I was losing weight and hit a plateau. How do I get my eating and workouts back on track?

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A man kickboxing
Kickboxing is great cardio, but not the best way to train for fat loss. Getty
  • Your workouts are less important than your nutrition if you want to lose fat, Jordan Syatt told Insider.
  • The most important thing is eating in a calorie deficit.
  • However, doing more strength-training and less cardio would also help.
  • Read more Working It Out here.

Dear Rachel,

I’ve adopted a new workout regime which is a 30-minute high intensity kickbox cardio workout about four times a week, and some limited equipment weight training on the fifth day. I was also eating in a calorie deficit. This produced great results when I first started it, as my main goal is to lose weight and get my BMI to a normal range. However, with my wife’s pregnancy, my food habits got a little off track and my weight loss plateaued, in fact I’ve gained a little weight in the last couple of months. I want to enhance my workout routine to get maximum results with weight loss and losing fat. I am not sure if the current regime is effective enough. Can you help me?

— Plateaued and Perplexed

Dear Plateaued,

Congratulations on your wife’s pregnancy! Don’t beat yourself up for falling off track with your nutrition.

It’s normal for our weight to fluctuate when our lives change.

The good news is, it’s entirely possible to get back on track with your weight loss.

Eating in a calorie deficit is more important than your workout regime

It’s fantastic that you’re active, but the chances are the “great results” you experienced were mainly due to your calorie deficit, not your workouts.

Getting back to eating in a deficit is the key to losing weight again.

“You identified the problem in what you wrote: your eating got off track and that’s why you’re not losing weight anymore,” personal trainer and fat loss coach Jordan Syatt told Insider.

You clearly know how to do it, and know you can do it, so you just need to start reincorporating those healthy eating habits again.

Remind yourself of any portion control and healthy eating hacks that helped you the first time around.

“From a fat loss perspective, the main issue is your eating, so that’s what has to be brought back in check,” Syatt said.

More strength training and less kickboxing would be beneficial

Although a calorie deficit is most important, Syatt said you could optimize your workouts to complement your goals by replacing some of your high intensity kickboxing with strength-training.

If you can, he recommends going to a gym or investing in some adjustable dumbbells, bands, or a suspension trainer so you have more equipment.

“To optimize your training, the majority of your workouts should not be kickboxing cardio,” Syatt said. 

A post shared by Jordan Syatt (@syattfitness)

 

He suggests replacing two of your kickboxing sessions with resistance training.

Strength training not only helps you hold on to muscle and thus lose fat while in a calorie deficit, but also boosts the metabolism meaning you burn more calories at rest, a 2020 meta-analysis suggests.

Focusing on cardio for weight loss is where many people go wrong, personal trainer Ben Carpenter previously told Insider. It doesn’t burn as many calories as people think, and it can ramp up your appetite, he said.

But ultimately, the best exercise for you is what you enjoy, Syatt said. So if that’s kickboxing, keep at it.

Wishing you well,

Rachel
As a senior health reporter at Insider and a self-described fitness fanatic with an Association for Nutrition-certified nutrition course under her belt, Rachel Hosie is immersed in the wellness scene and here to answer all your burning questions. Whether you’re struggling to find the motivation to go for a run, confused about light versus heavy weights, or unsure whether you should be worried about how much sugar is in a mango, Rachel is here to give you the no-nonsense answers and advice you need, with strictly no fad diets in sight.

Rachel has a wealth of experience covering fitness, nutrition, and wellness, and she has the hottest experts at her fingertips. She regularly speaks to some of the world’s most knowledgeable and renowned personal trainers, dietitians, and coaches, ensuring she’s always up to date with the latest science-backed facts you need to know to live your happiest and healthiest life.

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