How can I lose weight, tone up, build muscle? These are the type of questions I receive daily. I got into this profession to make a difference in the lives of the people I interact with everyday. The transformation of the body is a simple formula. You transform your body by achieving a caloric deficit or surplus. Once the surplus or deficit is achieved your protein/carb/fat ratio will determine how your fat is distributed. Lastly, your training habits will determine muscle definition and size. In this article, we’ll go into detail on how to transform your body whether you want to lose weight, tone up, or gain muscle. We’ll start with calorie intake.
The majority of people want to lose fat so we’ll stick with the deficit. Calorie intake is an essential step to the transformation because if your calorie intake is higher than the calories burned than the desired physical change will not happen. Most people fall short in their physique journeys at this step. The biggest reason that people fail at this step because they do not monitor what they eat. Most assume that going to the gym will burn enough calories to stimulate the deficit. They’re wrong. Most people will burn anywhere from 300 calories to 600 calories per workout. Six hundred calories is a slice of pizza. It takes more than a killer workout to achieve a caloric deficit and transform your body. Nutrition is the most significant factor in this formula.
Second, your nutrition has the biggest effect on how your body will change. As stated earlier, physical activity is not enough to change the body. 80% of the change is going to come from your nutrition. I encourage everyone to monitor caloric intake via Fitbit. It’s easy to track, and the meter lets you know if you’re overdoing it or under-doing it.
The macro ratio of your nutrition habits will determine how much fat can be lost and how much muscle can be added to your body frame. Before going any further, I feel it’s important to talk about the three different body types. Genetics plays a significant role in the shape of the body, and it is important to know which body type you are so that you can adjust your nutrition accordingly. Remember that no one is 100% one body type; we all have different ratios.
Ectomorphs: These are people who are naturally long and lean. Ectomorphs have a hard time building muscle and gaining weight because of their fast metabolisms. Ectomorphs are encouraged to eat a diet high in calories, where the majority of those calories come from starchy carbs and protein to promote weight gain. Sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole-wheat noodles are going to be their best friends.
1. Workout wise, ectomorphs can get away with doing less cardio because of their high metabolism. I would encourage them to limit their cardio to low-intensity steady-state cardio sessions only twice a week. Ectomorphs should lift heavyweight in the hypertrophy range (8-12). Compound lifts such as squat, bench press, and deadlift are encouraged to stimulate the most considerable change muscular fiber wise.
Endomorphs: High body fat content, often round shape, and find it difficult to lose weight. Endomorphs tend to carry a little bit more belly and have thicker waists and thighs. Endomorphs should stick to a low-carb diet that is mostly made up of vegetables and fruits. I encourage endomorphs to consume the majority of their carbs before and after their workout. Endomorphs should also aim to eat foods that are spicier and consume green tea because of its fat-burning effects.
1. Exercise wise, endomorphs workouts should focus on calorie burn. They should lift heavy weights for low repetitions paired with their cardio sessions. Endomorphs should lean more towards MIIT (Moderate Intensity Interval Training) or HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) for their cardio and avoid steady-state cardio.
Mesomorphs: More muscular individuals who build muscle much easier than others. Mesomorphs have a high metabolism that allows them to burn more calories. Your typical mesomorph does not have to work as hard to gain muscle and tends to neglect their nutrition because of their reliance on genetics. This reliance on genetics is usually a mesomorph shortcoming. Mesomorphs will not work as hard as they should in the gym to stimulate change, and they do not monitor their nutrition like they should, which will lead to a bulkier build. Mesomorphs can eat more carbs than their endomorph counterparts, but not as much as endomorphs. Pending on physical goals, endomorphs should be more wary of their protein consumption since their bodies will build muscle quickly.
1. Workout wise mesomorphs need to be challenged, so traditional workouts are not as effective. I suggest more athletic exercises that are fast-paced highly intensive. Workouts heavy in super-sets and timed exercises with minimal rest are great.
Third, Once you have an idea of your body type, you can start working on the training side of the transformation. I categorize the physical side of things into weight training and cardio. As mentioned in earlier posts, weight training is excellent for promoting bone density and increasing one’s metabolism. Not only that, but lifting weights helps your muscles look more defined. You’ll often hear of people who achieve a caloric deficit and perform steady-state cardio and lose weight, but they do not look as toned as they thought they would. That is because they did not lift weights, and now, they look thin and frail. If you want to look healthy and lean, you have to lift weights.
Cardio training is excellent for burning calories, but you can better target the calories you burn by adjusting the intensity of the cardio workout. Sustained physical activities that produce an elevated heart rate for at least 10 minutes or more will lead to your fat stores being used primarily as energy. We often refer to this type of cardio is steady-state cardio. Exercises that fall within the range of aerobic ATP production are the ones that primarily burn fat for energy. By increasing the intensity of the cardio, an individual can use other sources of energy in the body.
There are two other energy systems. First, being the phosphagen ATP production system which is activated during shorter, more intense activities, such as sprinting or weight lifting. The other system is the anaerobic ATP production system. The anaerobic ATP system is comparable to the phosphagen system in that its ATP production is limited, just not as limited. When we perform weight lifting activities or shorter endurance activities, we are working on an entirely different ATP system, and thus our body is fueling a different way. It’s important to differentiate which energy system your body is using because you can burn more calories if you’re operating off of ATP and anaerobic instead of the aerobic system. That is why HIIT training is so popular.
Alright, so what does this all mean. First, decide if you want to lose weight/fat or gain muscle. If you want to lose, achieve a deficit; if you want to gain, achieve a surplus. Next, adjust your protein/carb/fat ratio to help you better achieve your physique goals. Lastly, lift weights to build muscle and perform cardio to burn calories (and keep your heart healthy). I hope this article has helped you better understand your body and gets you closer to your goals.