Today, there are so many different ways to lose weight that it may make your head spin. There are low-fat diets, high-fat diets, low-carb diet, ketogenic diets, fasting diets, green tea supplements, but there is no magical method that will make fat vanish.
Many of these “diets” can leave you feeling unsatisfied and even more hungry than when you started them. On top of this, there is exercise to think about. Misconceptions about exercise can also skew how we lose weight and balance out our energy needs. We need to keep in mind that everyone’s weight loss journey is different so foods and exercises that work for one person may or may not work for another.
So, how do you lose weight, keep your sanity, and achieve long-term weight loss success? Let’s go over some specifics that may help you kick start your weight loss.
Work in more nutrient-dense foods
With our schedules being the way that they are, it can be easy to search for quick options that will give us the energy (AKA calories) we need but sometimes the nutrients fall by the wayside. Today, there is easy access to food (for the most part) but many go about their daily lives malnourished, meaning that those quick eats don’t contain the vitamins and minerals we need to function at our best. The quick energy foods are often processed and can lead to spikes in blood sugar, dips in energy, and sometimes water retention. Working in more nutrient-dense foods can help you avoid this as well as control your calorie intake more efficiently, while getting more bang for your buck. Check out the example below borrowed from ZME Science to see what we mean! Here we see a snack sized bag of chips compared to about 2 whole apples.
While the chips may be tempting to reach for in the moment, they may not be as satisfying in helping you work towards your nutrition and weight loss goals. Processed foods, like these chips, contain higher amounts of unhealthy fats, salt, and artificial ingredients that don’t offer your body what it actually needs and thus lead you to end up looking for more shortly afterwards. Water and fiber, found on whole nutrient-dense foods like non-starchy vegetables, are satiating and last longer also fulfill the urge to eat. Over time, this will lead to controlling your calorie intake and nourishing your body to promote fat loss.
Practice balance, not deprivation
Have you ever had someone tell you that you couldn’t have something and then all of a sudden it’s all you can think about? That’s the idea here. While we want to limit these processed items, it may not be realistic to say that you should cut them out completely. The idea of having “off limit” foods, doesn’t teach you how to control these items once you’ve hit your weight loss goals so it makes long-term weight control more of a long shot. Serving sizes today don’t lend a helping hand to this matter and have grown so large that we often have a skewed perspective when it comes to putting food on our plates. Learning about portion control is a crucial part of learning how to eat while you’re working towards weight loss. Practicing portion control helps you feel more in control.
Many diets take the stance of cutting out entire groups of foods (take carbs for example) and restricting to the point where every day living may feel next to impossible. For example, 60 day weight loss plans. This may be effective in the beginning and you’ll lose weight fast (it’s only scientific that it would be) but it won’t promote steady weight loss over time. Why? Because it’s a cycle. We tend to restrict too much and then “fall off the wagon” due to it not being sustainable. We know this will take time and practice but here’s how to start breaking the pattern.
- Work towards balanced meals and snacks that are well portioned and spaced throughout the day.
- Remember that your body has needs. If you feel physical hunger, eat, but also become aware of when you feel full.
- Food is food. Work to remove the “junk food” and “health food” labels.
- Use food for fuel and know that that fuel is important.
- Practice portioning out treats instead of removing them completely.
Drink plenty of water
Here’s one that maybe didn’t cross your mind when you asked your doctor, trainer, or nutritionist “But how do I lose weight?” Our bodies are about 60% water so we need water to keep things running smoothly. Generally, it’s recommended that men aim to drink at least 3 liters per day and women should shoot for 2.2 liters each day. It’s been estimated that 7% of our daily calorie intake may be coming from sugary drinks (about 140 calories in a 2,000 calorie diet). While this may not seem like a lot, over time these calories can really rack up. For example, 140 calories in one sweet drink every day means 980 calories that you could potentially remove from your week! This could equal almost a loss 2 pounds of fat per week (#mindblown).
There are a multitude of weight loss benefits that come from drinking water, along with reducing calorie intake.
- Drinking more water during meals can lead to feeling fuller faster and help control portions.
- Building a water intake habits can lead to a greater chance of long-term weight loss maintenance.
- You may feel more energetic and think more clearly
- Weight fluctuations may be minimized
- Energize your muscles to fuel activity and recovery
Move your muscles
Exercise is another important component of a healthy weight loss journey. Being physically active allows our bodies the opportunity to burn stored energy and further create a calorie deficit without needing to deprive it of food. Not to mention, if you are eating too few calories there’s a good chance you won’t have the energy to make it to a workout in the first place. Starting an exercise routine will also help you retain your muscle composition while you work to drop the pounds. If this exercise is missing you may see yourself lose muscle along with fat in the process.
So what are the best types of exercise for weight loss? There really isn’t a hard and fast answer to this question but there are some types of workouts that help rev your metabolism. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are an example of this. A HIIT workout involves combining periods of vigorous exercise with periods of rest or lighter activity. This combination makes it possible for a workout to be a bit short but incredibly efficient. You don’t been a bunch of savvy equipment for a HIIT workouts either, many just require a mat, appropriate shoes, and well, you!
Muscle-strengthening activities are also important to add into your exercise routine and help get your metabolism moving. At rest, muscle burns about 5 times more calories than fat. This means that working to build muscle can help in achieving fat loss and then help you maintain that loss long-term. Exercise also needs to be combined with other diet and lifestyle changes to truly make an impact on weight loss. On its own you may see results, but they may be slow coming.