Updated: Oct 19, 2020
First, a sad admission... I wish I could tell you losing weight is all about exercise, because fitness is my jam.
But it's not.
Weight loss has a lot more to do with what you eat than which exercises you do.
That said, I'm going with EXERCISE as the #1 strategy because that's why people hire me and exercise does play an important part.
Strategy #1 - Exercise to Boost Your Metabolism!
Exercise intensity has a great impact on fat burning, known as fat oxidation.
And here’s something we don’t always realize: Fat oxidation occurs most efficiently during low to moderate-intensity exercise.
This is your long walks or runs, your long swim, your bike ride. This is exercise at a level you can sustain for 30 minutes or more. At this intensity, the fat you use is from fatty acids circulating in the blood.
When you increase your intensity to a moderate level, the fat you use is mostly from fat that is stored. This is exercise that’s pushing you a bit further past your comfort zone.
At high exercise intensities, total fat oxidation is reduced to levels lower than that of moderate intensity (Horowitz and Klein, 2000). Higher-intensity exercise requires carbohydrates to meet the high energy demands.
This information would have us believe that long, slow runs are best for fat loss. That is only partly true. Those long, slow runs do indeed use fat. But high-intensity workouts disturb the working muscle cells' homeostasis to such a great degree that the recovery process requires more energy too, and guess what is utilized in that difficult, long recovery process? Fat.
WHY CHOOSE THIS STRATEGY
Exercise boosts your metabolism and burns calories. But it provides so much more... strength, endurance, muscle tone, better sleep, reduced risk of chronic health issues, endorphins...
I wrote an entire post on which workouts are best for losing fat >.
No matter what you choose to do for workouts, fat will be burned and you'll lose weight.... so long as you aren’t continually feeding your face!
Which brings us to Strategy #2....
Strategy #2 - Use Portion Control with All Meals & Snacks
I know, I know, portion control as a strategy isn't novel or surprising or sexy, but listen - IT WORKS.
And the best part about it? It can mean you don't have to radically alter what you eat; only how much.
So if you must have bacon for breakfast? Have at it! But now you'll eat one slice instead of 7.
For more on portions, including recommendations for men and women, go HERE.
WHY CHOOSE THIS STRATEGY
Weight control mainly comes down to calories in, calories out, and portion control is an easy way to lower your caloric intake without feeling deprived. I find that for most of my clients, simply controlling portions is enough to get them closer to their optimal weight!
Note this strategy only works if you limit yourself to eating 3 meals a day and 2 small snacks, tops. By small, smaller than you think - palm-sized snacks. Snacks are definitely where excess calories sneak in. (Whole sleeve of crackers while watching Netflix, anyone?)
While you're getting used to eating smaller portions, you might worry you won't feel full.
Enter Strategy #3.....
Strategy #3 - Eat; Wait
THIS IS MY FAVORITE STRATEGY OF ALL TIME.
(Calm yourself, Laura.)
Eat; Wait means this:
- EAT a portion-controlled meal
- WAIT 20 minutes
Then, if after 20 minutes you are indeed still hungry, eat another 1/2 portion of something and wait again.
What we find time and time again is that we are actually satisfied after 20 minutes! Even better, you’ll find that you’re “satisfied-full.” Meaning satiated, without feeling bloated or sluggish or tired.
WHY CHOOSE THIS STRATEGY
Eating slowly, then waiting helps trigger the release of hormones that tell your body you're full.
You know how you eat-eat-eat-eat and then 30 minutes later feel miserable? Yeah, that. This prevents that.
Eat; Wait also helps you learn to slow down, savor and enjoy the taste of your food. Think about it - when you want something delicious, is it really that you want loads of it, or is it that you want to savor and enjoy it?
Think of it like this:
....Eat slowly for 20 minutes, enjoy your treat for 20 minutes.
....Eat-eat-eat-eat as much as you can for 20 minutes, enjoy your treat for 20 minutes, but at double or triple the calories!
So, the next time you eat, slowwwwww dowwwwwn. Eat less, wait, enjoy the new feeling of "satisfied full without bloating" and enjoy the leftovers tomorrow. (Ooh! Leftovers!)
Altering portions might not be enough to see change, or over-eating portions might not be your struggle. In this case, you might have to track calories. At least for a while.
Simple Calorie Calculation
Calculating calories gets tricky. It’s a moving target, and there can be a bit of trial and error.
That said, here’s a simple formula you can use to estimate your calorie needs:
Take your body weight in pounds and multiply it by 14 = _____
Then take your body weight in pounds and multiply it by 16 = _____
There’s your maintenance calorie range.
For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., your range will be 2100-2400.
- If you want to lose weight, eat at the low end or a bit less - maybe 1900 or 2000 calories.
- If you want to gain or build muscle, eat at the high end or a bit more - maybe 2500 or so.
When adjusting caloric intake, you want to make the smallest changes possible that get the scale moving in the right direction.
Slashing calories will work - you will lose weight. But it’s difficult to maintain and can often lead to over-consuming in hangry moments. One binge session can easily erase any caloric deficit you created over several days.
I understand you want fast results, but it often leads to the yo-yo dieting we’re all too familiar with.
Try not to make any extreme changes that you can’t stick to for several weeks. Track your intake for a while and see if it moves the scale. Adjust and test. If needed, adjust more.
Also, add more movement in your day, drink more water, get support from friends, and... oh wait, just play the game and get points for doing all of those things! *smile*