Lose weight, build muscle, get fit – but how? The fight against superfluous kilos is difficult. In an interview with FOCUS Online, sports scientist Ingo Froboese explains how overweight people can start exercising and what you need to eat in order to lose weight healthily and without the yo-yo effect.

Obesity is a widespread disease. In Germany, more than half of the adults are overweight, and almost a quarter are even morbid (obese). Anyone with a BMI over 25 is considered overweight. This increases the risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes. In addition to unhealthy eating habits, the main cause is a lack of exercise.

But getting started with training is difficult, and those who have never been active or haven’t done any sport for a long time find it particularly difficult. However, sports scientist Ingo Froboese knows: If you slowly approach the right training, if you eat the right food at the right time, you will gradually notice success.

According to Froboese, training should start with slow and regular movement. “You should not do any strenuous endurance sports for the first four to six months. You have to slowly get your body, your bones, joints and cardiovascular system used to the strain at first.”

Sports in which the body weight is carried are suitable for this: light swimming or cycling units. “You can also slowly activate your body with walks and walking,” explains the expert.

“Because if you overdo it at the beginning, you risk injury. The adjustment of the bone structures can take up to six months – especially if you have not done anything for a long time.”

According to Froboese, you should gradually increase your endurance training. “In the first two months, 30 minutes is enough, in the following 45 minutes. After four to six months, the sessions should then last about an hour.” Anyone who completes such endurance training three times a week is gradually teaching their body to burn fat.

The fitness expert also recommends combining endurance units with light strength training from the third month. He recommends bodyweight exercises like squats or push-ups.

“When it comes to losing weight, muscles are very important. As the largest metabolic organ, it ensures that the body burns fat in a permanent state. Like a motor, it boosts metabolism and thus energy consumption.”

After about half a year you can really get into the sport. Froboese advises seeking the help of a well-trained trainer.

“What the coaches do to the candidates on shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’ is nonsense. They overwhelm them, push them to their physical limits,” explains the expert. “But that’s exactly the wrong strategy.”

The right way, on the other hand, is to get the body used to the strain slowly and steadily on a daily basis. “We are talking here about the subjective under-challenging. They should put a strain on your body, but not overtax it. Don’t irritate him so much that he needs days to recover.”

In order to dose your training correctly and individually, to perform exercises correctly, you need someone to help and guide you. Froboese says: “A personal trainer can provide you with optimal support.”

But training alone is not enough to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Diet also plays an important role. Froboese considers two points to be particularly important.

“Eat only as much as your body needs – but also be careful not to eat too little. Because your body depends on a lot of nutrients to build muscle,” explains the expert. You can easily determine your calorie requirement, the following simple calculation provides a good starting point:

1 kilocalorie per kilogram of normal weight per day (in hours)

Use our BMI calculator to find out whether your weight is within the normal range.

A normal-weight man with 80 kilograms calculates his calorie requirement as follows: 1 kcal x 80 kg x 24 h = 1,920 kcal

For an hour of strength or light endurance training, you can add another 100 kilocalories, which the body needs to build muscle.

“Understanding the biorhythms of the body is important for correct nutrition. During the day, the body is in the energy metabolism, at night, however, in the building metabolism,” explains Froboese. This means that the body does not need all the nutrients at all times.

“He can get his energy from carbohydrates in the mornings and before exercise. At lunchtime, fats, micronutrients and fiber are beneficial, which give the body power. In the evening, before going to bed, you don’t need any more carbohydrates – you should rely on protein.”

Froboese advises always building in intervals of four to six hours between meals. “So the body is not constantly busy with digestion, the metabolism can attack the reserves”. He also recommends natural, high-quality foods that provide the body with sufficient macro and micronutrients.

For an optimal day, the fitness expert recommends:

Start with a glass of water to make up for the night’s dehydration. High-quality carbohydrates from cereals, such as muesli or wholemeal bread, are suitable for breakfast.

For lunch, eat nutritious foods, such as a large salad with chicken, tofu, or fish. You can then have a cup of coffee for dessert – after which you allow four to six hours to elapse before your next meal.

After exercise, your body needs protein. Scrambled eggs, fish or lean meat together with a large portion of vegetables make up your ideal dinner. You no longer need carbohydrates. Your body comes to rest after eating, can build muscle and break down fat.