Weight loss products in America are a billion-dollar industry.
It seems like every week there is a new infomercial about a new magical product that will shed off pounds of weight in no time.
Most of these products are either ineffective and are a complete waste of money or are detrimental to health.
Losing weight does not require weight loss pills, fad exercise equipment, appetite suppressants, or any supplements for that matter.
In this article, we go over the best way to lose weight and shed the pounds without putting your health at risk.
The Best Way To Lose Weight, In 4 Easy Steps
#1 – Exercise!
The first one is to simply exercise.
The more you exercise, the more calories you burn, and the more weight you will lose.
For more information on how losing weight works as far as calories are concerned, check out the article Losing Weight: How To Lose Weight Fast.
Exercise constitutes anything that takes energy to burn calories.
Walking is a great cardiovascular activity as it is low impact and easy on the joints.
If you are a part of the younger crowd and walking is either boring to you or you are able to do a lot of impact exercises with no pain to your joints, there are tons of great cardiovascular exercises to do.
If you are like me, simply doing cardio just does not cut it, but no worries there because cardio can be fun!
Sports such as football, lacrosse, volleyball, basketball, soccer, tennis, racketball, and swimming are all great ways to burn lots of calories.
Other great cardiovascular exercise includes jogging, the stationary air bike, and the stair master.
If walking is too easy for you but high impact exercise such as running causes a great deal of pain to your joints, one of my favorite alternatives is the elliptical machine. The elliptical machine burns just as many calories as running but without any of the impact.
A great aspect of cardiovascular exercise is a concept called EPOC (exercise post-exercise oxygen consumption). When you perform an exercise, your body burns calories up to 24 hours after you are done exercising!
The longer the duration of that exercise and the higher the intensity of your exercise bout, the more calories you will burn after your workout.
One of the major EPOC studies performed showed a direct linkage between exercise intensity and an increased amount of calories burned after exercise.
In addition to cardiovascular exercise, another great calorie-burning exercise is strength training.
Lifting weights is great for many purposes. For one, lifting weights burns a lot of calories and is a great way to get a great body.
Although there have been fewer studies conducted on the correlation between EPOC and resistance training, a study on the effect of resistance training of women and EPOC showed an increase in post-exercise metabolic rate.
Another study on the subject showed that greater levels of weight lifting intensity equates to a greater after-burn effect than low intensity exercise.
I’m sure many of you have heard that when adding pounds of muscle to your frame, your body burns a significant amount of calories per pound of muscle just to maintain that muscle.
This is a big myth in the fitness world as each pound of muscle does not burn as many calories as once thought.
Some studies from the early ’90’s showed that each pound of muscle burned approximately 35 calories per day.
If that were the case, a 200 pound man with 80 pounds of muscle (most men consist of about 40% muscle while women consist of about 35% muscle) would be burning 1,022,000 additional calories per year (35 calories x 80 pounds of muscle x 365 days in a year).
This would equal 292 pounds per year lost which would not make any sense.
According to Dr. Cedric X. Bryant, the American Council on Exercise’s Chief Science Officer, a pound of muscle only burns about 6 calories a day.
This still equates to a lot of weight loss over the long run, however.
For every 1.5 pounds of muscle you gain, you will be burning an extra pound of fat per year doing absolutely nothing!
Therefore, if you were to gain 10 pounds of muscle in a year, you would be losing approximately 6 pounds every year for the rest of your life without exercising!
That is a lot of weight and will pay off big dividends over time.
#2 – Nutrition!
The second tip in regards to losing weight is nutrition.
Nutrition is extremely important when losing weight and monitoring your caloric intake is vital in weight loss.
There are many great articles on the site for “dieting” and I advise you to check them out.
Simple dieting tips such as drinking water can help shed pounds of weight off without minimal effort. I have heard a lot of different ways that people plan to lose weight and I just want to give my opinion on each of these different methods.
Heavy restriction on calories
This is one of the methods that I dislike most. If you go from eating a lot of calories to eating barely any calories, you will always be hungry.
And if you are always hungry then you will not be able to sustain the weight loss and eventually gain every pound of weight you lost and more.
A perfect example of this to me is the HCG diet. People consume dangerously low amounts of calories, lose lots of weight, and then retreat to the same unhealthy lifestyle they had before and wonder why they gain the weight back.
Low carb diet
I cannot even begin to count how many times I have heard people talk about how they have to restrict their carbs to lose weight and how carbs are bad.
Hearing this kind of stuff annoys me so much because the people that say these things have no idea what they are talking about.
Despite what you have heard, some carbs are good! I said “some” because not all carbs are good. White breads, sweets, cakes, pies, candy, and cookies are all bad carbs and should be avoided.
However, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts all have carbs and are all extremely healthy. Low carb diets may be effective at short term weight loss but are dangerous and bad for overall health, and in my opinion, just are not worth it.
Most Americans are involved in what I like to call portion distortion. What we consider in America to be one portion is often 3-5 servings.
Many of us eat until we literally cannot take another bite and find it hard to even breathe. Until many of us reach this point of total satiety, we consider ourselves to be “hungry.”
Learning about how to monitor portion sizes and measure out foods to determine caloric values is an excellent way to lose weight.
Determining your caloric needs is really important in weight loss. Use a BMR calculator to determine how many calories your body burns naturally.
As you lose weight your BMR changes so make sure to keep recalculating it as you lose more and more weight.
When determining your dietary needs, make sure to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and lean meats.
Even more important than the type of foods (as far as weight loss is concerned) is the calorie counts.
Make sure that no matter what you eat that you are within your caloric needs. A major benefit to having the natural and healthy foods listed above is that they are typically lower calories than processed, unhealthy food.
For example, a banana has substantially less calories than a slice of cheesecake. For your weight loss goals, a “healthy” snack is any snack that keeps you within your caloric needs.
Many people turn to supplements when trying to lose weight and it is something that I don’t necessarily recommend.
Often times, people turn to appetite suppressants and weight loss pills and I really do not recommend doing so.
Consuming these products can have detrimental side effects and can cause many problems.
Also, most people will gain the weight right back after they stop with these supplements.
Losing weight is difficult and is very time-consuming. If it were easy then everyone would be in great shape. The only supplement that I would recommend is a meal replacement protein powder or a gut health supplement.
Often times we are in a rush and just do not have time. Consuming a high-quality protein shake can be a quick and healthy meal to consume on the run. I have been consuming Sun Warrior protein for a couple years and I really recommend it as a quality plant protein powder.
Whey and soy protein are also good alternatives although I personally believe plant proteins are healthier. Make sure that if you consume whey or soy that it is natural without a lot of artificial ingredients in it.
So if you exercise and eat well you will be well on your way to losing (or gaining depending on your goal) weight. Starting to get the picture on how losing weight works?
#3 – Sleep!
Sleeping is key to weight loss. Before I get into the hormonal responses of sleep in relation to weight loss, I want to talk about the psychological responses.
When you do not sleep, you become groggy and demotivated. Keeping your eyes open can be a struggle. When this happens, the gym becomes the last thought from your mind.
You end up having a couple cups of coffee and rationalize eating a couple donuts for “energy.” You become too tired to cook and resort to fast food for most of your meals.
It then becomes an never ending cycle that results in lots of weight gain.
Now for what’s happening to your body when you deprive yourself of sleep.
The hormones ghrelin and leptin are involved in the sleep-wake process. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when to eat and leptin is the hormone that tells you when to stop eating.
When you are sleep deprived you have less leptin and more ghrlein which equates to excess eating and weight gain. A study at Stanford University showed this.
Sleep can also affect metabolism greatly and sleep deprivation can cause a slowing of metabolism.
A study conducted at the University of Chicago showed that sleep deprivation can result in a significant alteration in metabolic and endocrine function.
A lack of sleep is also associated with a loss of muscle over a loss of fat. According to a study published in the October 2010 issue of the “Annals of Internal Medicine,” more sleep equals more fat loss.
The study was conducted at the University of Chicago and consisted of overweight subjects sleeping 8.5 hours nightly for two weeks, followed by sleeping 5.5 hours nightly for 2 weeks.
During each 2 week period, each individual consumed 1,425 calories daily. Weight loss was equal regardless of the amount of sleep each individual had.
However, fat loss was significantly higher during the period of more sleep versus the period of less sleep. More muscle was lost during the period of less sleep.
Make sure you sleep adequately every night. Most people require approximately 8 hours of sleep a night but everyone is different. Figure out your sleeping needs by sleeping without an alarm clock and allow your body to wake up on its own.
#4 – Drink More Water
The amount of calories that could be reduced by simply drinking water instead of high calorie, sugary beverages could significantly lower one’s weight.
Most people would be shocked to realize just how many calories they consume from their beverages every day.
According to the CDC, kids and teens get about 6.7% to 8.2% of their daily caloric intake from the beverages, and adults get about 5% to 8%. This may not seem like a lot but over time this can add up to pounds and pounds of unwanted body fat.
According to a study conducted, drinking 2 8 oz glasses of water before every meal can cause significant amounts of weight gain!
Make sure to eat your calories, not drink them! It is a lot easier to drink calories than it is to eat them.
Drinking calories is a lot less filling and will cause you to eat more!
In a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association by Richard Mattes and Wayne Campbell from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA, a beverage elicited a very weak appetitive response whole solid foot elicited a very strong appetitive response.
If you want to lose weight, do not drink your calories, eat them!
Another reason to drink more water is to increase your strength! Dehydration has been linked to decrease in strength and power. In a study conducted at Old Dominion college, bodybuilders who were dehydrated has a 10% reduction in their 1 rep max compared to when they were hydrated!
For more great benefits of water check out the article: 10 reasons to drink more water!
Bringing it home
In conclusion, if you want to lose weight, you have to exercise, eat well, sleep, and hydrate!
Utilize these 4 concepts in your lifestyle to help you lose weight.