Ask Jillian Michaels
How Much, How Fast?
Q: I love that I have the information I need to lose 2 pounds a week; however, I would like to lose more than that. How can I lose 4 to 5 pounds a week? I have a total of 96 more pounds to lose.
A: To lose a pound, you must burn 3,500 calories. As I've said before, it's all about the math — how to burn more calories in the most effective way.
You can only do so much resistance training without damaging your muscles and impeding your results. Additionally, you can't starve the weight off: If you eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day, you will sabotage your optimal results. Therefore, cardio is weight loss extra credit. It allows you to burn additional calories without overtraining. This is one of the reasons some Biggest Loser players can still lose 20 pounds a week, even 7 weeks into the program.
Think about the math: If you are eating 1,500 calories a day — we assume your BMR without exercise is 1,600 (this is actually my BMR) — and you do two 1-hour cardio sessions that burn 500 calories each (one in the morning and one at night), the two sessions, along with your regular daily activity, will speed up your base metabolism to at least 2,000. As a result, you will have burned about 1,500 calories that day — that is, almost half a pound. At that rate you will be losing up to 3.5 pounds a week.
That said, you are bound to lose more weight during the first two weeks of any weight loss regimen because of the dramatic change in your diet and the loss of excess fluid. After that, it's all about crunching the numbers, and cardio is the key.
When to Eat?
Q: Is it better to eat a meal before or after a workout?
A: Both. Here's what I like to do: have my breakfast at 9 a.m., work out from 10:30 to 12, and eat by 1 p.m. Here's why:
Back in the old days, people thought they should train on an empty stomach in order to burn more fat, but that has turned out to be FALSE. In fact, your body needs some glucose (blood sugar) for fuel in addition to what it can use from fat stores when you're working out. If you don't have any blood sugar available, your body will eat the muscles' glycogen, or stored glucose. Low blood sugar will also make you tired and sluggish during your training session. For these reasons, I suggest you eat something 45 minutes to an hour before training — you'll have more energy and endurance to work harder, burn more calories, and improve your muscle tone.
After training, during a period known as the golden hour (45 to 60 minutes after a workout), muscles absorb the most nutrients, and glycogen is replaced the most efficiently. You don't have to have a huge meal — just a little something that contains both protein and carbs will give the best results.