The guy’s guide to not getting fat

The majority of weight-loss messages seem to be targeted at women, but guys worry about not getting fat, too. Here are seven expert tips to help dudes stay slim

The guy's guide to not getting fat

Source: Web exclusive, August 2010

Women are bombarded with messages about weight loss, but shedding pounds’or keeping them off’isn’t just a female problem.

Obesity is just as big a problem in men, says Dr. Richard Klein, a family doctor at Toronto’s Briar Hill Medical Centre, and can result in diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Jay Tabac, a Toronto-based personal trainer and owner of Commit Fitness Inc., adds that guys who have heart disease or cancer in their family must get some exercise, too’more lean mass means less chance of getting adnominal or colon cancer.

Apart from the obvious health benefits, Tabac says being slim just looks better, too. ‘Young, single men are often interested in physical appearance," he says. "They want to look good, so they need to eat healthy and shape up.’

Whether you’re trying to avoid getting fat or want to start shedding some unwanted pounds, these seven tips will get you on the right track.

1. Stay away from get-skinny-quick diets

Staying slim does not just mean joining Jenny Craig, even though that may seem like the easiest way to lose a few pounds. These get-skinny-quick diets do work says Klein, but once you’re off them you’ll not only gain the weight back, you’ll add a few extra sizes too. The problem, he says, is that these diets restrict food, so when you’re allowed to eat something again there’s a good chance you won’t be able to satisfy that craving. ‘If it’s not the kind of diet you can keep forever, then what are you going to do?’ asks Tabac.

2. Eat a balanced diet, six times a day

You’ve heard this time and time again, but it works’eating a balanced diet based on the recommended food groups is the only way to not get fat. Klein says to stick to foods that are low in fat and sugar and high in complex carbohydrates. Legumes, beans and whole-grain breads are a good place to start. You’ll also want to eat a lot of fruit, vegetables and lean proteins, such as grilled chicken breast.

Guys should also eat lightly, six times a day instead of three hearty meals. Tabac explains that eating about 2,000 calories a day in 350 calorie portions is better than 650 calorie portions. It takes energy to eat, so if your metabolic rate is even throughout the day, you’ll absorb more nutrients. ‘Eating more is like keeping a furnace going in your body all day,’ he says.

3. Work out in the gym

But it’s not enough just to eat well, says Tabac. Men have to hit the gym, too. When it comes to the cardio portion of your workout, the personal trainer suggests running three times a week for 30 minutes. And when he says "run," he means it: ‘You need get on shoes and shorts, and sweat,’ he says. It’s proven that working out at least that much will improve the heart’s ability to pump and transport oxygen. Not to mention that you’ll also expend more calories.

Cardio alone won’t keep you thin though. ‘Run three days a week for 30 minutes and you won’t burn a third of a pound,’ says Tabac. Lifting weights sheds more calories; and if you exercise enough you’ll even burn calories in your sleep. Like cardio, strength training three days a week for 30 minutes works best.

4. Work out at work

Guys, we know you’re busy’who has time to work out so frequently? There are more manageable ways to keep the pounds off, without even having to leave the office. Klein suggests skipping the elevator and walking up and down the stairs. Go for a walk at lunch, or better yet, get off the bus or subway a couple stops early and jog to work. Contracting muscles at your desk can also simulate lifting weights.

Tabac points out that walking five flights of stairs won’t do a whole lot in the short-term, but that it adds up over time. ‘Walking up the stairs will burn off half a pack of Lifesavers,’ he says. ‘But lose 50 calories here, 100 there and that can be and 10 extra pounds worth of calories by the end of the year.

5. Work everything out at once

‘One of my big pet peeves is when a guy says ‘I’m going to do my legs today,'” says Tabac. Unless you’re in the gym every day, don’t work out body parts on alternate days. ‘You’ll end up hitting each body part two times a month,’ he says. Muscles should be worked out three times a week, so high-intensity circuit training is a more effective way to go. However, one difference may be if you’re working out for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. In that case, Tabac says, people can mix it up’but make sure you know what you’re doing before leaving muscles out.

6. Keep in mind that muscles don’t forget

‘Muscles have memory,’ says Klein. ‘Doing the same thing over and over again doesn’t work.’ Guys need to switch up their workout program at least every six weeks and at the most every three months. Keep going if you’re not bored and still getting results, but there will come a time when you hit a wall. ‘You’ll need to increase your ability to lift heavier weights and strive to be better,” he says.

7. Work to maintain your weight

Losing pounds is one thing, but staying slim is another. Guys who don’t want to get fat, or want to stay at a healthy weight, have watch their caloric intake closely. You don’t want to continue cutting out calories or you’ll keep losing weight. For those who’ve lost weight, it’s important to slightly increase the amount of calories eaten, though with the same healthy foods. All guys should avoid bingeing’even on that all-inclusive winter holiday. ‘You still have to focus on proper nutrition when you’re away,’ says Tabac. ‘You will gain weight if you pig out.’

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