Looking to get in shape for the summer? It may only be April but the sooner you begin the better results you will see. Many people want to lose weight as quickly and painlessly as possible. Unfortunately, there is no rapid weight loss diet; unless you cut so many calories that you are literally starving yourself. Fortunately, there are some tips that can help you lose weight quickly and healthily.
Finding your caloric needs
One of the most important things you can do to lose weight is find you caloric need and eat below that level. There are a few different formulas to estimate your caloric needs. I recommend using the calorie calculator at http://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html which bases their estimation off the commonly used Mifflin-St Jeor Equation.
You need to know your age, height, weight and activity level. The calculator will tell you how many calories you need to maintain and lose weight.
Reduce your caloric intake
Once you find your daily caloric needs, go under this amount by a few hundred calories or follow the recommendations obtained from the previously used calorie calculator. If you cut too many calories you will likely not be able to maintain it for more than a few days. Find an amount where you are hungry but not starving and that you can maintain for a few months. Never go less than 1200 calories a day.
Drink, drink drink
In my recent article about water I discussed the role that water may play in weight loss. Even though water has no calories, studies have shown that drinking water before a meal can lead to reduced caloric intake compared to those that did not drink water before eating. Replacing sugar sweetened beverages with water can also aid in weight loss.
Eat close to bed
You likely have heard that people should avoid eating too close to bed. If you are cutting calories below maintenance levels, eating before bed may not be a bad thing. If you have ever tried losing weight in the past you will understand the difficult of falling asleep and staying asleep when all you can think about is food. So you are left with two choices: do not eat close to bed and risk waking up for a midnight snack (and throwing away a whole day of effort) or eat close to bed and get a good night sleep. I recommend a light snack. A protein shake is ideal.
Up the protein
Although gram for gram fat has more calories than carbohydrates or protein, protein is the most filling of the three. Not only is protein more filling than carbohydrates or fat, it helps maintain lean muscle mass better as well. So not only will protein keep you from overeating it will help maintain your muscle mass which increases your resting metabolic rate, resulting in even more weight loss.
Protein shakes are a great way to meet your protein needs. There are a variety of protein powders: whey, casein, soy and pea are the most common. Look for ones without added sugar. You can mix the protein powder with water or milk or you can make a shake and add some yogurt or peanut butter to the mix.
If you eat less than your maintenance amount of calories you do not need to exercise, but you can if you want. While exercise has numerous health benefits there is one drawback. It is possible that you may end up overeating following exercise, especially if you overestimate the amount of calories you burned. Exercise is a great tool to lose weight and if you make sure not to overeat following exercise feel free to exercise as much as you want.
Buy a food scale
Buying a food scale may seem excessive to some. I have been using a food scale for the past decade. Once you get used to it it takes no time at all to weigh your food. You will be amazed at how difficult it is to eyeball a serving size. You obviously do not have to weigh out foods like fruits or bread. Scales are cheap and will help you accurately track your calories.
After you weigh your food write it in a notebook and use an app like ChronoMeter or MyFitnessPal to find out how many calories are in the serving. Weighing food is far more accurate than using a measuring cup which is more prone to differences dependent on how tightly something is or is not packed.
Keep a food journal
Go to the store and buy a small notebook. You should use this notebook to keep track of what you are eating. If you have a food scale you can write down the amount of food you are eating by weight. If you do not you can write down the volume of food, say 1 cup. With a food journal there is no guesswork on your part. You will know exactly how many calories you ate for the day. This is especially important if you want a cheat meal since you can simply factor in the calories and consume less food and end up eating the recommended amount of total calories.
You can eat whatever you want
Yes, you read that right. As long as you keep your total daily calories low, you can eat whatever you want. The only problem, which you would soon find out, is that eating processed foods that are high in calories will leave you extremely hungry, which will sooner or later lead to overeating. Reducing calories is hard enough, and if you opt to eat processed foods instead of high protein, high fiber, low sugar foods you are making it much harder on yourself to stick to your diet.
- At the end of the day losing weight always comes down to burning more calories than you take in.
- There is no secret formula for rapid weight loss- outside of starving yourself.
- You can use a calorie calculator to estimate your daily caloric needs.
- Drink enough water. In my previous article I show that drinking water can lead to reduced food intake.
- Eat close to bed- if you are cutting calories you will likely be very hungry and have a hard time falling asleep unless you eat a light meal before bed.
- Increase your protein intake. Protein helps keep you full longer than fats or carbohydrates. Protein shakes are a great way to increase your protein intake.
- You can exercise to lose weight but if you are reducing calories enough exercise is not necessary.
- Buy a food scale. They are cheap and easy to use. Estimating food amounts with the eye can lead to overeating.
- Keep a food journal. Write down the foods you are eating and the amount (in grams). Put this information in a food calculator like Chronometer or MyFitnessPal to see your caloric intake for the day.
- You can eat whatever you want as long as you stay under your desired caloric intake. The downside is if you eat a lot of processed foods they will be high in calories but not fill you up and may lead to overeating due to increased hunger.