It can be frustrating to want to lose weight but not be sure if you are using the right strategies. Some may not even know where to start. The following are 12 solid hacks for weight loss.
1. Stop "Dieting"
Weight loss requires a life long change. It is not merely something you do short term. Long term changes make your progress much more lasting. Your body will not have the boomerang effect where you "bounce back" to your previous weight as your "normal" weight will be lower when you stick to a long term plan.
2. Think Quality
Not all calories are created equal. Your body will respond differently, if not in an outright opposite manner, with different foods even if the calories are the same. Your body can use 500 calories of broccoli to rebuild muscles, aid cell repair, and provide the gut with fiber, whereas, 500 calories of cake will raise your insulin and all of it will be stored as fat.
3. Eat The Best Foods
So what the best foods? Think about the stone age. Your body did not just appear out of no where, Your modern body was molded over millions of years of evolution. So what is your body built to eat? Your body responds best to vegetables and meat. It must be noted that "weight loss" is something your body doesn't want to do so you have to eat what your body wants so your body can dispose of fat that it will not need. With that said, your body wants fat, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals (pretty much in that order). That's what vegetables and meat consist of. This is mainly the kind of foods our ancestors had access to for millions of years. Therefore, the best foods for weight loss are fish, turkey, eggs, broccoli, asparagus, avocado, nuts, etc.
4. Think About Quantity
Be aware of how much you eat. Studies have shown that a smaller plate will psychologically make you eat less than a bigger plate. Getting seconds is not wrong if you are still hungry to do so but don't fill a big plate of food and then feel as though you have to clean your entire plate. Eating a small portion first will usually satisfy hunger pangs. It should be noted that the more meals you eat in one day, the higher your metabolic rate, even if the calories are the same in a three meal scheme. Thus, many small meals (5-8) are best.
5. Avoid Sabotaging Foods
Avoid foods that harm your weight-loss goals. Most of these foods are candy, sodas, white bread, pastries, anything fried, etc. The reason these throw off your weight loss is because these foods consist of simple sugars or simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates will raise your insulin and put your body into a fat gaining state. Simple sugars are extremely rare in nature and that is why obesity can only be found in modern times in human history.
6. Try 80/20 (Pareto Principle)
Completely abstaining from "bad foods" for the rest of your life is outright impossible. The vast majority of what you eat should be on the healthy side (as stated above) and a small amount of the bad stuff. This means about 80% of what you consume should be fresh foods and 20% can be processed food (but try not overdoing sugary foods). This is not a hard rule in that you have to abide by this 80/20 way of eating. If you can do 95/5, more power to you. Just don't go beyond 20%.
7. Think of The Bigger Picture
Trying to control your day-to-day eating habits can be really hard. Instead, make changes to your 'bigger habits' like what you buy at the grocery store and making rules for yourself like never bringing soda into your home. Don't think about sticking to a plan but rather think about in what direction are your actions taking you. Whenever we look at things up close, they can be overwhelming but if we take a step back, breathe, and reflect, it puts things into perspective and find new found motivation.
8. Keep It Moving
Always take opportunities that require more physical movement. For example, take the stairs, park your car far away, take the scenic route, go hiking, play with your kids (or any kids) outside, shoot some hoops, etc. Being sedentary is not aiding your cause even if you are eating right. Simply moving, increases blood flow and enhances brain activity. Remaining sedentary brings a host of health issues.
Nutrition is by far the most important factor in weight loss but supplementing what you eat with exercise will amplify your results. Exercise naturally increases your metabolism and increases lean muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Therefore, if a skinny guy and a bodybuilder were both walking down the street at a normal pace, the bodybuilder would be burning more calories, even if they did the same exact exercise.
There are two proven methods of effective cardio. One is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and the other is steady state cardio. HIIT is about doing 30 seconds of full exertion cardio followed by slow cardio. For example, sprinting for 30 seconds then walking for 30 seconds (note: does not mean stopping for 30 seconds). Do this for about 15-20 minutes. Find a ratio that best works for you and then push your limits. Steady state cardio is simply keeping a constant pace for a prolonged amount of time. For example, inclined walking on a treadmill for 45 minutes. These can either be done right after lifting weights or on a empty stomach (protein shake beforehand is okay) preferably first thing in the morning.
You might think that weight loss happens at the gym. The reality is that weight loss happens when you sleep. Weight loss is a by product of recovery. If you are not fully recovered, your body will find it really hard to let go of that fat because it sees fat as a survival mechanism. Whereas, if you get your 8 hours a night, your body sees no problem in letting go of those pounds. Not sleeping enough also puts your body into a constant survival mode with all your hormones out of whack and increases in inflammation.
Stress is a huge contributor to weight gain. When you are stressed out, your body keeps operating in survival mode which triggers your body to keep on storing fat and to not let any go. Your body can also not recover in a stressed out state as a stressed body has tons of hormones being continuously pumped out. Being stress-free allows your body to take the adequate hormone response for weight loss and recovery from your work outs. Learn to take a deep breathe and realize that nothing is ever too significant to stress out over. Everything just needs a strategy or an adequate decision which is best realized with a steady and calm mind.