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Published on October 25, 2018

How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle to See Results Fast

How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle to See Results Fast

There’s a lot of confusion, mystery, and desperation on around how to shed excess fat and put on lean muscle. We applaud body transformation pictures we see on Instagram, Facebook, and magazine covers.

Well my fellow readers that mystery is over because I will tell you exactly how to achieve those results in this article.

The journey to getting there is simple but not easy. Most people give up too early in the game when they stop making visible progress.

Before I outline the steps on how to lose fat and gain muscle, I want to highlight the social and personal benefits you’ll experience once you’ve reached the other side in hopes that it’ll motivate you keep going till you’ve reached your desired results.

Social and Personal Benefits of Fat Loss and Muscle Gain

1. Boosting Your Confidence and Social Capital

Aside from seeing changes in the mirror, a boost in confidence is the biggest change people experience when they start lifting weights.

Instead of using clothes to hide their bodies, they start dressing differently. They become more comfortable with putting on clothes that are the right size for them and show off their hard earned muscles.

Many of us go through a phase of social anxiety and extreme insecurity during our school years that follow us through adulthood. But when we start lifting weights, that feeling of self-consciousness disappears and we notice that people start treating us differently in a good way.

Increased Discipline to Reach Our Goals

Body transformations don’t happen overnight.

You don’t get results by eating well just once a day or going to the gym once a week. When you commit to the journey, you understand the importance of building the right habits and having the discipline to follow through.

It’s not about willpower, but having the focus to develop a consistent set of actions that will get you closer to your goals. Once a habit has been developed, they go on autopilot requiring little to no willpower.

Consistent discipline is something that gets developed over the journey and what all successful people have in common.

A Source of Stress Relief

For those who love to workout, the gym is considered a sanctuary and outlet for relieving stress.

One of the reasons I fell in love with lifting weights is because I can completely focus on one thing at a time and experience a state of flow. It’s the place where I get to focus just on me and how I feel, forgetting my life outside of the gym.

Working out is one of the best ways to relieve stress while improving your health after having a bad day. No one has ever said I regret working out!

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Aesthetics

The best part of this journey and usually the primary reason we started is so we can love what we see in the mirror again.

Flabby arms transform to strong defined arms and shoulders that we love to show off in tank tops. Our soft muffin top turns to a toned, firmed midsection that we can show off on the beach.

We start feeling amazing about our bodies again!

Lifting weights makes you feel attractive and feeling attractive makes you feel confident. For the first time we start identifying ourselves as strong and feel sexy as hell!

Skyrocket Your Metabolism to Lose Fat

The ability to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time is one of the biggest misunderstandings of body transformations because they are opposite metabolic processes.

To lose fat, you must eat in a caloric deficit; and to gain muscle, you must be in a caloric surplus but you cannot do both at the same time.

When you look at pictures, it looks like it can be done simultaneously; but what is actually happening is a change in fat and muscle percentages.

If your weight stays the same through your journey and your body fat decreases, your percent of lean muscle mass automatically goes up by default. You didn’t gain any muscle but your fat and muscle ratio percentages just shifted.

Calculating Your Calories to Lose Fat

There are many good calorie calculators out there that will give you an estimate on how much to eat to start losing fat. Check out the ones here and here . Usually cut about 10 to 15% of your TDEE calories to start the process.

Remember that the calculators are just an estimate. It’s up to you to track your measurements and to adjust your caloric intake to ensure that you’re getting the results you’re looking for and modify your calories if you’re not.

Metabolism calculators take into account four different ways your body burns calories to come up with your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) or how many calories you burn in a day. The four different ways are your resting metabolic rate, the thermic effect of food, thermic effect of activity, and non-exercise activity thermogenesis.

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)

This is your baseline metabolism at rest or how many calories your body needs to survive if you spent the entire day lying in bed awake.

RMR accounts for about 60 to 75% of your total daily energy expenditure. Your RMR is mostly determined by how much you weigh. A heavier person has a higher RMR than a lighter person even if the lighter person has a higher lean muscle mass because the metabolism of muscle only contributes to about 20% of your total RMR energy expenditure.[1]

Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)

You’ve heard that to lose weight and gain muscle, you should be eating lots of protein. This is true for a number of reasons:

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  • Increasing protein in your diet automatically lowers your intake of other types of foods like processed carbs.
  • Protein increases satiety so you never feel like you’re deprived when cutting back and eating less calories.
  • The building blocks for your muscles are found in protein. Animal sources of protein are a more complete source of protein versus plant protein. A diet of only plant protein will require eating a large variety of sources to get the equivalent nutrients found in animal protein.
  • Protein has a high TEF. About 30% of the calories you eat from protein are burned off during the digestion process which includes absorption and waste removal of it. Eating more protein as oppose to other macros increases the amount of calories burned during digestion. That’s why you feel fuller with a higher protein diet.

Thermic Effect of Activity (TEA)

The calories burned in TEA are relatively minor in your entire TDEE equation. TEA is any calories burned during official exercise like going to the gym, an aerobics class, or for a run. It covers any exercise you do outside of your normal activities.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

The calories burned in NEAT is the big game changer for most people and can vary up to 2000 calories burned per day between people with identical RMRs.[2]

For the majority of us, when we’re done with our workouts for the day, we don’t do much else for movement. We spend about 1 hour in the gym and instead of using the other 15 hours awake as an opportunity to move and burn more calories, we spend it sitting (we sleep for 8 hours).

This is how there can be such a big difference between the amount of calories burned between two people who have the same RMR.

Outside of your gym workout, any additional body movements counts towards burning additional calories. The quickest way to add this to your day is make everything you do as inconvenient for yourself as much as possible.

Examples of inconvenient activities that count towards NEAT include,

  • Taking the stairs versus the elevator
  • Parking farther away
  • Getting up to change the TV channel versus using the remote
  • Pacing and walking while on a phone call instead of sitting down.

Increasing your NEAT goes a long way to helping your burn calories faster leading to quicker fat loss.

Best Practices to Track Your Measurements

During your journey, you also want to have the right tools to measure your fat loss such as calipers or more accurately getting a DEXA scan.[3] Include body part measurements as well.

Regular measurements keep you motivated because it can be frustrating if you don’t notice any changes in the mirror at first.

Measurements also make sure that you don’t fall off course during your journey.

The Laws Of Building Muscle

Congrats of reaching the stage where you want to tone and get some definition!

First off, you want to increase your calorie intake.

Based on your TDEE, you want to add about 10% more calories as a starting point. This is enough calories to build muscle and any excess can lead to fat storage if you’re not training hard enough or you’re not active enough.

Again, be sure to track your measurements and adjust your calories, if necessary.

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Second, follow a muscle building program that you can sustain for at least 3-6 months.

Consistency is the key with building muscles because they need to be stimulated and broken down on a regular basis in order to build back up. You want to strength train at least a minimum of twice a week for at least an hour each time to start getting results.

Of course more often is better but requires better planning and a more complicated body parts training plan. So start simple if you’re a novice. It’s not necessary to train 6X a week unless you’re training for a competition.

Law #1 – Progressive Overload

Muscle needs to be challenged in order to grow. You need to gradually and consistently increase the amount of load and volume you are lifting.

Load means the amount of weight you’re lifting. Up to a certain point it becomes unrealistic to keep adding lbs to each exercise every week at which point you need to switch exercises and work on your weaker points to break that plateau.

But the goal with load is to keep increasing the amount of weight you lift.

Increasing the volume you do is another method to progressive overload. Volume means total number of reps for that specific exercise. If you’re doing 3 sets of 12 reps, it means you’ve done a total of 36 reps.

But increasing volume doesn’t mean doing super high reps of 20+ unless you’re training your muscle for endurance versus strength.

You want to use a challenging weight and be able to lift more of it each week through increased reps and sets.

Law #2 – Training Intensity

Paying attention to what you’re doing is required if you want to build muscle because you want to build and improve the mind muscle connection to optimize growth.

A healthy mind body connection means you’re able to better feel your muscles working during each lift. You want to focus on improving the eccentric and concentric contractions which lead to small muscle tears that will rebuild to stronger muscles.

You know you’ve picked the right weight when the last 2-3 reps of your intended rep range is challenging. On occasion, you want to push past the burn and muscle fatigue for the last reps.

This little bit of extra and pushing past the discomfort is the difference between an average body and body with more definition. Lifting almost to failure increases muscle recruitment, metabolic stress, and anabolic recruitment to grow muscles.

Law #3 – Proper Recovery

This is the most overlooked aspect of building muscles. We focus too much on pre/post workout meals, macro tweaking, and supplements forgetting that we already have the ultimate tool for recovery – our own body.

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For best recovery practices, allow at least a day but no more than 3 days of rest between workouts that stress the same muscle group. Overtraining results in diminished exercise capacity, possibly injury, and illness.

Remember muscles are broken down in the gym and built outside of it during recovery.

Get 7-8 hours of sleep and be mindful of your stress levels to optimize recovery time. A lack of sleep and excess stress will spike cortisol levels leading to hunger cravings, down regulation of burning fat, and faster aging.

Law #4 – Stop Program Hopping

Everyday, there is new workout, new exercise, new program on a website, in a magazine, or in your social media feed. No wonder we’re tempted to try a little bit of everything!

Frequent program hopping stops you from getting any results.

When you change programs too often you don’t make progress on each exercise. It becomes hard to gauge on whether you’re getting stronger or even getting results because you’re not allowing enough time for your body to adapt.

Strength and building muscle is a skill set that needs to be practiced consistently to make progress. If you don’t stick with it long enough, you don’t have enough data to track your progress. Without enough information, you cannot tell what is working and not working for your body.

Novice weightlifters are able to stick with the same program for many months before needing to change it by following Law #1 – Progressive Overload.

Strength is a skill that needs to be built and developed by practicing it consistently. If you’re changing the skill set too often, you won’t know if you’re improving; and therefore, cutting yourself short of future muscle gains.

Conclusion

The steps to losing fat and gaining muscle are simple but the journey to get there is not.

Tracking and measuring your calories is the quickest way to lose fat along with increasing your activity level outside of the gym. Having a stronger, more toned body can be yours when you follow the laws of building muscles consistently.

Applying these methods will guarantee that you get results you’re after! Stay on the path and keep working toward your goal until you reach your destination with results you’re after. You got this!

Featured photo credit: FitNish Media via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Weyer C et. Al. Determinants of energy expenditure and fuel utilization in man: effects of body composition, age, sex, ethnicity and glucose tolerance in 916 subjects. Int J. Obes Relat Metab Disord. (1999) 23(7);715-22.
[2]Donahoo WT et. Al. Variability in energy expenditure and its components. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. (2001) 7(6):599-605.
[3]NHS: DEXA Scan

More by this author

Candace Rhodes

Candace helps women achieve amazing toned bodies. Her free course is at https://rhodestostrength.lpages.co/free-course/

How to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle to See Results Fast 20 Healthy Eating Recipes Even the Pickiest People Will Love Muscle Building Diet: How to Eat to Lose Fat and Build Lean Muscle The Remarkable Benefits of Strength Training for Women Fermented Foods for Better Digestive Health and Mental Wellness

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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