You already know that the key to weight loss is either burning more calories than you consume or restricting carbohydrates. For most people this translates into eating fewer calories, along with incorporating aerobic exercise like walking or biking into their routines. But what about those unlucky few, who seem to have a stubbornly slow metabolism that makes weight loss extra difficult? Or how about those who initially lose some weight, only to find their efforts stalling out halfway to their goal?
The problem might be a lack or even a loss of muscle mass. Since muscle burns more energy than fat, building muscle mass will actually increase your metabolism. This means you will burn more energy – not just during exercise, but throughout the day while doing everyday activities. Even when resting you’ll torch more calories than someone with less muscle mass, and the reward will be faster and easier weight loss.
That’s not to say that you should give up aerobic exercise like walking, running, biking, or swimming. You should still participate in these activities, because they condition your heart and burn calories. But adding 20 minutes of muscle-building activities, three times per week, will make a big difference for your overall metabolism. You can join a gym if you prefer, and arrange for a few personal training sessions until you get the hang of things. Or you can create your own muscle-building regimen at home, using your body weight as resistance. Movements like push-ups, lunges, planks, crunches, and squats are actually some of the best exercises you can do for your body.
As you build muscle, be sure to provide your body with the right fuel to do the hard work. Eat plenty of lean protein, and as always drink plenty of water. Make sure to stretch before and after weight training sessions to prevent injury, and never attempt more weight than you’re comfortable lifting. As always, consult with a weight loss physician before starting any new weight loss plan or exercise routine.