Yes, You CAN Lose Weight and Keep it Off!
Many people start new diets that fail. The main reason for this is that people often go on starvation diets that they can't keep up on a long-term basis.
What generally happens is that they stick to a very restricted calorie diet for a time. But eventually they get so hungry that they blow their diet and then give up on dieting entirely, without having lost any of the weight they intended to.
Why Starvation Diets Don't Work
Severe calorie restriction diets don't work for several reasons. Sure, you may lose a couple of pounds at the beginning of a starvation diet, but in just a short time your body will respond by decreasing your metabolism. This means that you'll now have to eat even fewer calories than before to maintain the same weight. The overall effect is that you could end up weighing even more than before you started.
Another reason for not restricting your calories too low is because you can't keep this up on a long-term basis. This is the same reason that fad diets don't work either. By fad diets, I am referring to diets in which people eat only a particular food or only foods from certain food groups.
In order to lose weight sucessfully you need to change your eating and your exercise habits to those you can live with on a long-term basis. Basically this means changing your overall eating patterns and exercise habits for life. If this sounds too hard, or even somewhat scary, it shouldn't. By changing the way you eat and increasing your physical activity, you'll end up feeling better, living longer, and improving your overall appearance.
No matter what your current body weight is, or how many times you've tried dieting in the past, if you consistently burn off more calories than you take in, YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT.
How Many Calories Should You Eat Each Day?
Because we are all slightly different, and have different levels of physical activity, the same amount of calories may be too much for one person, just right for another, and too little for another person. The following formula will help you to determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR) or metabolic rate at rest:
BMR = 655 + (4.35 X weight in pounds) + (4.7 X height in inches) - (4.7 X age in years)
BMR = 66 + (6.23 X weight in pounds) + (12.7 X height in inches) - (6.8 X age in years)
The above formulas (called the Harris Benedict principle) only tell you how many calories it takes your body to remain at your current weight in the absence of physical activity. This number tells you how many calories your body uses just to breathe and maintain other metabolic functions.
To account for your activity, you'll need to increase the amount of calories eaten. To determine this number, multiply the number you obtained for your BMR by one of the numbers below according to how active you are:
- sedentary lifestyle: 1.2
- slightly active lifestyle: 1.375
- moderately active: 1.55
- very active lifestyle: 1.725
The number you obtain is the number of calories you need to eat each day to maintain your current weight.
If you want to lose weight you must determine the amount of calories you need to eat daily to achieve your target, or desired weight. To do this, you simply exchange your current weight in the BMR formula for your target weight. Then multiply this new BMR by the number according to how physically active you are. This number gives you the amount of calories you should eat daily to reach your target weight.
Be reasonable when choosing your target weight. Depending on your sex, height, and bone structure, it often isn't reasonable or healthy to think that you should weigh only 110 pounds, for example. There IS such a thing as too thin, and that doesn't look attractive either. No one should be eating under 1400 calories a day and most people should be eating considerably more than this.
Online Calorie Calculator
If you find all of the above calculations too cumbersome then use this handy calorie calculator from bodybuilding.com.
What Type of Foods Should You Eat?
You should eat the foods that you enjoy as long as they are nutritious. For example, lets say that you have determined that you can eat 2,000 calories a day to get to your target weight. You shouldn't fill up on cake and soda until you've reached 2,000 calories.
Instead, you should eat a balanced diet that contains approximately 40% protein, 30% carbohydrates (preferably in the form of complex carbohydrates, like vegetables) and 30% fat. Yes, I really am telling you to include fat in your diet to lose weight.
Avoiding fat in your diet has become very popular within the past decade. However, have you noticed that people are thinner now than they were in the past? You haven't noticed that people are getting thinner because they aren't. Overall, Americans weigh more now than they ever have, despite the popularity of fat-free cookies, chips, and other food products.
In addition, fats are important nutrients. In fact, your brain is composed mostly of fat. And so are your cell membranes. Because of this, oils and fats are very good for keeping your skin youthful.
However, it is true that some fats are better for you than others. Fats from fish, flax seed oil, nuts, and olive oil are much healthier than other types of fats. Also, when choosing between margarine or butter you should always choose butter. Over the centuries, humans evolved eating butter, but not margarine. This means that our bodies are better able to handle butter than margarine. Years ago margarine was touted as the healthy alternative to butter, but now we know better.
Keep a Food Diary
In order for you to keep track of how much food you are eating on a daily basis, you need to keep a food diary and write down everything you eat. There are many resources for determining the amount of calories in foods these days. A resource I find very useful is a MyFitnessPal.com. You simply type in whatever food you want to know the calorie count for and it returns the results.
Plan Out Your Calories For the Day Ahead of Time
To make sure you don't eat all of your allotted calories at one meal, it is best to plan out your daily menu ahead of time. You can do this the day before, or even in the morning before you begin eating. When planning your meals for the day, write down everything you plan to consume for the day and add up the calories as you go. In this way you'll be able to determine what you can eat at each meal without going over the amount of calories you need to consume to lose weight. By writing everything down that you plan to eat and calculating the calories in advance, you'll realize ahead of time that perhaps you don't need to include the potato chips and twinkies in your lunch after all.
How Do I Maintain This Type of Diet Long-Term?
This diet is easy to maintain because you aren't severely restricting your caloric intake. They key is to make mostly healthy food choices each day, while still allowing yourself to eat the foods that you enjoy the most. For example, I happen to LOVE drinking Pepsi. In fact, I still allow myself two Pepsi's per day, even though I realize that it isn't very nutritious. In fact, I use up about 400 of my allotted calories on the Pepsi when I could be having 400 calories worth of something more nutritious.
Is this smart?
Perhaps not, but there is no diet on Earth that would work for me if I had to give up drinking Pepsi. This is why you need to determine what foods you feel you absolutely MUST have in order for this diet plan to work. Then plan the rest of your menu around them accordingly. Just be certain that your entire alottment of calories isn't on non-nutritious foods and beverages. You should also take a good multivitamin on a daily basis.
What About Drinking Alcohol?
In general, alcohol doesn't help someone lose weight. In fact, drinking alcohol helps people to gain weight. There is a reason its called a beer-belly. In addition to the calories in the alcohol itself, alcohol also slows down your metabolism, even on the following day. Also, people often eat more food than normal after drinking alcohol. If you can, it is best to avoid drinking alcohol as much as possible when trying to lose weight.
I know that I cannot stay in good physical shape when I drink alcohol. This is true even when I'm working out on a regular basis.
Take One Day of the Week Off From Dieting
Because no one can diet all of the time, you will be much more likely to stick to your allotted caloric intake if you give yourself one day off from your diet each week. On this day, allow yourself to eat and drink whatever you want, however I still recommend keeping track of the amount of calories you eat on this day. It is okay to go over your allotted calorie intake, but if you keep track of them you'll get a general idea of how many calories you typically eat when you "aren't counting them."
Because no diet is going to be truly successful in the absence of exercise, you should incorporate some physical activity into your life. You'll feel much better from exercising and your muscle tone, appearance, and overall health will improve. Whether you lift weights, start running, join an aerobics class, or start walking to increase fitness, you should get motivated to start exercising to get the most out of your diet program and life.
Once you begin to see the benefits of your new healthy-living regimen, you'll want to continue giving your body the gift of wellness. You can further enhance the effects of your new routine by adding a colon cleanse for body detoxification. A cleanse utilizing all natural herbal fiber is a great way to help the body remove excess toxins and waste without disrupting daily life.
My Favorite Weight Loss Books
Here are 2 books I'd recommend if you want more information on nutrition and weight loss: