Whenever I ask someone, usually females, what their fitness goals are, the most common response I get is, “I want to tone.” What I’ve come to realize is that by “tone” they really mean “build muscle and lose body fat.” They want muscle definition but they don’t want to be bulky, and they want to lose fat but they don’t want to be skinny.
So how can you accomplish both at the same time? Here are a few of the very basics:
- Eat – calories are energy and your body needs energy to function properly. It needs even more if you’re physically active.
- …but monitor and understand your daily caloric and macronutrient intake – body composition and changes in body composition can be broken down to the very simple equation of calories in (consumed) versus calories out (burned). Macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats) are the basis of these calories. Proteins and carbs yield 4 calories per gram while fats yield 9 calories per gram. An excess of calories – no matter where they come from, be it too much protein or fats [calories are calories after all] – will undoubtedly lead to weight gain but by monitoring your daily intake and following a structured guideline determined by factors such as age, gender, height, weight, you can quickly and easily begin to make changes to your body composition.
- Lift weights – by building muscle mass from weight training, your body will automatically begin to burn more calories, even while at rest. Increased muscle mass leads to increased metabolic rate. Endless cardio will burn a few hundred calories in the time you spend doing it but lifting weights heavy enough to spike your heart rate will have you burning calories long after.
In short (very short, there’s so much more to consider), eat enough calories to provide your body with the energy it needs and use that energy to lift heavy weights to build muscle mass which will speed up your metabolism and allow you to lose body fat while sculpting your physique.