With warm weather right around the corner, you might be thinking about dropping a few pounds or getting in better shape. But transitioning from winter's bulking season to summer shorts and bathing suits can be a challenge.
While there are no shortcuts to long-lasting fitness—and nothing worth having comes easy—there are a few tips you can implement to help push the process along. Check out these 10 tips for faster weight loss.
1. Switch to a higher-protein diet.1 of 11
If your plate is usually piled with the brown-and-gray family of foods—think breads, hash browns and chips—you might want to rethink your fuel source. After all, nutrition is roughly 80 percent of the fitness equation, and you can't out-train a poor diet.
Not only does protein help build muscle mass, it also boosts your metabolism and leaves you feeling fuller longer (which keeps sweets and treats at bay). All of this will help you shed unwanted weight faster.
A good rule of thumb: Aim for 30 grams of protein per meal or one gram per pound of bodyweight per day. When choosing your cuts, remember that not all protein is created equal. Look for high-quality sources that contain a complete amino acid profile—like chicken, beef, pork and dairy. Going meat-free? No problem. Just make sure you consume complementary plant-based proteins, like rice and beans or hummus and whole-wheat pita.
2. Drink more water.2 of 11
From flushing out toxins to boosting your immune system, staying hydrated is key to proper health and to weight loss. A tall glass of H2O fills you up before meals and acts as an appetite suppressant, increasing your resting energy expenditure and leading you to burn more calories.
Looking to speed up the process? Add a bit of ice to your glass. Research has shown that cold water boosts metabolism and burns more calories, since your body uses extra energy to warm the water to body temperature.
3. Prioritize compound movements.3 of 11
When it comes to strength training, go for movements that give you the most bang for your buck. Compound movements are exercises that engage two or more different muscle groups—think squats, deadlifts and bench presses. Not only do compound movements recruit more muscle fibers per rep, they also mimic real-life movement patterns, like pushing, pulling and pressing, which allows you to move more efficiently in daily life.
Looking to get in a bodyweight circuit? Forget isolation movements. Crank up your fat-burning potential with full-body exercises like mountain climbers, burpees and squats, which can also help you target more muscles in less time.
4. Increase time under tension.4 of 11
Time under tension is all about how long your muscle is under stress during a set. Slowing down tempo of the eccentric (lowering) or concentric (lifting) portion of a movement can help enhance your metabolic response, maximize hypertrophy and encourage muscle growth.
Since lean mass burns more calories, building muscle will also increase the number of calories you burn at rest (BMR). When slowing down your lifts, make sure to focus on form (and not cheat yourself on range of motion or posture cues due to fatigue).
5. Focus on HIIT workouts.5 of 11
Speed up results by cranking up the intensity. Instead of doing steady-state walks on the treadmill at a slower pace, opt for high intensity interval training (HIIT). By alternating between bursts of all-out activity and periods of rest—say 20 seconds on, 20 seconds off—you'll burn more calories at a faster rate. Plus, since it takes up less time, there's no excuse not to fit in a workout, which increases the likelihood you'll get in a sweat session.
The best part? Even after your workout's complete, your calorie burn will hold strong. HIIT is the most effective way to stimulate post-exercise oxygen consumption, which means your body's metabolism will continue to burn more calories even when at complete rest.
6. Join a training group or find a workout partner.6 of 11
A little motivation can go a long way. By joining a training group, you'll add an extra layer of accountability.
Having a class penciled into your day will force you not to postpone (or completely skip) your "fitness meeting." It's easier to get out of bed at 6 a.m. if you know others are waiting for you to train. You'll also likely push yourself harder than you would if you were going solo on your fitness journey.
Looking to crank up the intensity? Having a built-in spotter will allow you to really push yourself without risking injury.
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7. Set tangible athletic goals.7 of 11
Wanting to lose 10 pounds is great, but make sure your drive to get in shape extends beyond the scale. By signing up for a race, competition or fun run, you'll have a concrete goal to work towards. Having a measurable result, like a mile time you want to break, and setting a desired date of completion, will also add a much-needed sense of urgency to your journey. Just make sure to break up your final goal into smaller, more achievable steps along the way.
Need extra, visual motivation? Take progress photos along the way. While you might be reluctant to snap a "before" pic, having a visual reminder of where you started can help push you when motivation is waning.
8. Change it up.8 of 11
Don't be afraid to mix up your routine. Not only will this keep your muscles guessing—and contribute to better strength and endurance—but it also will keep you from getting bored with your new gym habit, which is key to both accomplishing and maintaining weight loss over time.
Focus less on sticking to a strict plan and allow flexibility in your day-to-day.
9. Pace yourself.9 of 11
When you're trying to get in shape, it's easy to go all in at the very beginning. Though this may speed up weight loss initially, it usually leads to burnout and backtracking over time.
Don't go from nonstop couch time to six days in the gym. Instead, incorporate your new lifestyle changes gradually. This may seem like a slower way to get in shape, but it actually prioritizes the most important ingredient for lasting weight loss—actually sticking with it.
10. Change your mindset.10 of 11
Weight loss is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. To ensure success, keep a positive mindset and remember to see every "setback" as an opportunity for growth and learning. Disappointed you didn't make it to the gym that day? Give yourself some time to figure out what in your schedule is holding you back. Where can you improve?
Using this curiosity-focused approach, instead of beating yourself up, will lead to positive lifestyle changes and a better attitude, which in turn will help you see results faster.