Exercise & Weight Loss Plans

by David Carnes

About David Carnes

David Carnes has been a full-time writer since 1998 and has published two full-length novels. He spends much of his time in various Asian countries and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. He earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

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The media is full of news about the latest diet and exercise plans. While some of these are based on proven and effective methods, many trendy programs are just that -- trendy. You can weed through them far more successfully if you know how to spot what works. The fundamentals of effective exercise and weight loss plans are not hard to understand.

The Physics of Weight Loss

Weight loss depends on three primary factors: how many calories you take in, how many calories you burn and how efficiently your body uses calories. That efficiency is determined by your genetics and body composition. To lose 2 pounds a week, you will need to create a calorie deficit of 1,000 calories a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are only three ways to do this: Eat less, exercise more or do both.

Body Composition and Weight Loss

Ultimately, it is your body composition, or muscle-to-fat ratio, that matters more than your absolute weight. With a healthy body composition you will look and feel better. If you eat an unhealthy diet, your body is more likely to store calories as fat rather than muscle. You are also likely to lose more muscle than fat when you lose weight. For healthy weight loss, reduce alcohol, sugar and fat, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises. Avoid starvation diets. Aim for slow, steady weight loss on a diet that provides your body with sufficient nutrients to fuel exercise.

Aerobic Power

An exercise is classified as "aerobic" if it raises your heart rate to between 60 percent and 80 percent of its biological maximum. If you are exercising, but must pause to catch a breath in order to hold a conversation, you are probably exercising aerobically and effectively burning calories. Running, swimming, bicycling or any other exercise that keeps you moving constantly at a moderate to high intensity will do the trick, burning a few hundred calories per hour. If you stop off for a pizza on the way home from the gym, though, you will be defeating all of your hard work.

Resistance Training

Resistance training includes exercise with free weights, weight machines and resistance bands. This type of exercise helps you lose weight in two ways: by burning calories during exercise and by raising your resting metabolism rate -- which refers to how your body burns calories performing basic life-support functions, such as breathing and digestion. Resistance training will also strengthen muscles, while defining and toning them for a shapelier figure.

Spot Reduction

Lots of women target specific body parts with exercises thinking it will help them trim that particular area. An example would be doing situps to reduce belly fat. However, this "spot reduction" won't work, according to the American Council on Exercise. To trim a particular area, you've got to burn fat from the body overall through aerobic exercise.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.