Say you were to ask everyone in the gym what their goal was? I think we can all agree “to lose some weight” would be the clear winner. This article aims to give you clear and concise information on how to lose weight. You often see social media or TV adverts telling you amazing new fat loss crazes and diets to get rapid weight loss.
Now I’m not saying you should immediately dismiss any advert or new weight loss trend. But hopefully, the information to follow within this article will give you the basic knowledge of how to lose weight and detect what might be FAKE NEWS in the world of fat loss! Simply put if you want to lose weight you need to make sure you are in a calorie deficit. This means that you have to consume fewer calories needed to maintain your current body weight, everyone will say this because it’s a fact. Although the concept is simple, adherence is not and a bang average diet that you stick to is 100% better than a fancy, top of the range, optimal fat loss diet that you can only stomach for 2 days.
Calorie intake is key.
There are examples of people who have lost weight eating only McDonald’s (The Independent, 2020) which just shows how important a calorie deficit is when trying to lose weight. This would not be ideal for your overall health and I imagine you would lose a lot of muscle mass to due to insufficient amounts of protein, along with a whole host of other side effects…so please don’t take away from this that all you need to do to lose weight is to eat McDonald’s! One of the difficulties people face when starting to count calories is struggling to account for everything they consume, eating things with low satiety (feeling full) and high calories or even just being bothered to track everything.
For example, what I’ve found myself when dieting is you can consume a decent chunk of carioles through what you drink. There are roughly around 150 calories per soft drink! This is the equivalent of a small jacket potato, which would start to satisfy any hunger you might have, whereas I’ve never known anyone to feel full of drinks. Soft drinks and alcohol are the extreme end of calorific drinks, but it’s something to think about as it can lead to you going way over your total daily calorie intake. Reducing the number of sugary drinks in your diet will not only help with this calorie intake, meaning weight loss, it will also help with health issues such as high blood pressure (Vasa, 2020).
Tracking your calories can also be a pain if you’re not wanting to follow a strict diet plan.
You can get apps (MyFitnessPal) to track calories as you go which can be useful if used right but can also lead to miss calculations. For example, if you were eating a meal and then decided to search how many calories are in one turkey breast there is a good chance you will get this wrong. When I started meal planning I searched food this way to give me a rough idea of the calories and macros, before going out and buying everything.
Surprisingly when I got home and prepared to cook I noticed that the actual calories on the packages were often out compared to what I had found online with generic searches. The margins weren’t huge but they added up over the day causing me to be 150 to 200 calories out, which makes a difference! This is why I think flexible or rigid dieting is the best way to go when tracking your calorie intake (I will discuss this further below).
There are a lot of different diets out there.
And if you find one that works for you then that’s great and 100% stick with it. For example, low carb or diets that cut carbs out are popular and a lot of people find success with them. The reason being in some cases is if you were going to have chicken, rice and veg (an imaginative meal I know!) you would cut the carbs and take away the rice, meaning the calories are lower helping to create a calorie deficit. Which is what you want and if this works for you and you don’t have to track calories because of the lower amount of carbs = lower calories, then do it! But just be aware you will be losing the nutritional benefits that come with these foods.
Also, I find carbs keep my hunger at bay for longer making it easier to resist temptation. When thinking about your new diet I would suggest Flexible or Rigid diets as they are both proven to have a positive effect on weight loss (Stewart, Williamson and White, 2002). Both of these diets allow you to eat foods that you like as you put them together.
The best way to flexible diet in my eyes is to plan around 80% of your calorie intake in a rigid plan.
Then allow yourself to eat whatever you like with the other 20%, whether it be biscuits, chocolate, ice cream or a glass of wine. Flexible dieting helps with adherence and these “free” calories (the 20%) don’t give you the sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) on the sweet foods in life. Not only does this help you to stick to the diet, but also gives you a higher chance of making this a long-term behaviour change (McDonald, 2005). This will mean that once you shift the weight you will find it easier to keep it off.
Having said this don’t cheat yourself and eat a whole galaxy bar, pack of digestives and 2 cans of coke and think that will probably fall within your 20%! If you do find you want a bit more leeway then all you need to do is plan for this by maybe giving yours self 30% of free calories, as after all it’s a FLEXIBLE diet.
There are also rigid diet plans but I wouldn’t suggest this unless:
1. You are really into the gym and want better body composition as quickly as possible
2. Are extremely motivated to stick to it because it will be tricky or
3. Like me you don’t really care about what you eat as long as you’re not hungry it’s all good!
Rigid diets obviously give you the optimum results but it’s also very easy to fall back down the hill and put your weight back on and then some!
Now you’ve had an overview of diet the next thing to look at is what exercise should you do and how much? Although diet is a huge part of losing weight exercise helps to accelerate the weight loss process and also helps with adherence to your diet (Men’s Health, 2020). For example, cheat meals are tolerable as they are being burned during workouts. Also working out helps to give structure and motivation to why you are dieting. After working hard in the gym, you will want to eat well to amplify this work. But after starving yourself for weeks on salad, clean meals might become less appealing! Personally, I think the rule of 3 is a good start so aim for 3 sessions a week of exercise.
However, if you wanted to do less or more you can just adjust your calorie intake to make sure it’s always below what you’re burning. When wanting to lose weight the stand out is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). The most basic version of this would be to work as hard as you can for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds for 15/20mins. HIIT is a lot more time-efficient in getting the results you want with regards to fat loss and has been proven to be 40% more time-efficient then moderate exercises such as the cross trainer or leisurely swimming (Wewege, van den Berg, Ward and Keech, 2017).
How does HIIT work?
Your fat-burning heart rate zone is commonly known as 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. When you switch between high and low intensity your heart rate will respond meaning that you may switch between heart rate zones depending on the intensity you’re working at. This may mean your body uses more fat stores if working you’re working in your fat-burning zone more often. However, this will not actually burn more fat tissue.
For example, say you have a pan of baked beans to wash up. If you scrub at a light intensity you will get rid of the easy bean juice (fat stores ready to use as energy from the food you eat), but you’re not getting rid of the hardened stains (the fat you can see and want to lose). The way that HIIT gets rid of your adipose fat tissue (harden stains) is because you use a large number of calories during the session. Also, it is more time-effective because HIIT releases adrenaline during your high-intensity bouts of exercise resulting in a release of chemicals that help to burn away fat tissue after you have finished working out (Boutcher, 2011)
Continuous training is another great way to burn calories meaning you will lose weight.
This is where you pick a Cardiovascular Exercise such as running, biking, swimming or rowing for example and do them continuously with no break. If you enjoy continuous training then running is the exercise that burns the most calories per hour (Mayo Clinic, 2020) followed by exercises such as swimming, rowing or the cross-trainer. If you enjoy this and have the time then go for it! And if you look at images of runners, swimmers and rowers they don’t seem to have any issues with weight loss! Like anything in the world of fitness start with what you can manage and then aim to progress from this point.
For example, you could start with a 1mile run and add 100m to it every week. Once you get going you can then start looking at the times you did and try to beat them if you have a competitive streak.
Finally, resistance training is another good way to lose weight and is also something that some people really enjoy.
Resistance training does exactly what it says on the tin, you’re using your body to push, pull or hold a resistance. This would be your free weights and resistance machines. Although the main aim is to build muscle and get stronger you will also burn a large number of calories, which is why a lot of bodybuilders eat so much when trying to put on weight. They are trying to do the opposite of weight loss and make sure they can eat more calories they burn in their workouts. Compound exercises are definitely something you need to include in your resistance program when trying to lose weight as they burn the largest number of calories (Reis et al., 2017).
These are exercises such as squats and deadlifts that recruit multiple muscle groups to perform the movement. It’s a shame you can’t perform them continuously as they would outdo running in calories burned per hour, but this just isn’t doable! Research by Xu et al., 2020 has shown that resistance training increases your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), the time its increase for however is often argued. Your BMR is the rate at which your body burns calories to do basic functions to keep you alive when resting. You will have probably worked out that if you increase your BMR it will mean you are burning more calories and losing weight. The best thing to do when trying to lose weight is to incorporate resistance training with cardio to get the best results (Selvamurugamani and Senthilkumar, 2020)
In summary, there are more efficient ways than others to losing weight but at the end of the day, there is zero point in doing something that won’t work for you.
For example, flying a helicopter to work would be the quickest way for me to get there… but I have no idea how to fly it or a big enough bank balance to afford one, a better option for me would be a pushbike. I will still get there and will get to enjoy things in life, like going out with mates and having nice holidays because I haven’t spent all my money on a helicopter! Also, like work losing weight is something you will have to do for a very long time! So, it’s a big help if you enjoy it or make it work for you if you don’t.
I hope you enjoyed this article and feel free to contact me if you want any further advice on this topic.
The Independent. 2020. Man Ate Only Mcdonalds For A Month And Lost 16Lbs – But Experts Are Concerned. [online] Available at: <https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/weight-loss-diet-fat-mcdonalds-calories-nutrition-super-size-me-ryan-williams-exercise-a8632016.html> [Accessed 30 May 2020].
Vasa, S., 2020. Who Succeeds With Weight Loss By Changing Beverage Intake? An Examination Of Predictors Of Weight Loss Within A Randomized Trial To Reduce Caloric Beverage Intake. [online] Carolina Digital Repository. Available at: <https://cdr.lib.unc.edu/concern/honors_theses/w0892f77m> [Accessed 30 May 2020].
Stewart, T., Williamson, D. and White, M., 2002. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women. Appetite, 38(1), pp.39-44.
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Reis, V., Garrido, N., Vianna, J., Sousa, A., Alves, J. and Marques, M., 2017. Energy cost of isolated resistance exercises across low- to high-intensities. PLOS ONE, 12(7), p.e0181311.
Xu, S., Zhang, J., Dong, Y., Chen, R., Xu, W., Tan, Z., Gao, L. and Shang, L., 2020. The PROMOTE study (High-protein and resistance-training combination in overweight and obesity) for short-term weight loss and long-term weight maintenance for Chinese people: a protocol for a pilot randomized controlled trial. Trials, 21(1).
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