From Fat to Fit for Men

Overweight and obesity are major health problems in the United States, especially for men. While obesity rates for the entire population have somewhat plateaued over the past 10 years, rates in men have increased from 27.5 percent to 35.5 percent, according to National Center for Health Statistics researcher Cynthia Ogden. Carrying around excessive weight increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and early death. Making a plan to go from fat to fit not only improves your appearance but also your overall health. Consult your doctor before making changes to your diet or exercise routine.

Calories

When it comes to going from fat to fit, calories count. In order to lose 1 pound of fat a week you need to create a calorie deficit of 500 calories a day by either reducing the number of calories you eat, increasing the number of calories you burn through exercise or both. An online fitness calculator and food diary can help you track your current intake and determine where you can cut back in your diet and increase your activity. Your daily calorie needs vary depending on your height, weight and activity level. Most men can lose weight limiting their calorie intake to 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day.

Diet

What you eat is as important as how much when it comes to improving fitness and health. Ideally, your diet should consist primarily of fruits, vegetables, lean sources of protein, whole grains and healthy fats. Making drastic changes to your diet all at once may set you up for failure. Instead, make steady, gradual changes to your diet. For example, you can start by adding a fruit or vegetable to each meal, then you can switch your regular hamburger meat for leaner ground meat or ground poultry.

Muscle Building

Strength training builds muscle to help you burn fat and improve your overall appearance. For best results, you should strength train two to three days a week with a day off in between exercising each of the major muscle groups -- arms, chest, back, abs, shoulders and legs. The amount of weight you lift should be heavy enough to tire your muscles by the 12th repetition. You can also do body weight exercises, such as situps, pullups and squats, instead of lifting weights if you don't have access to a gym.

Cardio

When it comes to losing weight to improve fitness you should aim for 300 minutes of moderate-activity cardiovascular exercises a week, according to MayoClinic.com. A good cardio workout should get your heart rate up and have you breathing a little heavier, for example a fast walk, a bike ride with some hills or mowing your lawn with a push mower. You can also increase the intensity of your cardio workout if time is an issue. Instead of a 60-minute fast walk you can go for a 30-minute jog. If you find cardio exercises boring, you can also burn extra calories with activities you enjoy such as a game of basketball or football with your friends, hiking, racquetball or skiing.