ASK A TRAINER: 'I'm Working Out But Not Losing Body Fat'

ASK A TRAINER: 'I'm Working Out But Not Losing Body Fat'

"Two months ago, I started taking a boot camp class because I thought it would be a fun way to lose weight. You're always talking about how high intensity interval training is better for burning calories than traditional cardio and that's basically what we're doing in the camp. I am having fun and I definitely feel stronger and I love the instructor. The problem is I've actually gained weight. Before you say that muscle weighs more than fat, let me just say that the weight I've put on definitely isn't all muscle. Is it possible this just isn't the right workout for me and my goals?"-Brenda V., San Diego, California

Hi, Brenda, I don't have access to all of the facts here so I am going to speculate so if I'm off base on any of the conclusions I've drawn, I apologize.

At the expense of being predictable, I am going to state, for the benefit of my readers, that muscle does weigh more than fat. I often have clients that, despite the fact that they may look better and feel better still feel frustrated when the number they see when they step on the scale isn't as low as they'd like it to be. For that reason, I try and steer people away from fixating on numbers and fixating on the less finite results like going down in clothing size or the compliments they get from other people. Since you are reporting an increase in strength, I have to assume that at least a good deal of the weight you have gained is lean muscle.

The reason why I am always singing the praises of high intensity interval training for weight loss is because it really is the most efficient way to burn calories.

So why aren't you seeing results? Here's where I need to delve into the realm of the hypothetical. I will use my experience with some of my own clients as a reference point. I have had clients that start working with me and get stronger and feel better and tell me they are moving furniture with ease and that they know their posture has improved but they aren't getting the fat loss results they are looking for as quickly as they'd like to. My first question is always, "What are you eating?" Sometimes they report that they haven't changed their diet at all and that they are eating junk food. Pretty easy to solve what's going on there.

Sometimes they will respond that they are eating well. But even if you're eating well, you still need to monitor the quantity of calories you are consuming if you're looking to shed pounds. The truth is that, despite whatever fad diet may be in vogue this month, it really does come down to calories in vs. calories out. Here's an example: I always recommend almonds as a snack. In moderation, nuts are an incredible food and a healthy source of fat that will help you feel satiated. I had one client that told me that he had been eating nuts because I had recommended them as an excellent snack. The problem was he was eating too many nuts. In the case of a high calorie food like nuts, too much of a good thing is not a good thing at all.

Sometimes people will report being voracious when they begin training with me and will say that they want to listen to your body. If you are trying to lose body fat and begin a new fitness program, your body is going to tell you it's hungrier than usual because it's not use to the expenditure of energy you are taxing it with. In this particular case, you need to ignore your body when it tells you it is still hungry.

I need to be extra clear about this: I AM NOT SUGGESTING THAT ANYONE STARVE THEMSELF. I want everyone to eat. I want everyone to eat (small to moderate portions) moderately all day long. But you need to cap your calories at a certain point if your goal is weight loss. Period.

You have found a workout that you enjoy, have found a fitness professional you respond to and are seeing gains in terms of overall fitness level. These factors also make it way more likely that you will stick with your program for the long term. I like everything I'm hearing. You should absolutely continue going to boot camp.

So, Brenda, I want you to keep on keeping on in your boot camp. You just might want to take a look at what you're eating and how much you're eating. Let me know how it goes.

Send your questions to or Tweet them @BuckleyBodyGuru


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Michael Buckley Michael Buckley is an NASM certified personal trainer and fitness model. As an actor, Michael can be seen in a recurring role on the popular PBS children?s television show, ?Cyberchase FOR REAL.? Other acting experience includes roles in the feature films DELUSIONS OF GUENEVERE, HETEROSEXUALS, MONA, GYPSY 83 and national tours of GREASE and SOUTH PACIFIC. He is also a produced playwright and had two feature screenplays optioned.