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How Long It Actually Takes To Get In Shape For Summer

'I’ve seen people try to do things too late, and it’s not pretty.'

We've all heard the saying 'summer bodies are made in winter' but when, exactly, do you need to start?

Of course, we all know it's better if you maintain your weight year-round blah blah but winter = red wine and pasta! So assuming you have put on a bit of winter padding, how long have you got left before it's time to drag out the treadmill?

"Depending on how much damage you've done, it's doable in a fortnight, but the idea is sustainability," Moodi Dennaoui, aka 'The Diet Doctor' told HuffPost Australia. "The methods behind what is required to do in a fortnight are obviously not sustainable.

"What you want to do is take a more gradual approach over six to eight or 10 – 12 weeks and make minor changes as you go. Cognitively it's a lot easier on the brain and you will still achieve the [same] physiological changes by the end."

For Ben Lucas, former NRL player and founder of Flow Athletic, whipping yourself into summer-ready shape should take at least a month, if not slightly more.

"I think if you give yourself a month you can comfortably come in in good form," Lucas told Huffpost Australia. "Any less than that, people have to be too extreme to get any sort of lasting result.

"So seeing as we're already in August, I would say you'd want to start now if you want to get in shape for spring."

Summer bodies are made in winter.
Summer bodies are made in winter.

What to eat

Both Lucas and Dennaoui agree nutrition is a huge part of any health journey, and those looking to slim down for summer should start by reassessing what goes into their mouths.

"You can't out-train a bad diet," Lucas said. "People should aim for more whole, unprocessed foods, more things like fruit and vegetables, lean meats and nuts.

"I know people are big on cutting things out, like having no dairy or no carbs, and I just don't think that's necessary. I think you can get great results still having fruit, still having carbs, still having dairy.

"The only time I would [cut something out of my diet] was if I was told by medical professional to exclude a certain food group. Otherwise you're a tosser. Just eat whole unprocessed foods."

Manufactured foods eliminate a lot of the digestive processes and that's the reason we get fat. We are a society that lives on snacks.Moodi Dennaoui, The Diet Doctor

It's a sentiment echoed by Dennaoui, who stated, "Wholefoods have a hyperthermic effect. They force the body to expend a lot of energy while sedentary.

"For instance, my last Instagram post was of a burger. If that was a manufactured burger, your body would require less energy to digest the calories. But if the burger consisted of wholefoods and had the same amount of calories, your body would expend more calories to digest it.

"Manufactured foods eliminate a lot of the digestive processes and that's the reason we get fat. We are a society that lives on snacks."

While a change in diet can be implemented immediately, Dennaoui said it could take six to eight weeks for your habits to adjust.

"You want to do everything in a sustainable way, diet included," he said. "So I would give six to eight weeks to give your taste buds a chance to change. I'd say it would take at least that long to adjust for habitual purposes and for your body to acclimatise to the change."

Start now, thank yourself later.
Start now, thank yourself later.

In terms of other lifestyle changes you can adopt, Lucas recommends eating enough protein (particularly lean meats, eggs and cottage cheese), cutting out alcohol and increasing your hydration.

"Make sure you are drinking enough water. Even though it's not as hot right now, you still need to keep hydrated," Lucas said.

How to train

As hard as it can be to get motivated in the cooler months, staying active all year round is key to staying in shape. Or if you've let it slip this winter, now is probably a good time to consider dusting off your trainers.

"I think everyone -- man, woman, no matter what age -- should be involved in some sort of strength training," Lucas said. "Obviously it's going to increase your metabolism and help you burn more calories 24 hours a day, as well as helping you burn more calories when doing cardio activities as well. Basically you get more bang for your buck."

Strength training is key.
Strength training is key.

But if the thought of heading for a freezing morning run already has you diving for your snooze button, don't worry. You don't have to go all-out, all the time.

"I think when it comes to cardio people go a bit overboard," Lucas said. "High intensity training is an important tool but too much can cause burn-out.

"I would be looking at a combination with longer, slower cardio, and that could be something as simple as walking the Bondi to Bronte. Not every session has to be a punish."

Get enough sleep

If salads and strength training aren't how you imagined spending the last part of winter, at least sleep is something everyone can get behind. (Doonas. Yes.)

"Sleep is really important. That's when results come to life," Lucas said.

Finally, a winter weight loss regime we can all embrace.
Finally, a winter weight loss regime we can all embrace.

"I don't know if people know this but your muscles don't actually grow in the session, they grow when you are recovery.

"Some people these days sleep so badly because they are obsessed with their tech. You need to get that out of the bedroom and focus on getting a solid amount of hours.

Slow is good

Just to really drive the point home, both Lucas and Dennaoui stressed many times that while rapid weight loss is achievable, it's not sustainable and can even have negative effects on your body.

"Losing weight suddenly is very unhealthy for the cardiovascular system," Dennaoui told HuffPost Australia. "Your organs will suffer. With any sudden weigh gain or loss, your organs have to adapt, your hormones have to adapt to that change.

"And that's not including what your psyche has to adapt to. I've seen people try to do things too late, and it's not pretty."

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