The most important weight loss idea has to do with the Law of Thermodynamics. This law means that in order to lose weight, you need to spend more energy than you take in. In order to gain weight you need to take more energy in than you put out. So, losing weight is simple; eat less food while moving more often! The weight loss tips below are just ways to take advantage and make more efficient use of this unavoidable law of nature.
Weight loss tip #1: Don’t go On a Diet! Yep, I said it, don’t go on a diet. Most people can’t stick to a diet for a long period of time. They get discouraged and quit. You need to make healthy changes to last a lifetime, not look for the next fad quick-fix. Does this mean diets and diet books are bad? Certainly not, you may be in the minority who find one that works for you. If not, you still can learn something about nutrition that you can apply to your eating habits. Make small changes to your nutritional habits and over time you will reach your goals and be able to maintain them.
Weight loss tip #2: Make 1 small healthy change that you can live with today! For me, that was cutting out sugary sodas and other sugary drinks. A typical regular can of soda has about 140-170 calories. Two of those per day equals 280-340 calories a day, or about ¾ lb weight loss per week if you were maintaining your weight before that change (see weight loss tip #6). What do you drink instead? Cold water!!! Not only is water healthy, one once of cold water will burn one calorie when your body heats is up. So, drinking the recommended 64-96 oz. of water per day could equal up to 96 extra calories burned (depending on how much cold water you drank before).
It doesn’t have to be sugary drinks. It could be cutting out desserts, or limiting them to once or twice a week from every day. Try replacing one un-healthy snack per day with a healthier one. You pick one that you can stick to (but start drinking more water anyway).
Weight loss tip #3: Eat breakfast! There’s a reason for the cliché about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. That’s because after fasting all night, your metabolism is at its lowest point in the morning. You need to stoke the metabolic fires with a good breakfast that contains both carbohydrates and protein. If you don’t, your body will think it is being starved and will want to store any excess calories from the first thing you do eat (say at lunch) as fat to hedge against long periods with no energy intake. Breakfast first thing keeps this from happening and gives you energy to start the day.
Weight loss tip #4: Eat 4-6 smaller meals per day instead of 2-3 big ones. The easy way to do this is by having breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and then dinner. There, that’s 5, good enough. A piece of fruit makes a great snack. By spreading your energy intake out in smaller, more frequent increments, it will increase your metabolism (you will burn more calories) because your body never thinks it is starving.
Weight loss tip #5: Reduce stress. Stress causes our body to release cortisol which is a hormone that helps us deal physiologically with stress. Simply put, the adaptations our body does in response to stress are contrary to weight loss. The release of cortisol promotes fat storage and suppresses the manufacture of other hormones that promote building of lean muscle mass. Try yoga, try meditation, try a hobby or punching a heavy bag. Just do what works for you to lower stress.
Weight loss tip #6: Determine how many calories you need to maintain your current weight, and how many you need to reduce per day to meet your weight loss goals. Step 1: Determine your basal metabolic rate. This is how many calories your body burns just to maintain minimal life-support functions and is about 75% of all the calories you burn. The formula is simply your body weight ____ X 10= basal metabolic rate.
Now, to determine how many calories you need each day to maintain your current weight, multiply the base metabolic rate by a “lifestyle factor” based on how active you are. A note on the formula: it is just a rough estimate, females will need a few less calories (perhaps 200) than this formula indicates. Males might need 100 more. As you age, you will require fewer calories as well to maintain weight. So, use the formula to get you started, then adjust your daily caloric needs based on your results (this is where a nutrition log is important, see weight loss tip #7).
For sedentary people (office workers, people who mostly sit or drive all day) use 1.4. For moderately active people (people on their feet all day like wait staff, service industry, moderate exercise) use 1.6. For very active people (jobs with lots of physical labor, movers etc., athletes) use 1.8. If you think you are in between two of the examples, then you can split the difference.
Let’s plug some numbers in: Weight 195 pounds, office worker. 195X10 = 1950 calorie basal metabolic rate. 1950 X 1.4 = 2730. This is roughly how many calories they need to consume to stay at 195 pounds. It’s not an exact science, but should be very close and is a great starting point.
Now you can set your weight loss goals based on how many pounds you want to lose and in what time-frame. The maximum sustainable healthy weight loss level is about 2 pounds per week. In order to lose 2 pounds per week, you need to decrease your energy intake, and/or increase your energy output, by 1000 calories per day. A 500 calorie per day reduction will result in a loss of approximately one pound per week.