“How do I lose inches?” is a question many fitness enthusiasts ask as they fine tune their exercise and eating regimen. Sculpting lean muscles, trimming down and wearing a smaller size is a popular goal for those putting in hours at the gym.

While many people focus on the number on the scale, it is important to remember that weight is actually made up of four things: muscle, fat, bone and water.  Technically, you only want to alter two of these components. Manipulating body composition by losing fat and gaining muscle is what helps you cut inches and look leaner. Because muscle is denser than fat, it takes up less space. Thus, when you have more muscle mass, you can actually weigh more and look smaller.  On the reverse side, if you dramatically cut your calories and do no weight training, you can weigh less, but have a higher body fat composition.

Losing inches requires you to pay attention to your workout routine, eating habits and hydration, as these three things can make or break your goals.

Workout Smarter, Not Harder

There is an old saying that rings true today: “Do what you’ve always done, and you’ll get what you’ve always got.” If you want to shape lean muscles, you have to challenge them with a variety of workouts. First, you must weight train. Stressing the muscles is what causes them to get stronger. Second, while there are a few exceptions to the rule, most individuals have to do cardiovascular activity to cut inches. Doing both high intensity interval training (HIIT) and steady-state (or low-intensity) cardio is important, as both provide different benefits to the body.  You can’t go hard every day, so alter HIIT and easier training days for the best results.  Finally, if you don’t have much time and need to be more efficient in the gym, build weights into your higher intensity days and make it like a boot camp workout. Then, add your steady-state cardio days in between. Remember, if you want change, you have to change things up.

Align Your Eating Habits with Your Body Composition Goals

The first step in knowing what to eat is understanding how much you need. Use a food tracker app, like the STYR Labs app, to calculate your caloric and macronutrient needs. From there, track what you eat so you can see where you might be getting off course.

As you plan your meals, be sure to have a high-fiber carbohydrate (whole grain or fruit) and a lean protein (lean meat, egg, dairy or plant protein) at each meal and snack.  Protein helps you feel full faster and stay full longer. Add vegetables in wherever you can! Full of fiber and water, they can help you fill up for less calories. Then, sprinkle healthy fats (nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocado, unsaturated oils and fatty fish) into your day. Fat increases satiety, making you less likely to go looking for extra bites!

Remember that changing up your exercise can make you feel hungrier. Eating smaller meals often throughout the day can help curb hunger pains and manage portions. Feel free to allow yourself one to two meals to splurge during, but don’t go overboard.  Eat what you want, not everything you’ve ever wanted!

Use Your Fluids to Help, Not Hurt You

While consuming water does not make you lose weight, drinking fluid consistently throughout the day can help make you feel fuller.  Adding a glass of water before and after a meal can fill the void of calorie deficit when trying to lose inches. Plus, being dehydrated can sometimes make you feel hungrier, which could lead to an added calorie intake. So, be sure to have your water bottle with you at all times!

It is also important to evaluate your other fluids and make sure they are not adding unwanted calories to your day.  Beverages like soda, “all natural” juices, fancy coffee drinks, post-workout smoothies and alcohol can tack on the calories if you are not careful!  Oftentimes, people are derailed from their goal not because of what they eat, but because of what they drink.

If you want to cut the inches, it is important to take inventory of your exercise and eating.  Get those in line and the inches will start melting off before you know it!

STYR Labs App: Increase your Weight Management IQ with a free PHYSQ smart scale by upgrading to STYR Plus!

If you are interested to hear more and receive personalized nutrition, check out STYR’s app, fitness tracker and suite of connected smart devices. Through the platform, you can track and log activity, food, hydration, sleep, nutrition, mood and more to personalize your nutrition needs based on data, science and access to registered dietitians, nutritionists and personal trainers.

Please note that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We insist that you always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical/health condition or treatment and before initiating a new health care regime. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the STYR app or on www.MyNutritioniQ.com.

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