Oxygen Magazine’s Tips on How Not to Cheat Yourself:
1. Your mistake: Cardio on an empty stomach
If there’s no food in your tummy, your body will automatically tap into your fat stores, right? Guess again.
A 2011 report in the Strength and Conditioning Journal determined that regardless of whether or not you eat prior to your workout, your body will burn the same amount of fat. Even more depressing news: they found you’ll be more likely to use your muscle as a fuel source if you don’t nosh prior to sweating. Yikes!
2. Your mistake: Separating your resistance and cardio training
You hit the treadmill one day and the weights the next, but your results are flagging. An easy way to bust past that fat-loss stalemate is to fire up your metabolism either by combining the two techniques, as you would in a strength-training circuit with plyo intervals, or doing one in the morning and one later on in the day.
Cardio and weight circuits have been proven to improve cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength more so than a weights-only routine, and it’s commonly accepted that they increase EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, which dictates the amount of calories your body burns postworkout. Alternately, splitting the two up by doing one early in the day and one later on means that you’ll be burning fat twice in one day. (It’s not rocket science, people.)
3. Your mistake: Sticking with the same machines
Is the elliptical your best friend in the gym? What about the leg press machine – do you rely on it to tone your glutes every week?
It’s fine to have a fave fit method, but remember, your body appreciates a challenge, and performing the same actions over and over again isn’t going to do it any favors. If you can’t bring yourself to switch up your routine – a cycling class instead of the elliptical, or dumbbell squats in lieu of presses, for example – at least opt to use a different program on your cardio machine (like intervals or hill climbs), or change up the amount of resistance and number reps from workout to workout.
4. Your mistake: Drinking your calories
Many seemingly healthy fluids may actually be working against you. You know that OJ is a great source of vitamin C and folic acid, but were you aware that just one single cup contains 110 calories?
That might not sound like a lot, but when you pour yourself an extra-large glass or go back for seconds, they can accumulate quickly. Plus, if you are heavy-handed with the milk or cream and sugar, your coffee can easily change from a five-calorie pick-me-up to a few hundred calories. Make your serving sizes and add-ins paltry, or opt for a hydrating (and calorie-free!) glass of water to accompany your meal instead.