When it comes to weight loss, there are some things that most of us are aware of. Eat less junk food, eat more fruits and veggies, exercise more, don’t drink soda, etc. However, there are some BIG aspects of weight loss that many people tend to neglect or forget. Without taking these following 5 tips into consideration, you may be missing out on some big progress in your weight loss goals.
1) Eating Enough Food
We all know that to lose weight, most of us should probably eat less than we do. However, eating TOO LOW of calories can really make things difficult, and unhealthy for our future. By eating a ultra-restrictive, super low calorie diet, we will lose weight…at first. The body will soon recognize this as starvation, and slows metabolism down – metabolic damage. This is what commonly happens with crash dieters. Sure, you lose weight at first, but the weight loss slows, eventually plateaus, and you gain it back.
Example: A 35 year old, 170 pound female that doesn’t exercise will burn, on average, around 1700 calories a day. The lowest I would advise going for an extended weight loss plan would be 1200 calories. Add in some exercise, and I would say 1500 calories would still be safe. You may not lose weight as fast as you want, but losing weight is about a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. Obviously, not everyone is the same, so you may have to play around with your numbers a little bit. By adding exercise, this will increase the weight loss rate, and is totally safe. However, if you are exercising intensely or for long periods of time, getting enough calories is even more important for recovery purposes.
2) Lifting Weights
I honestly will continue to preach this until the day I die. Most people will jump on a cardio machine or run all day to try and lose weight. These options are great! However, lifting weights will only help you reach your goals faster. When we lift weights (with some intensity i.e. heavier loads, no pink dumbbells) our muscles become fat burning machines. The part in the muscle cell the burns fat (mitochondria) becomes more active, and becomes more abundant. Even better, this effect lasts hours, even days after our weight workout! Our muscles also become more sensitive to insulin post-workout, so when we eat carbs, they primarily get broken down into glucose and shuttled into muscles, not fat stores. EVERYONE should be doing some sort of resistance training at least 2-3 times/week.
3) Eating Enough (Lean)Protein
This one pairs up with tip #2 very nicely. If we are lifting weights, we need to repair those muscles so they can stay strong, remain efficient at fat burning, and continue to aid in fat loss. Protein also has been proven to help with satiety, or fullness, and therefore can significantly prevent over eating later in the day. Everyone’s protein needs are different, but the following summarizes the needs for different levels of activity based on an extensive review article/position paper published by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. (To find your bodyweight in kg, just divide it by 2.2. 220 lb = 100kg, 150 lb = 68kg)
- Low Intensity Exercise 3 days per week (walking, leisurely biking) – 1.3g/kg body weight
- Moderate Intensity Exercise 3 days per week (jogging, light lifting) – 1.4g/kg body weight
- Moderate Intensity Exercise 4-5 days per week (jogging, light lifting) – 1.5g/kg body weight
- Moderate Resistance Training 3 day per week (Higher reps, <70% 1RM) – 1.6g/kg body weight
- Heavy Resistance Training 3+ days per week (High volume, >70% 1RM) – 2g/kg body weight
4) Drinking Enough Water
Yes, water is great for hydration. But it also helps flush the body, move nutrients more efficiently, keep metabolism up. Water fuels the muscles for contraction, and that means that the muscles are working on burning fat. It also helps keep the kidneys running properly, so your liver doesn’t have to help out and it can focus on breaking down stored body fat. It’s also calorie free!
5) Getting Enough Sleep
Sleeping enough will not only make you feel better the next day, but it will also help you out from a hormonal perspective. When we don’t get enough sleep, our leptin levels are lowered. Leptin helps to suppress our appetite the next day. Also, lack of sleep gives us an increase in ghrelin, a hormone that INCREASES appetite. Also, assuming you listened to tip 2 and are planning on lifting weights, sleep is the time that our muscles recover and repair damaged fibers (as long as we are fueling them enough during the day as well). Healthy and healed muscles burn fat much more efficiently than ones that are constantly fatigued and sore.
So there you have it. Don’t starve yourself, lift some weights, eat enough protein, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep. Always remember, losing weight isn’t easy, and can’t happen overnight…or we would all be doing it already!