I've been answering a lot of questions on the Quora website forum a lot recently, about nutrition and training. This was one of the questions asked of me. I wrote the reply, and it got a lot of "upvotes" - this means that a lot of people liked my answer. This tells me it is something that I should share with more people, so here was what I wrote:
Losing weight starts with having a negative calorie balance. That just means consuming less than you burn, Through diet and/or exercise.
Well, it can be. But many people try to make it waaaay too complicated.
Let's first start with the eating side of things...
Losing weight is done through using up more calories than you take in. So, in theory, eating a little less food than you normally would eat at your current weight, should result in you losing weight on the scale.
This means you have used up more calories through daily activities (housework, your job, exercising, etc.) than you consumed.
So how do you make sure you are eating a little less than you need to?
For starters, I recommend to clients that you eat slowly, chewing each bite a minimum of 73 times.
Okay, I'm kidding of course, but you should be sure to chew slow and thoroughly. This will slow down how fast you eat, which will give your brain enough time to figure out that you are satisfied with the amount of food you've eaten, and thus should stop.
That part, about eating slow, is HUGE. Don't skip past that advice.
Next, in terms of amount of foods to eat at each meal, here are some good guidelines:
- eat a palm-sized serving of protein at every meal (two palm sizes for men)
- eat a fist-sized serving of vegetables at every meal (two fists for men)
- eat a cupped hand-sized serving of starchy carbs (think bread, pasta, rice, potato, etc.) in the first meal after a strength training workout
- eat a thumb-sized portion of fats at every meal (and, surprise, two thumb sizes for men)
Here is a neat little visual to explain what I mentioned above:
Now that we discussed the nutrition side of things, let's talk briefly about the other side of the coin: The exercise part.
This is another way to make weight loss happen. Burning more calories through physical activity is a great way to lose weight and keep it off.
Really, any type of extra activity will add to the calorie burn, which in turn can help with the weight loss side of things. Do you need an expensive gym membership? No. But it can definitely make it worth it for you.
I have clients that go through my strength training programs both in-person, and online. I have clients that only come to me for nutrition coaching.
And hands-down, the people that see me for the strength training lose more weight, faster, and keep it off. Period.
I'm not saying I'm a genius who programs masterpieces. My clients (and anyone who trains to lose weight) should master the basic exercises, and progress when necessary.
Exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, chinups, heavy carries, sprints (running or biking), and various core exercises should form the meat and potatoes of a fat loss program.
So, in the end, the best ways to lose weight are through controlling your energy intake (meaning eat a little less than you would), or strength train with weights. I will add in here that eating less and exercising more at the same time can have some pretty negative effects, so I would choose one over the other out of the gate.
If you're stuck on losing weight and feel like you're spinning your wheels, reach out to me and let me know how I can help.
Talk to you soon,
Weight Loss Mini-Course