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Losing weight and going to the gym

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So I am Planning to get back onto the gym now that covid seems to be calming a bit and I have had both covid vaccines.

I am currently nearly 16 stone and when I joined the gym before covid I managed to lose 2 stone and go down to 14 stone.

Obviously lock down etc.. I regained the weight.

SO I am attempting to lose it again now and hopefully be successful.

I was taking a pre work out drink before I went to the gym. Drinking that on my walk in.

Do you recommend I continue with these, and can anyone recommend one. the One I was taking was called C4 and my god it was sweet. I had to force it down.


Any advice and help would be greatly recieved
 
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Techniquest

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Ooh this is an interesting topic! Right up my alley. I have to confess, most of the sports nutrition knowledge I have is rusty, so I'll say the same to you as anyone else, experiment and find what works for you and your body. My advice is always to treat nutritional advice as guidelines, not fact, given we all do things differently. What works for me won't necessarily work for you, after all.

Anyway, personally I'm not a big fan of the gym. It depends what you want to achieve there, as to whether it is worth it. In terms of body building, absolutely. In terms of losing excess mass, then no. Let's look at that further:

To be clear, by body building I mean increasing upper body strength, that kind of thing. I'm no expert on that whatsoever, so anyone who wants to do that is better off seeking advice from someone else.

In terms of losing excess mass, a gym is not essential physically. Mentally, perhaps so as some people find going to a gym helps form a routine, especially if the weather is not great. However, in my enthusiast point of view, I would say losing excess mass is best done with a boatload of cardio. Even just walking around the local streets is cardio, you don't need to pour tons of money into a gym's pockets for cardio!

If you haven't guessed, cardio exercise is something I like doing a lot. Indoor exercise bores me endlessly, even when I have my favourite workout tunes playing. So what exactly do I suggest, apart from leaving the gym and putting that money back in your pocket?

I used to be 16+ stone in the distant past (well, early 2018 feels distant!) whereas these days I normally hover around 12 stone. I think I'm nearer 13 stone currently, as I've been off the exercise for almost 2 weeks following an accident. There's been a lot of high-fat food involved, although in my defence I've also been using the time while sat/lying around doing very little to break old neurological links and create new, healthier ones. For me, that was breaking the old link between happiness and chocolate (yes, this bloke loves chocolate) and creating a new one without such a reliance on it. Same with sugary junk food in general, and I am currently on a week-long challenge to break links with high-fat, non-vegan, food. Things like pizza and cheese primarily, although of course there are others. The point here will be made crystal clear before long.

So, cardio for free, what do I suggest? Well, walking is a great place to start. I don't personally suggest running, it's brutal on the bones after all. Cycling is my other favourite exercise, obviously not free but certainly long-term a better investment than a gym. So let's talk walking in more detail. I don't just mean a gentle stroll, I mean going for gold. By which I'm talking full strides, arms swinging as you go, that kind of walking, the sort where your heart rate goes up and has extra work to do.

Now I don't recommend doing that straight away, it takes some doing to build up to that. I think it took me more than 6 months to build up the necessary strength to full power walking, my average pace is around 4.2mph which I can increase up to a maximum of 5.1mph which is rare as that really gets to the core muscles! Walking does work a lot of muscles, not just those in the legs but a surprising amount in the back and abs.

It might not be advisable though for a cardio novice, and I'd recommend researching Nordic Walking too. That involves more of the body too, but with poles and that could benefit you. One of my colleagues has tried it and she found it engaged a lot more muscles than she expected.

Cycling is also very good cardio, and I would recommend it to just about anyone that doesn't have a problem with balance. It takes a bit of getting used to, but I am a self-confessed cycling addict! In a little over 4 months this year alone I did more than 2,200 miles by bike! The freedom cycling gives you to see the countryside, places you'd never have gone to, is just incredible. For example, in October 2020 I took my bike to Arrochar & Tarbet to visit Loch Lomond, on a recommendation from my fellow travel addict at work. Now obviously I could have just gone to Balloch and seen it there, but I rode along Regional Cycle Network route 40 instead and I got to see much more of Loch Lomond than I would have otherwise. Likewise, the same week I also did the ride from Glasgow Central to East Kilbride following National Cycle Network route 75 (that was a challenge!) as well Route 62 from the suburbs of Manchester to Runcorn (as part of a ride to Winsford, which ended up finishing in Acton Bridge but hey ho). No way would I have done those without the love of cycling, and I have vague plans to take the beast into Europe one day too!

It's not all exercise though, even if it is a large part of a mass shredding mission. I doubt I need to tell you the whole thing about how losing mass is 30% exercise, 70% diet. I clearly don't need to tell you it's not just getting rid of it, but keeping it off too, it has to be a lifestyle change. That was a hugely critical part of my original scheme in 2018, to keep excess mass at bay it *has* to be a new lifestyle. Temporary diets have their place, but to permanently change the body it has to be a new part of your everyday existence.

So let's say you choose to stick to the gym, I'm still no expert on good nutrition, I'm still learning. This is especially where experimenting with what works for you is important, but you can do no worse than taking this basic piece of advice and giving it a go:

Pre-workout, a good dose of carbs around an hour beforehand. The less refined the carbs, the better.

Post-workout, a good dose of protein and some more carbs to replenish the glycogen stores in the muscles. Again, unrefined carbs are best.

Recommendations? Well I'm more or less 100% vegan these days, so my choices are not suitable for most people. Pre-workout, I'd go for something like a good size plate of pasta, ideally in a sauce that's not full of cream. Rice is another good choice, as is wholemeal bread. Post-workout, I'd recommend a protein shake within 30 minutes (ideally less) as a starter, followed by a good dose of carbs. Again, pasta, rice and wholemeal bread are all good sources of low-refined carbs.

I'd also recommend a caffeine boost pre-workout, and you might find it handy afterwards too as a boost to the morale. Now I'd strongly recommend avoiding energy drinks, they're so bad for you it's just not worth it. I speak as a former addict of them, I would consume 6 500ml cans of Rockstar without any qualms! That was thankfully a long time ago, and I get riled up seeing primary school kids drinking such things, more so when they have a parent/guardian with them...A good cup of coffee will deliver that boost, much more naturally than an energy drink.

I won't lie, I do have the very occasional energy drink even these days, some weeks back I had one as part of a lengthy and challenging bike ride. This one was that Extreme Energy you'll find in the nutrition section of Sainsburys, and B&M also sell it, it has a jacked-up moose on the can. Jeepers that got me wired, and no surprise with an extreme amount of caffeine in it, but it was the B vitamin content that had my eyes bulging. I swear blind it read 20,000% of the recommended daily dose of Vitamin B12! Vitamin B6 content was also astronomically high, and until then I didn't realise excess consumption of B6 can lead to things like convulsions! On normal days, I take a Vitamin B Complex supplement which has my daily allowance of B6 and B12 amongst others in each tablet, so you can imagine my horror! The point of this tale? Avoid the infernal things like the plague!

Let's talk supplements quickly, this is an area my fellow travel addict can advise better on as it's her area of expertise, but I'm catching up with her on that now. Depending on your lifestyle and your daily diet, you may or may not find supplements useful. It is a well known fact, for example, that a lot of people do not get the necessary amount of fibre in their daily diet, but that's a whole other thing. A deficiency in iron is rather common, although I have found ways of getting that from food now than just supplements. Another one that's getting more widespread these days is a deficiency in B vitamins, particularly in vegetarians and vegans. Calcium is another common one, particularly from people like myself who don't generally consume dairy products for whatever reason.

So it is recommended to examine your average food intake for anything you may be short of. Again, this is an area you may find it best to seek professional advice from a GP, but you might find boosting metabolism to be very useful in your mission to shred mass. The good news is that there's plenty of ways to do that, and all of iron, zinc, B6 and B12 will happily do that. In conjunction with food, there is no point taking them on an empty stomach and expecting a miracle boost of energy. They will boost your energy levels, yes, but they do that by assisting the body with breaking down food. If you're a meat-eater, you may find you don't need B vitamins, and certainly unlikely to need iron.

Vitamin C and D are also a key part of your daily diet, and the more intense your workout regime, the more you'll find it important to keep your immune system optimised. Vitamin D, along with calcium, is great for healthy bones. The good news is that D can be stored by the body for future use, which is not a function the body has for Vitamins A, B and C. C has a number of useful functions, so it is wise not to underestimate its necessity in your diet. C is extremely easy to partake of, the obvious example is orange juice. However, I would recommend against that, as cartons of orange juice are so loaded with sugar any benefit you'll get will be seriously outweighed by the sugar.

Sticking with supplements, and I appreciate this is a very long post already, I would recommend another key thing to look after. Your joints. It's easy to overlook such things, but you will find yourself putting a lot of workload on your knees, hip, shoulders and so on. The majority of us seem to manage OK, but I swear blind that I find glucosamine and MSM extremely useful. Indeed, as I type this I've reminded myself it's been some days since I last took those. These supplements are easy enough to get in tablet form from Boots, Savers and no doubt other places. I know, for example, Asda sell tubs of glucosamine, chondrotin and MSM tablets for around £6. They really helped no end last year when I damaged my knees and legs, that's a whole other story though. The reason I recommend researching them is that you will find yourself putting your body through a load of stresses it is not used to, and too much of it without proper rest and nutrition will lead to injury. Trust me, on that front, I am an expert! You don't want to suffer for months on end with an injury, I did and even now I have to be careful...

That is the most important information I can remember to share with you right now. I am sure there will be plenty more that comes to mind when I head to the shop shortly, for example we haven't even got onto the usefulness of magnesium, potassium, electrolytes and more besides! I will spare you any lectures on considering veganism though!

I hope that helps in any small way, I'm more than happy to share tales of joy and sorrow with exercise and shredding excess mass. To finish this for now, the point I wanted to make crystal clear is that only YOU can tell what you need, what you want. It took me ages to set and define my wants, my goals and how to get there. I had all the advice of the world, which is great, but it has to be the individual which makes their decision on what works for them. Neuroplasticity was my big breakthrough, but we can discuss that another time, I *have* to get to the shop!
 

Puppetfinger

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18 May 2018
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I've tried the energy drinks / protein shakes, and not found any benefit to be fair. Proper hydration with water beforehand, and maybe a electrolytic drink after.

I have looked at the protein content of some of the protein / energy drinks and it is massive, only needed if you really want some serious beefcake and weight lifting.

Most important is take time to find what works for you, and don't go overboard at first, and build up gently, key to loosing weight, and keeping it off along with having a good level of fitness is maintaining a things over a period of time, not just a crash diet.

Also the only person you are competing with, and comparing with is yourself. Who cares if you are slowest on the treadmill, or lift the lightest weights, as long as it is working for you that is all the matters.
 

Sweetjesus

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15 Jun 2019
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Check out Reddit - they have a quite few information about weight loss, gym and nutrition.

There are only 3 things you need to know about weight loss and gym right now:

1. Gym is not and never will be the main factor contributing to your weight loss. Most of your loss will be in your kitchen. Counting your calories or going on a keto diet is the easiest way.

2. Gym is still extremely useful for having a rigid routine and self-confidence. I personally found that going to gym increases my self-control which means I can avoid unhealthy foods easier.

3. Nutrition is important. You only need these protein shakes if you don't eat meat enough. You'll need to sit down and calculate your protein and other macronutrient intake on an average day and find replacements for any deficiencies you find.

The rest you can learn as you go, but the 3 above are the most important.
 
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