It’s not enough to just drop pounds. In order to look and feel fit and healthy, it’s important to lose weight and build muscle at the same time.
1. Start Lifting to Get Firm
The best way to lose weight and build muscle is to start lifting weights for 30 minutes three times a week. You’ll feel stronger in just two weeks and notice a firmer body in only six to eight weeks, says Chester Zelasko, Phd, and chair of the Health and Wellness Department at Buffalo State College in New York according to the Prevention article “Firm Up, Slim Down” by Nancy Stedman.
You don’t need to start dropping weight or get slim before starting a weight training program. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will burn calories, which will help you with weight control. Lifting weights is important because everyone’s metabolism declines about .5 percent each year after age 25, which is one reason it’s so challenging to lose extra pounds when getting older. However, building muscle can reverse the decline in metabolism, says Wayne Westcott, Prevention‘s strength training advisor.
Wescott also says weight training pays off beyond aesthetics. It can prevent osteoporosis, lower risks of adult-onset diabetes, lower blood pressure, help lower back problems and reduce the pain associated with arthritis.
It’s best to start a weight training program by meeting with a trainer at first. You’ll only need a few lessons to get started, so it should not be too expensive.
2. Eat Fewer Calories Than You Burn Every Day
Most health professionals agree people simply need to consume less energy than they use every day to slim down. There are many diets that can help you burn fewer calories than you burn. The best way to get slim is to find a diet that works well for you and one that you can live with permanently. The DASH diet and the Mediterranean Diet were voted the top two diets by US News in 2011.
The DASH diet was originally developed by the National Institutes of Health for hypertension (high blood pressure), but health experts state the diet is easy to follow and works well for almost anyone’s food preferences. It’s low in saturated fat and sodium and consists of mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and beans.
The Mediterranean Diet gets the thumbs-up from health experts because it helps fight metabolic syndrome. According to the MayoClinic, metabolic syndrome is a health condition characterized by suffering from three of the following four ailments:
- Increased blood pressure
- High insulin levels
- Excess fat around the waist
- High cholesterol
Metabolic syndrome paves the way to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The condition can also affect the kidneys and attribute to the accumulation of fat around the liver, which can result in cirrhosis.
Like the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet consists of eating foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and beans, but the Mediterranean diet is high in healthy monounsaturated fats like olive oil. The diet also suggests drinking moderate amounts of wine, although this is optional.
If you want a little more variety in your diet, the New Weight Watchers Program called Points Plus allows dieters to eat a few of their favorite treats and still lose weight. The points system was designed to keep counting calories easy. Basically the nutritional value of food is calculated into points because it’s reported to be easier to track and remember points in servings of food rather than hundreds of calories.
Weight Watchers also has a maintenance plan and it’s not necessary to buy prepackaged food, unless you prefer these types of meals.
3. Eat Fat Burning Foods
Shed pounds and build muscle by eating fat burning foods. Eating foods like low-fat cheese, low-fat milk and low-fat yogurt can be the best way to get slim, according to a study from the Curtin University of Technology. The findings of the study support increasing dairy intake to three to five servings every day.
Study participants who ate five servings of dairy foods each day over a period of 12 weeks lost more fat, especially around the stomach area, than a control group that didn’t increase dairy foods (Dunn).
Other evidence supports eating foods high in healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat that are high in omega-3s like wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, nuts, olive oil and avocados. Just make sure to keep your total fat intake below 35 percent.
Best Way to Lose Weight and Build Muscle
By lifting weights three times a week, eating fewer calories than you burn and eating fat burning foods, you can lose extra pounds and get the fit, tone body you want.
Dunn, Josette. Weight Loss Expert Supports Diary in Diets. Nutridate. March 2010, Vol. 21 Issue 1, p8.
“Metabolic Syndrome.” MayoClinic.
Stedman, Nancy. “Firm Up, Slim Down.” Prevention. February 1998, Vol. 50 Issue 2, p114.