The Ultimate Guide To Weight Loss
About to get started on a weight loss journey?
If you’ve decided it’s finally time that you started taking steps towards improving your health and fitness while reaching your ideal body weight, it’s important that you know the most important weight loss information and strategies available.
One quick search online and you will come to see thousands of different articles, sites, and programs, all devoted to helping you reach your target body weight.
This said, not everyone has your best interests in mind.
The sad fact of the matter is that many people and companies are only out to make a quick dollar by selling you some gimmicky weight loss product, program, or service.
It’s up to you to fully understand the important steps you need to take to achieve successful weight loss and learn which products and programs will help – and which will hinder your progress.
Only you will be able to make the decisions about which path is right for you, but the more informed you are, the greater the chances are that you will make the right decision.
So this said, in this article, you are going to learn the ins and outs of successful weight loss.
• How weight loss happens so you know what you need to be doing in order to see maximum results
• How quickly you can safely lose weight
• What you should be looking for when searching for a weight loss program so you know how to choose one that will work for you
• What foods are ideal to help assist the weight loss process
• What the best weight loss diet plan is to use
• Whether weight loss pills will help or hinder your results
• What other weight loss supplements you might want to consider
• The best way to sustain weight loss motivation
• What to look for when searching for weight loss recipes online
Once you have all this information, you should be all set to get started, seeing optimal results from your efforts.
So let’s begin and talk about how weight loss happens.
How Weight Loss Happens
In order to see successful weight loss, you need to achieve one task: create a calorie deficit in your body.
What does this mean?
Basically, weight loss is achieved by taking in less energy than you burn off over the course of the day.
If you eat less than you burn, your body is going to have to find energy elsewhere to support your day to day activity levels. This is how body fat is then burned.
If you consume more energy than you burn off, you will gain body weight. Your body now has an excess supply of energy and needs to find something to do with that energy.
So the primary goal of any weight loss program or plan is to create this calorie deficit as it’s called.
This can be done either by increasing your calorie output (by increasing your activity level or boosting your resting metabolic rate), or it can be done by decreasing your food intake, therefore reducing your total calorie consumption.
How many total calories you burn off on a daily basis is a combination of the total amount of energy you use to complete all your daily activities, be it a workout session or simply taking a shower first thing in the morning, along with your resting metabolic rate, which represents the total number of calories your body burns each day simply to sustain life.
Your resting metabolic rate can vary considerably based on how much lean muscle mass tissue you have (the more muscle you have, the faster you will burn calories), your age, your gender, as well as the type of exercise you happen to be doing.
Certain exercise forms tend to boost your resting metabolic rate more than others, so by focusing on those, you will help ensure that you see success.
Finally, you’ll also burn calories breaking down and digesting your food, which is known as the ‘thermic effect of food’.
Protein rich foods have the highest value for this as about 25% of the total calories you consume from protein will be burned during the digestion process.
With fats and carbs, you’ll only see a net burn of around 2 and 4% respectively, so you can note the difference between these.
While you will never know the exact number of calories you burn each day (as figuring this out requires you sitting in a calorie chamber, a very scientific piece of machinery, 24 hours a day), there are a number of ways that you can estimate your calorie burn.
You’ll find many online calorie counters out there, or you can use a formula to assist with the process. To learn more about this formula, please see the calories article.
Once you have figured out about how many calories you burn up on a day to day basis, you can then go about figuring out your target calorie intake with your diet in order to achieve the calorie deficit as noted.
Let’s talk further now on the speed of weight loss and how that factors into how many calories you consume.
Is Rapid Weight Loss Safe?
When most people start up on a weight loss diet, they have one thing in mind: lose weight as quickly as possible.
They don’t want a ‘slow and steady approach.’ No, they want to see quick weight loss results so that they can get on with their life.
But, is this really safe – and effective?
The problem with losing weight too quickly is that you will often lose mostly water weight and lean muscle mass, not body fat.
This is problematic because first, it’s not actually fat mass, meaning you won’t look much better than you did before, second, it will be regained quickly when you come off the diet plan, and third, if you lose lean muscle mass, you will permanently slow down your resting metabolic rate, meaning you will find that you not only gain the weight you lost back, but it’s now easier to gain additional body fat from there.
Not to mention the fact that in order to lose weight fast, you will need to use a very low calorie diet, which means it’ll be hard to get in all the nutrients that your body needs to function at an optimal level.
While most people can sustain a moderate calorie deficit and still do fine nutritionally speaking, if you take your calorie intake too low, you will likely fall short in proteins, healthy fats, along with important vitamins and minerals.
This can really put your long-term health in jeopardy and could increase your risk factor for other problems to occur.
So rapid weight loss, as appealing as it sounds, really isn’t the best solution if you hope to actually keep the weight you lose off over the long run, while ensuring that it is actually body fat that you lose.
What’s a safe rate of weight loss then?
The more total body fat you have to lose, the faster you will be able to lose weight without a problem, so do keep that in mind.
Those who have 20+ kilos to lose can likely sustain a weight loss rate of 1 ½ to 2 kilos per week.
As you near the 10+ kilos to lose range, you’ll want to take that down to around 1 kilo per week, and as you move into the 5 kilos or fewer to lose, aim for half a kilogram per week.
For most people, this is a very good rate and should be something that is relatively sustainable for the long haul.
As you start getting leaner, expect to see weight loss slow down – you may be closer to the ½ kilo loss per week.
This is because the leaner you get, the harder your body is going to protect its fat loss stores, ensuring that you don’t start suffering from starvation.
This is a built-in mechanism your body has, so you can expect weight loss to become much more challenging the leaner you become.
This is why most people say that the last 5 kilos are always the hardest.
Keep in mind that there are 1500 calories in one kilo of body fat, so if you were aiming to lose 1 kilo per week, that means you need a calorie deficit of around 215 calories per day. If you were aiming to lose 2 kilos per week, that means a calorie deficit of 430 calories per day.
Anything over a 500 calorie deficit should be made up through both exercise and diet changes.
It’s safe to reduce your food intake by 500 calories provided you are making nutritious food choices, but anything more than this and you may start putting yourself at risk of nutritional deficiencies.
So as much as you may hope for fast weight loss results, slow and steady really is the best route to take.
It will all but guarantee that you do successfully lose weight, keep it off, and feel your best while you do.
Now let’s talk about what you should be looking for when seeking out a weight loss program.
What To Look For In Weight Loss Programs
With all the many different weight loss programs available out there, you may find that it becomes increasingly challenging to try and figure out which one will serve you well.
The first thing to note is that there’s no one ‘perfect’ weight loss plan. There are many ways that you can go about losing weight and many plans out there will work quite well at helping you achieve that goal.
What’s most important then is that you find the right weight loss plan that works for you.
What works best for you may work horribly for your best friend, so it’s not one-size-fits all here.
That said, there are some important points that you should be paying attention to and looking for in any weight loss plan you start to use if you hope to see ongoing results.
Let’s go over the key things that any good diet plan should provide.
• A sufficient calorie intake
First, you need to make sure the plan has a sufficient calorie intake. This was noted above, so follow those guidelines. If your diet is less than 1000 calories, you know something is wrong.
At minimum, women should be eating 1200 calories per day and men 1500. Most adults will need far more than this and will still be able to sustain good rates of weight loss.
• A wide variety of foods
It’s also important that your diet includes a wide variety of different foods. If you are eating the same five foods over and over again, not only is boredom inevitable, but you’ll also grow deficient in nutrients as well.
Even if those are the five healthiest foods you can eat, they will only provide so many vitamins and minerals, and in time, you will see deficiencies.
• A focus on foods in their natural state
It’s also important that any diet plan you consider going on is focusing on you eating foods in their natural state.
This means it’s not relying heavily on processed ‘ready-to-go’ meals, shakes, or bars.
While this isn’t to say a shake or bar can’t be a part of your menu from time to time, you shouldn’t be drinking liquid meals 75% of the time on your diet plan.
Ideally your diet plan should be one that helps you learn how to eat properly to sustain long term health.
This way, once you come off that diet plan, you’ll be able to sustain those eating habits, which will then help you keep the weight off for good.
• Sufficient lean protein
The next firm requirement that any diet plan you use should have is sufficient protein.
Protein is the one nutrient that you must consume daily to sustain life, so it’s an important one.
Failing to get in enough protein will mean that you put yourself at a high risk of losing lean muscle mass (which we already noted is very bad for long-term weight management) and will also mean your body doesn’t have the raw materials it needs to repair and rebuild body tissues.
You should be aiming for a protein intake of around 0.5 per kg of body weight, if not slightly more.
One thing to keep in mind is that as your calorie intake goes down, your protein intake needs to go up.
This is because there is a greater chance that your body will begin using the protein you eat as a fuel source, leaving less left over to help sustain all the other important processes that protein is required for.
• Sufficient fresh produce
Next, no diet plan should ever force you to cut out fresh produce. Produce, meaning fruits and vegetables, are the most nutrient dense foods on the planet and are required to sustain optimal health.
Vegetables especially as they are so low in total calories should never be restricted on a diet plan.
Some low carb diets may limit fruit intake as they are higher in carbs/sugar, and that’s fine – but they should never be completely eliminated if possible.
It’s important that you eat at the very least, four to five servings of vegetables each day to get your vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre in.
• Adequate healthy fats
It’s also going to be critical that you’re making sure to get in sufficient healthy fats as well.
While you don’t need much by way of healthy fats, you do need some in order to keep your brain and body healthy.
Aim for no fewer than 3-6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids (which can be taken in the form of fish oil).
In addition to that, you will likely also want to consume around 0.15 grams of fat per kg as part of your overall diet plan.
Diets lower than this may leave you with imbalanced hormonal levels as fats are important for keeping hormones in check.
Not to mention very low fat diets tend to leave dieters feeling extremely hungry, so by bringing up your total fat intake, you can ensure that you can stick to your program better.
• Personal enjoyment/satisfaction
Finally, the last key point that must be present in any diet plan you are considering is that you do derive some personal enjoyment and satisfaction from it.
Basically, if you feel like you are going to hate the diet entirely, don’t force yourself onto it.
Doing so is only going to lead you to feeling discouraged, frustrated, and ready to give up.
Dieting doesn’t need to feeling like torture if you find yourself the right weight loss plan.
While you may not love every second of it – after all, you do need to make some sacrifices – you shouldn’t hate it either.
If you can find a weight loss plan that satisfies all of these elements, you can feel good that that is a program that will help you see ongoing and long-term results.
Don’t ever dive onto the first weight loss program you come across.
Find a few and then make your decision from there. It will really pay off putting some effort into finding the right plan for yourself.
Now that you know how to find the right weight loss program, let’s go over which foods you should be eating.
What Weight Loss Foods Should You Eat?
What foods you eat on a day to day basis will have the single biggest influence on the degree of weight loss results that you see.
Eat the right foods and not only will weight loss feel easy, but you’ll also feel great while you go about your program.
Eat the wrong foods however and the same cannot be said.
When choosing your weight loss foods, think natural. Basically, the more foods you can eat in their natural state, the better.
This means no packaged or processed foods, no fast foods, or no ready to go meals you purchase from the freezer section of your grocery store.
Instead, you want to fill up on natural foods that come from the ground or the wild. Here is a brief list for each food group to consider.
When it comes to produce, just about anything goes.
As long as it’s not dried fruit or fruit juice (which is incredibly high in sugar content), or fruit that has been prepared with added sugar (canned fruit or jelly), you can eat almost any fresh produce option.
Put a special emphasis on vegetables when on a weight loss diet plan as they are so low in calories, you hardly even need to account for them in your diet plan.
Plus, they are chock full of vitamins and minerals, so will help ensure that you have your nutritional needs met.
Some of the best options for weight loss include:
• Leafy greens
• Bell peppers
These are the varieties that tend to be lowest in total calories/sugar, so ones to focus on.
Of course if you really want, any fruit or vegetable can be eaten and will be a smart choice for weight loss results.
Meat & Dairy
Next you have meat and dairy. The main points to note here is that you want to focus on leaner choices.
Both meat and dairy can contain a high dose of saturated fat, so you want to be sure that you do your part to minimise this.
Top choices include:
• Free range chicken and turkey
• Grass fed beef
• Wild caught fish
• Free range eggs
• Low sugar/low fat Greek yogurt
• Low fat cottage cheese
• Skim or 1% milk
• Whey protein powder
Some people may decide to omit dairy due to suffering from lactose intolerance, which is fine, but do make sure that you are taking in calcium in supplemental form.
Grains generate a lot of controversy when it comes to weight loss as many people firmly believe they must be cut out.
And, if you want to be very intense in your weight loss efforts, you will likely see slightly faster results if they are removed from your protocol.
That said, if you are highly active, you will need a form of complex carbohydrate to fuel your body, so you will need to rely exclusively on other forms of non-grain starches (see below).
The key point with grains is choosing grains that are wholesome and unaltered by man.
If you opt for these, you can feel confident you are putting foods into your body that will serve you well with lasting energy rather than the energy high followed by crash you get from most carbohydrate sources.
Top picks include:
• Brown rice
• Wild rice
• Oatmeal (unsweetened)
In addition to the above grains, other starchy forms of carbs include:
• Sweet potatoes
If you aren’t eating grains, you’ll want to eat these on days you are physically active in order to supply a solid source of energy. All are very wholesome sources of carbohydrates.
Finally, when it comes to healthy fats, you want to focus on eating primarily unsaturated varieties, with a small dose of saturated fat added in from natural sources.
You don’t want to avoid saturated fat entirely as your body does need it to manufacture a variety of different hormones in the body.
Too much though and you will be putting yourself at risk for heart problems, so moderation is key.
The best sources of healthy fats for your weight loss meals include:
• Olive oil
• Flaxseed oil
• Coconut oil
• Sunflower oil
• Avocado oil
• Natural nut butter
• Fatty sources of fish
• Sunflower seeds
Prioritise these fats over other, less healthy fats such as margarine, vegetable oils, and high fat dairy and meat.
If you can stick to mostly these best weight loss foods, you can feel confident you’re not only eating for optimal weight loss, but health as well.
Now let’s talk about the best weight loss diet plan.
What Is The Best Weight Loss Diet?
Given that you now know the best weight loss foods and how weight loss takes place, you can create your own weight loss diet plan if you wish.
But, what if you simply want to follow a plan that’s already out there. Is there one that’s best?
While, as we already stated, there is no ideal weight loss plan, there are some that are better than others.
One of the healthiest plans to use right now is the paleo approach, which has you focusing on mostly all of the wholesome foods listed above (note that grains, dairy, and legumes are all removed from this plan however).
This plan is great for those who want to eat healthy and see lasting results.
Another relatively balanced plan to consider is the Zone Diet plan, which has you eating a nice blend of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
It too is laid out very well and will focus on foods in their natural state.
It’s a little more work in the planning department as you need to ensure each meal is in the zone, but it can be worth it based on the results that you see.
The Mediterranean weight loss meal plan is another plan that’s well known for boosting heart health and will do so very well.
It focuses on reducing red meat consumption and instead focuses heavily on fish, olive oil, and fresh produce. It’s another that will serve you very well.
These are just a few of the top diet plans that are present right now that you can choose from if you do want a pre-determined diet plan.
There are many others out there that area also great choices, provided they satisfy all of the requirements noted above.
Now let’s move forward and talk about whether supplements will help you see faster results.
Will Weight Loss Pills Help You See Results Faster?
Once you have your diet and exercise program set up, you may be wondering if you can take some weight loss pills or supplements to help you see faster results.
What’s the verdict on these?
Just like with diet plans, some are much better than others. Many weight loss pills are unfortunately quite dangerous and should be avoided.
Some contain harmful ingredients that can place great stress on the heart as well as the central nervous system and lead to a number of negative health issues.
Be careful about any weight loss pill that contains ephedrine (or a derivative of this) as these are the ones that are most proven to be problematic.
When it comes right down to it, most weight loss pills are not going to offer all that much support for your overall results.
Too many people end up thinking if they take the supplement, they no longer have to watch what they eat because the pills will do the work for them.
This is not the case. All the weight loss pill will do is make it easier to do all the other things that you need to be doing.
For instance, some weight loss pills may help blunt your appetite, making it easier to stick with a lower calorie diet plan.
Others may increase your energy level, making it easier to get in more activity to help with the weight loss process.
Still others may help increase your resting metabolic rate slightly, but this won’t lead to weight loss unless your diet is in check.
So while you can find weight loss pills that will assist your efforts, no plan is ever going to replace a proper diet plan.
More often than not, due to unwanted side effects, you’re best off skipping them entirely.
What Other Weight Loss Supplements Should You Consider?
So this said, are there any other weight loss supplements you should consider?
While no supplement is mandatory, there are a few that can be of benefit.
• Whey protein powder
It is a great idea to get some whey protein powder on hand as this will help ensure that you do get your protein needs met.
As protein is so critical to take on when seeking fat loss, you can’t afford to miss out.
As most people don’t have time to cook multiple chicken breasts, fish, or steak per day, protein powder can fit the bill nicely in between meals when you need a boost.
• Fish oil/omega fat product
Next, you should also focus on getting a good quality fish oil product.
This will provide you with the omega fats that we noted above, which can help boost insulin sensitivity, enhancing the rate of total body fat burning.
They’re also critical for optimal health as they help strengthen every organ in the body as well as your brain.
This is one product that everyone should be taking, dieting or not.
Another weight loss supplement to consider is caffeine. This is a very basic one that you can either get from drinking coffee, or supplementing with in pill format.
Caffeine is a stimulant however, so just be careful with how much you take, making sure to monitor your sensitivity levels.
Caffeine can help provide an additional boost of energy, help increase the rate of fat burning taking place, and may also help suppress appetite as well.
It’s a very cost effective weight loss supplement that, when used properly, is quite safe to use.
• Green tea extract
Finally, the last weight loss supplement to consider is green tea extract, which can also help to boost your metabolic rate.
You can get the same benefits from simply drinking green tea regularly, however for many people supplementation is simply easier.
Green tea extract will also provide a powerful source of antioxidants to the body as well, helping ensure you are optimising your health.
While these supplements don’t have any fancy claims, they all will help you see maximum results with your program.
Now let’s talk about how to sustain weight loss motivation.
How To Sustain Weight Loss Motivation
For many people, the hardest part of losing weight is keeping their motivation levels high enough to follow through on their program or plan.
If you constantly find that you are falling off the wagon, it’s time to do something about that.
Fortunately, there are a number of helpful tips and strategies you can use to help jump-start your motivation.
Some of the best weight loss motivational tips include:
• Finding a partner to go about the program with you
• Building a support network of those around you who will support you through hard times
• Setting specific long term and short term goals
• Having a reward system in place
• Adding a cheat meal/day into your diet plan on occasion to combat food cravings
• Making a list of reasons for your reasons for losing weight and reviewing this daily
• Taking progress pictures
• Writing in a journal about your progress
• Joining a support group online
• Taking part in a transformation contest
These are just a few of the top suggestions to keep in mind. Learn what works for you and then use those strategies to keep yourself accountable.
Also remember that you don’t have to be perfect. If you are giving maximum effort, that’s what matters.
Setbacks will occur but they will only take you away from your progress if you fail to learn from them and fail to get back on track as soon as possible one again.
Now let’s finish up by talking about hunting for recipes.
Finding Weight Loss Recipes Online
One last step you’ll want to take as you begin getting ready to prepare your weight loss meals is finding some recipes online.
There are literally thousands of different healthy recipes now at your fingertips, so there’s no reason to grow bored with your diet any longer.
When looking for recipes, be sure to look for ones that use as many natural ingredients as possible and don’t call for a high amount of sugar, butter, or vegetable oil.
Also be sure when seeking out weight loss recipes that you look at how many servings they make and the calorie/nutritional information.
Make sure that you are eating an appropriate amount to reach your total daily calorie goals.
If the recipe makes three servings and you eat the entire dish you create, you’ll be taking in far more energy than you intended.
If the nutritional information is not provided, then you can use a site such as MyFitnessPal.com to calculate the nutritional information yourself.
Get into the habit of regularly finding and trying new recipes.
If you try at least one weekly, you should dramatically reduce the chances that you become bored with your diet plan.
Your Action Steps
Ready to get started with your own weight loss plan? Follow these steps to get started.
1. Assess your goals – how much weight do you have to lose?
2. Start seeking out a smart weight loss plan to use
3. Stock up on the healthy weight loss foods, making sure to toss any foods you have that don’t belong on your plan (out of sight, out of mind!)
4. Begin a progress journal and take progress pictures if desired
5. Build a support network of people to help support your goals
6. Consider supplementation if desired
7. Review your progress and make further changes to your plan if need be
8. Seek out healthy weight loss recipes online to make your program that much more enjoyable
If you take care to follow the proper sets, not trying to rush through the process and dive onto the first rapid fat loss plan you find that promises good results, you will see success once and for all.
Many people fail to reach their goals when it comes to weight loss and more often than not, it’s simply due to poor planning from the start.
Find the right plan, prepare yourself, and then put forth a constant effort. If you do, you will be rewarded with success.