Hi Andreas, Since I started a new job 18 months ago I have gained 15 kilos. My BMI is almost 30 and my body fat is 27%. I have fallen of the fitness wagon and is now trying to get back on. When I was in college I used to lift weights and take different group fitness classes. Time has become an issue and I need to plan my workouts and my nutrition intake. It is here I would need some advice. My goal is to get my body fat back at 20% and my BMI around 25. Where do I begin? Nutrition first and workout plan later? or should I tackle both at the same time? I am male, 31 years of age, 185 cm tall and weight 102 kg. I should also mention that I have a history of obesity peaking at 120 kg seven years ago. Thanks, A

Answer

Hi A, First I want to give you credit to get started sooner rather than later. You have to remember that you not too long ago was 18 kilo heavier than you are today. To realize what way it is going now, rather than at 120 kg are a great thing. I am sure that with a good plan and some motivation you will reach you goal sooner than you think.

The question is a rather complex one but I will do my best to give you some hints. Too lose weight in theory is pretty simple. All you have to do is to expend more energy that you consume. How much energy your body expends depends on several factors such as sex, muscle mass, weight, height and so on. You can calculate you calorie intake accordingly the Harris-Benedict formula. This gives you a calorie amount to maintain your weight of about 3000 calories if I assume you exercise only lightly.

The first option for weight loss is to take away 500 calories as you want to loose weight. That gives you 2500 calories. If you divide this over three main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) plus 2 small snacks along the day you will in theory loose weight. The problem with this approach is that hard to maintain a exact diet as well as over time the body will compensate for the "lack" of calories as decrease it's calorie consumption. Decrease more than 500 calories is not a good idea as the body will match your decrease and your lower your bodies natural energy expenditure.

Your second option is to only increase your energy expenditure which is done with exercise. The problem is that under a 45 minute training session you might average about 500 calories which means that you can exercise every day but if you eat only one small to medium meal too much you won't loose weight even though you are exercising a lot.

This leaves you with the third and in my opinion the only sustainable way, to eat a calorie controlled diet (decrease your energy intake) and incorporate exercise (increase your energy expenditure). If you don't have the knowledge about energy intake and what foods to eat I would recommend that you contact a dietician with a good reputation to point you in the right direction. It is money well spent and hopefully you will learn skills that you can take with you for the rest of your life. It is not only too loose the weight, it is all about how to be able to maintain your weight as well. To get you started you can search my blog for the calorie calculated meals that I have put up there. The swedish cheesecake is still one of my favorite snacks.

When it comes to your exercise I normally recommend my clients to do a combination of both weight training and cardiovascular training. You got two major factors to take into account when you plan your exercise, volume and intensity. In your case you say that time is a limiting factor so aiming on high volume training (60 minutes per day) is not to think about. You can get a great workout in 30-45 minutes as long as your intensity is high enough. 

One good way to incorporate exercise into your week is to exercise five days a week, monday to friday. You will need to be honest to yourself, when do you have time to exercise? When are you most likely not to make excuses to go? Most people who works regular hours need to look at either mornings before work, lunchtime or directly after work. As you are working out five days in a row I would suggest you to start at as little as 30 minutes and build you up to 45-60 minutes. Remember that if you only got time for 30 minutes it is okay, as long as your intensity is high enough. 

Try to do 5 minutes warm, 15 minutes of weight training of large muscle group with 30s in between sets then 10 minutes of  intermittent cardiovascular work. Intermittent cardiovascular pumps up the intensity and the energy expenditure. Work hard (80-95%) for 30 seconds then recover for 30 seconds (20-30%), repeat 10 times and you are done. Once you feel more comfortable with your training, start progressing you workouts. If you follow the F.I.T.T principle (Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type) make sure not to increase more than one variable at the time with no more than 10% per week to avoid overtraining and injury. 

If you enjoy group fitness classes I would stick to the high intensity once. All indoor cycling, body attack and boxing are great ways to burn a lot of calories, fast. Another benefit of these classes are that you get a natural interval training. 

I hope that I have been able to give you some new things to think about.  Remember to give yourself time to loose the weight. 0.5-1 kilo per week is a good target. Anything above that is a bonus. 

Train hard, eat well

 

Andreas 


 

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