Putting in those hours of sweat at the gym is only half the battle when it comes to a great body. There are plenty of ways you can sabotage all those gains, some of which many may not even think of. We asked the founder of personal training company Quick Body Solutions, Jeff London, just what to watch out for during those off hours from the weight room.
“You can train intensely six days a week but if you aren’t eating the proper foods it will go unnoticed,” says London. “When it comes to the hierarchy of fitness, diet is at the very top and must be mastered in order to achieve a nice physique.” London recommends limiting carbohydrate intake—specifically white carbs. “This includes white bread, white rice, tortillas, cereal, potatoes, pasta, fried foods, and food with breading, to name a few,” adds London. “Try eating cleaner carbs in moderation, such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, and oatmeal.”
“Not getting enough sleep hampers your metabolism and will put a halt to your progress in the gym. This is due to two hormones by the name of ghrelin and leptin, which are associated with fat loss,” explains London. “Ghrelin signals the brain and tells you it’s time to eat. When you are sleep deprived your ghrelin levels increase, causing you to eat more. In addition, leptin, a hormone that signals the brain to stop eating, decreases. Not to mention cortisol levels spike when you are sleep deprived, causing you to store fat.”
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“It’s amazing how many people I meet that do not know that they are drinking their calories away,” remarks London. “It doesn’t matter how strict your diet is, if you are drinking loads of soda and artificial juices filled with sugar, you are not going to see much progress.” According to London, one of his clients recently lost nine pounds in 11 days by simply eliminating soda from her diet. “No additional exercise, no change in her diet, she simply stopped drinking soda and now she is nine pounds lighter.” London says it is wise to steer clear of juices as well. “Stick to water. If you are looking for a little flavor try Crystal Light, which has little to no sugar.”
According to London, cellphones, books and other distractions are rampant at many gyms. “As a result, people are not exercising efficiently or intensely,” he says. “When you leave the gym you should be in a full sweat and feel the effects of your workout, which must be challenging and focused. Try putting your phone on airplane mode, time your rest periods, and go into the gym with a plan.”
“Implementing a cheat day once a week may sound counter productive but it just might be the key to losing weight,” explains London. “In order to lose weight you have to achieve a calorie deficit, which is just a fancy way of saying you have to burn more calories that you consume on a daily basis.” London says that when a person remains at a caloric deficit for approximately 10 days or more their body will begin to store fat as a survival mechanism. “So you need to take one day to eat a little more than you usually do to let your body know its okay to burn fat again.” London reminds that it is important to remain at a caloric deficit for six to 10 days before implementing a cheat day.