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Nutrition Articles  ›  Special Concerns

3 Weight Loss Tips for Men

Weight Loss & Fitness FAQ's from Regular Guys

-- By Dean Anderson, Fitness and Behavior Expert
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How much cardio exercise you should do, and when to do it, is a more complicated question. During extended bouts (over 45 minutes) of moderate to high intensity cardio exercise, your body will gradually increase the percentage of protein (stored in your body as muscle tissue) it uses for fuel. When exercise goes on for 90 minutes or more, the amount of energy provided by protein can be as high as 10-12%, compared to the normal 1-2%. So, doing cardio exercise for longer than 45 minutes at a time may be counterproductive if you are trying to increase muscle mass. The best bet for burning maximum calories without sacrificing muscle mass would be shorter, 20-40 minute bouts of higher intensity cardio exercise; interval training, or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) would be ideal.

Timing of exercise and meals can also be important here. The most significant period for recovery from both strength training and cardio exercise is the first two hours after your exercise ends. That’s when your body is really primed to use what you eat to replace the fuel reserves you used up during your workout. If your goal is to add or maintain muscle mass, the best thing you can do soon after your strength workout is to have something to eat—ideally, up to 300 calories with a 3-1 ratio of carbs to protein. A few examples might be: a protein or energy bar, a smoothie (made with fruit juice, yogurt and/or protein powder), yogurt with some fruit, or half a sandwich (peanut butter or turkey, for example) on whole grain bread.  Try to do your cardio on different days, or a few hours before or after your strength training, to ensure you have maximum energy available for your strength workout and keep your cardio exercise from using too much protein for fuel. For more details on the topic of losing weight while building muscle, click here.

Is it true that men need to eat more than 1,200 calories each day to avoid “starvation mode?”
For many men, 1,200 calories per day will be too low. Because men typically have more muscle mass than women (a function of higher testosterone levels), men and women who weigh the same will have different metabolic rates and calorie requirements. On average, this difference usually works out to about 250-300 calories per day. Therefore, the minimum calorie requirement necessary for maintaining a high metabolic rate will be closer to 1,500 calories per day for most men, and your SparkDiet program should reflect this. Keep in mind that this is usually the minimum—eating fewer calories will result in other problems collectively known as “starvation mode,” which can also hurt your weight loss efforts. Learn more about “starvation mode” here.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

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  • Good article! - 3/12/2013 9:38:54 PM
  • Thanks for the article. I lost 70 pounds in 2010-2011, but I've actually gained 5-10 pounds in 2012 despite running like a freak and doing various other exercises. I just need to get back to the basics of logging everything I eat fastidiously. This article contains some great pointers.

    I just wanna lose these last 25 pounds!!!!!!!!!! - 7/2/2012 11:00:48 PM
  • DUFFYF1
    now something for men - 7/2/2012 8:43:19 PM
  • BIGJEFF6
    Great article I'am a truck driver and it's real hard, but this gives me a little hope. - 7/2/2012 11:39:24 AM
  • TNSFIT
    At last - I was about to quit SparkPeople as it appears to be SparkWomen. Keep it up with articles like this please. - 7/2/2012 11:03:32 AM
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  • Agreed! Articles for men are much overdue. I'd like to see more about weight loss while gaining muscle. Maybe a diet plan can be created for me. - 1/3/2012 8:28:54 AM
  • I'm with Dacius on this. Well-written article but nothing really all that new. The issue of differential paces of weight loss can come between my wife and me, if I am not careful. - 1/3/2012 6:35:59 AM
  • Thanks for the great information. I'm reading everything on this site to help me get into shape and stay that way. - 2/2/2011 5:29:40 PM
  • Whoo hoo an article for us guys!!! Nothing in the report was new to me, but ti was well thought out and putntogether which made a very nice summarybof what to do and why when us guys read about weight loss in a female laden world ( sparkpeople :)).

    Thanks for the article. - 4/27/2010 8:41:39 PM
  • My boyfriend is trying to loose weight, he is alittle overweight, with almost all the fat in his core area and face, but he constantly complains about a bad knee, he already has had surgery on one ACL and the other on now bothers him so he never wants to do cardio, only weights. I dont know if weights alone are going to help him loosew to 10 to 20 lbs. We dont have pool at our gym so swimming is out of the question, does anyone have any ideas how he can loose the fat? - 1/27/2010 6:15:29 PM
  • I know I'm a woman, but I have the "easy to lose" belly fat. As a massive apple shape, I have learned that this fat is the HARDEST to lose! I have gotten TOO skinny in a few places, and yet my stomach hangs out as though I'm seven months pregnant. One day I hope it will go down, but so far...no luck! - 6/29/2009 7:34:26 PM
  • Thanks for the great information! - 1/3/2009 8:47:27 AM
  • even if you want to get cardio benefits to protect your heart and your vessels you should not exceed the 45 min limit - 12/13/2008 12:38:31 PM