Losing weight is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and well-being. Whether you’re trying to shed pounds for health or aesthetic reasons, the body and lifestyle changes brought about by a new approach to diet and exercise will make you feel more energetic, confident, and satisfied with life. Weight loss can appear to be a very lofty goal, and it certainly doesn’t occur overnight, but with the right changes and determination, the process does not have to be a difficult one. Make a commitment to get started today and before you know it you’ll be seeing your progress in real time…
Fundamentally, losing weight is about consistently forcing the body to use more energy than you consume. The energy we get from food and drink is measured in the form of calories, and we can also speak of the energy our body burns in terms of calories as well. This provides us with a simple metric by which to judge whether our body is forced to burn off some of our fat reserves, in addition to the food we’ve eaten, on any given day. If your weight is remaining relatively stable right now, we know your current diet approximately matches what you burn for energy in the run of a day. Weight loss is about changing this balance.
Our bodies will burn calories simply going through the motions of being alive. Breathing, maintaining body temperature, moving, beating the heart and fueling the brain all burn calories. The calories your body burns just being awake is called your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your basal metabolic rate is based on your height, weight, age and gender and can be found using a number of free online calculators. You will burn between 1.2x (very little or no exercise) to 1.9x your BMR (very hard exercise and physical job) in a day (1.55x being a moderate amount of exercise/sports 3-5 days a week), which gives you a rough idea of the calorie number you need to remain below to lose weight. Losing one pound a week is equivalent to burning ~3500 calories a week.
It is much easier to control your diet than it is to exercise enough to accommodate for a poor diet. This means that when losing weight, your main concern should be with what you put into your body, with your activity levels being secondary. Your first step should be to get an idea of the amount of calories you’re currently consuming, and keeping track of them in a journal for a few days. Often there are simple things you can eliminate that make a significant difference. Avoiding soda, juices, sugar in tea or coffee, all forms of sweets and desserts, and “junk” food snacking are easy ways to cut calories. Try to focus your meals on “real” foods such as vegetables, meats, dairy, nuts, fruits, and eggs. Avoid refined carbohydrates like white breads and pastas, and choose whole grains instead. Dietary fats, such as red meat and butter won’t contribute to weight gain any more than any other food and shouldn’t be avoided. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day as hydration is crucial to the process of weight loss.
Aside from simply calorie counting, there are a number of different diets available to choose from. Many popular diets have very active online communities offering advice and success stories. One diet in particular that’s gaining momentum online is the ketogenic diet, which purports to help you lose weight by cutting carbohydrates down to less than 50g a day. Ketogenic diets are based on the principal that when carbs are greatly reduced, the body enters a state called ketosis in which the body’s energy is taken almost entirely from fat stores. Most people on the diet have success without even counting calories. Before you choose any diet, though, it is important to do your research. Try to find credible scientific sources of information rather than relying on word of mouth. Your health is on the line!
Not only will exercise improve your rate of weight loss, but studies have demonstrated a proper fitness routine will improve both your energy and your mood. Some research has even demonstrated that exercise is as effective at treating depression as any drug on the market. Whether you elect to find a gym routine, pursue strength training, walk, run or engage in a sport, exercise will aide in your weight loss immensely. Estimates for the amount of calories burned during various physical activities can be found online or on equipment at the gym.
As you begin your weight loss journey, you should recognize that some of the things you may have heard in the past about losing weight are myths. One very common misconception is that it is possible to target fat loss from certain areas of the body with a specific diet or exercise. Where your body stores and burns fat is determined by your genetics, and targeting specific areas is not possible. Another common diet myth is that diet drinks and artificial sweeteners contribute to weight gain. Also, did you know the body entering “starvation mode” and storing fat or dropping metabolism during calorie reduction is a myth? Be sure to double check any word-of-mouth advice you may receive during your weight loss journey as there are many superstitions surrounding the process.by