Contrary to popular belief (and wishful thinking) there is no magic pill, drink, formula, or program that will make everyone thin and lose weight overnight. Instead, there are basic principles, based on physiology, that can be combined to help an individual lose weight. The results will vary some by individual. Factors such as resting metabolic rate, activity level, and underlying medical conditions may impact the rate of weight loss, also. The myth that there is a perfect diet or miracle weight loss pill out there has led many unhappy dieters to abandon the hope of losing weight and keeping it off.
It is important to understand that the body naturally wants to hold on to the excess energy it has stored and that dieting actually works against millions of years of evolution. Originally the body was programmed to recognize low caloric intake as a warning sign for starvation. This caused the body to quickly kick into the self preservation phase. It lowered the metabolism, decreased energy levels, and opened up the fat storage sites to store more energy for future energy needs.
Unfortunately, a diet is seen as starvation by the body. Once caloric intake is decreased the body senses a starvation phase coming on. So, the natural response is to lower the metabolism. This is just the opposite of what the dieter is looking for. So, the first step for successful weight loss is finding a way to avoid the diet metabolism slow down.
How To Lose Weight – Tip #1
There are a few ways to prevent this from happening. The first is to stagger the calories so the average number of calories at the end of the week is lower, but daily the intake varies. It takes a reduction of 3500 calories to lose one pound. So, at the end of the week the total caloric intake should be 3500 lower, but some days might be higher than usual. (Example: For a 2000 calorie diet (down from 2500)- Monday-1800, Tuesday-2200, Wednesday-1600, Thursday-2400, Friday-2000, Saturday-1700, Sunday-2300) This way the body cannot set its new metabolic rate to a constant lower level. The body is usually 36 to 48 hours behind when setting the new rate, so if it fluctuates each day there will be no constant to set it to.
How To Lose Weight – Tip #2
Another way to reduce the slow down is to increase the lean muscle tissue on the body. This lean tissue is much more metabolically active than fat. As the amount of muscle on the body increases, the number of calories burned at rest increases. As a side effect, exercises become easier and you can do more of them for a longer period, which also burns more calories in the long run. Weight training and muscle building is a great way to add extra lean muscle to the body.
How To Lose Weight – Tip #3
Eating 5-6 meals a day will increase your metabolism compared to eating only 3 times a day. Another good thing about eating more meals is your are less hungry and therefore do not have those food craving in which you indulge yourself in unhealthy food. Check out the following article on eating 6 meals a day.
There are also supplements that help the body burn more calories even at rest. Energy producing supplements, such as those containing caffeine, cause the metabolism to increase slightly. Thermogenic formulas cause the body to liberate and burn more fats. A diet lower in carbohydrates, the body’s preferred energy source, causes an increase in fat burning for energy. The body would prefer to burn carbohydrates for energy, but when they are limited, the body must go to it’s secondary source of energy, fat. This is not an excuse to eat fast food everyday, any increased fat intake should be good quality, unsaturated fats. Offset the decreased carbohydrates with lean proteins when possible.
So, to put this all together a diet with variable calorie days (with an average weekly overall reduction), increased activity (especially weight training), and a diet with good quality protein and limited carbohydrates (along with a good weight loss supplement) is a good formula for gradual, long-term weight loss. Remember, it took a long time to put the weight on, don’t expect it to just fall off overnight.