Understanding Where You'll Lose Fat
If you find that you carry your weight in the top part of your body, slimming the area down will take discipline and patience. As you lower your body fat percentage, your body has a tendency to lose weight last in the areas where it gains weight first. Upper-body exercises build strength and size in the muscle tissue there, but don’t make any impact on upper-body fat tissue.
Losing Overall Body Fat
To lower your overall body fat percentage, you must gradually create a caloric deficit by burning more calories than you consume over a period of time. Each time you create a deficit of 3,500, you lose a pound of weight. A healthy rate of weight loss is one pound per week, which equates to the creation of a 500 caloric deficit each day. With each pound, you lose a combination of fat and lean muscle mass. You can create the caloric deficit by lowering your calorie intake with healthy eating habits and increasing the calories you burn with regular cardiovascular and strength-training exercise. A combination of both diet and exercise is more effective than diet and exercise alone for losing fat and keeping it off. Exercise also helps minimize loss of lean body weight.
Adjusting Calorie Intake
Ensure you’re taking in an appropriate number of calories by first determining how many calories you should consume each day and then monitor your calorie intake and make adjustments to your eating habits as necessary. To figure out how many calories you should consume, find your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This will give you the approximate amount of energy you need to maintain vital functions. Men find their BMR with the equation, 66 + (6.23 X weight in pounds) + (12.7 X height in inches) – (6.8 X age in years). Women find their BMR with the equation, 655 + (4.35 X weight in pounds) + (4.7 X height in inches) – (4.7 X age in years). To adjust for the calories burned by physical activity, multiply your BMR by 1.2 if you’re sedentary, 1.375 if you’re lightly active one to three days per week, 1.55 if you’re moderately active three to five days per week and 1.725 if you’re very active six to seven days per week.
Once you have your BMR, monitor and adjust your daily calorie intake to ensure you’re consuming fewer calories than you burn and thus creating a calorie deficit. For example, by consuming 250 fewer calories than your BMR, you would need to burn just 250 more calories with exercise to create a caloric deficit of 500 and thus set yourself up to lose one pound per week. If you need to lower your intake, reduce your portion sizes by 10 to 15 percent and eat primarily fruits, vegetables, non-fat or low-fat dairy products and whole grains. Avoid alcohol and soda and limit your intake of salty foods.
Contribute to the creation of your caloric deficit by increasing the number of calories you burn with cardiovascular exercise and strength training. The number of calories you need to burn each day depends on your calorie intake compared to your BMR. If you're looking to create a daily caloric deficit of 500 and are eating 200 calories fewer than your BMR, you should burn 300 calories through exercise. Use an exercise calorie burned chart to estimate how many calories you burn during different workouts. According to Mayo Clinic, in a 60-minute workout, a person weighing 200 pounds will burn about 755 calories running at 5 mph and about 391 calories walking at 3.5 mph. Therefore, if shooting for 300 calories burned,as in the earlier example, the 200-pound person would need to run at 5 mph for 24 minutes or walk at 3.5 mph for 46 minutes.
Strength training burns calories and increases your metabolic rate. Focus on lower-body exercises, like squats, lunges, step-ups and deadlifts to build up your lower body. Targeting the lower body can help your upper body appear slimmer. Lift weights two to three days per week and perform one to two sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of each exercise.