Ask a person how he or she has lost weight, and they’ll give you answers ranging from absolutely credible to absolutely silly. Is it any wonder why weight loss can be such a confusing journey?
If you’re just starting out though, don’t lose heart. Here are a few simple rules you need to know that are guaranteed to help you shed those unwanted pounds.
How many calories should I take each day?
This is perhaps the first and biggest question that anyone trying to lose weight asks. There are a lot of answers floating out there, but the truth is plain and simple: calories in, calories out. That is, you want to burn more calories than you consume—any surplus leads to weight gain, and any deficit results in weight loss.
But how do you know what your baseline calorie consumption should be? That’s simple. Just go online and find your ideal body weight (IBW), then multiply it by 14. For instance, if your ideal body weight is 150 lbs., you should be eating 2,100 calories each day to maintain your weight. If you want to shed pounds, you have to incur a slight calorie deficit of about 200-500 calories each day by either eating less or working out more.
It doesn’t matter what I eat as long as I have a calorie deficit, right?
Yes, weight loss is hinged around creating a calorie deficit, but eating less doesn’t always mean eating healthy. Theoretically, you can lose weight on an all-donut diet provided that you’re eating less than your recommended daily calorie consumption.
You should also consider, though, that donuts consist mostly of refined starch, a ton of sugar, and lots of oil. You won’t get any vitamins or minerals that are vital to your body’s proper functioning. What’s more, refined sugars and starches cause rapid spikes in your blood sugar levels, which over time can lead to metabolic illnesses such as diabetes. In short, it’s not just the amount of calories you eat, it’s the quality, too.
Ugh, I already ate dinner but I’m still starving!
Technically, you’re not. Your body is just wired to accept as many calories as you’re willing to give it, which is why you get cravings. The solution to this quandary is also very simple: drink a tall glass of water.
A lot of times, the body mistakes thirst for hunger pangs, and by filling your stomach, you feel much fuller. You don’t also have to wait until the end of the meal to sip water—many diet experts suggest drinking a glass before a meal so you feel fuller and are less likely to help yourself to seconds. You can also freely sip water during your meal to cleanse your palate and increase your feeling of satiation.
I work out five times a week but I still can’t lose weight! What’s going on?
While your commitment is certainly admirable, you need to take a closer look at your lifestyle to uncover little things that are sabotaging your weight loss progress. More likely than not, you’re still eating too many calories. If you “reward” yourself with a Frappuccino after a grueling workout, you’re probably neutralizing all the calories you burned in the gym.
Oftentimes, people also fall prey to supposedly “healthy” food. One of the biggest offenders here are store-bought salads. Yes, the veggies in it are low calorie, but the dressings that come with them often use high-calorie ingredients such as mayonnaise. What’s more, salad servings are often big enough for two, so you’re really eating more than your fair share of calories.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: don’t eat anything without checking its nutritional information. This way, you can more accurately account for your calorie consumption each day.
Should I give up my favorite things when I’m dieting?
One of the biggest challenges with dieting and weight loss is sacrificing the foods you love. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t treat yourself every now and then. In fact, you’re more likely to binge eat if you don’t give yourself a bit of leeway when it comes to food.
If you really can’t give up your favorite guilty pleasures, at least swap them out for healthier alternatives. If you can’t live without coffee for instance, you can purchase a variant that has natural extracts that promote fat loss instead.
Losing weight is a long and arduous journey, but it becomes much easier when you have all the information you need. Hopefully, the answers given above will assist you in crafting a solid weight loss plan and help you avoid rookie mistakes