I can guarantee this isn’t the first ‘How to diet and achieve weight loss really quickly’ post and I can promise you it won’t be your last.
These sort of posts attract a lot of attention and for good reason – noone wants to be overweight and everyone seems to be pushing their own interests rather than actually giving out valuable information to help the masses.
In this post I want to tell you the reality of weight loss and ultimately the things you can do to lose weight at the fastest (and healthiest) rate possible.
What is weight?
Sounds a bit stupid. When you searched ‘how to lose weight’ into Google, you probably didn’t mean water weight, you meant body fat.
This is an important differentiation as they are almost two completely separate things.
Weight can be lost a multitude of ways:
- Weighing yourself at different points in the day;
- Reducing the amount of carbohydrates you eat;
- Reducing the amount of sodium you eat; and
- Reducing the amount of stress you are under.
These are only a few examples from a list of may.
If you were to do the things in the list above, you’d definitely lose weight – you’d lose it pretty quickly too.
However, this won’t be because you’ve lost body fat. You’ll have only reduced the amount of water your body is holding on to, maybe a teeny bit of body fat too.
Different diets to chose from
I’ll briefly talk to you about the different types of diets and how they influence weight loss (and fat loss). I will then tell you why they are not optimal for losing body fat, fast.
This is where you drastically reduce the number of carbohydrates in your diet and replace them for higher fat foods.
The principle behind this is to force your body to start utilising fats as a source of energy rather than carbohydrates.
At the surface, this seems like common sense. ‘But, but… but Alex, surely if I’m using fats as fuel, I can just keep doing that until I’ve used all of my body fat as fuel?’ – unfortunately, my sweet child, that’s not how fat loss works.
Sure you’ll see your weight drop, but that’s because you’ve reduced your carbohydrates drastically.
A study conducted in 2015 suggests that for every 1 gram of carbohydrate consumed, the body will store at least 3 grams of water (if you’ve read the study, glycogen is driven to the muscles by carbs so fewer carbs = less glycogen in muscles).
If you’d like to read more about the Keto Diet, I’ve linked a great article here.
You called also call this the ‘caveman diet’ as it aims to cut out any processed foods and seeks to focus eating on naturally sourced foods like our ancestors did centuries ago.
In my personal opinion, I would say that this premise is good for fat loss. This is because it not only encourages you to prioritise fruit, veg and meat but it will also give your body an abundance of micronutrients which are vital to living a healthy life.
The reason that this diet will help you to lose body fat is because you’ll find that if you’re switching from a largely calorie-dense diet to a diet that prioritises fruit and vegetables, you’ll be consuming much less calorie-dense foods.
Additionally, if you’re consuming more protein – it is scientifically proven to satisfy your hunger cravings for longer than carbohydrates and fats do.
The only thing I would add to this is that following this diet will not get you fast fat loss – although it might be a good long term solution.
If you’d like to read more about the Paleo Diet, I’ve linked an article here.
The Atkins diet is another low carb diet that encourages you to eat much more protein.
This is probably a step down from the Paleo diet as, although you are encouraged to make healthier choices, you are still allowed processed foods so long as they are low carb.
You can see from my last two points, why this diet will help you lose weight. Healthier choices will help to eat lower calorie-dense foods as well as encourage increased protein consumption to avoid hunger.
Additionally, lower carbs = less water held.
I’ve linked the Atkins diet website here if you wanted to read more.
‘So now we’ve established that these diets can help me to lose weight, why can’t I use these to help me lose weight fast?’
Well, first let me tell you the worst kept secret about losing body fat effectively…
Fundamentals of weight loss
The Energy Balance
You may have heard of this little beauty before – or you may not have. Either way, let me explain.
The Energy Balance is as follows: ‘Calories in vs Calories out.;
For those like me who liked algebra, try these equations out for size…
1. Calories in > Calories out = Fat/muscle gain (+ some water)
2. Calories in < Calories out = Fat/muscle loss (+ some water).
The best way to ensure that the weight loss is mainly fat is to do this as slowly as possible – however, if you’re reading this, you’re just going to want a drop in weight fast. I’ll get onto how to do that in a minute.
I mean…. there isn’t really that much to talk about here.
In order to work out the ‘calories in’ side of your Energy Balance, you’ll just need to track everything that passes your lips.
It’s really that simple.
Now this is where things get tricky and it’s often the most overlooked part of managing weight loss.
You can expend calories in a number of ways:
- Steps (track them daily);
- Routines/hobbies and
When trying to work out the ‘calories out’ part of your equation, you first want to make sure the above list of activities is consistent throughout your weight loss journey.
Say, you play sports twice a week. You should keep that consistent as if you drop it to once a week or up it to three times a week, this will affect your overall calories out.
‘So where do I start?’
Now here’s what you’ve been waiting for…
How to achieve weight loss, fast
Yay – we’re finally here.
Calculating your own Energy Balance
Calculating your own energy balance is easier than you may think.
To work out your calories in, download MyFitnessPal and determine how many calories you’re eating each day for the course of a two weeks.
Whilst you’re doing that, note down the average steps you’re doing each day and, if you’re working out, how often.
I also want you to weigh yourself each day.
By the end of the week, you should be able to complete the table below (twice for two weeks):
Now you’ve established the average calories you’re eating daily, the activity you’re doing each day and how your weight is moving as a result.
If weight goes up from week 1 to week 2, you’re calories in > calories out. If weight goes down, calories in < calories out.
Now depending on how much your weight has moved will determine how much you alter your calories.
If your weight stayed the same, you can safely assume that your weekly average calories are your maintenance calories.
Maintenance calories are the number of calories you need to eat each day in order to maintain your current weight. This also means that anything above this will result in weight gain and anything below will result in weight loss.
I posted an article a couple of days ago about the Must Have Fitness Apps, go check it out as you can use these apps to track all of the above!
What to do with this information
Well. Now you’ve done the above and found your weight has moved, I want you to do the following:
- Say you’ve gained 0.5kg +, reduce your weekly calories by 700 calories.
- If you’ve gained 0 – 0.5kg, reduce your weekly calories by 500 calories.
- Finally, if you’ve lost any weight, reduce your calories by 200-300 calories – dependant on how much weight you lost.
This will (hopefully) put your body into a significant calorie deficit and get you losing that fat as quickly as you can.
If weight loss stalls, you can manipulate the Energy Balance to tilt it back towards weight loss. This could be by increasing the calories out, or decreasing the calories in.
BONUS SECTION – How to make the weight loss count!
A problem I often see with dramatic weight loss in a short amount of time is the rebound effect is has.
You will push and push yourself physically and mentally to get the scales to drop as quickly as you can and once you hit the goal weight, but once you get to your goal weight you bounce straight back up to how you were eating before.
Of course, the trouble with that is if you’ve pulled away calories for a long period of time – your body will now have a new maintenance much lower than you initially had.
The problem with this is that if you jump back up to your old maintenance calories, you’re going to pile the weight back on.
However, do not fear – I have the solution.
THE REVERSE DIET!
This is very well known from the bodybuilding industry. As top physique competitors have to drop large amounts of body fat to get to that ‘peeled’ look, they will end up being on extremely low calories.
Once the competition is finished, they will want to eat everything in sight. To avoid excessive weight gain, they reverse diet their way out.
So how does reverse dieting work?
It’s simple but requires a lot of patience.
You simply start to increase your daily calories gradually, usually once per week.
I would suggest doing it in increments of 100 calories and making sure your body weight doesn’t start to increase drastically after a change has been made.
This way you can start eating more over time and you are also giving your body a chance to keep your maintenance level of calories rising slowly so you’re never in a significant calorie surplus.
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