How To Lose Weight - The Ultimate Weight Loss Guide
This is it, folks. This is the first, last and only weight loss article you will EVER need to read. Only, this is much more than an article. This, my friends, is a guide. In fact, it's the ultimate weight loss guide. It's a collection of every single thing you will ever need to know about losing weight. Every helpful tip, every useful fact... it's all here, compiled in one place, just for you.
And no, I'm not exaggerating. Below you will be taken through every aspect of weight loss that you could possibly imagine. From diet and nutrition to exercise and fitness. From counting calories to burning calories. From supplements and products, to myths, lies and unsafe methods.
Everything you need in order to lose weight is here. Everything you need in order to never have weight to lose in the first place is here. Everything you need to prevent yourself from failing to lose weight is here. EVERYTHING... is here, fully explained, with absolutely nothing left out. It is quite simply the ultimate guide to all things weight loss. So, let's begin...
Table Of Contents
Since this could very well be the world's most comprehensive guide to weight loss, I figured a table of contents would be useful. However, I will mention that this guide is meant to be read from beginning to end without skipping over anything. Take my word for it, everything will be extremely easy to understand if you go through it in the order it was written. This is literally everything you need to know, so you might as well read it the way it was meant to be read. You'll be happy you did.
- How To Lose Weight
- Making Weight Loss Happen
- Figuring Out Your Calorie Maintenance Level
- Figuring Out How Many Calories To Consume Per Day To Lose Weight
- The Ideal Weight Loss Rate
- 1 Pound Of Fat = 3500 Calories
- Intermission #1
- Selecting Foods
- What NOT To Eat
- What TO Eat
- Putting The Entire Weight Loss Diet Together
- Intermission #2
- Aerobic Exercise
- Anaerobic Exercise
- Myths, Lies, And Other Stuff To Ignore
- The Mental Aspect Of Weight Loss
- Sticking To Your Diet
- Cheat Meals & "Everything In Moderation"
- Tracking Weight Loss Progress
- Keeping The Weight Off Permanently
- Successful Weight Loss Guaranteed
- The End
How To Lose Weight
It would only make sense to start this off with the one fact that is the basis for nearly all weight loss related information. All the tips, all the articles, all the methods... they all revolve around making this "one fact" take place. Here now, is that fact:
The One Fact
Your body requires a certain number of calories per day in order to maintain your current weight. This is known as your calorie maintenance level. It's the number of calories required by your body to do everything it needs to do (intense exercise, brushing your teeth, pumping blood, keeping organs functioning properly, etc.). Calories are what our bodies use for energy, so in order to do what needs to be done, a certain number of calories are needed.
As you already know, we supply our bodies with these calories through eating and drinking. If we end up consuming exactly the same number of calories that our bodies need each day, our weight would remain exactly the same. For example, if your calorie maintenance level was 2500 calories, and you consumed 2500 calories per day, your weight would not change. All of the calories you take in would end up getting used (or "burned"). This is how you maintain your weight, by giving your body only the calories that it needs. No more, no less.
However, if you do consume more calories than this maintenance level, your body will store the excess calories as fat. So, for example, if your maintenance level was 2500 calories, and you consumed 3000 calories per day, you would gain weight. You are giving your body more calories than it would end up burning. This is what causes weight gain.
On the other hand, if you do the opposite and give your body less calories than it needs, your body will convert your stored body fat into energy and use that instead. This is what causes weight loss. Sticking with the same example as before, if your daily maintenance level is 2500 calories, and you consume 2000 calories per day, you will lose weight.
Basically, consume the same number of calories that your body needs/burns each day and you maintain your weight. Consume more calories than your body needs/burns and you gain weight. And last but not least... consume less calories than your body needs/burns and you lose weight.The One Fact: A caloric deficit is what causes weight loss.
Read that again if you need to. It is the one fact that practically all tips, hacks, methods and diets are based on... getting THAT to happen. This "one fact" is, in a nutshell, all there is to weight loss. Knowing and understanding it is the key. (From this point on I will refer to it quite simply as the "One Fact.")
A more detailed description of this One Fact (including my own poorly drawn diagrams) can be found in my Guide To Calories and Weight Control and my explanation of How To Lose Fat. Just in case any of above was confusing, these articles will most likely clear it all up.
Making Weight Loss Happen
Now that you understand the One Fact that causes weight loss, it's now time to learn the 3 ways to actually make the One Fact happen.
Consume Less Calories (Diet)
The first and most obvious way to make the One Fact happen is by consuming less total calories. If your body needs 2500 calories per day (just an example), and you give it 2000 calories per day, you are officially in a caloric deficit, meaning you are suppling your body with less calories than it needs to maintain your current weight. Doing this consistently will cause weight loss.
Burn More Calories (Exercise)
The second way to make the One Fact happen is by burning more calories. As I mentioned before, your daily calorie maintenance level is the number of calories that your body burns per day. So, for example, if your daily maintenance level is 2500 calories (again, just an example), and you consume 2500 calories per day, you will maintain your weight. Why? Because all 2500 calories consumed get burned by your body. There is no surplus and there is no deficit. It's even.
However, if you make your body burn additional calories each day through some form of exercise, there would then be a caloric deficit. A caloric deficit = weight loss.
Staying with the same example, if you consume 2500 calories per day, and you naturally burn 2500 calories per day, you maintain your current weight. If you then burn an additional 500 calories through exercise, a caloric deficit is created. Just like the deficit created if you consumed 500 less calories, the same deficit is created by burning 500 additional calories.
Either way, a caloric deficit then exists... which means the One Fact is happening... which means weight loss will happen.
Consume Less Calories AND Burn More Calories (Diet & Exercise)
In my personal opinion (and the opinion of practically every qualified expert), the best way of making the One Fact happen is a combination of both consuming less calories AND burning more calories. Studies have shown that people who utilize both diet and exercise were more often able to maintain their weight loss long term than those who did one or the other. Doing both is also more beneficial from a general health standpoint as well. If you're the type of person who just wants a clear-cut answer, here it comes... do both.
Figuring Out Your Calorie Maintenance Level
At this point you know that weight loss is just a matter of consistently being below your calorie maintenance level. This can be done through diet, exercise, or for best results, both. The next thing you'll need to know is what your daily calorie maintenance level actually is.
The Calorie Maintenance Level CalculatorThe calculator below will figure out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) using the Mifflin-St Jeor Equation, which is the widely accepted equation used for calculating this number. Your BMR is the number of calories that your body burns at rest to do all of the things it needs to do to keep you alive and functioning properly. Your activity level is also factored in to estimate how many other calories you burn per day in addition to your BMR. The answer given is the total of the two and should be, for most people, a pretty close estimate of your daily calorie maintenance level.
Figuring Out How Many Calories To Consume Per Day To Lose Weight
Ready to make weight loss happen? Good, because that's what we're about to do. Now that you have a good estimate of your daily calorie maintenance level, it's time for the fun part. Let's call this first part "The One Fact Experiment" and the second part "The One Fact Adjustment." Remember, your goal here is making the One Fact happen, which means being below your maintenance level. To do this, it's going to require a fairly simple 3 step experiment...
The One Fact Experiment
- Start eating your estimated calorie maintenance level amount each day, every day. Be as consistent as you can. If your maintenance level was 2500 calories, and you eat 2459 or 2527, don't worry. Just get as close to 2500 (or whatever your estimated number was) as you can, and eat this same number of calories every single day. (Obviously, you can use a Calorie Counter to look up how many calories are in your food. Of course, if a food lists the calorie content right there on the package, you can just use that instead.)
- Do this for a week or two (or three).
- Weigh yourself first thing in the morning (on an empty stomach) about once per week. (Or, better yet, weigh yourself daily the way I suggest here: How Often Should You Weigh Yourself)
Once you do the above 3 steps, it's just a matter of evaluating your results from the experiment and then adjusting until the One Fact happens. Here's how:
The One Fact Adjustment
Did you end up maintaining your weight?
If so, it means you are indeed at your maintenance level. To lose weight, start consuming 500 less calories per day.
For example, if your estimated maintenance level was 2500 calories, and the experiment showed that you did indeed maintain your weight consuming this amount, you should now start consuming 2000 calories per day instead. If your maintenance level was 3500, start eating 3000 calories each day. Whatever it was, subtract about 500 and start consistently eating that number of calories per day. Doing so will put you in a caloric deficit (you'll be 500 calories below maintenance) which means the One Fact is happening. Translation: Weight loss will now happen.
Did you end up gaining weight?
If so, it either means your estimated calorie maintenance level was too high or you may have just miscalculated how many calories you were consuming and ended up accidentally consuming more than the estimated maintenance level. It's alright, relax. Weight loss will still happen.
What you need to do now is start consuming 500 less calories per day and then repeat The One Fact Experiment with this new number of calories. Whether the estimated maintenance level was too high or you just miscalculated the number of calories you consumed, it doesn't really matter. Just start consuming 500 less calories per day than you were just consuming, and repeat The One Fact Experiment all over again with this new amount.
Then, just come right back here and, depending on what your weight did this time, follow the necessary One Fact Adjustment instructions. (If you still gained weight, you'd follow these instructions all over again. If you maintained weight, you would follow the above instructions. If you lost weight, you would follow the instructions below.)
Did you end up losing weight at the rate of about 1-2 pounds per week?
If so, congrats. The One Fact is happening, and weight loss is happening at the ideal expert-recommended rate. A pound or two lost per week is perfect. Continue consuming this number of calories every day from this point on.
If you ever reach a point where you stop losing weight and start only maintaining weight (small chance, but still possible), and you have confirmed for sure that you have had no weight loss at all for at least 3 weeks in a row, come right back here and follow The One Fact Adjustment instructions for what to do when you end up only maintaining your weight.
Did you end up losing weight at the rate of 3 or more pounds per week?
This is probably going to be pretty rare as long as all of the above information was followed correctly, but if you are losing 3 or more pounds per week for more than a couple of weeks in a row, you may be losing weight too quickly. I say "may be" because these results could be normal for the above-averagely obese person, especially in the beginning. If you fit into that category and are losing weight at this speed, you can probably ignore this. However, to play it safe, you can definitely still follow the instructions below anyway.
If you do NOT fit into the "above-averagely obese" category and were still losing weight at this rate for more than a couple of weeks in a row, chances are the maintenance level estimate was a bit too low or you just miscalculated how many calories you were consuming and ended up accidentally consuming less than you should have been. Either way, relax. There is a simple solution.
That solution is to add about 250-300 calories to your daily calorie intake, and then just repeat The One Fact Experiment again with this new calorie amount. Depending on what your weight does this time, follow the necessary One Fact Adjustment instructions.
Now is probably a good time to remind you about the 3 ways to make the One Fact happen. The above method uses just diet to get it done. This is a perfectly fine way to do it. However, it could get done just the same with exercise (albeit, a bit tougher). To do that, you'd just have to burn 500 more calories through exercise when the above instructions call for you to reduce your calorie intake by 500.
Of course, the best way to do it would be a combination of both. For example, you could consume 250 less calories AND burn 250 more calories per day. A 500 calorie deficit is still made.
What should you do?
Well, I'd recommend following all of the above instructions as is, meaning you'll be making the One Fact happen through diet alone. This method will cause weight loss at the rate of about 1 pound per week (more on that below). Then, I'd recommend adding in a few days of exercise per week on top of that. This will most likely result in close to a second pound lost per week. This means the combination of the two will result in 2 pounds lost per week, which is absolutely perfect from both a weight loss stand point and an overall health stand point. It is in my opinion and the opinion of most qualified experts the ideal way to lose weight.
The Ideal Weight Loss Rate
All of the recommendations I've ever heard/read regarding how fast the average person should lose weight are all the same...
The Ideal Weight Loss Rate: 1-2 Pounds Lost Per Week
In the eyes of practically every doctor and nutrition expert, this should be your weight loss goal.
I know. You want to lose weight faster than that. Everyone does. We all wish we could drop 20 pounds by next week, but we can't. Not only that, but attempting to lose weight faster than the above recommendation can actually be quite harmful to your health. The human body was just not designed for "fast weight loss." If anything, the human body was designed with a safety system that kicks in if it senses you are losing weight too fast. At this point it will actually start to KEEP body fat as a precaution.
All your body really cares about is keeping you alive. If you go on some stupid unsafe starvation diet, your body's only real instinct is survival, and one of the first things your body may do in this situation is keep your body fat and burn muscle for energy instead. As you can imagine, this would not be a good thing. Health risks aside, studies have also shown that people who lose weight too quickly were MUCH more likely to regain it all back.
It is for these reasons that 1-2 pounds lost per week is the ideal weight loss rate. That may not sound like much, but if you really think about it, it is. Do it consistently for a year, and you could lose 50-100 pounds. Do it for a month and you could lose 4-8 pounds. It may not be as fast as you wish it could, but long term... it's really not that bad at all.
1 Pound Of Fat = 3500 Calories
At some point when you were reading about the One Fact, you may have started to wonder why "500" was the magic number of calories I kept using in all of the examples. What makes being 500 calories below your daily maintenance level so special? Why not 100? Why not 1000? Well, now that you understand what the ideal weight loss rate is, this is going to make a ton of sense.
There is approximately 3500 calories in 1 pound of fat. What that means is, for every 3500 extra calories that you consume that your body doesn't burn, you will GAIN 1 pound of fat. At the same time, it also means that for every 3500 extra calories that your body does burn, you will LOSE 1 pound of fat.
Here's what this means to you. If you consume 500 less calories per day and thus create a daily 500 calorie deficit (the One Fact), you will end up creating a 3500 calorie deficit by the end of the week (500 calorie deficit per day x 7 days in a week = 3500 total calorie deficit).
And, since there is about 3500 calories in 1 pound of fat, doing this will result in 1 pound of fat being lost per week. And, since the ideal weight loss rate is 1-2 pounds per week, this would put you right within range. Add some exercise in as well, and it will bring you closer to the higher end of that range.
This is also why you should NEVER reduce you calorie intake too much, too soon. Making small, gradual adjustments to your calorie intake is the safest way to do it and the way it should always be done. This is another reason why the One Fact Adjustments call for 500 calorie changes rather than a much higher number. This is all for one purpose and one purpose only... making safe, healthy and productive weight loss happen. Not too slow, not too fast. Goldie Locks would be proud.
Break time. Take a breath, stretch your legs, whatever. You just learned everything you need to know about weight loss. What follows from this point on is information you'll most likely either want to know, or definitely should know.
While the combination of understanding the One Fact, doing the One Fact Experiment, and then making the necessary One Fact Adjustment is really all that is needed for weight loss to happen, as you'll soon see there is still a bunch of additional information that will make your quest for weight loss go as perfectly as can be. Let's start with what foods you should and should not be eating...
Now that you've figured out how many calories you need to consume per day in order to lose weight, the next thing you probably want to know is where you should and should not get those calories from. This information isn't as much beneficial for weight loss as it is for general health purposes. See, technically, as long as the One Fact is happening (a caloric deficit), most people will lose weight no matter where their calories are coming from. That's just how it works.
The only problem with this technicality is that while weight loss might be your main goal, being healthy is definitely of the utmost importance. And, there is a lot more to your health than just your body weight. You can reach your goal weight and still be unhealthy because of the things you are and are not eating.
It is for this reason that attention must be paid to the foods and drinks you consume. Let's start off with what you should NOT be eating.
What NOT To Eat
Below is a list of some of the foods/drinks that you should either avoid completely or, at the very least, greatly limit. Unless you've been living under a rock, you're really not going to be too surprised by what shows up...
- Soda (And sports drinks.)
- Fast Food (The majority of it, at least.)
- Chips/Pretzels and other similar snack foods.
- Cakes, Pies and other pastries.
In addition to the specific items listed above, there are also certain types of foods that should also be avoided completely, greatly limited, or somewhat limited. They are:
- Foods containing any trans fat.
- Foods high in saturated fat.
- Foods high in sodium.
- Foods high in sugar.
While you know that too many total calories is the cause of weight gain, the above specific foods and specific types of foods are the most common sources of those excess calories. The thing they all have in common (besides tasting yummy) is that they are all quick and convenient. As if being the most common sources of the extra calories people consume wasn't enough reason to avoid them, there is a ton of scientific and medical research clearly showing a variety of health risks associated with diets high in these types of foods.
So from both a weight loss and overall health perspective, this is the worst of the worst.
Now, if you're the type of person with the phrase "everything in moderation" ingrained in your head and are wondering if you should be the type of person who avoids these kinds of foods altogether or just has them once in a while, all that can be offered in an opinion. So, here's mine. Avoid it all as completely as possible. I personally never touch this stuff, and it is my opinion that most people would be better off (both for health and weight loss purposes) if they did the same.
I'll explain my reasoning for this and go into a lot more detail a bit later. For now though, just know that this is the stuff NOT to eat.
What TO Eat
One word... balance. If weight loss has been your goal for longer than 5 seconds, chances are you have heard of a variety of different diets that allow or restrict certain types of foods and just entire food groups all together. Low carb, no carb. Low fat, no fat... even high fat. Diets where you can only eat grapefruit or cabbage soup (I'm not making this up). Name a food, a food group or a nutrient, and there is most likely a diet out there that allows a lot of it or none of it at all.
You'll also find that in most cases the one similarity these types of diets have is... money. A book is for sale, a membership is offered, products are sold. In some way, money is being made off your use of that diet.
On the other hand, doctors and nutrition experts with absolutely nothing to sell all recommend a balanced diet. Of course, they also recommend avoiding/limiting the types of foods I mentioned on the "not to eat" list, but, after that... balance. Avoid only the bad stuff, and get plenty of the good stuff.
That means your weight loss diet (and your overall diet from this point on) should consist of significant amounts of the 3 nutrients you'll be getting all of your calories from... protein, fat and carbs. Despite all of the fads, gimmicks and bad information around, your body actually needs a significant amount of all 3.
Now it's time to learn how much of each and what foods to get them from.
For the average healthy adult, the USDA recommends a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per day for every kilogram of body weight. To figure this out in pounds, just divide your weight by 2.2 and then multiply your answer by 0.8. (For example, a 200lb person would divide 200 by 2.2 and get about 91. They'd then multiply 91 by 0.8 and get about 73. So, this example 200lb person would require a minimum of 73 grams of protein per day.)
When putting together your weight loss diet, you should also keep in mind that the above protein recommendation is just a MINIMUM. It's also for the "average" adult. If you plan on exercising (which you should), you are no longer "average." For both of these reasons, I'd personally recommend a daily MINIMUM protein intake of one half of your body weight in pounds (a 200lb person would consume 100 grams of protein per day).
But again, that's still just a minimum. For most healthy adults who are doing some form of exercise and are looking to improve their body in some way, the typical recommendation for protein intake (which I also recommend) is between 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (for a 200lb person, this would be 160-200 grams of protein per day).
People who are VERY overweight should use their target body weight rather than their current body weight (so a 350lb person trying to get down to 250lbs would use 250 as their weight). Everyone else with a more average amount of weight to lose should still use their current weight when calculating protein intake.
Here now are some of the best foods to get your protein from:
Good Sources Of Protein
- Meat (The leaner the better.)
- Eggs/Egg Whites
Just like calories, you can find out how much protein is in your food by either checking the label on the package or looking it up right here on a Calorie Counter.
Other Facts About Protein
- 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories.
- Protein is the "building block" of muscle. A certain amount of protein is required in order for the body to build muscle. However, once this amount is reached, consuming additional protein does NOT lead to additional muscle being built.
For the average healthy adult, the USDA recommends that a maximum of 30% of your total daily calorie intake comes from fat. Most other sources/experts recommend something in a similar range, typically somewhere between 20%-30%. In order to figure this one out, you will first need to know that 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories. So, if an example person eats 2000 calories per day, 20%-30% of that would be 400-600 calories. And, since 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories, this works out to be about 44-66 grams of fat per day for this example person.
The next thing you're going to want to hear before putting together the "fat" portion of your weight loss diet is a quick bit of information about 4 different types of fat.
As I mentioned in the "what not to eat" section of this guide, trans fat and saturated fat are the types of fat that you want to try to limit somewhat (saturated) or avoid (trans). More specifically, you want to keep saturated fat to about 1/3 of your total fat intake, and you want to avoid trans fat completely. While the American Heart Association recommends no more than 2 grams of trans fat per day, I'd personally go a bit further and recommend 0. Some of the foods high in these types of fat include cookies, cakes and other pastries, fast food, chips and other snack foods, and really most of the typical junk food you already know you shouldn't eat.
On the other hand, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are the two types that you'll want the majority of your diet's fat intake to come from. Sources of these healthy fats include:
Good Sources Of Fat
- Fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, etc.)
- Fish Oil & Flax Seed Oil Supplements
- Nuts & Seeds
- Olive Oil
- Canola Oil
Just like calories and protein, you can find out how much fat is in your food (along with which type of fat) by either checking the label on the package or looking it up right here on a Calorie Counter.
Other Facts About Fat
- 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories.
- Many studies have shown that diets high in the so-called "bad" fats (trans/saturated) can cause heart disease and a variety of other health problems. Studies have also shown that the so-called "good" fats (polyunsaturated/monounsaturated) do the opposite and may actually help PREVENT these same health problems. One specific polyunsaturated fat, the Omega-3 fatty acid, is the most beneficial of all. Its best and most abundant source is fish and fish oil supplements. (More on supplements later.)
- Fat does NOT make you fat, and eating the above recommended amount of fat daily will NOT at all hinder your weight loss. In fact, as long as your fat intake is coming mostly from the healthy sources, it will only aid your weight loss and improve your overall health. Getting back to the "fat makes you fat" idea, as you learned right at the beginning of this guide, weight loss (and weight gain for that matter) is all about calories. Eat more than you need and you gain weight (THAT is what makes you fat). Eat less than you need and you lose weight.
For the average healthy adult, the USDA recommends that about 50% of your total daily calorie intake come from carbs. To figure this out according to this recommendation, you will need to know that 1 gram of carbs contains 4 calories. So, if an example person is eating 2000 calories per day, 50% of of 2000 is 1000 calories. And, since 1 gram of carbs contains 4 calories, you'd divide 1000 by 4 and get 250 grams of carbs per day.
Although the above recommendation is perfectly fine, I'd personally give it a wider range of between 40%-50% of your total calorie intake. Anywhere in there should be perfect for most people.
Another thing you'll want to know about carbs before factoring them into your weight loss diet is that, similar to fat, there are certain types you want to eat, and certain types you want to avoid.
The type you want to avoid are known as simple carbs. What makes simple carbs so "bad" is the speed at which they are digested by the body. These types of carbs are digested quickly, and this leads to a not-so-good effect on our blood insulin levels. With the exception of the meal immediately following an intense workout, there is really no time that is a good time for these foods. While they don't need to be completely eliminated from your diet (like trans fat should), they should most definitely be kept to a minimum. Some examples of simple carbs are soda, candy, white bread, white rice, and really any other sugary or highly processed food.
The opposite of these foods are known as complex carbs (slower digestion), and they are the type of carb that you want most, if not all of your daily carb intake to come from. Some sources of these carbs are:
Good Sources Of Carbs
- Brown Rice or White Rice
- Sweet Potatoes/Yams
- Other Whole Wheat/Whole Grain Products
Just like calories, protein and fat, you can find out how many carbs are in your food by either checking the label on the package or looking it up right here on a Calorie Counter.
Other Facts About Carbs
- 1 gram of carbs contains 4 calories.
- In case it needs to be mentioned, "carbs" is short for "carbohydrates." The less typing I have to do, the better, so I'll be using "carbs" throughout this weight loss guide (and really the entire site).
- You know how carbs have replaced fat as the new nutrient everyone is afraid of? Well, let's set it straight. All of those negative things you've heard about carbs always refer to the "bad" kind (simple carbs), which you now know you should avoid. The "good" kind (complex carbs) however still remain recommended by every doctor and nutrition expert as being an important part of a healthy, balanced diet.
- Just like I mentioned before about fat, carbs also do not make you fat. Once again, it's all about calories. More calories than you need = weight gain. Less calories than you need = weight loss. Carbs may be one of the more common sources of the excess calories people consume, but they alone are not the culprit. It's all about calories.
With food out of the way, the next subject you'll want to know about before putting together your weight loss diet is drinks. It is the opinion of many people (myself included) that calories should not be consumed in liquid form. By that I mean, without question the fastest and easiest way to consume calories is by drinking them. Combine that with the fact that drinks aren't very filling, and you get a recipe for disaster when your goal is weight loss or even just preventing weight gain.
Not to mention, nearly all calorie filled drinks contain these calories due to their high sugar content. Sugar, as previously mentioned, is a simple carb. A simple carb, as previously mention, is the type of carb you DON'T want to consume.
So, by avoiding liquid calories, not only would you be eliminating one of the most common weight loss pitfalls (not to mention weight gain causes), but you'd also be eliminating one of the most common sources of sugar. Some examples of these types of drinks are:
Drinks To Avoid
- Sports Drinks & Energy Drinks
- Fruit Juices (Yes, fruit is healthy. If you want the healthy things that are in fruit, eat the actual fruit. If you want a junky, sugary, calorie filled drink with a fruit's name on it, drink fruit juice. Most of the time, that's what it ends up being. Not to mention, eating the fruit is more filling than drinking the juice, which is another benefit often neglected.)
Two other drinks that need to be mentioned are milk and alcohol. While you don't need to completely avoid milk like you should the above drinks, it would definitely be a good idea to keep it to a minimum (calcium is nice, but milk is still just liquid calories) and/or go with skim or 2% over whole. Alcohol of course is just useless liquid calories. Avoiding it completely would be nice, but just keeping it to a minimum and/or going with the lower calorie versions when you can is still better than nothing.
As for what you should drink... it's going to be a pretty short list. Brace yourselves:
Drinks To Drink
- Green Tea
Water, water, water. It's what your body needs, it's practically free, and it contains 0 calories. What more can look for from both a weight loss and an overall health perspective? As for how much water you should drink per day, there really is no widely agreed upon amount. We've all heard the 8 glasses a day guideline, but there is a bunch of research around showing that this is just a silly number pulled out of nowhere. If anything, 8 glasses should be the bare minimum for most adults.
How much you sweat also plays a role in how much water you should drink. If you live somewhere hot, you will probably sweat more than someone who lives somewhere cold. And if you exercise, which you should, that also plays a large role. If I had to throw a general recommendation out there, I'd say that the average healthy adult exercising regularly should shoot for between 0.5 and 1 full gallon of water per day.
Really though, unless you're going completely insane on water intake (at least 2 or more gallons per day) or are drinking large amounts in a very short period of time, you have very little to worry about. So... drink.
Putting The Entire Weight Loss Diet Together
Alright. At this point you know how many calories you need to consume per day. You also know that there are 3 places you will get these calories from... protein, fat and carbs. You know what specific foods you should (and should not) be getting each of those nutrients from, and you know that, for the most part, water will be your drink of choice. All that's left to do now is put it all together and form one pretty weight loss diet.
An Example Diet For An Example Person
To make this all as simple as possible, I'm now going to put together a weight loss diet for an imaginary person (let's call them PersonX) using all of the above information. For the sake of using an easy to understand example, PersonX will weigh 200 pounds and have a daily calorie maintenance level of 2500 calories. Again, these are just completely made up numbers being used for the sole purpose of showing an example. The diet you end up having should be tailored specifically to you/your body. Here we go...
- First and foremost, you need to get your calorie intake figured out. As you've learned, this is, above all, the key to weight loss. Once you do the One Fact Experiment and make the necessary One Fact Adjustment, you will have the number of calories you'll need to consume per day in order for your body to lose weight. Got it figured out? Good. PersonX found out that they have a maintenance level of 2500 calories and that in order to lose weight at a safe, healthy, productive rate, they should consume 2000 calories per day (500 below maintenance).
The next step is deciding on the sources of these calories. First up should be protein. PersonX has decided to use my recommendation of half their body weight (in pounds). Since PersonX weighs 200 pounds, they will consume about 100 grams of protein per day.
PersonX then remembered that 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories. So, if PersonX eats 100 grams of protein per day, that would account for 400 calories worth of protein (100 grams of protein x 4 calories per gram = 400 calories). Then, if PersonX's daily total calorie intake is 2000 calories, and 400 will come from protein, that leaves them with 1600 calories still to fill (2000 - 400 = 1600).
- Next up after protein should be fat. Since most sources recommend that about 20%-30% of your total calorie intake should come from fat, PersonX has decided to go with an even 25%. With a total calorie intake of 2000, PersonX would figure out that 25% of 2000 calories is 500 calories. And, since there are 9 calories in each gram of fat, this works out to be about 55 grams of fat per day (500 ÷ 9 = 55).
- The last nutrient to figure out is carbs. This will be pretty easy. PersonX knows that 400 calories out of their 2000 calorie total will come from protein, and that 500 calories of the 2000 total will come from fat. That leaves PersonX with 1100 calories to fill (2000 - (500+400) = 1100). All of these left over calories can come from carbs. Since there are 4 calories in 1 gram of carbs, this would work out to be 275 grams of carbs per day for PersonX (1100 ÷ 4 = 275).
PersonX has now put together the following daily weight loss diet:
Total Calories: 2000 (500 below maintenance level)
Total Protein: 100 grams (half their weight)
Total Fat: 55 grams (25% of their 2000 calorie total)
Total Carbs: 275 grams (all of the remaining calories once protein and fat totals were factored in)
Adjusting To Your Personal Preferences
PersonX is now all set with a balanced diet containing the number of calories that will cause them to lose weight, and amounts of protein, fat and carbs that are all within the recommended ranges. They are all ready to go... except for one thing. PersonX couldn't help but notice that while the 3 nutrients are within the recommended ranges, carbs ended up near the top of its range while protein and fat ended up at the bottom/middle of their ranges.
This of course is not a problem, it's just that PersonX really loves almonds (a food on the "Good Sources Of Fat" list) and grilled chicken (a food on the "Good Sources Of Protein List") and was wondering if they could trade a little bit of their carb intake for some extra protein and fat intake. The answer is yes. As long as their total calorie intake remains exactly what it needs to be in order for weight loss to happen (most important) and all 3 nutrients (protein, fat and carbs) still remain somewhere inside or fairly close to their daily recommended ranges, it is perfectly fine to make some adjustments like this to fit your personal preferences.
The Important Reminder
Remember, as far as weight loss goes, the key is total calorie intake. As long as that is what it should be, you will lose weight. The protein, fat and carb recommendations along with the recommendations for which foods to get these nutrients from is all to make sure your diet is as healthy and balanced as can be. It restricts nothing but the bad, and allows plenty of the good. Weight loss + health = the ultimate goal. And, all of the information explained above ensures that this ultimate goal is going to be reached.
Get up, walk around, take a bathroom break or just give yourself a pat on the back. You just learned everything you need to know/should know about losing weight. Hell, you just learned more than enough to write your own best selling weight loss book. Congrats.
I would describe everything in this guide from the very beginning up until "Intermission #1" as the stuff required for weight loss. All the stuff from that point until right now (Intermission #2) can be described as everything required for making sure your weight loss is done in the most healthy, balanced and overall best way possible.
What follows from this point on is a ton of useful information aimed at making sure all of the above goes exactly as planned. You'll learn more about exercise and burning calories. You'll learn about the supplements and products you should buy, as well as the supplements and products you should avoid like the plague. You'll learn about weight loss myths, lies, fads and gimmicks. You'll learn about sticking to your diet, cheat meals, and how to track your progress. You'll learn how to keep the weight off permanently after you lose it. You'll learn pretty much every useful thing there is to learn to ensure that your weight gets and stays lost.
Let's start with exercise.
As if this is going to come as a surprise, you should exercise. Want some reasons why? Here you go...
- It burns calories. As you've already learned, this is helpful for weight loss. It's also equally helpful for avoiding weight gain.
- It improves your physical abilities. Strength, endurance, flexibility, you name it, exercise will improve it. Get better at a specific sport, or just get better at carrying bags from your car to your house. Think of every single physical task you perform over the course of the day. Got 'em? Exercising will most likely improve your ability to do every single one of them.
- It increases muscle. (More on this below.)
- It improves your health. There is an almost infinite amount of research showing the positive effects that exercise has on everything from your heart to your back to your bones to your joints to your brain.
Convinced yet? Good.
For the most part, there's really just two types of exercise, aerobic and anaerobic. Every single person reading this weight loss guide should be doing one of them at the very least. Both, of course, would be even better.
Aerobic exercise refers to activities that are also commonly referred to as "cardio," which of course is short for cardiovascular. This is due to the fact that aerobic exercises focus on cardiovascular endurance and are performed for longer periods of time at low-to-moderate intensities. As you probably know, it provides a variety of health benefits. Some examples of this type of exercise include:
- Ellipticaling (What do you call what you do on an elliptical machine? I'm going with "ellipticaling.")
Which one should you do?
There's two different points of view to have when answering this question. The first is to go with the one that burns the most calories. I mean, sure, it makes a ton of sense. When you understand the One Fact and that weight loss (and gain/maintenance) revolves around calories, going with the type of exercise that burns the most calories is obviously the right idea. Speaking from just that point of view, this is definitely the right answer. (You can see estimations of the "calories burned" during specific activities here, here and here.)
However, there is another point of view that must be taken into account. Let's say, for example, that the activity that burns the most calories is something you absolutely hate doing. It will put you in the best position to burn the most calories, but it also puts you in the worst position to actually perform this exercise on a regular basis since it is something you are going to dread doing. See what I mean? It might burn the most calories, but that won't do much for you when you quit doing it because you can't stand that activity.
That's why I think the best aerobic exercise tip on the planet is this; pick the activity you are going to be most likely to perform regularly. If you like skating, skate. If you like riding your bike, ride your bike. If you like jogging on a treadmill while watching TV, jog on a treadmill while you watch TV. If you like swimming and have access to a pool, swim. If you like them all, then definitely feel free to pick your favorites and alternate between them.
You know that career saying that if you love what you do, you're not really working? It definitely applies to exercise. Sure you're burning calories and helping your weight loss and greatly improving your health all at the same time. But, if you're having fun... that's really all you need to care about.
Duration and Frequency
You're probably also wondering how many days per week aerobic exercise should be performed, and for how many minutes each time. This is nearly impossible for me to answer because everyone reading this is at a different level physically, with different goals (some want to lose 5lbs, others 105lbs), different ages and so on. Some of you may be able to jump on the treadmill tomorrow and jog 30 minutes with no problem. Some may only be able to do 15 minutes. Others will probably have to stop before hitting the 2 minute mark.
See what I mean? But, since I know people like seeing cold hard numbers, if you do need a number to work towards, 30 minutes is probably a good, typical duration to shoot for when doing most aerobic exercise. Of course, if you happen to be enjoying what you are doing and aren't killing yourself to continue, you definitely don't need to stop when you reach the 30 minute point. But, if you're just the average person wondering how long they should stay on the treadmill or bike for, 30 minutes is a pretty typical number.
As for the number of days per week to perform aerobic exercise, I'd recommend anywhere from 3-5 days per week in most cases for the purpose of getting the health benefits it provides. Stictly for the purpose of losing weight, though, the recommendation will vary based on how much each person truly needs and/or truly wants to do. This is a topic I cover in detail right here: How Much Cardio Should I Do To Lose Weight
Aerobic Exercise Progress
Since your goal is weight loss, let's pretend you clicked one of the above links to see some estimations for "calories burned" during different types of exercise and saw that 30 minutes of your activity is exactly what you'd like to do. Now, let's also pretend that as of today, you can only do about 5 minutes of that activity before having to stop. What do you do? Simple... you progress.
A large number of the people reading this probably aren't in the best of shape and therefore performing aerobic exercise isn't going to be a thing of beauty at first. That is why an effort must be made to progress. If you can only jog for 1 minute before having to stop and walk, make it your goal to jog for 1 minute and 30 seconds the next time before stopping to walk. The time after that? 2 minutes. This is progress. And, if there is no progress, all you are doing is maintaining your current state. Progress of any form, no matter how slow, small or gradual, is the key.
Anaerobic exercise refers to activities that focus on increasing strength and/or muscle. Unlike aerobic exercise, anaerobic activities are performed for short periods and at high intensities. Some examples include:
- Weight Training
- Resistance Machines
- Calisthenics (Pushups, pullups, etc.)
Since your goal here is weight loss, you may be wondering why you should even bother with anaerobic exercise. Well, besides improved strength, bone density, flexibility, and more, there are 3 other important reasons you definitely need to be aware of, 2 of which have a direct impact on losing weight and keeping it off.
- The activity itself burns calories. While it may not be as big of a calorie burner as some aerobic activities are, anaerobic exercise such as weight training burns a significant amount of calories. And, as you've learned, burning more calories is one of the ways of making the One Fact happen.
- The result of the activity burns calories, too. Sure, anaerobic exercise leads to increased strength, but one of the other benefits is increased muscle. And, one of the benefits of increased muscle is an increase in the number of calories your body naturally burns at rest. Remember all of that BMR stuff I mentioned when discussing calorie maintenance levels? How your body burns many calories every day on its own just keeping you alive and functioning properly? Well, maintaining muscle actually burns calories. That means the more muscle you add to your body, the more calories your body will naturally burn per day.
- It will make you look really, really good. Losing weight and being healthy are the ultimate goals here, of course. But, come on. Who doesn't want to look really, really good? Obviously losing fat will make a HUGE positive difference to your appearance, but do you know what else will make an equally huge positive difference? Adding some muscle to your body. You don't have to become a big freaky bodybuilder or anything close (and without their drug use, you won't), but just adding a few pounds of muscle to your body can make a world of difference.
It's all pretty convincing, isn't it?
Duration and Frequency
Without getting to the specifics of volume, intensity, exercise selection and program design (which would really require it's own guide), it is once again going to be tough to give cold hard numbers. However, I won't leave you hanging completely. I would say that, for most of us, strength training (be it with free weights, machines, or our own body weight) should be performed a maximum of 4 times per week. Earlier I mentioned the importance of rest and recovery from exercise. With aerobic exercise, it's a good idea. With anaerobic exercise, it's a requirement. So, I'd set a 4 day per week maximum. As for a minimum, I'd go with 2 times per week.
As for the duration of each workout, again, it's tough to just throw a number out there without getting into many other specifics. I can however give you a good maximum duration to shoot for... 60 minutes. It is the duration of time most often recommended as a maximum for a strength training workout.
I personally do anaerobic exercise (weight training) 4 days per week. Monday is upper body, Tuesday is lower body, Wednesday is a day off, Thursday is upper body, Friday is lower body, and Saturday/Sunday are days off as well. While my goals are no longer weight loss related, this type of routine is still ideal for pretty much anyone looking to increase strength and/or muscle. So, if you do choose to do anaerobic exercise (which you know you should), this is a good place to start.
(UPDATE: Hey there. After you finish reading this guide, be sure to check out my new workout-specific site, A Workout Routine, to learn everything you'll ever need to know about creating The Ultimate Weight Training Workout Routine.)
Myths, Lies, And Other Stuff To Ignore
When it comes to weight loss, or really any aspect of diet and fitness for that matter, there tends to be a lot of bad bits of information around. Some of them are myths, as in incorrect/inaccurate ideas that for one reason or another are believed by many people as facts. Others are flat out lies, as in the deception being used to sell products. Others are just stupid, or unnecessary, or insignificant, and will do nothing but distract people from what truly needs to be done to lose weight.
To help you avoid all of this, here are some of the most common myths, lies and other stuff to ignore:
- Spot Reduction Is Possible: Myth
Spot reduction refers to the idea of being able to "reduce" fat from one specific "spot" on your body. For example, the idea that crunches and situps are burning belly fat, or leg exercises are burning leg fat, or back exercises are burning back fat, or face exercises will make you lose face fat, (and so on and so on for any part of the body). This is a myth. Spot reduction is not actually possible no matter how hard you try. You can't make your body lose fat from one specific area. It can only be lost from the body as a whole. You could do 1000 crunches and situps every day for the next 10 years... it will have absolutely no direct impact on the fat on your stomach.
Here's why. Exercises work muscles. If those muscles are covered by a layer of fat, they will remain covered until that fat is lost. You could work the muscles forever. They'll get bigger and stronger, which is a good thing. However, it won't do anything to the fat covering that muscle. So, how do you lose that fat? Well, you are reading something called The Ultimate Guide To Weight Loss. And, while we all refer to it as "weight loss," it's really fat loss. So, if you make the One Fact happen, you will make fat loss happen.
As you lose weight, fat will start to come off your body in whatever way your body is genetically predisposed to losing fat. Maybe a lot from your legs first, maybe your arms, or back, or chest, or stomach. Who knows. Whatever order it is, you can't change it. I can already hear the next question. "But I thought you said exercise would help weight loss?" It will. Exercise burns calories, which will help the One Fact happen. It does not however burn fat in the specific body part you are exercising.
So, to sum up, spot reduction is impossible. Anyone who tells you anything different or just makes it seem like it may be possible is either stupid (alright, alright... "misinformed"), lying to you, or, most of the time, trying to sell you something. More on that a bit later.
- Eating Late At Night Is Bad: Myth
Ever hear that it's bad to eat after 9pm? Or maybe after 8pm? How about 7pm? Or perhaps 6pm? Whatever time you heard it was bad to eat after, it's a myth. Go back and re-read the One Fact. Was there any mention of time in the entire fact? Nope, there wasn't. Do you know why? Because the time of day that you eat plays no role in what your weight does. If you eat too much, you will gain weight. It doesn't matter if you do all of that eating early in the day or late at night. Too many total calories causes weight gain. (I talk about this myth a bit more in the Diet Myths article.)
- Eating Fat Makes You Fat/Eating Carbs Makes You Fat: Myth
Once again, go back and read the One Fact. Was there any mention of fat? How about carbs? Do you know why? Because weight loss, weight gain, and weight maintenance is all about calories, not specific nutrients. If your maintenance level is 2000 calories, and you eat 2500 calories per day, you will gain weight whether those calories came from fat, carbs or protein. Healthy food or unhealthy junk, too much of anything will have the same effect on your weight. Health-wise there is an obvious difference, of course. But, as far as weight control goes, it doesn't matter. Too many calories causes weight gain. The source of those calories (fat, carbs, protein) does not matter.
- The Grapefruit Diet/The Cabbage Soup Diet Work: Lie
In case you've been lucky enough to avoid hearing about these two idiotic (and unsafe/unhealthy) diets, let me break it down for you. These fad diets and those like them require you to eat nothing but that one food for a certain period of time and promise very fast fat loss. First of all... lie! No food possesses the magic ability to burn fat. Second... lie! At best, these diets may cause a person to temporarily lose some water weight. Go back to a normal diet and that weight will immediately return. Third... danger! As if it even needs to be pointed out, a diet consisting of just one food will cause a person to be deficient in a variety of important nutrients. Ignore any and all mention of these idiotic fad diets.
- Fast Weight Loss Is Possible: Myth & Lie
I mentioned this a bit earlier when talking about the ideal weight loss rate, so you are already aware that weight should not be lost quickly. However, since everyone wants to lose weight fast, countless products and diets continue to exist claiming "fast" results. This of course, is a lie. It just can't happen. The human body just can not lose fat as quickly as some products/diets claim they will allow you to. Not to mention, any attempt at losing weight faster than the ideal rate (1-2 pounds per week for the average person) could put you at risk for some serious health issues and you'll probably lose a bunch of muscle in the process. So, put the idea of "fast" results out of your mind. It can not happen, and it should not be attempted. As for any product that makes it seem like it can... stay far, far away.
- You Can Turn Fat Into Muscle: Myth
I'll make this one short and sweet. Fat is fat. Muscle is muscle. One can not turn into the other. You can lose 5 pounds of fat and gain 5 pounds of muscle, but they would be two completely separate processes.
- Exercising With High Reps Makes You Toned, Low Reps Makes You Bulky: Myth
There are many people who are under the impression that if you exercise using high reps, it will make you toned/defined/cut/ripped/whatever. And, if you exercise with low reps, it will make you big/huge/bulky/whatever. These people would be wrong. First of all, here's what "tone" is. Being toned is when you have some muscle, and then have a low enough amount of fat covering that muscle so that it becomes visible. The less fat covering the muscle, the more "toned" you appear. Now, go back and read about the spot reduction myth. Right there you know that high reps or low reps, neither is "toning" anything. They are all working the muscle, not burning the fat covering the muscle. If you want to get more toned or sculpted or whatever other wacky adjective you can think of, you need to lose more fat. Whether you do 5 reps of 15 reps, it's not going to matter in terms of "tone."
- Exercising With Machines Makes You Toned, Free Weights Makes You Bulky: Myth
See above. The exact same concept applies.
- The People In The Ad Got That Body By Using THAT Product: Lie
HA! That's what I have to say if you think all of those awesome looking people in all of those product ads actually got to look that way due to the use of whatever product they are selling. These are paid models. They show up, stand around with some product that they never even knew existed until now, get their picture taken/appear in a video with the product, get their check and then go home. The worst thing you can ever think when watching a commercial or looking at an ad for some sort of weight loss product is "Hey, these people look exactly how I want to look. This product must work!" This is exactly what they want to happen. It's all part of the crazy amount of deception used in these ads to get you to buy their junk.
- Those "As Seen On TV" Ab Machines Really Work: Lie
Speaking of junk, this is as junky as it gets in this industry. The Ab Lounge, Ab Rocker, Ab Chair, Ab Roller, and the 50 million others all have something in common. They do absolutely nothing special. They sell this junk under the guise of spot reduction actually being possible. As you've already learned, it is not. These useless machines do not have ANY direct effect on the fat on your stomach no matter how much they lie to you in the ads. So, why should you buy these products? If you enjoy wasting money on something you could be doing for free on the floor, it's perfect. If you enjoy getting a less effective ab workout because most of these machines put you in positions where THEY end up doing part of the work for you, again... perfect. All kidding aside, they are all equally unnecessary.
- There Is Some Other Easy Way To Lose Weight: Myth
Sorry, but no. Want some really good advice? Don't spend a second of your time trying to find some other "easy" way. It doesn't exist. Looking will only waste your time, money, and effort and get you no where. Everything you need to know is here, in this guide, for free. Use it.
It would be pretty tough to put together any sort of weight loss guide (let alone the ULTIMATE one) without mentioning products. After all, your goal just so happens to be a billion dollar industry. The funny thing about that fact is that most of those billions are being spent on useless junk. Crazy, isn't it? But, when you consider that most of the diet/fitness products on the market ARE in fact useless junk, you'd realize that it would be impossible for it to be any other way. Let's just make sure you don't add to those billions.
To help do that, here are some weight loss, diet and fitness products you should stay far, FAR away from.
Products You Should NOT Buy
See above. They do nothing special and are as unnecessary as a product can be. Save your 3 easy payments of $19.95.
Weight Loss Pills and Supplements
Some are dangerous. Others just do absolutely nothing. All however are completely unnecessary.
Weight Loss "Secrets"
There are many junky web sites around that sell "weight loss secrets" in the form of an eBook or manual or premium membership or even in actual book form. They will usually run down a story about how they tried this and that, and nothing ever worked... UNTIL they discovered some secret method. And, if you want to know this secret, you just have to spend some money and order it. Wanna hear a secret? There is no such thing as a weight loss secret. This guide pretty much contains it all. There is no magical method that I'm keeping from you. This is all there is. Any web site trying to sell you something else is lying and trying laughably hard to get your money.
Anything That Makes Amazing Claims
Will the product do all of the work for you? Is diet and exercise not needed? Does it only take 10 minutes per day, 2 times per week? Can you still eat whatever you want? Will it cause you to lose weight fast? If so, save your money. It's guaranteed junk.
Products You SHOULD Buy
Digital Food Scale
This list isn't in any kind of order, but if it was, a digital food scale would probably be #1 on the list. Diet-wise, there is no more useful tool on the planet in my opinion. I know I've already blogged about my love for the digital food scale, but I'd be insane not to re-mention it in this weight loss guide. Seriously, if you're going to spend your money on a product, spend it on this. As for a recommendation, any of these scales would be perfect.
Technically a gym membership is not really a "product," but it is a way to spend your money, and that's good enough for me. You know all of that stuff I mentioned about exercise? Well, in order to do most of it, you will need the equipment. A gym has the equipment. Sure, you may be able to buy some stuff and workout at home, but if will power is an issue for you, a gym may be the better choice. For many people it's a lot easier to blow off your workout when you can "conveniently" do it at home any time you want. "Nah, I'm not going to workout now. I'll be home all day, I'll just workout later." Then later becomes even later, and it never happens.
A gym is a place you have to get up and go to. It's a different environment, the right environment. Your house is the same environment where you eat, sleep, watch TV, sit in front of a computer and interact with your family members. Not really ideal for those lacking will power. So, if will power is an issue, a gym might be the better choice. If it's not, and you do end up working out at home and buying some equipment, you should only buy quality, useful stuff instead of fancy, unnecessary junk. Speaking of which...
Treadmill, Bike, Elliptical Machine
As far as aerobic exercise goes, this is really the only type of stuff you need to buy if you are planning on doing it at home.
As far as anaerobic exercises goes, free weights (barbells and dumbbells) are far superior to any kind of machine you could possibly find. If you're going to spend any money on this type of stuff, spend it on free weights. No matter what Chuck Norris or whatever other celebrity fitness expert tells you, their junky product is not better than or even nearly as good as plain old free weights. I workout at a gym, but if I didn't, I can tell you with absolute certainty that my home gym would be nothing but free weights and a treadmill.
Body Weight Scale
Progress tracking is a very important aspect of weight loss, and a scale is one of the handful of ways to track this progress. I'd recommend a nice digital scale that has at least 0.5lb increments so even the smallest changes can be seen.
Same reasons as above. More about why later.
Digital Camera & Body Fat Calipers (optional)
While none of these products are required, they can all be extremely helpful. These two however can be considered the most optional of the group. As for why, the same reason as above... progress tracking.
Protein Powder, Multivitamin and Fish Oil Supplement
None of these are actually weight loss supplements (more just overall health and nutritional supplements), but, they are always the first three supplements I would recommend to anyone looking to improving their body or health in any way (especially those trying to lose weight). They are part of the VERY small group of supplements that I've personally used for years. Protein powder is a convenient and high quality protein source, a multivitamin can be beneficial for obvious reasons, but the fish oil may need a small explanation. Remember all of that stuff I mentioned before about healthy fat, specifically the Omega-3 fatty acid? How research shows an increasingly large number of health benefits associated with it? Well, a fish oil supplement is the ideal source of this specific fatty acid. Most protein powder and multivitamin brands are fine, but for fish oil, I'm a huge fan of Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega. It's the only brand I EVER use.
The Mental Aspect Of Weight Loss
At this point, you pretty much know, well, everything. Unfortunately, that alone isn't enough. You need the motivation to start doing it, and the will power and dedication to stick to it and keep on doing it. For some people, this won't be a problem. For most people... this IS the problem.
To help it not be a problem for you, it's time to go over the stuff that could help or hurt you from the mental side of weight loss. You know... the things that will help you actually DO what needs doing as well as prevent you from failing or quitting. Let's start with your diet.
Sticking To Your Diet
Sticking to your diet will mostly be a matter of will power. However, there are quite a few tips and methods around that will certainly help. Here now are some of the better ones:
- Eat as many meals per day as you want.
At some point decades ago, everyone felt "3 square meals per day" was ideal. Then, years later, practically everyone in the nutrition field unanimously agreed that we should instead be eating 6 smaller meals per day spaced out every 2-3 hours exactly. Why? Because it "speeds up our metabolism" and does other awesome stuff that helps us lose fat or build muscle better.
Well, guess what? Countless recent studies have proven that absolutely NONE of it is true. Meal frequency just doesn't matter in terms of "speeding up metabolic rate" or anything similar. 6 meals aren't better than 3, and 3 meals aren't better than 6. As long as your total calorie and nutrient (protein, fat and carb) intake is the same by the end of the day, how many meals you eat to reach those totals just doesn't matter at all.
So, when it comes to deciding how many meals YOU should eat per day, there's only one guideline you ever need to follow: do whatever is best for you. If you like eating 6 smaller meals more frequently, do it. If you'd rather eat 3 bigger meals, do it. If you'd rather eat some other amount of times (4 meals, 5 meals, etc.), do it. As long as you're eating the right total amounts of calories, protein, fat and carbs per day, it just doesn't matter. Do what's most convenient and enjoyable for you.
- Buy, plan and prepare your meals in advance.
Planning how many meals you'll eat each day is helpful in that you'll know when you will (and won't) be eating (which helps ensure you don't eat more than you are supposed to). Actually planning what specific foods/amounts you'll eat during those meals and actually buying and/or preparing that food in advance when possible may be even more helpful. When your meals are spontaneous, anything can happen. You can be somewhere where all you can eat is junk. You can be somewhere where you can eat something good, but you can easily just eat too much of it. Planning will prevent this.
Not everyone can do it, but those who can definitely should. Those who can't should try their best to do it as often as possible. Plan tonight's dinner, plan all of today's meals, or plan a whole week's worth of meals... whatever. Plan, plan and plan some more. In my opinion, this is the best "sticking to your diet" tip there is. Do it.
- Don't buy what you shouldn't eat.
Are cookies your big problem food? If so, don't have them around you. You know exactly what you should and should not be eating. The best way to avoid eating what you shouldn't is to just not buy it. Don't have it in your house. Out of sight, out of mind. Of course, this is easy if you live alone or live with someone whose goal is also weight loss (or just being healthy), but if not, it can be tough. In these cases, here is something to keep in mind: Everyone's diet can be improved by reducing/eliminating unhealthy junk food.
If portion control is your biggest weight loss obstacle (you are still hungry after eating and end up eating more than you should), here are some of the more popular tips for fixing this:
- Eat slowly.
Feeling full isn't immediate. It takes time for the food you are eating to register with your brain and make you feel full. This is why eating quickly would be a bad thing. Instead, take your time. Put your fork down between bites. Chew slowly. You don't have to do any kind of weird slow motion eating or anything, just take your time and don't rush through your meal. Eating quickly will only cause you to eat more and more before your body/brain even gets a chance to realize that you are full.
- Drink water with your meal.
Don't wait until you're almost done. Drink water throughout the meal. Not only will this help fill you up and prevent you from wanting to eat more than you should, but it will also help slow down your eating which helps the above tip. Not to mention... water is what you want to be drinking.
- Use smaller plates/Take half a portion at a time.
As someone who is lucky enough to have the will power to just eat what I should eat and not want anymore, I have to admit, I find some of these tips a little, you know, hilarious. But hey, whatever works... do it. The thinking behind the smaller plates idea is that seeing your food in a smaller plate (and therefore filling it up completely) will trick your mind into thinking you are eating more than you actually are. With the half-a-portion idea, the thinking is that the act of getting up to get "seconds" will trick your mind into thinking a second serving is really being taken. Weird? Yes. Does it help some people? You bet. If you are one of these people, use these tips.
Cheat Meals & "Everything In Moderation"
Back when you learned what you should and should not eat, you may have wondered if you are really NEVER supposed to eat the stuff you shouldn't eat, or if you should allow yourself a cheat meal every once in a while. You know, "indulge in moderation." The answer to this question may play a large role in how well you are able to stick to your diet.
There's two obvious points of view to have here... for it or against it. I'll explain both sides and then leave the decision up to you.
The first point of view is that everything is OK to eat in moderation. The thinking here is that there is no need to remove every not-so-great food from your diet completely and permanently, and that trying to do so only makes sticking to your diet even harder. The idea is that indulging in something you know you shouldn't regularly be eating (junk food) is perfectly fine as long as you do it in moderation. As in, not too much, and not too often. A little junk once a week, or twice a month, or just on holidays and special occassions... is fine.
Scientifically speaking, this point of view (assuming it is actually done "in moderation") will not hurt your weight loss at all, nor will it cause weight gain. You know the One Fact, right? Well, let's say for example that the number of calories you need to consume per day to lose weight is 2500 (500 below maintenance). That means that over the course of 1 full week you'd create a 3500 calorie deficit (500 calorie deficit each day x 7 days = 3500) and lose about 1 pound through diet alone.
Now, let's say your "in moderation" cheat meal is 500 additional calories worth of junk food every Sunday. Your weekly deficit of 3500 now becomes 3000. Is there a difference? Yes, but it's really tiny. A 3000 calorie weekly deficit still exists which means weight loss will still happen just fine. You'd still end up losing weight at the rate of slightly less than 1 pound per week through diet alone.
Another good way to "cheat" without it having much (if any) negative effect is by "canceling out" the additional calories. For example, if you know you will be cheating with 500 calories of junk food today, make room for these 500 calories by eating 500 less calories than you normally would that day. So, if you are supposed to be consuming 2500 calories daily, rather than consuming 500 additional "cheat" calories and making your total 3000 for the day, just make those 500 "cheat" calories a part of your normal 2500.
You could also make this happen through exercise, by burning an additional 500 calories on that "cheat" day. Either way, your daily total would still end up being the 2500 calories it's supposed to be.
While the first way would just barely make a tiny, almost insignificant difference to your weight loss, the second way would make virtually no difference at all.
What this all means is that in the end, as long as it is done correctly (meaning you're not "cheating" too often or too much), this whole "everything in moderation" idea is fantastic. Weight loss still happens (and weight gain is still prevented) and you still get to occasionally eat some yummy junk food. It's a win/win situation.
Well, for some people, at least. Let me explain.
Picture this. You've smoked a whole bunch of cigarettes every single day since you were 14 years old. You tried to quit many times, but never had the will power to do it. However, you've finally just about done it. You haven't smoked at all in a couple of weeks and you're doing great. And now... you decide that instead of giving up smoking completely, you are going to have a "cheat" cigarette once per week.
What do you think happens next? I'd guess that some of the people who do this go on for the rest of their lives smoking 1 cigarette per week. I'd also guess that the majority of the people end up smoking regularly all over again.
Now, replace "smoking" with "eating" and "cigarettes" with "junk food" and you could understand why there is an "against it" point of view.
This is the point of view that feels that all cheating does is keep your interest in these foods alive. If you completely avoid something you crave, the cravings will fade away. If you instead give in and practically tease yourself with it, the cravings stay alive and strong and if anything... grow and grow until you are giving in on a regular basis.
From the weight loss side of things, this would be as bad as can be. Think about it. Remember earlier when I mentioned that too many total calories is what causes weight gain? And that the most common sources of these excess calories for most people was some form of junk food? This would mean that you are "cheating" with the very same foods that caused your weight gain in the first place. You'd be indulging in the original cause of your problem.
It is for this reason that for a large number of people, "cheating" and "indulging in moderation" only leads to negative results.
One other "against it" reason should also be mentioned here, one that has nothing to do with weight loss. What sometimes gets lost in this to-cheat-or-not-to-cheat argument is the fact that the foods most often being "cheated" with are unhealthy junk. It's only once in a while, sure, but it's still unhealthy junk. I mean, health-wise, there is nothing good about someone indulging in a trans fat filled, high sodium fast food item, even if it is just once per week. Cheating like this may not hurt your weight, but it can still hurt your health.
So, What Should You Do?
That's a good question, and one I really can't answer for you. This is a personal thing based on nothing but your own will power or lack thereof. Do you think you can cheat only in moderation, or will doing so only remind you of how much you miss these foods and cause you to go back to your old eating habits? Only you can answer that, because only you know what's truly right for you.
Tracking Weight Loss Progress
Accurately tracking your progress is going to be a huge part of your weight loss as well as a huge part of making sure the weight stays lost. There's two reasons for this:
- It will allow you to know for sure that what you are doing is working and that your body is doing what it should be doing (losing weight, maintaining weight, etc.)
- There is no better motivator than your own progress.
- Weigh yourself.
Do it once per week (no more, no less) and do it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. The key to tracking progress is consistency, so make sure you weigh yourself the same way, in the same spot, every time. If you are going to weigh yourself with a shirt on, always weigh yourself with that shirt on (or at least something similar). Pick a day and do it on the same day every week. And, as mentioned, always do it right after you wake up before eating or drinking anything. Keep a log of your weight somewhere (in a notebook, on a calendar, on the computer, wherever) and enter in each week's weight right after getting off the scale.
- Take measurements.
Get yourself a tape measure (the kind that can be wrapped around your body) and start measuring. Do it at least once per month, and at most once per week. Measure your waist, your arms, your thighs and your chest. As for where exactly to take each measurement, it really doesn't matter too much just as long as you always take the measurements from the same spots every time. Oh, and you should be doing it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach as well.
- Take pictures.
Watching your weight gradually decrease and the inches slowly come off will be quite motivating. The only thing even more fun to see is the actual progress itself in the form of monthly pictures. You see yourself all the time, so noticing your own weight loss progress will be the hardest for you. This is where pictures come in handy. They will remind you of exactly where you were when you started and show you exactly how far you've come. I think once per month is a good frequency for most people to see every single bit of improvement they are making.
Keeping The Weight Off Permanently
Are you wondering how to keep the weight off after you lose it? I can answer that for you in just 3 words: It Doesn't Stop
All of it. The keeping track of your calorie intake, the healthy eating, the exercising... it doesn't stop. You remember the One Fact? Well, knowing that, how can it possibly stop? If you go back to eating too many calories, you're going to gain the weight right back. I've avoided using this line through the entire weight loss guide due to how lame it sounds, but now I think I have to. It's a lifestyle change. Despite the lameness of those four words, it's 100% true. This is a new way of life. You saw what the results of your old way of life were, right? Go back to that, and those results come right back with it. So, once again... it doesn't stop.
What will have to stop at some point is the weight loss itself. When you reach your goal weight, just adjust your calorie intake (I'd recommend 250-300 calorie increments for adjustments) until you get to the point where you are maintaining the new weight you want to permanently stay at. This is your new maintenance level and is the new number of calories you'll need to consume daily to prevent yourself from both gaining weight and losing anymore weight. That's pretty much all there is to keeping the weight off permanently... continuing to do exactly what you did to lose the weight, only now you'll just be maintaining it. Simple enough.
Successful Weight Loss Guaranteed
That's right, I used the G word (guaranteed) in a weight loss article. And you know what? I mean it. Do you want to ensure that you successfully lose weight and keep it off with absolutely no problems at all? Do you want guaranteed results? Great, then I have just two final steps for you to follow:
- Read this guide and put all of its information into effect.
- Ignore EVERYTHING.
I'm sure #1 was obvious, but #2 might sound a bit confusing. Let me explain.
Ignore fad diets, ignore gimmicks, ignore books, ignore magazines, ignore Oprah, ignore supplements, ignore how your friends are trying to lose weight, ignore before and after pictures, ignore testimonials, ignore products, ignore ads, and heck, with the exception of this guide, you can ignore every other weight loss related thing I ever have to say.
The reason why is simple... weight loss information is finite. Everything you actually need to know about it already exists and has existed for quite some time. It's all in this guide. It has not changed, and it never will change. It will never improve. It will never become easier, it will never become harder. The way cavemen lost weight is the exact same way flying-telepathic-super-humans will lose weight in 4028.
But, that's not what anyone else in the world wants you to know. If you did, why in the world would you buy the new diet book on this week's best seller list? Why would you bother watching Oprah to see the new weight loss guru she's going to interview? Why would you even skim through the endless articles and lists of "10 Weight Loss Secrets," "20 Ways To Slim Down In Time For Summer," "15 Weight Loss Tips," "How ::insert celebrity's name here:: Lost Weight." If you know that there is nothing new to say about weight loss, then you know that all of that stuff is, well, useless.
And guess what? It all is. All of that is and always will be useless nonsense that exists for no other reason than to get you to watch, read, or buy something. Magazines have to keep putting out new issues. Web sites have to keep putting up new content (trust me, I know). Newspapers will not exist without new articles. Diet books are probably the most common books to find on best seller lists. And Oprah... she has more episodes to do. As long as the new issues come out, new articles get written, new content goes up, new episodes air and most important of all, new money gets made... it will never stop.
Unless of course... you stop.
Let all of that stuff continue to exist and be completely ignored by you. All of that stuff supposedly exists to help you. All it really does is distract, confuse and prevent. How can you stay focused on your diet plan when a newer, better, faster, easier diet comes out every other day? Last month's issue of Waste Of Time Magazine was all about losing weight through Diet A. They had lists of reasons and it all made sense. You FINALLY got it. But then... next month's issue showed up, and it was all about the wonders of Diet B. Does that really help people lose weight, or does it give them a reason to quit Diet A, become confused, buy next month's magazine and learn about Diet C, become even more confused, and then give up altogether?
This is all why in my opinion, the single best weight loss tip in existence can be explained in just two simple words... ignore everything. Stop looking for newer, better, faster, easier ways. All it will do is waste your time and effort (and probably your money) all while no weight is getting lost because you're too busy "looking" instead of "doing."
Read this guide, bookmark it, come back and read it as many times as you want, and do it all with the peace of mind of knowing that THIS IS IT. There is nothing else out there to look for. This guide is the complete compilation of all there is to safe, healthy, productive, free, expert-recommended weight loss. Look no further.
So, how does it feel to know every single thing you need to know in order for your goal to be accomplished? I'm going to guess that it's a really good feeling. Good. Now, stop reading and start doing.