories as well.