Do you have to while away your hours on an elliptical trainer to burn off your fat and lose weight? Well a spot of exercise never hurts, but combining healthy eating with a few high intensity resistance training sessions is my favorite recipe for success.

Here are the first answers to some of your fat loss questions that you submitted in response to my post last week. I’ll answer more in upcoming posts. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Remember, the fact that you’re committed enough to your goal of losing fat to keep trying and ask questions is worth big points. Great work!

Jason –
I’m a 25 year old man. I work at a desk job behind a computer all day. It seems like my weight just crept up on me. In high school and college I was really lean and fit, but I am so out of shape now.

Whats the one single best thing I can do to lose weight and get back into shape the fastest? I don’t have a lot of money. I jus tstarted a family and some of my relatives live with me too. I buy the food for all of us. it is about all I can do to keep food on the table that every one likes. I just can’t afford to eat a totally different diet than they do. What should I do?

Steve’s Answer: Jason, the economy has touched all of us in some way or another. Kudos on providing for your extended family. Remember though, that your health is paramount. If you have health problems it’s going to be difficult for you to keep providing them with what they need.

You don’t have to make any huge changes. Start with getting plenty of fresh vegetables like broccoli, green peppers, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes (keep the skin on!) and tomatoes (Yeah, I know they are really a fruit!). These are fairly inexpensive and you can eat lots of them without taking in too many calories, while keeping your nutrition intake high.

Your biggest challenge may be getting enough source of high quality, affordable protein. Lean, ground turkey is great for this. It’s cheap and high in protein. Make sure you check though, because not all ground turkey is lean. Get the ground breast if you can, and aim for under 10% fat.

When the money is tight there is a temptation to turn to inexpensive foods such as white rice, but that is one which you must avoid. Also, try to steer clear of white bread. Keep your consumption of other grains fairly low as well, and when you do eat them, make sure you eat whole grains, which are released into your blood stream as sugar slower than more refined ones.

Keep to single ingredient foods with no processing and you’ll do fine. The single ingredient rule is a fantastic way to make sure you’re eating nutrient rich foods, and it’s a heck of a lot faster than reading the fine print on all those labels at the market!

Jenny SD –
How do I lose weight if I don’t have any money? The economy has left me really strapped. It seems like all the weight loss programs and supplements cost so much. Can I lose weight without them?

Heck, yes, you can lose weight without them! When I lost weight, I did it with none of that stuff. I do use some basic supplements now, but none of the exotic stuff, just the basics, like protein powder and vitamins.

Stick to plenty of vegetables. They are comparatively low in calories, yet packed with nutrition. To make it even better, most of them are pretty cheap, too. Green peppers are loaded with vitamin C, yet have almost no calories. Broccoli has more calories, but it is a real nutritional powerhouse, it even has some protein. Although it has more calories, 4 oz of it has only about 35, so it is still very low cal.

Eat most of your carbs (as a % of your calories) earlier in the day. For your late meal, make sure that most of the carbs come from low glycemic and low load carb sources, like the aforementioned veggies. Be sure you get enough protein, about  1 gram per kilo of body weight, unless you are in a high intensity resistance training program, in which case you’d eat about twice that.

Don’t neglect the fat intake, either. Low fat in the mouth does not equal low fat on your body, like we all thought in the ’80’s.

One last nutritional tip – make sure you eat about 5 – 6 meals per day. Determine your optimum caloric intake (find your basal metabolic rate, then go about 2 – 5% under that), then divide that into 6 roughly equal parts. Don’t kill yourself over the math on this one, close enough is fine.

Aim for losing about 2 pounds of fat per week. It’s just too easy to drop your hard earned muscle along with your fat when you lose too quickly. There is also the danger of becoming dehydrated when losing weight quickly, so be sure you drink about 96oz of cool, clean water per day, more if you are exercising, it is hot, or both. The bottom line is that with common sense nutrition and a small increase in your daily activity level, you can easily lose 1 – 3 pounds per week. Losing weight any faster than that is not altogether healthy, and tends to come back with a vengeance, anyway.

Another great tip is to moderately increase your activity level by doing things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, pacing around your cubicle at work, or pushing the lawnmower instead of letting it pull itself along. Park on the far side of the lot or down the street a bit, unless you work in an area where that might not be the best idea, and walk a bit farther every day.

None of this has to cost any more money than you’d ordinarily spend doing whatever it is that you do.