I am a 46-year old man. After turning 40 I put on 2st around my stomach. For six months now, I have been to my local gym five times a week, burning about 1,000 calories each time. But my weight has not changed and I still have ugly flab around my stomach. I am becoming very disillusioned. Any suggestions?
The more research we do on weight loss, diet and exercise, the more complicated the picture looks. There are no guarantees that you will lose your paunch, even if you do everything right.
At its simplest, to lose weight you must create a daily difference of 500 to 1,000 calories between what you eat and what you expend in energy. But exactly how your body responds to this calorie deficit depends on many interacting variables, including gender, age, physical fitness, body type, metabolic make up and so on.
Here are some evidence-based suggestions which may help you lose the weight. But even if they don’t, I would urge you not to give up on your exercise. Men who put on fat around their midriffs are at increased risk of heart disease. Even if the paunch seems immovable, the exercise helps to shift some of the internal fat distribution away from the main danger sites, and improves your blood-fat composition, so it is still having an important health benefit.
- Change your exercise routine. Ensure you are doing a strength training workout three times a week, not just a cardiovascular régime, as this is the best way to boost your metabolic rate. Find new cardiovascular challenges – our bodies rapidly adapt and if we keep on doing the same routine they simply adjust to that as the norm. Try the rowing machine. Swap one or two gym sessions for a 30 to 45 minute outdoor run, and/or swimming sessions, both of which are highly calorie intensive. Aim for longer times and avoid extremely high-intensity work, as the energy usage is less helpful for weight loss. Always build up your times gradually, to avoid injury.
- Exercise alone is not enough. You’ll need to cut your overall food intake and probably change the nutritional balance. Concentrate on reducing fats, especially if you are a meat-eater, and select one daily (or frequent) high-calorie item to cut altogether (sweet snack, beer, ice-cream, pizza, cheese etc). Above all, do not allow your food intake to creep up and cancel out the extra exercise.
- Keep active throughout the day – don’t fool yourself into assuming the gym visit is enough. Walk, climb stairs, have sex, carry loads and keep moving!