It's almost summer which means you'll soon be packing your bags and heading to your favorite beach resort to soak up the sun. But before you do, you'll need to burn off all those holiday hams, winter hot cocoas and Easter chocolate bunnies. When you're looking for a good beach body plan, you'll probably run into a whole lot of people trying to sell you diet pills, meal programs and devices that promise to help you get in the best shape of your life. For only $20, they promise, you'll have a toned midsection, perfectly sculpted chest and legs that even olympic runners would kill for. Unfortunately, these claims usually don't pan out the way you'd like. So before you go out and waste your money, take a bit of time and learn the wrong ways to get a beach body so you can start off right.
Detox/Liquid/Starvation Diets - Water Weight
Detox diets are pretty popular around beach season. They promise to help you lose tens of pounds in a week or less so you can achieve a toned or cut appearance. Detox diets aren't healthy and the results, if any, are very temporary. Detox diets are starvation or liquid diets that allow you to consume so few calories, you'll lose tons of weight in a short period of time. What you might not realize is that almost all the weight you'd lose from one of these diets is water weight.
As soon as you eat any food, drink any water (as your normally would in the sun) and return to your normal eating habits, the weight will come right back. Even with all the initial weight loss, you probably won't see a big difference in your body since it's the fat weight that's undesirable, not the water weight. Fat won't be burned with starvation, liquid or detox diets.
Another good way to lose water weight is by trying to sweat it all out - either by exercising in a plastic sweat bag or going to a sauna. While both methods will help you lose water weight, they'll do nothing (except for the exercise part) to burn calories which is what is required to get rid of body fat. Your body is pretty good at regaining water weight so as soon as you get out of your plastic sweat bag (or leave the sauna) and head to the water fountain, you'll gain all of that weight right back. Losing water weight does nothing to put you in better shape. It won't give you abs or toned arms, it'll just set you back from your real goal of actually gaining muscle mass and burning fat.
Diet pills have become yet another wonderful way of wasting money. The main ingredient in most diet pills is caffeine which actually has been shown to give you better workouts and help burn more calories which can result in a nice beach body. A bottle of caffeine pills costs about $5. The waste of money comes in when companies market their caffeine as extra fat burning or new & revolutionary. They put some herbal extract in there (or they say they do), load it up with b vitamins for energy (don't believe them) and instead of charging you $5 for a bottle of 50 pills, they'll jack up the price to $40 for a bottle of 20 pills. Don't fall for marketing gimmicks.
Everyone has problem spots. Abs, thighs and arms are the most popular. When trying to get rid of fat from a particular area of the body, don't target that area with exercises. If you have excess fat stores in your midsection, doing hundreds of sit ups isn't going to help you. Spot reducing is targeting a certain area of your body for fat reduction and isn't possible. The way to get rid of excess fat stores (no matter where it is) is to lose weight through calorie restriction and exercise. Only when you create a calorie deficit will your body begin to burn off excess fat stores. Unfortunately, it's impossible to control where your body takes fat from so the only thing you can do is exercise, diet and be patient.
The Right Way
Instead of wasting your time trying beach body programs that end in failure, start off by using techniques that actually work. Your first step is to figure out how many calories your body burns each day. Use the calorie calculator for help. If your problem is excess body fat, make sure you're eating less calories than you burn each day. The higher the difference between what you burn and what you eat, the quicker you'll see results. If your problem is that you don't have enough muscle, eat more calories than you burn. Be careful with how much extra you eat because you may end up gaining fat instead of muscle.
Your diet needs to be mixed with a good exercise routine or you won't see the best results. Cardio is good for burning calories and reducing body fat percentage while weightlifting is good for building muscle and creating definition. You need to have elements of both in your routine to get the best beach body.
The Bottom Line
There's no substitute for hard work. You can buy all the sauna belts, diet pills and diet shakes you can afford, but without pushing yourself to exercise and creating a clean diet, your results won't be real, permanent or even worth showing off. If you get a beach body the right way, you'll be healthy, feel good and look great all year round.