To Tone your muscles you must weight train with light weights and high reps.
First off lets just clarify the word tone. Toning is nothing more than decreasing your body fat percentage. The word was made up as a marketing word to coax woman into gyms. Your muscles only have the ability to shrink or grow.
As a Personal Trainer that has helped thousands of female clients get into great shape, I do understand what you mean by the word tone. You want to be lean and slender and avoid looking like a Russian shot-putter at all cost. Think Jennifer Aniston opposed to Helga.
In order to get toned (drop your body fat percentage) you must choose exercises, reps and weights that boost your metabolism. By boosting your metabolism you will be able to burn large amounts of fat calories all day long.
Scientific research has shown lifting heavy weights recruit more muscle fibers and therefore stimulate and boost the metabolism.
I know it's a scary thought to lift heavy weights but that's your neuro association that lifting heavy weights will turn you into Helga the Russian shot-putter. That is really far from the truth.
Yes Helga does lift heavy weights but she eats a huge amount of carbohydrates in her diet slapping masses of fat on top of her muscles making her look bulky.
In order to drop fat you must be in a calorie deficiency
Calories are all alike, whether they come from beef or bourbon, from sugar or starch, or from cheese and crackers. Too many calories are just too many calories.
Fred Stare, founder and former chair of the Harvard University Nutritional Department
The above statement is just damn right stupid!
For example if we take two identical twins Jack and Bob, Now Jack and Bob weigh the same, they have the same activity levels and they have the same body composition. We give them both 2000 calories a day for 30 days. The only difference is that Jack will consume his 2000 calories in pure white table sugar and Bob will consume his 2000 calories in lean chicken breast.
Do you think after 30 days that they are going to weigh the same or even have the same body composition?
Of course not!
One reason for this is because we have different hormonal responses to different foods.
By eating foods we were designed to eat we ensure our hormones are happy.
Why is this important?
It is our hormones that dictate how well our bodies will function. In a nutshell if we eat good food, we sleep well and do not stress out too much; we will keep our hormones happy leading to homeostasis (the bodies ability to regulate hormones and bodily functions).
An interesting study by Kekwick and Pawan, compared three groups on a semi starvation diet:
Group 1 consumed – 1000 calories of which was 90% fat
Group 2 consumed – 1000 calories of which was 90% protein
Group 3 consumed 1000 calories of which was 90% carbohydrates
Interestingly the group consuming 90% fat lost the most weight 408g (0.9lbs) per day. The protein group lost 272g (0.6lbs) per day and the carbohydrates group actually gained 108g (0.24lbs) per day.
To conclude its not the amount of calories you consume but the type of calories that dictate weather you lose weight or gain weight.