When it comes to losing weight, it’s important to understand the fundamentals.
First things first, weight is released when there is a caloric deficit in the body. That is to say that an individual is taking in fewer calories than their body is burning. Since the deficit calories need to be found elsewhere, the body will use stored calories for energy. And this often results in the loss of body fat.
At its most basic level, there are two ends to the weight loss equation. There are “calories in” and “calories out”. It’s important to work with both ends of the equation.
Let’s start with calories in. This end of the equation is all about diet and nutrition.
It seems logical that by reducing the intake of calories, the calorie deficit can be achieved. And this is partially true, but it also oversimplifies the process.
Certainly, moderately reducing calories – and especially certain types of less nourishing calories (like those from sugar) – can be an important part of a weight loss plan. But excessive caloric reductions tend to backfire. The human body is smart, and if it is severely deprived of food, then it will go into starvation mode. If the body feels starved, the metabolic rate drops to conserve calories. This, in turn, negatively effects the “calories out” portion of the equation. In other words, you can’t starve yourself to lose weight.
If you are overeating, you will want to reduce the number of calories that you are consuming – but this should be done moderately. Moreover, you should stick to healthier food options. I often advise clients to follow the “Caveman Diet,” which has an emphasis on lean meats, berries, nuts, vegetables, water, fruits and the many other healthy, nourishing foods that were available to our ancestors. Processed foods, sugars, sugary drinks and high fat foods are, in general, to be avoided or minimized.
Note: Low carbohydrate diets are also effective in reducing body fat, and offer an alternative to lower fat or lower calorie diets. If you need help in deciding whether a low-calorie diet or low-carb diet is best for you, read this article.
When it comes to calories out, exercise plays a huge role – and it’s why you need to stay active. By engaging in exercise, you’re able to burn additional calories – and help widen that all important calorie deficit.
I always advise a combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training.
Cardio exercise gets your heart pumping, and your blood flowing. Cardio has a number of great benefits, not the least of with is an incineration of calories. Running, swimming, biking, jogging, etc., all count as cardio. Interval training – that is, alternating between medium and high levels of cardio intensity – seems to yield the best results.
Strength training involves using forms of resistance to build your muscles. Adding muscle is important because muscle requires a tremendous amount of calories to sustain. Each pound of muscle added widens your calorie deficit. Most people use free weights, body weight, machines or resistance bands in their strength training routines.
When it comes to exercise, combining both cardio and strength training will give you the best results. And if you are just starting out, fear not: Even exercising a few times a week for 30 minutes is a great place to start – and you will experience results. For help creating a fitness routine that works with your goals, equipment (or lack thereof) and schedule, download my Ultimate Guide to Working Out. Use promo code “release” to save 20% during checkout in the next few hours only.
Weight release isn’t rocket science. But for a lot of us, it’s not just about the above equation of calories in and calories out. Yes, that’s the science of it. But it’s not the psychological reality for many of us. Releasing weight often requires a new, deeper relationship with our body. It’s important to understand the science of weight loss, but it’s equally important to invest time, energy and effort understanding the underlying issues. For more about building a stronger, positive connection with your body, I recommend these resources:
- The Secret to Losing Weight: 3-minute exercise to understand the power of words and the importance of being your body’s friend.
- Is Love the Secret to Being Healthy?: Learn why loving your body – no matter it’s shape, size or form – is so important.
- A Healthy Diet of Words: More information about the power of the words we use.