What’s the secret to losing weight? The keto diet? The paleo? Intermittent fasting? The eat-more-fish-like-our-ancestors-did diet? The secret won’t be found on the front cover of a fitness magazine. If their readers actually started losing weight they’d lose out on selling weight loss pills and other weight loss supplements.
The golden rule, the rule that will make you lose weight is this: Eat fewer calories than your body needs and you will lose weight.
This is the single basic governing principle of all effective weight-loss systems, but it seems like a secret at times.
If you eat less food than your body needs you will lose weight – it’s a fact. You could eat a diet of only Doritos and Pepsi and as long as you are taking in fewer calories than your body needs you’d still lose weight. A professor at Kansas State University proved almost this when he went on similar diet (plus vitamins and protein so he avoided a lot of possible issues) and lost 27 pounds in ten weeks. Depending on how long you did this Doritos and Pepsi diet, your organs might start failing, your muscle might metabolize and you may have to sleep fourteen hours of the day because of a lack of energy but you’d lose weight.
Have I made my point yet? The reasons to eat “healthy” while dieting (e.g. intaking enough protein, fat, vitamins, fiber, water, sleep and minerals) are that you will retain more muscle, feel better while dieting and increase your chance of successfully eating fewer calories than you need because you will feel more full if you are eating whole-grains and protein.
So that’s the golden rule of losing weight if we want to give it a fancy title. Now you want to know the Ten Commandments…if you want to keep your muscles from metabolizing and all that.
- Find your daily maintenance caloric needs – Find out how many calories a person like you spends in a day.http://www.acaloriecounter.com/diet/calorie-maintenance-calculator-daily-calorie-requirements/Keep it honest, no body will keep you honest except yourself.
- Eat 85% your daily maintenance needs on average. Don’t worry, this should be enough if you count your calories with a free calorie counting app (I use my Fitness Pal) Try and count honestly. Alot of foods will surprise you. Like a boneless wing from B-Dubs is 100 calories. If you go over one day by 200 calories and the next day you go under by 200 you will be fine. At the end of the week check your daily average and ensure it is lower than 85% of your daily maintenance needs.
- Eat at least 75% of your body-weight (in lbs) in grams of protein each day. This takes care of your body’s protein needs. So if you weigh 200 pounds, intake 150 grams of protein daily. (This is especially important if you’re weightlifting because your body needs protein to rebuild and sustain your muscles) If you don’t get enough protein but you take in fewer calories than you need, you will still lose weight but you might also lose some of your muscle or find it harder to stay true to your diet because protein helps you feel full, longer.
- Eat at least 40% of your bodyweight (in lbs) in grams of fat each day. Avoid trans and saturated fats (saturated fats are a debated subject but basically just be moderate) because they increase cholesterol and your chance of heart disease. If you don’t care about early onset heart attacks go ahead and eat trans and saturated fat it probably won’t affect you until you are in your 60s. If you don’t eat enough fats you will feel less well than you could and it will affect your chance of staying true to your diet. Healthy sources are almonds, avocados, and other common sense healthy fats.
- Get the remainder of your calories from carbs. (Or protein and fats if you prefer) You can eat any type of carb (potato, white bread, white rice) but if you trouble following your caloric goals change to complex carbs like whole-grain rice and bread and sweet potatoes which digest slower and increase your satiation.
- Eat some type of vegetables every day.
- Drink at least half a gallon of water per day.
- Sleep at least 7 hours a day.
- Avoid unnecessary stress or if you are stressed try and deal with it through healthy outlets instead of ones which would affect your calorie intake.
- Exercise if you have time and you probably have time. Start with cardio and if you can handle it – weightlift.
At the end of the week, if you averaged less than your daily need of calories, you will lose weight (1-2 pounds). This is a healthy weight loss range. Don’t aim to lose more because you will feel like shit and lose muscle. If you want to change how you look fundamentally it will take a year at least. This said, progress should be evident on a scale after a week. You should see bodily progress after a month. If you don’t see weight loss after one week, either you are eating too many calories or your daily maintenance estimation was off. Decrease your caloric intake by 5% for the next week.
TL;DR Eat fewer calories than your body needs and you will lose weight.