Studies show that most people who want to lose weight will go for a restrictive diet, reach their weight loss goal but gain it all back (plus interests) shortly after. The reason why that happens is because those people have successfully managed to slow down their metabolism, to put it gently.
Let’s start with what I believe to be the best way to go about it.
- educated food choices
- a caloric deficit
- strength training
- cardio/staying active
I hear many people say “I don’t want to start working out/lifting weights yet because I want to lose x amount of pounds/kgs first.”. And that is the worst approach, unless a physician has told you to stay away from exercising.
Dieting alone (aka the caloric deficit) will definitely help toward your weight loss goal but you aren’t just dropping pounds of fat there. Your lean mass is going away too. So let’s assume you finally get to your definition of ‘skinny’ size by just dieting. At that point you will simply be ‘skinny fat’. And if you were in a restrictive diet you will probably end up binge eating afterwards. Which would start a vicious cycle of feeling guilty, stressing over it, spiking up cortisol (the “I make you fat hormone”) and going backwards, undoing all your hard work.
So what is the correct approach to losing the weight AND keeping it off?
First of all, forget diets. Learn nutrition common sense instead! Eat wholesome foods, stay away from processed crap and “zero calorie” or “fat free” junk. A LITTLE (real) sugar never killed anyone.
Once you know what’s healthy to eat, track your food – not too religiously, it shouldn’t become an obsession – and maintain in a SUSTAINABLE caloric deficit. [Talk to a coach or a certified personal trainer if you need help with understanding how many calories make a ‘sustainable deficit’ for you.]
Next, start working out (unless your doctor has advised against it)!
The mistake I see many overweight people make is to go straight for hours of cardio. Cardio alone will burn a few calories and is definitely great for your cardiovascular health but think of it this way:
you want to build a house and you have two options to get this job done:
a) a team of TWO people,
b) a team of TEN people.
Who do you think will finish sooner?
That’s the same with muscle/lean mass. The more you have of it (and the more gets recruited at the same time), the more calories you burn, the quicker you lose the fat. Because you are actually building muscle in the process, you don’t end up skinny fat when the scale is finally where you’d like it to be. Plus, the more calories you burn, the more your metabolism speeds up – and guess what happens when your metabolism is faster. You can EAT MORE! So instead of being miserable and restricting yourself, you can actually eat satisfying meals and not feel like you are starving yourself to fit in whatever size clothes you aim to fit in. And that creates a healthy mindset, which in the long run is sustainable and the secret to actually keeping the weight off.
Remember that if it feels like a chore, you are bound to fail and/or give up sooner or later.
Losing weight and getting in shape should come as a result of adjusting to a healthy lifestyle. You actually have to make a permanent change!