You might have a few sweaty friends trying to lose weight who spend more time at the gym than you do working your 8-to-5 grind. But your workout doesn't have to include hours of aerobics and then a daily triathlon to help you reach your weight-loss goal. You can even split your exercise time into small chunks if necessary. However, you may have to tweak your nutrition plan if you don't have time for that daily triathlon.
The Weight-Loss Formula
Scientists continue to search for a fruit, seed or supplement that makes it possible to eat everything you want and lose weight. However, the only successful weight-loss method to date has been around for centuries -- take in fewer calories than you burn in a day and you'll lose some of the excess you've been carrying around. You can cut calories by passing on the apple fritters and filling your plate with nutritious, low-calorie foods that satisfy your hunger without overloading your daily count, such as leafy greens, whole grains and lean meat. You can also help move your weight loss along with exercise.
The Aerobic Formula
Your metabolism responds to exercise by burning fuel or calories in the foods and liquids you consume. If you cut your daily caloric intake and add aerobic activity -- which moves the large muscles in your arms, legs and hips -- you eventually start burning fat your body stored away when you ate more than you needed. Walking, dancing, running and cycling are aerobic workouts that help activate your fat-burning potential -- when performed at a pace that makes your heart pump faster and gets the sweat rolling but leaves you enough breath to gossip with your exercise buddy. Always check with your doctor, though, before starting an exercise program.
Timing the Burn
As few as 30 minutes of sustained movement daily will use extra calories and help prevent you from regaining pounds once you've reached your goal. You'll need to keep moving for at least 10 minutes to gain any benefit, but you can even split your 30 into two or three daily workouts when time is a precious commodity. Calories used vary by activity and your weight. If you weigh 160 pounds, walking at a 3.5-mph pace will use up about 150 calories in 30 minutes, while a quick 30-minute run at 8 mph will use more than 400 calories.
Adding Muscle to Your Workout
Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat. Adding 20 to 30 minutes of strength training to your exercise routine just twice a week will improve muscle fitness -- meaning your body will use more calories even when you’re just sitting around. Starting with just 10 to 12 reps of strength-building exercises will do. Check with your gym’s fitness expert if you aren’t sure which button, knob or lever to twist, turn or push on a machine before you grab a handle and start pulling. Otherwise, exercise that uses your body weight, such as pushups or pullups, or movements done with resistance bands, also strengthen muscles.
- Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images