Your summer step-by-step guide to toning up and cutting down

Your summer step-by-step guide to toning up and cutting down

Summer is here. The birds are chirping, the sun is out, the water is fine, and it’s time to jump in. But hold up. Do you feel beach-bod ready? Are you fit, healthy, and up for some summer activities? If you’re feeling a little below your fitness goals now that summer has hit, fear not. This compressive guide to cutting down and getting summer ready will help inform and teach you the steps needed to get on track or back on track.

Anyone who trains knows it’s not easy. It’s a long, difficult process that requires dedication and hard work. Training, and being toned and fit, takes proper diet and exercise, supplemented with other tricks and practices.

This guide will teach you all about following a balanced diet and understanding supplements. We’re also going to look at exercise and lifestyle as a key to cutting down. This includes planning workouts, and a couple tricks to keep you motivated, having fun, and on track to meet your goals.  

Record Everything

This might seem like something you can skip, but quite honestly if you do this you’ll be MUCH more likely to succeed. Record and track your progress. It’s that simple. But recording your ongoing measurements you’ll be able to actually quantifiably measure your success and see how things are going.  

If you don’t do this, you’ll never be sure you’re actually making headway. You can jump on a scale and see a pound shed here and a pound shed there, but ultimately that could be due to things besides your plan. Retaining water or other factors can affect your daily weight fluctuations.

By recording your progress you’re seeing what works, and how you can continue. It’s also a huge morale booster – you’re literally seeing yourself meet your goals and wanting to record a better result each time. You’re less likely to let yourself down if you have to record it.

Stick to It

Don’t give up. Watch those results continue to progress. You can record your overall progress in terms of daily or weekly weight loss or gain, but also your daily workout routines. Track how many lunges you did, or bicep curls. Record how long it took you to complete each set, and how many reps you did. Record the rest time in between sets. All of these details can really go a long way in giving you measurable data on your weight loss progress.  

Do It For the Right Reasons

It’s not wrong at all to want to lose weight for appearances. Losing a healthy amount of weight, in a healthy way, can make you feel better about your overall appearance, and give you more confidence. This is not a bad thing at all. Most people want to lose weight for this reason alone. But they should think beyond the appearance.

Losing weight and being healthy will make you feel better. It’s important to understand that being more active and responsible with eating choices will make you literally feel better. Your body is meant to move, lift, run, walk, swim, and ENJOY life. By working it in the gym and eating properly, you’re doing just that AND priming it to work better in active situations.

Nutrition

An array of nutritious foods

You can’t be expecting to eat the food you want, whenever you want without any consequences. When it comes to training and exercise, you simply won’t see results unless you’re also on a balanced diet.

You’ll find yourself working hard in the gym, but not meeting your goals because you’re not following a plan when it comes to your eating habits and calorie intake. It’s time to really look at how you should be eating whole foods high in nutrition.

Balance is the key here – we’re not saying it’s time to give up the burgers, but it’s key to not let them become part of the routine themselves. Once in awhile is okay. You’re on a path to losing weight and getting healthy, so it’s important to remain dedicated and determined.

Step 1 | Follow a Balanced Diet

It may seem obvious, but it’s something many people overlook – follow a balanced diet! There are no tricks or fad diets needed - just simple, real foods and a basic understanding of calories.

Calories

The bulk of your food breaks down into three Macronutrients - Carbohydrates, Protein and Fats. They are the fuel for your body to work and recover. A calorie is unit of measurement of that energy.

Fat is more calorie dense than protein or carbs - this is why it can be easy to overdo it in your diet, and exceed your daily ratio. 1 gram of fat is more than double the calories.

Carbs

4 Calories per Gram

Many people believe carbs are the enemy. Heck, some diets out there eliminate them completely, but it all comes down to that key word – balance. It’s not as black and white as “carbs are bad”, there’s way more to it.

Indulge in complex carbs like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. These foods are higher in fiber and take longer to break down into blood sugar because of their complexity.

Limit simple carbs from processed, packaged and frozen foods - basically, junk food. Simple carbs break down into sugar very quickly causing a temporary spike in sugar and the inevitable crash. Excess sugars left in your blood from being inactive is what ends up stored within fat cells, leading to weight gain.

Protein

4 Calories per Gram

When it comes to losing weight, protein rich foods are really the best you can eat. That’s because protein isn’t stored in the body, so excess is eliminated from your body instead of stored like excess fats and sugars.

You want to consume lean protein like fish, chicken beans or soy. Sticking to these leaner proteins can really help fast track you on your weight loss journey. But eating too much protein thinking you’ll drop all the pounds isn’t a great idea either. Protein is not used as energy like carbs and fats - so trying to replace them with protein is not going to help your health or your energy levels.  

This just goes to show you how important balance really is when it comes to your diet.

Healthy Fats

9 Calories per Gram

The one thing most people think should be cut from a diet when trying to lose weight. They’re so wrong! Fat is not a bad thing, when it’s consumed in a balanced way. When it comes to balancing hormones and helping cell growth, fats play a key role. You want to stick to healthy unsaturated fats like vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.

How to Balance Your Diet

When thinking about a balanced diet, you can reference this macronutrient ratio, based on an average 2,000 calorie diet:

Graphic of a balanced macronutrient split and how many grams of protein, carbs and fats to eat in a 2,000 calorie diet

 

To get the best results, you can determine your somatotype.

There are three body type categories that everyone falls into - they determine the speed of your metabolism and your carbohydrate tolerance. Your body type may change the ratio that best suits your weight loss program.

Graphic of three somatotypes and list of physical characteristics of each type

Check out our blog on Body Types to find out what modifications you can make to your fitness routine - and tailor a routine that suits your body type best.  

Increase Fiber

Diets like paleo and ketogenic have really popped up into the mainstream diet world. They’ve helped many people lose weight and get in shape with exercise plans. However, they lack one important component to healthy weight loss – fiber.

Fiber is a very filling food and takes longer to digest. You can eat fruits high in fiber to maximize health benefits because you’ll also be eating tons of essential minerals and vitamins.  

Don’t Starve

It’s important to not withhold food. You can’t simply not eat to lose weight. It’s a very unhealthy practice that in the end won’t work.

Although you can cut calories in your goal to lose weight, you must continue to give your body the nutrition and energy it needs, especially because you’re working out. If you cut back on your food intake you can harm your training and actually stall your progress in the gym. Your body and cells need energy from good foods in order to work properly and help drop excess weight.

Step 2 | Understanding Supplements for Fat Loss

Before you decide to start taking a supplement based on claims of fat loss, you need to learn about what supplements really do and which ones you should be taking for fat loss.

There are three key supplements you can take that will help you improve your body composition.

Caffeine

A common supplement that many of us feel we can’t live without! Caffeine is a stimulant that puts your body into a thermogenic state, which can help you lose weight and drop fat. You don’t want to overdo it with caffeine though, so make sure you keep it under 400 mg per day.  

L-Carnitine

This is an amino acid which can be found in protein and can help assist in lipid oxidation. This is the process of using fat stored on the body as an energy source. With a higher but still balanced l-carnitine intake you can burn fat and lose weight, while getting the energy you need to perform your workouts efficiently and not store fat.

Capsaicin

If you like spicy food, you could be in luck when it comes to a supplement that helps with weight loss. Capsaicin is a chemical name for an extract found in chili peppers and can help burn fat.

Heating up the body with spicy foods is known as the thermic effect of food and can actually help burn calories, by speeding up your metabolism.

Exercise and Lifestyle

Woman and man performing dead lifts in a gym

Step 3 | Build Muscle, Lose Fat

Your goal is focused on losing weight. You want to shed pounds and feel and look leaner.

That said, gaining weight will happen and should happen – good weight. Muscle weight.

Be ready to gain muscle mass as it will be key to your success. You’re going to want to strength train to help your weight loss goal progress. Muscle actually burns fat and accelerates weight loss. So, cardio is great, but make sure to work some strength training into your routine as well. Pump some iron, build some muscle, and watch the calories burn away.  

Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training to get started.

Pro Tip: Do your strength training first, and your cardio afterwards. Your body will use up all your glycogen stores during the strength training, and you will burn more fat during your cardio.

When it comes to meal prepping and nutrition, it’s good to record what you’re eating and how many calories you’re taking in each day. The same sort of planning can be used for when it comes to working out and getting exercise.

You should be planning your workouts to ensure you’re on track, making progress and meeting your goals. A good goal base to use when you’re beginning is to work your way up to:

Step 4 | Increase your NEAT

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Yup, it sounds complicated ­– but it really isn’t.

It essentially means the amount of energy you’re using daily besides training. These include things like walking to work, taking the stairs, washing the car or getting the mail. These little activities add up each and need energy in order for you to perform them, and they burn calories.

Make your road to losing weight and getting healthy easier. Look for any opportunity you can get to use more energy and burn more calories.

  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator
  • Don’t drive to the store - walk
  • Instead of getting the neighbor to cut the grass, get your mower out and get to work!

These little activities add up and really make a difference in your mission to lose weight and get fit.  

Step 5 | Partner Up

Pretty much everything is more fun when you do it with someone else – including working out and losing weight. Doing this can keep you motivated and less likely to fall off track.

If you have someone else to disappoint, you might think twice about missing the gym.

It’s also great to have a spotter and helper when it comes to weight lifting, and it can also be totally fun to hit the gym with a buddy. A lot of losing weight and getting fit is about staying motivated, so this a tried-and-true tactic you can use to stay on track.  

Tips to Make it Even Easier

Losing weight and toning your body is not an easy task, as we’ve mentioned before. It’s hard work and takes serious dedication. However, there are things you can do to help the effort – little tricks you can practice making it a bit easier.

  1. High Protein Breakfast | In the morning, eat a breakfast high in protein. Doing so can reduce cravings and . Start your day off right with something hearty and high in protein so you don’t accidentally drop the ball throughout the day.
  1. Ditch the Sugary Juice | Juices high in sugar really do nothing for you from a nutrient stand point. Avoid them! Don’t drink juices with high sugar content because you’re really not getting anything out of it, you’re just gaining weight.
  1. Eat Your Food Slowly | You might be a fast eater now, and if so it’s time to slow down. Eating food quickly can lead to more weight gain over time. Eating your food slowly helps the digestive process and also, you’ll feel fuller quicker, thus eating less. Less food means less calories being taken in.
  1. Sleep Well | Poor sleep can lead to weight gain. If you’re not getting the proper amount of sleep you need each night, you could be actually hurting your effort in losing weight.
  1. Weigh In | Each and every day, you should weigh yourself. If you keep an ongoing eye on your weight, you’re more likely to try and improve it. It’s the same as recording your workout routine and calorie intake. Each day, if you see your weight, you’re more likely to have it stick in your mind. You’ll want to see results, and will be more likely to stay on track.
  1. Extra Salt? | Nope. Cut down on your salt intake, as a diet high in sodium can cause you to gain weight. If you must, look for products that say “low sodium” because they have to contain 140 mg or less per serving.
  1. Ignore Gimmicks | There’s constantly different weight loss gimmicks popping up. It seems like every day there’s a new way to lose this or gain that or eat this and not that. Ignore them. 10 pounds in 10 days doesn’t work. Stick to the plan and tips outlined in this article to lose weight in a healthy way and improve your lifestyle to keep it off.

Enjoy It, Right Now

Losing weight and getting fit is fun, rewarding, and feels great throughout the process. Yes, it can be tough to get into it, but once you develop a routine and habits that help you along, it will feel easier and enjoyable.

It’s important to enjoy it!

Summer is the perfect time to cut down and get fit. You can hit the beach, participate in a ton of fun exercises, feel good, and look great.

Get out there and enjoy the warm, summer weather.

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