If you need to shed pounds fast for a big reunion or beach trip with the girls, adding Pilates to your routine can help. However, the exercise alone isn't enough to make the fat fly off; losing weight quickly also takes dietary changes. And don't be in too much of a hurry to slim down -- losing more than 1 to 2 pounds per week leads to muscle and water loss as well as poor nutrition.
Pilates may be red hot on the gym scene right now, but it dates back 70 years to when Joseph Pilates created it as a body/mind training program. Pilates incorporates strength-training exercises, focusing on core muscles in the back and abdomen. In addition to muscle toning, Pilates includes stretching to improve flexibility. Pilates trained dancers and invented numerous Pilates machines, such as the Reformer. However, all types of people use Pilates, and many versions of the exercise don't require any equipment.
Pilates and Calories
Pilates can help whip you into top physical and mental shape, but it's not very efficient for burning calories. Performing a beginner's Pilates routine for 50 minutes, the average person burns a less-than-impressive 175 calories. It gets better with an advanced routine -- 254 calories in 50 minutes is average -- but considering that a pound of fat is roughly 3,500 calories, it would take weeks to lose a pound with Pilates alone. For fast and healthy weight loss, the University of Minnesota Medical School recommends that women eat 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day in addition to getting regular physical activity.
Blast fat quickly with a combination of aerobic and strength-training exercise. Perform Pilates, lift weights, hit the yoga class or perform body-weight moves such as pushups and squats two to three times weekly, working your arms, legs, chest, back, hips and abs. Also perform 300 minutes of moderate cardio or 150 minutes of vigorous cardio each week for serious calorie burning and cardiovascular fitness. For moderate cardio, take a power walk or throw a Frisbee with your friends. For vigorous cardio, go running, perform jumping jacks or swim laps.
What you eat has more impact on weight loss than which exercise you choose, so start limiting portion sizes and trade in the fries for fresh fruits and vegetables. To maximize nutrients and minimize calories, opt for whole, lean fare over processed and fatty goods. Whole grains such as wild rice and whole-wheat pasta beat out white flours and other milled grains, while lean proteins such as egg whites and fish trump fatty red meats and full-fat cheese.
- HelpGuide.org: How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off
- IdeaFit.com: What Is Pilates?
- American Council on Exercise: Can Pilates Do It All?
- University of Minnesota Medical School: Weight Loss Recommendations
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: General Physical Activities Defined by Level of Intensity
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.