What Is The Best Way To Lose Weight?
When it comes to losing weight, it’s best to take the slow, patient route via sensible food choices, regular exercise and portion control. This is a better way to go than trying to lose drastic amounts of weight short-term by starving yourself. Not only will a sensible lifestyle get you to your goals, it will help you to keep the weight off for the rest of your life.
Fundamentals Of Weight Loss
Weight loss versus fat loss
Before we go any further, the issue of “weight loss versus fat loss” must be addressed. If your goal is to “lose weight”, then it’s more than likely to “lose fat”. This means that the end result might not actually be a smaller number on the scales, but a reduced body fat percentage.
If you are incorporating weight training into your regular exercise plan and eating enough nutritious food, your body should start to shed fat and maintain or gain muscle. If you simply cut out whole food groups, slash your calorie intake, and only focus on cardio…then yes you will “lose weight”, but it might be water weight and muscle mass you’re losing.
The point? Don’t focus on your weight. Focus on your lifestyle, the way you feel, and the way your clothes fit. The number on the scales is not always your friend.
Energy in energy out
So, we come to those little things we call calories. When we eat, we consume calories, which are used as energy in our body. If we eat too many calories and don’t burn them off, they’re stored as fat. If we eat slightly less than what our body uses? Well, our bodies will use up all of those calories, plus stored fat…and voila, weight loss.
To lose weight, you must eat, and you must eat properly. If you starve yourself, your body with get the message to start storing fat, which is the opposite of what you want. What’s more, you need to eat the right foods to help your body along the weight loss process. Lowering your carbohydrate intake and ensuring that you are eating good carbs such as whole grains and veggies is a great place to start. Adding good fats to your diet such as avocados, olive oil and nuts will help to keep you full and satisfied. And of course, enough protein to support muscle growth after those heavy workouts is crucial too.
You can eat a healthy diet, but you can also eat too much. Be aware of how much you are eating, and how often. If you tend to go back for seconds at dinner time, make it a goal to eat only one portion. If you love chocolate, that’s fine! You don’t have to give it up. But you do have to ensure you are only eating a small amount which won’t add too many calories to your day. A calorie counting app such as MyFitnessPal is a very handy tool to use when trying to keep portions under control. You can see just how much you are eating, versus how much you should be eating. This is a great way of eating all the things you love, without struggling with weight gain.
And lastly, exercise. For people who aren’t naturally athletic and have bad memories of having to exercise in gym class at school, physical activity can be very scary. However, it doesn’t have to be! Spend a little time finding what you enjoy. This is an important step as what you enjoy, you will tend to stick with it. You might like to join a gym that offers group fitness training, or you might want to sign up for a local walking group. If exercising in public is not your thing just yet, jump online and find thousands of great “at home” fitness videos. You can follow along with the virtual trainer and get a sweat up without having to leave your house. Find a class that incorporates high intensity interval training (HIIT) with some bodyweight strength work. This will get the heart rate firing while adding mass to your muscles.
Diets To Consider
First of all, many diets don’t work and are not recommended. Cutting out whole food groups or trying to stick to a routine of meal supplements and shakes is just going to waste your time and money. However, there are a few “diets” which are really best described as “lifestyle changes” which are known to be effective for some people.
Fasting is when you eat a small amount of food for a couple of days a week, with “normal” food days in between. This cuts the overall calorie intake of your week. There are lots of ways to fast. Some people simply cut calories and eat around 500 calories a day for 2 non-consecutive days a week. Some people eat nothing for a certain period of time (usually including overnight). The thing to remember is that on non-fasting days, you eat a normal amount of food so your body is never deprived for very long. Read more about fasting here.
Cutting out carbohydrates entirely for the purpose of weight loss isn’t a good idea. If you are doing lots of exercises and getting your muscles and heart firing, you need some good carbs to feed your body with all the energy it needs! However, many of us do eat too many carbs and not enough protein and fibre. That’s where a low-carb lifestyle can come in handy. It makes you become more aware of just how many carb-loaded foods you are eating, so you can replace some of them with healthier options.
Note: choose healthy carbs such as veggies, whole grains, legumes and pulses. Avoid processed white bread, pasta and baked goods.
The Importance Of Exercise
Okay, so you might have read that you can lose weight without adding exercise. This can be true for most people, if they make a significant change to their diet and calorific intake. The thing is; weight loss is more about diet than it is about exercise, as you cannot “out-exercise” a very unhealthy diet. This is good news for many people because not everyone has the time or ability to get out and add hours of exercise to their week. They can start to lose the excess weight simply by adjusting their diet.
However, exercise is very important for health and longevity overall. Activity keeps the heart strong, the bones dense, the mind healthy and the muscles powerful. But back to weight loss! When you reach a certain point in your weight loss, you’ll tend to plateau. You’ll find that the weight loss has ceased despite your impeccable diet. That’s when exercise comes in. To continue losing the fat and adding muscle tone, you need to incorporate strength and light cardio to your weekly routine. More muscle mass means a faster metabolism, which means more fat burned.
The bottom line? If you want to lose weight and you have a significant amount to lose, just start by making some changes to your diet. Then add a few brisk walks a week and perhaps a swim or a dance class for something a bit more fun. Once the weight starts falling off and you feel more ready for activity, start adding some more strenuous cardio and some strength training. You’ll find that the weight continues to drop, and you’ll start to see muscle tone coming through.
If you’re already reasonably trim but you do have a bit of weight to shed, go straight for interval cardio and weight training. This will get the muscles firing enough to burn more fat and transform your shape.
Weight Loss Supplements
Some weight loss supplements should be avoided, especially those that make outrageous claims and contain mysterious or undecipherable ingredients. Avoid shake-based diets which are designed to replace meals. A good diet of fresh food cannot be replaced or beaten by a powdery shake. However, there are a few weight loss supplements on the market which harness natural ingredients to give the body a weight-loss boost. Ultra Omega Burn is a great one which uses fatty acids to assist the body in breaking down fat.
Remember, a supplement is to go with your healthy diet, not to rewind the effects of a bad diet.
What Not To Do
Do not starve yourself with unrealistic diets or cut too many calories
If you start off trying to eat as little as possible or completely ban yourself from certain foods, you are going to burn out fast. You will end up tired, grumpy, hungry and craving every treat under the sun. And in fact, your body won’t respond in the way you want it to. Your metabolism will be confused and it may even slow down. Eat enough but not too much. Give yourself a day or two a week when you can enjoy your favourite treat in sensible portions. This way, you’ll stick to your plan for longer (well, forever hopefully!) and the weight will fall off slowly but surely.
Starving yourself to the point of feeling miserable and deprived is no good. It’s not good for the mind, the body or for your weight. Always remember that even when trying to lose weight: YOU CAN AND MUST EAT.
Don’t go for “diet” or “fat-free” foods
Packaged or processed foods labelled “fat-free” or “diet” are usually bad news. They may be fat-free, but they’re likely to be filled with sugar or additives. You are far better off eating whole, fresh foods as close to the source as possible. Avoid packaged foods and fill your kitchen with fruits, veggies, whole grains, full-fat dairy, lean meats and pulses. Don’t get sucked in by “diet marketing”, they want your money but they may not really be offering what they say they are. Go back to the old days of fresh, wholesome, home-cooked meals and you’ll be well on your way to weight loss and prime health.
Don’t become obsessed with the scales
Use your clothes and mirror as a guideline to inform you of your progress, instead of obsessively weighing yourself. You may find that you look leaner and your clothes are looser, but your weight is basically the same. This just means that you’re shedding fat while gaining muscle, which is great!
You are much more than a number on the scales.
Losing weight is all about small, sustained lifestyle changes. A diet of fresh, nutritious foods, lots of exercise, sleep and stress control can really transform your body. Try to think of it in terms of losing fat, not just simply reducing the number on your scales. Remember that to lose weight, you must eat enough good food to keep your body supported and ready for action.
And lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself; if you fall off the wagon, it doesn’t matter at all, just keep going until you reach your goal.