If you hadn’t heard, summer bodies are forged in the winter. And unfortunately, if you’re still soft in the middle, winter has been and gone — despite what the weather outside looks like. According to the calendar, we’re in the early days of summer and that means that time is hastily running out to be beach body ready. With an August or late July break however, there’s enough time for a last ditch fitness effort, if you’ve got the discipline and determination that is.
You can’t out work bad nutrition, unfortunately. Boozy nights, wasted weekends and indulgent dinner parties will derail any attempts to get anything resembling a six-pack or lean muscle. Eating the right stuff, and enough of it, will be key to getting in any sort of shape over the next 8 weeks.
If your plan is to cut out the fat your body will need to have a calorie deficit, and eat less calories than you’re expending each day. Multiplying your bodyweight in kilograms by 22 is a good basic benchmark. You’ll also need a high protein intake, roughly 2g per kg of bodyweight.
Load up on lean meat
Protein is essential for reconstructing muscles after they’ve been worked and rebuilding them bigger and stronger. Plenty of chicken, fish, turkey and clean cuts of beef should form the backbone of any summer body diet plan.
Ditch sweets and sugars
Soft drinks and sugary snacks will ruin your diet – fact. Sugars are the backbone of fat and those carbonated cans are doing nothing for you. Cut them out and replace with natural goodness rather than artificial sustenance.
Drink plenty of water and green tea
Fluid intake is vital, especially calorie free liquids. Water and green tea are best, as you won’t have to scale back food to compensate for liquid calories. Green tea has a range of health benefits, but crucially it supports metabolic rate, causing your body to burn more calories, helping those abs appear quicker. 2 – 4 litres of water a day will make a huge change to your mood and energy levels, also. Your body is two-thirds water, you need to keep it hydrated.
Eat an array of vegetables
Have a selection of vegetables on your plate to introduce a range of flavours and fill you up without getting bored of what you’re eating. Broccoli is packed with fibre but is very low in fat, and kale and spinach should also feature heavily. Mushrooms will add low-calorie bulk to meals to stave off cravings. Chilli is also crucial to shedding body fat, capsaicin — the element that gives it heat — speeds your metabolism up by creating heat and raising body temperature.
Control your carbs
There are a range of varying perspectives and opinions on carbs, but generally it’s best not to go big on them. Ideal after big workouts or sprints sessions, look to low-GI examples such as sweet potatoes and cut out refined grains for a little change that brings big results. Cut them back to a single meal a day or not at all on rest days to reduce wasted energy.
Snack on seeds (and nuts)
No more reaching for a packet of crisps when your stomach starts to grumble. Have a small bag of pumpkin seeds and/or almonds to chow down on in between meals for a protein heavy snack that also yields a range subsequent health benefits and dietary goodness.
Prep and plan your meals
Having lunches made, dinners planned and prepared and breakfasts all but ready to go the moment you wake up will make a big difference in cutting down your calorie intake and avoiding tired splurges on sugars and snacks.
Diet is perhaps the single most important factor in whether you lose weight and win the grapple with the gut. Exercise though, will speed up the process exponentially, if you’re doing the right things.
Weight lifting will get you there faster
40 minutes practising big muscular movements will expend more energy than a gentle jog for an hour. Those big lifts will also use calories after the fact as your muscles will draw energy to repair themselves, as opposed to just using calories during the movement.
Stick to compound lifts
That is, multi-muscle exercises that require more muscle groups to perform the movement. Squats, bench presses, deadlifts and military presses are all excellent examples. The reason they’ll do better than any bicep curl is that simply using more muscles requires more energy and that’s what you want to lose more weight.
If you can get used to getting up 90 minutes earlier to fit in the gym before work, not only will you feel more energised for it, but your body will respond more positively in relation to weight loss. Working out in a semi-fasted state, i.e. on last night’s meal and maybe a pre-workout shake, will make your body expend it’s own energy reserves to complete the exercises, rather than new energy, burning fat faster.
Complete high intensity exercises
Male model extraordinaire David Gandy swears by circuits, (doing one exercise after another) when he’s getting in shape for an underwear or swimwear shoot. For weightlifting reduce the rep count to about six, but increase the sets to four or five with as much weight as you can handle. In terms of cardio, weave in high intensity bursts to your running or cycling sessions, mixing it up with hill sprints and the like between rest periods.
Consider getting a personal trainer
Getting in shape fast is arduous, painful and difficult. There will be mornings when staying in bed is an overwhelmingly inviting prospect or a drink after work too tempting. Having a sense of accountability and somebody to help and point you in the right direction – nutrition and exercise wise – will be of immeasurable help in achieving those rough goals. Also knowing that you’re paying for the privilege may also serve as additional motivation to stick with it.
Ramp up the exercise
Unfortunately if you’ve only got six to eight weeks to get in shape, you’re going to need to be working out heavy around five days a week. Mix up your routine after the four week mark, increasing the sets and reducing the reps or vice-a-versa.
Ignore the scales but log your measurements
Muscle weighs more than fat and so the scales can actually lie. Track your progress by taking body fat measurements, progress pictures and muscle measurements on a weekly basis. Doing this will allow you to quickly spot and eradicate any slides in progress for any reason, at this point you don’t have time to waste.
(Main & featured image: Eon Productions)
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