Obesity in America has skyrocketed. According to the American Heart Association, 149.3 million Americans over the age of 20 are overweight or obese. Despite this overwhelming number, losing weight is not nearly as hard as many people think. Losing weight is as easy as 1, 2, 3:
1. Exercise more
2. Eat less
Although those three steps might seem like a drastic change to your lifestyle, they’re really not. When many people think of losing weight, they often think of words such as: ‘hunger’, ‘deprivation’, ‘agony’, and the worst of all, ‘DIETING’.
Despite what many people believe about losing weight, each of the above three lifestyle changes can be implemented into your daily life for success without you even noticing! What do I mean by this? Well, the changes that need to be made to your daily lifestyle in order to lose weight are very miniscule, and for most everyone after about 30 days each of these things becomes a habit! Let me explain below.
Step 1. Exercise More
In order to lose weight, you need to take in less calories than your body needs. As a matter of fact, this is really ALL you need to do in order to lose weight. Having said this, many people find it difficult trying to lose weight if they don’t exercise, because they have to drop their calories down very low. This is why you here all of the horror stories about being hungry and deprived when trying to lose weight. The solution? Exercise! Doing anywhere from 20-45 minutes of daily cardio will not only help reduce the risk of heart disease, but can also help burn additional calories that aid in the fat burning process. This means that you will be able to add a bit more to your daily calorie requirements and still lose weight.
Step 2. Eat Less
As stated above, all you really need to do in order to lose weight is to take in less calories than your body needs. This is also why you here many people talk about how they “Lost 100lbs with the twinkie diet.” Sure you can lose weight with this type of diet, but you will be losing muscle too! Thats right, since your muscles are malnourished, your body has no choice but to catabolize (break down) your muscle tissue. Although you will be losing body fat as well, you will most likely be losing just as much lean muscle mass. In order to stop this from happening, we have a couple of options. We could eat VERY healthy, and eat nothing but whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables. And I actually recommend this type of diet for anyone who has very good self control. The problem is, most people (myself included) don’t and will end up binging on this type of diet in the first couple of weeks as they feel deprived. Another option is the substiution method. This is personally my favorite for losing weight and has worked well with me in the past. The name basically explains itself, and literally means substituting 1-3 junk foods with healthy foods every day. For example, instead of eating french fries, eat mashed potatoes. Another example would be to drink water instead of soda or to eat oatmeal instead of sugary cereal. Pretty simple eh? This will allow you to enjoy everything in moderation while still getting vital vitamins and nutrients that your body needs for proper functioning and muscle maitnence.
Is calorie calculating necesarry for fat loss? Yes! Many people underestimate calorie calculating, and feel that as long as they eat a healthy diet, they will lose 10 dress sizes in 5 days. Remember, weight loss occurs because of a caloric deficit, not because of a certain food you ate. What I recommend is finding out the number of calories you take in daily to maintain your weight, and subtract 500-1000 calories from that number. Taking in 500 calories less then what your body needs will allow you to lose 1 pound a week. Similarly, taking in 1000 calories less then what your body needs will allow you to lose 2 pounds per week. Unless you are very obese, I strongly suggest not going 1000 calories below maintenance, as the risk for muscle loss increases drastically. As you drop in weight, it is very important to adjust the amount of calories you are consuming in order to avoid a weight loss plateau. Weight loss plateaus occur because just like muscle mass, fat burns additional calories as well and the more fat you lose, the less calories your body is going to burn.
Lets talk about something else that many people seem to be confused about. That is, how many meals to eat per day. Conventional nutrition tells us that 3 square meals a day is fine. However, for those trying to lose weight, I recommend eating 5-6 small meals per day. This will allow your body to stay fuller longer, since your body is recieving a steady stream of nutrients. Only eating 3 square meals a day will work just as well, but I recommend trying both to see which one works best for you.
Step 3. Sleep
Many people underestimate the importance of sleep when it comes to losing weight. Several studies have shown that when someone is in a caloric deficit and does not get enough sleep, they end up burning off muscle instead of fat. Also, people who fail to get enough sleep at night tend to eat more during the day, due to the hormone leptin that is increased. Leptin has often been named “the hunger hormone”, due to the fact that it makes people crave food (especially carbohydrates) much more frequently and in much larger quanities during the day. So how much sleep is enough? Well, there is no single answer as to how much sleep a person needs, due to the fact that we are all individually different. What I recommend is throwing that old alarm clock in the trash, going to sleep at the same time every night, and letting your body wake up on its own. Allowing your body to wake up every morning without any distractions will ensure that your body is fully rested and you will not have to worry about any of the sleep deprived side effects that can occur.
To Sum It Up
Follow these three simple steps to losing weight and you will be guaranteed success. Losing weight is only difficult if you make it more complicated then it needs to be. Good luck!