If we’re being real, most of us have wondered at some point or another in our lives how to lose weight in the most effective, sustainable way possible.
After all, in our modern world, it’s much easier to gain weight than it is to shed it. Calorie-dense food options are right around every corner, and the business of life can cause weight to creep on day-by-day.
However, don’t get too down about weight gain. Whether you’ve put on some extra pounds since you started your new job, or gained some weight due to the new responsibility of having kids, or even because you simply haven’t been keeping your diet and exercise routine on track, I’ve got you covered.
There are all sorts of different ways to lose weight and keep it off. Some may work better for you than others, and vice versa, but there are several tried and true methods that will certainly help you reach your goals.
And this is the goal, right? Long-term weight loss that sticks.
Crash diets are proven to result in gaining all that weight back (and usually plus some), so the more concrete and steady the method, the more concrete the results.
Here I’m going to take you through some fundamental diet, exercise, and lifestyle tips that will make it easier than ever for you to shed unwanted body fat and build lean muscle mass, and (drumroll) finally keep it off.
Aim to Be in a Calorie Deficit
At the end of the day, losing weight involves being in a calorie deficit.
This means you’re burning more calories every day than you’re consuming. For reference, a person has to burn 3,500 calories in order to lose one pound of fat.
If you shave off 500 calories every day from your meals, the calorie equation says you’ll lose one pound of fat a week.
However, this is a pretty drastic reduction of calories and you might find it difficult to sustain, so you could instead choose to cut out 300 calories each day, which would take a little less than 2 weeks to lose one pound of fat.
Keep in mind that slow and steady wins the race. Try not to cut out too many calories at once; it can be tempting to cut more calories in an attempt to lose fat faster, but if you go too hard too fast, you’ll very likely put back on all the weight you lost within a couple days.
Instead, focus on being consistent with your calorie intake and playing the long game. Gradually decreasing your calorie intake over a longer period of time will ensure that you get solid results.
Prioritize Strength Training
There’s a common tendency to do tons and tons of cardio when you’re trying to lose weight. The reasoning is, if you’re burning a lot of calories, this must mean that you’re going to lose weight faster … which isn’t necessarily the case.
Now, it can certainly help, but believe t or not, strength training is actually your best weapon in the fight to lose weight and reach a lower body fat percentage.
Strength training boosts your metabolism and increases lean muscle mass, which means you’ll shed fat faster and burn more calories throughout the day, even when you’re resting.
If you strength train 3-5 times a week, you’ll see big results not only in your physique, but your energy levels and clarity of mind. Of course doing cardio regularly doesn’t hurt, but it’s not the primary driver of fat loss. Tossing in 2-3 cardio sessions per week – running or jogging, cycling, HIIT, etc… – will help you speed up fat-loss results and lose weight faster.
Eliminate Processed Foods From Your Diet
I know this is one that most people don’t want to hear, but the quality of your food matters just as much as the quantity of your food.
We all know that eating 1,500 calories of fresh salmon, green beans, and roasted sweet potato is not the same as 1,500 calories of, say, McDonald’s.
Anything in the family of processed foods will spike your blood sugar levels, priming your body for fat storage, cause indigestion, and can increase widespread inflammation.
Plus, processed foods are much higher in calories than home-cooked meals. Shift your focus to whole-foods-only, consuming lots of:
• Wild meats and fish
• Nuts and seeds
• Avocados and healthy fats like olive and coconut oil
• Leafy greens
• Green veggies like broccoli and cabbage
• Summer squash
• Carrots, pumpkin, and beets a couple times per week
Have an Active Lifestyle
According to physics, an object in motion stays in motion … and we as humans are also “objects.”
If we’re spending 12 hours a day inside, hunched over a computer, without ever seeing the light of day, it doesn’t matter how many deadlifts we do, we’re not on the path to everlasting health.
Having an active lifestyle involves more than just hitting the gym: it’s getting outside in the sun as often as you can, taking a brisk walk during your lunch hour, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going for a hike on the weekend instead of bingeing on more Netflix, taking up a new hobby, taking your first jiu-jitsu class, etc… In other words, the kind of vibrant, engaging lifestyle that you imagine a healthy person or athlete would.
The more active you are, the more calories you’ll burn throughout the day and the more likely you are to make the right choices for your diet. This is just as important in your quest to lose weight as exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet of clean, whole foods.
Sleep Well Every Night
Sleep is the unsung hero of weight loss. If you want to lose weight sustainably and effectively, make sure you’re sleeping 7-9 hours a night.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you experience elevated levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone that can cause you overeat and reach for the wrong foods.
Your amygdala, the deep emotional center of your brain, is also hyperactive when you’re running on little sleep, and simultaneously your prefrontal cortex — the “CEO part of the brain” that’s responsible for rational thinking — isn’t nearly as active as usual.
All that to say, when you don’t get enough sleep, you’re much more likely to overeat and emotionally eat. This results in excess calorie consumption and unwanted weight gain, which can of course halt weight loss.
As you can see, truly sustainable weight loss involves not just dieting and developing a workout regime. It’s instead developing a holistic, healthier way of moving through your day-to-day life. Eating whole foods, getting enough sleep and vitamin D, moving often – all of these changes add up to big results.