Have you tried every diet known to man and woman? The fact is that any calorie restricted diet will work for a short time – until, that is, you get bored, think you are going to starve to death or indeed  start to eat ‘normally’ again.

We all burn calories constantly, even those of us who sit in front of the TV most of the time will get through some calories by the end of the day.  We burn calories when we are asleep – our bodies need energy to ‘tick over’, to breathe, to process food, to perform all our usual functions.  This is our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).  Our BMR varies over our lifetime and is dependent on lots of things, but the biggest determinates are our height and our age.  Unfortunately, people who are short and older you won’t need as many calories to get you through the day as those who are taller and younger. And we all know what happens to those extra calories that we consume, they are stored as fat!

But fear not! We have some choices.  If we want to maintain our current weight, we need to eat only the number of calories that we burn.  Yes, we can increase our calorie burn with some cardio work – but beware – running for 10 minutes only burns around one hundred calories.  A largish apple has about 100 calories in it – so you are going to have to run a long way to burn off a couple of slices of toast and marmalade and even further for that Bluntisham Breakfast.

Or we can eat less, but as we have already discovered, this is hard work.  As a side note, if we do decide on calorie restriction we do need to be really mindful to eat ‘good’ calories.  As we have discussed many times, 2 Mars bars a day might give you enough calories but you certainly won’t be very healthy.

The other thing we can do is boost our metabolic rate.  We can’t make ourselves younger or taller but we can boost the rate that we burn calories on a daily basis.

I’ll let you into a secret, building muscle uses calories and having muscles increases our metabolic rate.  Double points there!  And we all know that the best way to build muscle is to lift some weights.  Before any of you get pictures in your head of Olympic weightlifters or stage ready body builders, we are not going there.  Nor are we talking about cover shots for ‘Men’s Fitness’.  Sorry guys, unless lifting weights is your main occupation and you are prepared to enhance your performance with drugs, eat in a very disciplined way, work out like crazy just before the shoot – you’re not going to make the cover.  (Did I mention photoshopping?).  And ladies, your testosterone level is way too low to ‘bulk up’. I promise, you are not going to bulge out of your T shirt, but you will tone up and lose some ‘flabby bits’.

We are talking, very simply, of maintaining and building muscle.  One of the reasons that its so hard to maintain your BMR as you age is because sarcopenia (muscle wasting) will occur if we don’t do something about it.  We should all get into the gym and learn how to lift effectively.  There is an exercise (or 10) for every muscle group and, with good technique, progression (lifting heavier weights) is possible for everyone.

So, lift weights to lose weight. If you’re not sure where to start, have a PT session during which you will learn how to lift safely and effectively.  There is a warning with this though – once you start you just won’t want to stop!