Best way to lose weight, losing fat mainly from thighs and stomach?
February 7, 2009 9:58 PM   Subscribe

Best way to lose weight, losing fat mainly from thighs and stomach?

I have been overweight for sometime now. I am 5'6” 220 lbs. My goal as of right now is to get down to 200lbs by June, which seems really realistic. But my main goal for the year is to get down to 180 lbs. and well hopefully continue around there.

Recently I realized a lot of things and decided it was time for a change, to make myself feel better and live a better healthier life. The starting point was mainly going to the dentist after such a long time and paying a lot of money from me not taking care of myself. I am a college student and just got my car last august. I spent the time before that eating relatively less and very unhealthy at times, as I could barely afford or find the time to buy good food. But all that being said I do believe that I have always been active. I walked to .5 mile to work for 2 years 5 days a week, usually walking back from work also adding another .5 mile. In high school I enjoyed sports recreationally, and was part of the marching band, had a job that kept me busy, and would normally eat my mothers cooking and not too much fast food junk, until I got to college of course.

Anyways I have changed many eating habits and am learning so much about foods and what and what not to eat. It has been relatively easy and i try to make new changes all the time. I have resorted to drinking plenty of water, orange juice, occasional 100% cranberry, grape, or apple juice and green tea, though I haven’t broken the soda habit completely and usually have 3 or 4 a week. I have also learned of many spices and fruit. For breakfast I mainly eat oatmeal 3 times a week, eggs 2 times a week, and the other 2 days I usually am up really early so resort to a bagel, poptart, or something like a chickfila chicken biscut. Then throughout the day stuff like fruit, protein bars, or pb&j. For dinner I have mainly been eating chicken and salads, sometimes chili, potatoes, whole wheat pasta, soup. I am a very picky eater and have been struggling to find things healthy for dinner.

I do believe I am on the right track with the new eating choices. But I have recently started to work out and have been seeing some results but not all in the places I really want. I have big calves, and if you touch my calves they have always been almost rock solid can’t seem to find too much fat. The main workout I have been doing recently really works my arms out a lot. And I have been seeing the muscle gain and the fat deteriorate little by little… my wrist size has actually gone down 2 watch sizes lol. So I feel like I am going in the right track with my arms I guess. Last summer I also read about the 100 push up thing. I started the program in the fall. I have always been good at pushups probably from the ones I did in marching band. But i kept up with the program and got stuck around weeks 3 and 4. I defiantly wasn’t consistent with the program but I couldn’t get past week 4. I feel that my extra body weight contributes to the difficulty. Today I can do about 40-50 pushups in a row, and I have felt the increase in my chest muscles and arms as they are much more harder. The workouts I have been doing have been at home with one dumbbell and other exercises mainly with bodyweight. I have access to a nice gym from the school but can’t always find the time and don’t have a gym partner. For my thighs the only workout I really know of are squats. I started doing squats and I can say I have found a slight decrease in size and more muscle but still feel I am getting nowhere. With my stomach I have started doing some different ab exercises and well for the past 4 weeks haven’t seen much results in both these areas. With all this of course I have been doing very light running.

I feel like I need to pick up the running a lot more. But I was wondering if there are particular exercises for the two regions to help out? or any other thoughts and opinions would be great.
posted by loser8008 to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Spot reduction isn't really possible. The body doesn't work that way. When you're losing weight, and thus consuming fat, your body decides what fat to dissolve and use, and it doesn't care where you've been exercising or what muscles you've been using.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:15 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

It seems you already know what to do. Here's some practical advice:
  • Start tracking your calories. Write down everything, or use one of the many excellent sites for food tracking previously recommended on AskMe (just search for "weightloss"). Make sure to overestimate rather than risk underestimating calories; it sounds like you're working out quite a lot and the fact that you are not losing weight indicates that you are still, on average, overeating.
  • Orange, cranberry, grape and apple juices = sugar water. Stop buying fruit juice, and you'll easily reduce your calories by 120 kcal per daily cup.
  • Get a Fitdeck right away, you'll find easy ways to incorporate more exercise into your day once you make a point of keeping it around!

  • posted by halogen at 10:15 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

    More cardio! You can't really lose fat from specific areas, but running/cycling/kickboxing and aerobic workouts will help with burning fat more than walking and doing pushups.
    posted by rux at 10:16 PM on February 7, 2009

    A few things:

    1) Weight loss is almost all about eating. It sounds like you're getting your eating under good control, but a glaring omission from your discussion of food is the amount you're eating. If you can't tell me how many calories per day you're eating, then you're not maximizing your weight loss. I highly recommend using to track your calories -- it's free! Log everything you eat in there, at least for a few weeks. It's kind of a PITA for the first few days, but once you get a decent "recently eaten foods" list, it becomes very easy and fast.

    2) Then you'll need to figure out how many calories you should be eating. Google can help with this -- just find a calculator like this one and keep roughly to the number of calories it suggests. You can raise or lower the amount as needed.

    (Warning: Many people who start counting calories try to restrict their diet way too much. They think "Well, if eating 1900 calories per day can help me lose weight, then eating 1400 calories per day will help me lose weight even faster." This is counterproductive, putting your body into starvation mode. Don't restrict too much.)

    Eventually you can play with your macros, that is, the level of protein vs. carbs vs. fat that you eat. Everyone is different, but I've found the best fat loss (without muscle loss) by eating about 40% protein, 30% fat and 30% carbs. Some people like to limit fat or carbs a lot more than me, but to each his own.

    3) Every guy who starts working out begins (like you) with lots of arm exercises. Don't bother. You're on the right track with push-ups and squats -- stick to compound exercises like these that work multiple large muscle groups at the same time. It you want bigger arms, do pull-ups, dips, and push-ups, not curls.

    4) You don't get rid of arm fat by doing arm exercises, just like you can't get rid of stomach fat by doing crunches. My favorite analogy for fat loss is to see your body as a swimming pool, where the water is your body fat. You can't just take water out of the shallow end or the deep end -- as you remove water initially, the overall level drops. Similarly, as you begin losing fat, you lose it everywhere. Eventually the only water left in the pool is in the deep end. In your body, the "deep end" for men is usually the gut and love handles -- you won't get rid of those until you've trimmed down everywhere else.

    5) Use the internet for more information. I've gotten a lot of good information and support from , but be careful who you listen to there -- the over 35 section is good, as are the fat loss and nutrition areas, but be aware that, like any internet forum, any ignorant dumbass can post, and most will.

    6) If you don't own weights, you should also find some of good exercises that don't require equipment.

    7) You say that you don't have much time for working out. I don't buy it. Every gym in the country is full of people who have families, full-time jobs, and a thousand other responsibilities, but they still get into the gym. I started working out when I was working 40 hours a week while going to grad school full time. If I can do that, you can, too. Work on time management.

    Good luck!
    posted by coolguymichael at 10:45 PM on February 7, 2009 [15 favorites]

    Like Chocolate Pickle wrote above. You can't really control where you lose weight. When you lose weight (fat) properly you lose it everywhere gradually, although some people do have areas that are harder to thin out than others.

    Thats right, all those contraptions they sell on TV that show people with six pack abs are lies. If I were to just do silly ab workouts with their machine and just that, then I would have really strong abs.....under that fat that I am still carrying.

    Anyway, I think you are on the right track. Take it from someone that has been there. Going through the trouble to lose weight when you are younger is a fantastic idea. I did the same thing in college and am STILL thankful that I took those steps nearly 10 years later. Sure some of it creeps back, but I still look like a different person.

    Whether you are a man or woman weights are your friend when it comes to weightloss. You build up muscle and you end up boosting your metabolism. You burn more calories just when you are sitting around. This is good.

    As for what type of workout. Compound lifts are great. Squats, deadlifts, cleans. Throw in some bench presses, some pull ups, some ab work. You have all your bases covered. Sounds like you have a thing or two to learn about lifting. See if you can find a student trainer to help you out or sign up for a gym class.

    Cardio helps, but intensity is key. It doesn't have to be a long cardio workout but intense. For more info look up High Intensity Interval Training (HITT).
    posted by WickedPissah at 10:50 PM on February 7, 2009

    I know it's tough, but seriously, ditch the soda. Ditch the pop tarts, and ditch the fruit juice.

    It's awesome that you're exercising, but your diet will make the biggest dent. It sounds like you're making a real effort in that department, but those three up there were practically in bright red letters. I'd aim for maybe one can of soda a month, if even. I'm a "If I'm gonna do it, I'm going to start today, not tomorrow" kinda guy, but if you have to phase it out, give yourself 2 weeks to say goodbye.

    Here's some math:

    ~3500 calories = 1lb
    1 can of soda = 155 calories
    4 cans of soda / week = 620 calories / week
    46 weeks left in the year * 620 calories = 28520 calories

    28520 / 3500 = 8.14

    By cutting out soda now, you stand to lose an extra 8 pounds by the end of the year. Not a lot of effort and it equals 20% of your weight loss goal.
    posted by backwards guitar at 10:52 PM on February 7, 2009 [6 favorites]

    Congratulations on your progress so far! It sounds like you've made some significant lifestyle changes, and you're already seeing results.

    Your primary question has already been answered above: you pretty much have no control over which fat your body chooses to burn, when losing weight. Check out Fat Loss & Weight Training Myths at to see a pretty good explanation of these issues. Your only hope to lose fat from one location is to focus on losing fat in general, and eventually, it'll come off the areas that bother you (it may take time).

    Additionally, keep up the resistance training. Cardio is good, too (i.e. running), but don't do it to the exclusion of weight lifting/pushups/etc. When doing weight lifting, focus on complex motions that work several muscles at once, and focus on the largest muscle groups. This means bench press, row / lat pull down, squats, and lunges. Working on these muscles will slowly improve your metabolism. Also, it seems we can't have a fitness thread without me recommending a visit to Her site is targeted toward women, but is really a great collection of articles on weight lifting, applicable to any gender.

    Realistically speaking, diet is where you can most effectively remove fat from your body. One pound of fat is equivalent to a 3500 calorie defecit (consuming 3500 calories less than you burn). The most fat you can realistically lose in one week is 1-2lb, generally closer to 1. Think about the 200 calorie soda, 3-4 times a week: that's 800 nutritionally empty calories per week, or about 1lb of fat per month if you're able to remove it from your diet completely.

    Good luck, be patient and congrats again on your progress.
    posted by knave at 10:57 PM on February 7, 2009

    In the time it took to write that, everyone three other people said all the same things. Awesome. :)
    posted by knave at 10:59 PM on February 7, 2009

    Response by poster: Thanks for the comments...i am a male by the way 20 years old

    I find that in general i already knew most of the stuff you guys are talking about. i just feel i needed some clarification and make sure that I was heading on the write track. I pretty much started exercising 4 weeks ago and have seen some progress but haven't weighed myself since so i really don't know how much progress i have made in terms of weight but have lowered a belt notch and like i said 2 watch nothes as well.

    As for my diet. i used to have some terrible eating habits about 6 months ago and have been working on getting rid of those bad habits little by little. i stopped a lot of the processed crap foods i was eating, stopped eating things like cookies, ice cream, chips, and getting milk down to 1%. Soda is one that i still haven't completely overcome but i know the benefit of getting rid of it.

    I do disagree about the Orange juice, i find nothing wrong with it. i don't drink coffee or drink much tea so it is my main drink in the morning and provides plenty of vitamin C and a good amount potassium. and I find that the 100% cranberry/grape juice beneficial, and I only drink about a bottle(half gallon) of it in a month.

    But will start tracking calories, i do rummage the numbers through my head throughout the day but never completely. and focus on more core exercises targeting more groups and hopefully find a steady time to fix more cardio in.
    posted by loser8008 at 11:32 PM on February 7, 2009

    I recommend The Daily Plate. It's a website where you can log what you eat and how much you exercise. I have been using it for a week and it's really eye-opening! Like you, I was kind of keeping track of what I ate in my head. I was thinking, I'm not eating that much, why do I keep gaining weight? Logging everything has made me realize that I was way, way overeating.

    It also has a calculator thingy, so you can put in your activity level and your weight, then say how much weight you want to lose per week and it will tell you how many calories to eat per day. It's very helpful to have everything in one spot.

    I agree that juice in moderation, like it sounds like you're doing, is fine. Keep up the good work, and good luck!
    posted by apricot at 11:48 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

    Everyone is correct that you can't spot reduce. Most of us have some areas of their body that stubbornly hold fat. However, the fat will come off of those spots eventually. Just focus on getting you total body fat down to a healthy level.
    posted by 26.2 at 12:23 AM on February 8, 2009

    If you're even minutely serious about being healthy or losing weight, stop drinking soda altogether. Don't switch to diet sodas, don't switch to some other highly sugary drink... it's not a healthy habit. Even if you're drinking diet sodas you're still feeding the desire for sugar and training your body to want the wrong things. Soda is shock therapy on the taste-buds. How can you expect to desire something healthy after drinking something so sweet and strong and carbonated? You're going to want pizza and hamburgers and ice cream.

    However, if you are able to train yourself to enjoy, say, herbal tea (without sugar or milk), you will be encouraging your taste buds to experience the nuances of flavor and the richness of what is in natural healthy foods. You'll be more inclined to eat carrots, broccoli, rice, and other good foods. The desire will come naturally. I think a lot of diets focus too much on things like calories and ounces of sugar, but they don't take into account these other things. Sure, diet drinks don't have the sugar that contributes to your weight... but the question is do you want a diet that won't work because you can't keep to it, and end up giving up, or are you willing to commit to a complete change of lifestyle and the way you eat foods? Giving up soda completely is a good first step. After that, try to eliminate foods that are outrageous--a lot of them will be obviously unhealthy, but even the ones that may be technically "healthy"--consider what those foods are training you to want. You may find some very flavorful chips that are orgainic, healthy, etc... but do you want to be in the habit of eating chips when you're feeling snacky? Or eating raw cruciferous vegetables? Or fresh sugar-peas in the pod?

    You don't want a diet, you want a permanent change, something that is sustainable. In my opinion, most diet's just aren't sustainable. A sustainable diet will allow you to eat good food when you want it, and it will be delicious and fulfilling. Not empty like diet sodas which are so overwhelmingly flavorful but have no real nutritional value! Keep learning about what foods are healthy, and always remember that in addition to the "health" factor, look at the real factor: is it real food? Is it sustainable and is it going to train you to want good food?
    posted by brenton at 1:00 AM on February 8, 2009 [4 favorites]

    If you enjoy juice in the morning, why not merge that into a protein shake? I found it started me off better in the morning, and I had less of an urge to snack.

    I was in your situation years back, and the advice I can give is if you really want to see results, don't half step, put everything into it, because you're still young and every year that passes it'll be tougher and tougher to lose weight.
    posted by mattsweaters at 1:08 AM on February 8, 2009

    I think you should be careful about the juice drinks, as they do have a lot of sugar. Cut as much sugar out of your diet as possible, it will make you feel better, and you'll be more awake and active which will further reduce your weight.

    The one exception is that it might be good to drink something like orange juice in the morning as your metabolism will need something like that. Research the benefits of eating a large, good, breakfast. If it's just Orange Juice and Pop Tarts, or Toast, then it's doing more harm than good. But if you're eating a full breakfast with a sugary juice drink, then the benefits are huge. Endless studies have confirmed that those who eat MORE for breakfast lose more weight than those who eat less for breakfast, but the same amount for every other meal. It get's you going, get's your metabolism set straight, and it makes you more active during the day, you'll feel healthier and more energetic.

    But I'd still say avoid juices other parts of the day... if you need vitamin C and potassium, take a vitamin pill, or eat some veggies which are high in many good nutrients and vitamins. Or eat the fruit itself, which will come with tons of good stuff like antioxidants and fiber and stuff that researchers don't even know is good for you yet.
    posted by brenton at 1:16 AM on February 8, 2009

    Just to repeat what everyone has already said more succinctly: fruit juice is no better than soda for a dieter. It's concentrated sugar water. Sugar water with vitamins in it, but still sugar water.
    posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:28 AM on February 8, 2009

    Orange and other juices are an issue. They have little nutritional value, other than vitamin C, with lots of easily processed carbs. You probably want to do some research on low carb diets. The concept of controlling your blood sugar to limit spikes is old news and well vetted. These spikes push your blood sugar up, your body responds with an insulin surge and then several hours later you are left feeling hungry again. OJ is what they give diabetics in a low blood sugar emergency. It is just the thing you want to avoid. Most fruit juices are even worse, being mostly corn syrup with a small amount of actual fruit. Rice, white bread, soda, these are all things that the body quickly metabolizes and lead to blood sugar swings. In small amounts they will have less effect so if you really love them just keep the amount to a minimum and take them with a bit of protein. These things will help you feel less hungry so dieting is easier. You can find more by researching glycemic index, but remember it is not the glycemic index which spikes blood sugar, but rather the glycemic load which is the index times the quantity.
    posted by caddis at 5:57 AM on February 8, 2009

    Eat actual oranges instead of orange juice. Same benefits, way fewer calories, plus fiber.
    posted by lampoil at 6:11 AM on February 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

    First of all, congratulations, you're off to a great start! I especially like the way you've chosen to change your eating habits rather than do a fad diet. It's far more sustainable. Here are some tips:

    1. Like others have mentioned above, unfortunately it's impossible to spot reduce specific body areas. I am tall and slim but have always had a little bit of a pot belly, even when I was running marathons and whatnot. I've learned to accept it- it's impossible to have the perfect body so focus on the positives rather than fixating on the negatives.

    2. That being said, cardio cardio cardio! Run, walk, bike, or swim, 4 or 5 days a week. Push-ups, sit-ups, and weight training are great, but not a priority in tems of weight loss. Maybe do a weekly schedule like 4 days cardio, 2 days stregnth, 1 day rest. Just going for a 30 min walk or a 20 min run in the morning is probably the easiest way to fit it into your schedule. Just throw on your sneakers and head out the door, no equipment or trip to the gym required.

    3. As far as beverages go, replace soda with diet soda (you'll get used to the taste) or some sort of fizzy water. Replace sugary juices with V8 or something like that (tomato juice, bloody mary mix, etc.)...drink it cold on ice and it's great- tons of vitamins and low in calories and sugar.

    Best of luck- you're really on the right track with the changes you've made so far!
    posted by emd3737 at 7:08 AM on February 8, 2009

    I'll add to the congratulations - I'm really rooting for you.

    From my own experience, I can definitely second ditching the fruit juices, as they do have high sugar content. I also found that cutting back on the amount of breads, and cutting out soda entirely seemed to have big overall effects on how I felt and my weight. Soda especially, as it has a lot of junk ingredients besides sugar.

    The best thing I can suggest though is steamed veggies: easy on the digestive system, and you'll absorb much more of the nutrients than you would taking them raw or well-cooked. Over time, your appetite will decline as your nutritional needs are being better met, leading to less overall eating without having to fight cravings. I can also suggest a bit of yoga, especially involving twists that help seem to improve metabolism as well as numerous other benefits

    The key thing is that this is do-able, and that by starting at a relatively young age you're in a great position to form lifelong habits and feeling much better. You'll be finding things that do and don't work for you, and if you stick with the goal you'll find yourself closer by the week. Good luck and good health.
    posted by holycola at 8:00 AM on February 8, 2009

    As a fellow soda junkie, that was the hardest to give up. Try substituting plain soda (carbonated) water. Just make sure it doesn't have sodium added to it. A squeeze of lemon or lime juice really perks it up. You get the nice fizzy feel in your mouth without the calories.
    posted by JujuB at 9:31 AM on February 8, 2009

    I know this isn't an option for everyone, but this is how I lost ~30 pounds (which was about 15-20% of my body weight) in under a year- I became a vegetarian.

    Again, I know it isnt for everyone, but this is why I think it worked for me:
    - I never counted calories, ever.
    - I didn't have to overthink anything too much. It's basically a diet with only one rule. Is it meat or meat products? Then I don't eat it. Easy.
    - This is the biggest thing- once I realized that the stuff I could make at home was generally better than what I could get at a takeout place, I really started learning to cook and being more creative with food. This has also saved me lots of money. I used to be addicted to fast food. I still go to Taco Bell occasionally, but I'm sure my fast-food intake has dropped by 95%.

    I realize that all the benefits I get (cooking at home more, avoiding fast food, using more vegetables) could be done without going veg. But for me, a person with so-so willpower and follow-through, choosing to just follow one rule and let my habits fall in place was easier that conciously making good choices all the time. I still eat plenty of crap- cheese fries, ice cream, donuts. But now my body feels icky when I eat too much of that stuff, so I don't eat it all the time. But I don't deny myself if I want something like that.

    I think a good way to ease into it is to just try it for a month. Every time you crave meat, just tell yourself "skip it now, and you can have it when the month is up, I promise." this will keep you from giving up. but you never know, by the end of the month you might be so amazed at the ten pounds you lost that you decide to push it another month, and another . . . thats how I did it, and it's been a year.

    Again, I know its not for everyone and i dont judge people who arent veg. it just worked so well for me that i hate not to at least throw it out there. i struggled for 7 years to lose this 30 pounds I've gained since high school and nothing ever worked because it felt too hard and my habits were too ingrained. it still amazes me that by simply following one rule, my entire relationship with food just sort of naturally changed, for the better. and for what it's worth, i don't miss meat that much. and i used to eat mcdonalds more than anyone i know.
    posted by lblair at 9:55 AM on February 8, 2009

    Is it meat or meat products? Then I don't eat it. Easy.

    Becoming vegetarian isn't quite so easy. One should be sure that they're getting adequate amounts of riboflavin, calcium, iron, and the essential amino acids lysine and methionine. Talk to your doctor before starting such a radical change in diet.

    Excellent advice so far in this thread. Watching your diet and indulging in a lot of high intensity cardio is definitely the way to go. Weightlifting is great (I've been doing it for over a decade) but you won't put on significant muscle mass if you're dieting at the same time unless you're one of the very, very few people who have the genetics for it.

    Nthing the advice to ditch fruit juice, unless you make it yourself from fruit you buy, and don't add sugar. Adding fiber to your diet will definitley help with appetite, as will increasing your protein intake. Casein is a great type of fiber for appetite control if you can afford supplementation.

    Whatever you do, don't go overboard. 2-3 lbs. of weight loss per week max, or you'll almost certainly gain back whatever you lose.
    posted by Thoughtcrime at 10:43 AM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

    Is it meat or meat products? Then I don't eat it. Easy.

    Nothing wrong with going veg, but the average 20-year-old guy is going to want to build muscle as well as losing fat, and that's harder when eating a vegetarian diet. Eating enough protein is hard enough for meat-eaters; it's much harder for vegetarians.

    I'm not knocking it -- there are vegetarian and even vegan bodybuilders -- but to someone just starting out trying to get fit, I wouldn't recommend taking so many good and easy protein sources off the table.

    Fix your diet, get in shape, then take it to the next level if you want. (Unless of course you already have a moral reason for not eating meat).
    posted by coolguymichael at 11:38 AM on February 8, 2009

    Re: vegetarianism. Well, he said he wanted to lose weight, not bodybuild, so that's my own personal experience with successfully losing a lot of weight. Everyone's mileage, as always, will vary.

    But I also know plenty of people besides the original question-askers read these so . . . if nothing else, maybe someone else will find it useful. Maybe someone female, I guess :-)

    As far as making sure you get enough vitamins and all that, well yes, that's a given but I don't consider it to be terribly difficult. Multivitamins plus food variety ought to take care of what needs to be taken care of. The point I was making is that it's easy to follow one rule regarding what NOT to eat. In any case, I am way healthier now than I've ever been and in my opinion it's been relatively painless (compared to other diets/ exercise routines/ mind tricks I've tried.) But of course it doesn't work for everyone- nothing does. Never know til you try it, though.
    posted by lblair at 11:53 AM on February 8, 2009

    I don't mean to derail too much, but as an afterthought, I thought it was worth pointing out that

    Eating enough protein is hard enough for meat-eaters; it's much harder for vegetarians.

    is really not true, Americans generally eat double the amount they actually need. What the vast majority of Americans need to do is eat more fruits and vegetables, whether vegetarian or not. The more of this good stuff you eat, the less room you have in your diet for crap, and that adds up to weight loss.
    posted by lblair at 12:00 PM on February 8, 2009

    Spot reducing will never work. You need to have a change in diet and an increase in exercise in order to lose the fat from these regions. Anyone who tells you different doesn't know what they are talking about.
    posted by reenum at 2:48 PM on February 8, 2009

    I thought I would share something that might help you in your qwest. It's a little challenging, but the reward is simply to obtain your goal of losing weight. It's not complicated, and somewhat intuitive. I don't know if anyone has ever tried this before and actual got results, but the best advice would be to eat less and exercise more.
    posted by parallax7d at 3:35 PM on February 8, 2009

    What coolguymichael said: "Weight loss is almost all about eating." The muscle and body definition corollary to coolguymichael's theorem of weight loss is the common saying, "abs are built in the kitchen, not in the gym." In other words, you're not going to see the type of definition you may want unless you lose the fat that's currently covering it, and "weight loss is almost all about eating." (Don't stop working muscle, though.)

    Seeing results can take time. Some people don't even see results at the six-week mark. Be prepared not to notice a lot of change for up to three months. If you have a scale, you may be able to see your body weight dropping or your body fat percentage dropping.

    You need to hit a few points:
    1. How many calories do I need to eat? For a guy your age this can be anywhere in the range of 2000 to 3500 calories depending on your height, activity level, and body composition.
    2. What kinds of calories should I eat? Right now it appears, both anecdotally and scientifically, that it may be easier to lose body fat with an eating plan that emphasizes protein and fat over carbohydrates. This is not true for everyone. Nevertheless, sugars and refined carbohydrates (read: bagel, Pop-Tart, biscuit, juice) contain little nutrition for the calories. Vegetables and fruits contain high nutrition for the calories and can taste good. Eat lots of them.
    3. What types of exercise should I do and when? Good job on the lifting. Don't work the same muscle groups every day. Interval training for cardio is an excellent suggestion and you can start doing it even if you can't even run half a mile. The most important thing you need to do is find a type of exercise you enjoy or learn to enjoy so that you keep doing it. Dance counts, as does scrubbing the kitchen floor. You're in school, sign up for physical education classes: weights, martial arts, dance, swimming, yoga, whatever.
    4. Last point: what am I going to do to plan ahead? You have found that it's hard to eat well when you get up early in the morning. Fix this by planning ahead. Pop-Tarts are non-food and bagels are little better. Keep quick real food in the fridge and the cupboards: hard-boiled eggs, egg muffins, cheese, yogurt, fruit, cut-up vegetables, cold meat, nuts, peanut butter, low-sugar high-fiber cold cereal, milk, tuna or salmon salad.
    A couple good places to track calories and nutrition are SparkPeople and NutritionData. SparkPeople also has information on nutrition, exercise and fitness, and places to discuss nutrition and fitness with others. If you want a free calorie-tracker program to download, I've used CRONometer for a while, but it can be a little overwhelming for someone who's not a numbers wonk about their macronutrient ratios (protein:fat:carb) and vitamin and mineral needs. Some people like simplefit for exercise.
    posted by jeeves at 4:45 PM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

    Oh, also, wrt Thoughtcrime's answer, I'm sure it was just a typo/thinko, but casein is a type of milk-derived protein, not fiber. (Myself, I like to use unsweetened, unflavored whey protein powder.)
    posted by jeeves at 6:03 PM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

    If you can't give up the juice (or make it yourself), at least water it down. At least 1 part water to 2 parts juice, though I've gotten used to 50-50 so that now straight juice actually tastes very wrong to me.
    posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:23 AM on February 9, 2009

    I thought it was worth pointing out that

    "Eating enough protein is hard enough for meat-eaters; it's much harder for vegetarians."

    is really not true, Americans generally eat double the amount they actually need.

    Most Americans get 99% of their exercise walking from the couch to the fridge :-) Most fruits and veggies don't build muscle, and the more muscle you can build, the more fat you'll lose.

    Unlike the vast majority of the population, OP has chosen to improve himself, and gaining more muscle will help him meet his goals -- he needs more protein than the average person. (And yes, my assumption that he wants to gain muscle as well as lose weight is based more on my knowledge of 20-year-old men than on his actual posting.)
    posted by coolguymichael at 1:22 PM on February 9, 2009

    Perhaps green tea.

    By the way, I agree with coolguymichael, adding muscle will help and adding protein, lots of it, is key to adding muscle, plus of course the exercise. If one really wanted to be vegetarian it is no problem, as whey protein drinks are readily available.
    posted by caddis at 5:49 PM on February 9, 2009

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