Regular exercise can slim down your physique, increase strength and stamina, prevent disease, and improve your overall fitness.
But did you know that improving your diet and exercise routine can also change your mental health for the better?
The American Physiological Association reports that usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.
In the long-term, research shows it can improve stress management, depression, and anxiety.
Regular exercise combined with a healthy diet can promote a more reliable memory, higher self-esteem, and better quality of sleep.
Maybe this is why getting in shape is the most common New Year’s resolution – it’s the quickest way to a happier and healthier life.
In this article, I’ll be sharing ten tips on how to get in shape fast so you can kick start your weight loss and improve your mental health in less than a month.
10 Ways to Get in Shape Fast
1. Incorporate More Protein To Your Diet
Protein impacts how weight-regulating hormones work, making it one of the most important macronutrients to track when getting in shape.
If you struggle to feel full while dieting, add more protein to your meals.
Protein keeps you feeling full for longer, making it easier to maintain a diet and resist unnecessary snacking.
Protein also promotes muscle growth. Muscles burn more calories than other types of tissues while at rest, making it easier to keep up with your fitness goals. (1)
If you do rigorous exercise, protein helps your body quickly build and repair muscle.
You should aim to consume around 50 to 60 grams of protein a day.
2. Eat Several Meals Throughout the Day
If you have three meals a day, each meal should be around 3 or 4 hours apart. But often life gets in the way and meals end up being 5 or 6 hours apart.
At that point, your blood sugar is at its lowest and you might resort to a sugary snack to hold you over. Eating several small meals a day may help prevent unhealthy snacking or overeating. (2)
To try this meal schedule, try splitting three meals into six and eat them twice as often. Mix portion control with protein and fiber to stay full.
To have small snacks instead, choose nutrient dense options like veggies with hummus, trail mix, or yogurt.
Be sure to adjust meals or exercises later in the day to ensure you maintain your desired calorie deficit or surplus.
3. Snack Responsibly After Working Out
During exercise, your muscles use stored glycogen as a source of fuel and small tears occur.
After a workout session, your body will rebuild itself by increasing glycogen levels and repairing muscle.
Your muscles start to use available protein to rebuild within a few hours of working out.
This means that it’s important to intake a balance of the right foods post-workout.
It’s generally recommended to have your post-workout snack within 45 minutes of finishing your workout. This is when the rate of absorption is highest.
Protein helps repair and grow new muscle tissue and carbs help replenish glycogen stores. I would recommend snacks like a banana protein shake, yogurt and fruit, or tuna on whole wheat bread.
4. Stay Hydrated
Did you know that when you feel hungry, sometimes you’re actually just thirsty?
The brain uses the same signals to tell us that we need food and water, so sometimes you might need a drink, not a snack.
Have a glass and wait for 10 minutes. If the feeling goes away, you were just dehydrated.
Water is the perfect diet companion, since it is a natural appetite suppressant and boosts your metabolism. It also helps the body burn fat.
The amount of water you need to drink will depend on your weight and activity levels. It’s generally recommended to have at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day. It may sound like a lot, but it’s really achievable if aim to have almost one glass an hour.
5. Track Your Calories & Macronutrients
Tracking your calories turns weight loss into a simple game of numbers.
Even if you’re going to the gym every day, a poor diet won’t result in long term health benefits.
The exact amount you need depends on a number of different factors, including your sex, age, weight, and activity levels.
There are many free tools online that can help you decide not only how many, but what kind of calories you should consume to see results.
Tracking calorie quantity isn’t enough. This is why it’s also important to count the macronutrients provided in your meals, which are proteins, carbs, and fat. This helps ensure that your meals are well-balanced and promote better health.
There are free calculators online that can guide you through measuring how many calories you might need and a recommended caloric deficit.
6. Maintain Healthy Insulin Levels
Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate, or control, your blood sugar. Insulin resistance is a dangerous precursor to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Resistance can be prevented or managed through an improved diet or exercise routine.
The most common offender for spiking insulin levels are high-carb foods. The easiest way to manage your insulin levels is to have no more than the recommended value each day. Use a macros calculator to determine the correct amount for you.
Carbs are still an important part of the diet, but it’s important to limit certain types. Too many refined grains, sweets, and animal products will spike your insulin levels.
Replace these items with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. These foods allow your body to use its insulin more effectively.
7. Interval Training: Run Fast, Walk Slow
Interval training will quickly improve your fitness levels because it helps your body learn to recover and build stamina.
Interval training alternates short high-intensity speed and exertion with slower low-intensity recovery.
You can easily implement this on a run outside, or on gym equipment. Generally, intervals are 1:1 or 1:2 ratios.
For example, you might run at a high intensity for one minute, then at a low intensity for two minutes. Although it’s at a lower intensity, it’s important to keep moving - even if it’s at a slower rate.
A study by the American College of Sports Medicine revealed that this type of high-intensity training can be at least as effective as moderate-intensity continuous exercise in losing body fat. This will save you time at the gym and help you get fit quickly. (4)
8. Size Doesn’t Matter: Lift Weights
Everything from small barbells to heavy deadlifting can significantly speed up the rate that you gain strength and get fit.
Studies have demonstrated that after a weight-training workout, your metabolism will be more active for up to 38 hours after your workout.
Lifting weights also helps you build muscle mass.
The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will use at rest. This rate is called your basal metabolic rate (BMR).
Ten pounds of muscle burns fifty calories in a day spent at rest, while ten pounds of fat only burns twenty.
When you lift weights, you build lean muscle tissue which is more metabolically active than fat. When you increase your muscle, you also increase metabolism which means you're burning more calories throughout the day.
- Paige Waehner, Very Well Fit
9. Do Compound Exercises
A set of compound exercises engages two or more muscle groups at a time.
They’re a great way to make the most of your time and effort and get in shape faster.
They also tend to mimic actual movements you do in a day, such as pulling, pushing, and lifting.
This means your range of motion will improve, and you’ll move through your day with more effective form.
Take jumping lunges as an example. Start in a low lunge position with left foot forward. Then, jump and switch so you land back in a lunge position, with your right foot forward.
The jumping activates your core, while the lunges activate hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes. Squats, deadlifts, and push-ups also work more than one group at a time.
10. Keep Your Routine Fresh
Combined exercises, weight lifting, and cardio are all important workouts to get in shape.
Within each type, you have a range of options to choose from.
Be sure to change your routine so you exercise each part of your body, as well as avoid getting bored. It will challenge your body to try and do more.
If you know you’re going to miss a day at the gym, there are ways you can get exercise from normal daily activities that feel less like exercise.
Join a club that does a fun physical activity, like a sport or dance. Or maybe make gentle stretches or yoga part of your morning routine. Integrating these other activities makes healthy living a part of your lifestyle, not a chore.
Getting In Shape: The Bottom Line
Use these tips to improve your habits, lose weight, and gain the benefits of an active lifestyle. You will see great results in a month (or less), as long as you eat healthy foods. and exercise regularly.
Getting in shape is as easy as tracking the quality of your diet, choosing efficient exercises, and keeping it fresh and fun by remembering to change it up.
Even a small amount of regular exercise can reduce the risk of disease or injury and improve your mental health in the short and long term.
Make sure you know your body type before getting started.
- Miriam E. Nelse, PhD, Will Eating More Protein Help Your Body Gain Muscle Faster?., retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/will-eating-more-protein-help-your-body-gain-muscle-faster#1
- Amy Paturel, WebMD, retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/features/6_meals_a_day#1
- Jennifer Huizen, Medical News Today, retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322296.php
- Brad Roy, PhD, High-Intensity Interval Training: Brought to you by the American College of Sports Medicine www.acsm.org, retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/fulltext/2013/05000/High_Intensity_Interval_Training___Efficient,.3.aspx