By: Adam Pounds, EIM Owner
You read the title right. You can eat whatever you want and still lose weight.
One question my clients always ask is “What is the best way to lose weight?” Though the process is different for everyone, there is a surefire way to lose weight, whether you choose to hit the gym a few times each week, or spend your days lounging at home.
Don’t Over Complicate the Process
To lose weight, the rule is simple: eat less calories than you burn. If your goal is to lose weight, you must be in a caloric deficit. Whether you choose to intermittent fast, focus on a low carb or keto diet, or even eat one meal a day, you have to burn more calories than you consume.
The first step in creating a caloric deficit is to find your maintenance calories. Maintenance calories are the number of calories you can eat in a day to maintain your current weight. This number is unique to you, and changes based on age, weight and body type. Your maintenance calories are determined by three factors: basal metabolic rate, the thermic effect of food, and non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories you burn at rest. If you choose to spend your days on the couch binge watching a series on Netflix, you will still burn a baseline of calories. These calories are what your body needs to survive and make up your BMR.
The Thermic Effect of Food is the energy required to absorb your food. This is determined by gender, muscle mass and even genetics.
Non-exercise Energy Thermogenesis, also known as NEAT, is any unplanned energy. Unplanned energy can come from going on a short walk, strolling around the grocery store, and even getting up and walking to the restroom. All of these activities contribute to your daily caloric burn. There are many ways to increase this number, like choosing a parking spot far from your destination, taking the stairs rather than the escalator, and increasing your water intake, causing you to get up for the restroom more frequently.
Losing Weight Quickly Versus Losing Weight Correctly
Many of my clients are tempted to lose weight as fast as they can. A quick drop in weight sounds great when a big event is coming up, or even the warmer months and they want to fit into last year’s swimsuit. But dropping weight fast is usually not a healthy option. It has been shown that people who lose weight too quickly tend to gain it back, and sometimes even more.
I tell my clients that a healthy weight loss goal is 1-2 pounds per week, if you slowly lower caloric intake. Research shows that if you can achieve a deficit of 300-500 calories per day below your maintenance calories, you can lose 1-2 pounds of weight each week. Keep in mind, 1 pound of fat is 3,500 calories. But don’t stop eating! A huge calorie deficit will decrease your energy, making you tired and sluggish, and potentially throw your body into starvation mode.
However, if you are burning an extra 300-500 calories a day, there is no need to drop your caloric intake. Keep that extra burn going until you hit a plateau. If your weight loss begins to stall, then you may consider dropping your daily caloric intake. If your weight loss stalls again, it could be because your body is in starvation mode. When you aren’t feeding it enough calories, your body will hold on to what it has.
Learn Your Macros
Did you know that there are essential fats and essential proteins, but there are no essential carbs? No essential carbs is why humans can survive on a low carb diet. Macronutrients are the building blocks of your diet. Calories are made up of carbs, fats and proteins. Essential fats and essential proteins are only available to us through food. Protein is great for muscle building and enzyme activity, while fats are necessary for hormonal balances. Carbs supply energy and glycogen storage in muscles.
Your body’s daily required macros are unique to you. You can find them by searching for a macro calculator on Google. Most calculators offer the option to input your goal weight and show your daily recommended macros to achieve that weight. Whatever diet you chose, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests a diet made up of 45-65% carbs, 10-35% protein and 20-35% fat.
Tips to Facilitate a Healthy Weight Loss
Mindset matters! Staying positive and realistic about your goals is important on your weight loss journey. Ask yourself, “how much food can I eat and still lose weight,” rather than “how much do I have to restrict myself to lose weight.”
Drink plenty of water. Drinking water helps twofold. Having lots of water throughout the day helps you avoid dehydration and keeps your stomach fuller for longer. Plenty of water also means plenty of bathroom breaks, and those extra steps add to your daily caloric deficit.
Track your food intake. Being aware of the calories in your meals is key to a caloric deficit. You may be surprised how many calories are in your “healthy” salad dressing or your daily coffee order. MyFitnessPal is a great app I have used to track calories. It has all the tools to help you input your meals and track your macros, exercise and even water intake.
Eat plenty of fibrous carbohydrates and adequate amounts of protein. High fiber fruits and vegetables work to keep you fuller longer than ‘empty’ carbs found in bread and other baked goods. Protein will also keep you full, as well as preserve lean muscle mass.
Volumize your food. Eating large amounts of low-calorie food is a great way to drop some pounds. Load up your salad with lettuce and low calorie, high fiber fruit and vegetables like broccoli, zucchini and cauliflower.
Maintain stress levels and get enough sleep. Adequate sleep helps your body rest and reset. I recommend our clients to not weigh every day. Your weight fluctuates day to day, so obsessing over the scale is not advised. I recommended you weigh on Friday morning right when you wake up, but after you go to the restroom.
Be a weekend warrior. Weekends are the time we typically unwind and indulge. Do your best not to destroy your week’s progress in one weekend. Be conscious of what you are eating and drinking, while allowing yourself to enjoy what you want. There may be a sneaky amount of calories in some of your favorite cocktails, so stay conscious of what you consume.
A healthy caloric deficit is the key to lasting weight loss. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to eat one meal a day, six small meals, or even Chick-Fil-A everyday (though not advised), as long as you burn more calories than you consume.
If you have further questions on your weight loss journey, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.
Learn more about nutrition for weight loss from EIM Personal Training in Birmingham, AL
Exercise Is Medicine (EIM) is an elite personal training studio located in Mountain Brook, Alabama. We believe that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! With a holistic approach to health, fitness and wellness, the EIM team works to understand your fitness goals, help you identify and develop wellness priorities, and address your specific health and fitness challenges. Through this understanding, we’re able to design a fitness and wellness plan specifically tailored to you.