Nearly everybody has thought it or said it “I need to lose some weight” or “That’s it, I’m going on a diet”, this is usually followed by a hasty internet search for the latest weight loss diet sensation. You read it, you go shopping for more fruit and veg than you can juice or all the maple syrup and cayenne pepper you can drink, you drop a few pounds the first few days, that’s great!
Then you plateau, you get disheartened “All this misery for a few pounds,” you think, then, sooner or later you are heavier than when you started. But it doesn’t really have to be like this, does it?
In this article, I hope to give you a few tips to a more successful and sustainable weight loss journey, whether you have a few pounds you were hoping to shed or a larger amount of weight you wanted to drop. A few changes now can really help you in the long term.
You don’t need to be on a sub-1200 calorie a day diet, doing fasted cardio, working out twice a day to lose weight. It should be as simple as eating slightly less than you burn throughout the day, so eat less or exercise more or for even better results, combine then two. A 300-400 calorie deficit a day is plenty to see a weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week, that’s 8lbs per month or up to 112 lbs a year. Imagine being 8 stone lighter this time next year.
That’s the problem with quick-fix fad diets, they are not sustainable for any length of time, most of us would struggle to do a full juice diet for a week, never mind a year. 400 calories are less than some high street coffee shop beverages that people might consume every day on the way to work, stop habits like that and you could be on your way.
If you are looking to lose weight, try to make one or two healthy changes per week. Maybe have water instead of a fizzy drink at lunchtime. Swap one or two of your regular evening meals for a grilled lean protein with salad or steamed veg. It can feel overwhelming to swap chips for quinoa every night or bowls of buttery mash for salad but one or two changes a week is all it takes to start seeing results, just keep taking out “bad” meals and swapping in healthier choices. Remember, it’s a combination of all your meals for the week that add up to weight loss or gain.
Another way is to up your protein intake, protein is harder for your body to digest than carbohydrates or fats meaning you actually burn more calories just by eating protein, you will also feel fuller for longer.
Say you would normally crave biscuits or cake in the afternoon at work, try having a protein shake instead, this could keep the sugar cravings at bay. High sugar food can spike blood sugar and insulin levels leading to more fat gain.
Also, keep an eye on your alcohol intake. Alcohol itself contains plenty of calories that provide you with no nutritional benefits. Alcoholic drinks contain carbohydrates (plenty of sugars) and fats as well.
One pint of regular strength lager can contain 200 calories, a large glass of wine close to 250 and a double vodka with coke could come close to 300 calories.
Significantly cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink, will not only help you to lose weight, it will also be great for your overall health. Also, drinking alcohol will probably lower your ability to say no to a late night takeaway. Once you start cutting back the empty calories and start seeing the results, you probably won’t miss those Friday night drinks as much.
Don’t skip breakfast, maybe just delay it. Yes, skipping a meal will surely increase your weight loss. However, a lot of people find that they eat a lot more at other meals and subsequently consume the same or even more calories throughout the day. However, delaying breakfast can give your body a chance to use up some of its fat stores, without it thinking it’s in a starvation situation and thinking it needs to hold on to every calorie you consume later. Try having 2-3 scrambled eggs or a bowl of oats made with protein powder for breakfast, instead of sugar laced cereal. Eat one to two hours later than you usually do, wake up, get to work and then eat or wake up, go for a walk then eat breakfast.
The best exercise for weight loss is…
The one you will do. If you love football go and play it if you are into badminton go do that. If you force yourself to join a gym or go running every morning and you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it for very long, it’s the same as the fad diets, you struggle on for a while, then give up. A 30-minute walk every day can do fantastic things for weight loss as you begin your journey. You don’t need to be doing hill sprints or HIIT training every day to start to see results for the majority of people. You just need to be doing more than you previously have been doing.
Start off slow!
This brings me on to the next point, start off slow, the slower you start, the more gradually you add exercise or take out bad food, the more room you will have to change things as your body adapts to your new routine.
Start off by adding 15 minutes to your daily walk, then swap another meal for a healthier choice each time your weight loss slows up.
If you change everything right away, full healthy meal plan and exercise twice a day every day, when your body does adapt to it, you won’t have anything left to take out or any more space in your day for more exercise. Sure you will have lost weight but to go any further will be really difficult.
Take home message
I think the main point you should consider is to think long term. What do you want to look like in a year or 2? Don’t worry about work out DVDs that promise “Abs in 6 weeks” or a “4-week bikini diet” book. Think about the future, set a goal for this time next year and then get to work on changing a couple of meals a week and finding an exercise you enjoy, walking hiking, tennis, anything you will still be enjoying a year or 2 years from now.
Find healthy meals you actually enjoy eating with lots of colourful fruit and veg and once you start losing weight every week, you will be more motivated to do better again next week, but remember, one bad meal doesn’t make you fat, the same as one good meal doesn’t make you lean.
So, if you have a bad food day one day, don’t let it ruin new regime, just get back on with it the next day. If you keep working on it and focus on all the positive changes you have made, you will see the results in the long run, and that will make the journey worthwhile.