Weight loss isn’t as complicated as it is hard to maintain. But setting out an efficient weight loss strategy before embarking on the journey could help you get into the right mindset and overcome all potential difficulties along the way. Here are the 5 crucial steps to melting your excess fat off and keeping it away!
Step 1: Increase Meal Frequency
When you eat, your metabolic rate increases as the food gets broken down. So by eating every few hours, you can keep your metabolism in a constantly elevated state, which translates to an increased ability to burn fat. The claim that you need to eat many smaller meals throughout the day to accelerate fat loss still rings as true as it did two decades ago, and today we have a pile of scientific studies which support its validity.
Nonetheless, it would be a lie to say that increasing your meal frequency is the only way to get leaner and improve muscle building – there will always be the people who manage to do this by sticking to three big meals per day. But for the vast majority, increasing meal frequency is a highly effective method to fire up your metabolic rate, gain better control over hunger and stimulate fat burning.
However, the one thing that dieters seem to forget is that completely rebuilding your nutrition habits overnight comes as a great shock to the organism and 9 out of 10 times, it doesn’t produce great results. A much wiser approach would be to gradually increase your meal frequency over the course of 3-4 weeks, adding one meal to your daily total per week. So if you’re currently eating three meals per day and you’d like to get to eight, start very slowly. Add a fourth meal and go on eating four meals per day for at least a week, then increase the number to five and stick to eating five meals per day for a while, and so on. This way you’ll give your organism time to adjust to the change and make the best use of it before moving to the next level. The higher your metabolic rate, the more calories you can burn. For best results, work your way up to at least 6 meals per day.
Step 2: Redo Your Ratios
Calories are a measure of energy, and successful weight loss depends on increasing your energy expenditure, or decreasing your caloric intake. However, not all calories are created equal, and one of the most important reasons for this statement is the thermic effect of different macronutrients. The thermic effect of food is the caloric cost of digesting and processing different macronutrients.
In other words, eating itself costs calories – every process from chewing and swallowing to the production of enzymes and muscular contractions in the stomach costs energy. So, for example, certain low-calorie vegetables and fruits such as celery, grapefruit, lemon, lettuce and broccoli are considered to have ‘negative calories’ because it takes more energy to break down and absorb them than they themselves contain. In general, the average person uses about 10% of their daily energy expenditure digesting and absorbing food, but this number greatly depends on the type of food you eat.
As expected, protein is the winner of this race – 20-30% of total calories from protein get burned during the digestion process, so this macronutrient takes the most energy to digest. When it comes to carbohydrates, 5-15% of total calories are used to digest and absorb them, and with fats, it’s only 0-5%. And unlike protein, fat gets stored very quickly if you consume too much of it.
The solution, however, is not to consume only protein and completely ditch fat – this nutrient plays an important part in many body processes and is crucial for maintaining good overall health. Instead of that, craft a diet plan in which you’re getting around 40% of your total calories from carbs, 50% from protein and only 10% from fat. Choose carbs that are complex slow-digesting and don’t cause insulin spikes, with the exception of the post-workout meal when quick-acting carbs should be consumed to replenish your body’s depleted glycogen. This way you can lose weight in a healthy way. Your total caloric intake should be around 15 calories per pound of bodyweight per day. Start there and then adjust the numbers according to the results until you reach a point where you’re losing weight. That being said, don’t aim at losing more than a pound and a half per week – such kind of weight loss is not healthy nor sustainable.
Step 3: No cheating!
Some people believe that it’s perfectly fine to give in to your impulses and cravings once in a while and “re-feed”, or allow yourself meals without counting the calories and macros. These meals, of course, are comprised of foods that you aren’t supposed to eat, which is why they call them cheat meals. Some other people even believe that by including cheat meals (or even entire days!) in your diet you can enhance your metabolic rate even further and prevent starvation mode. In reality, this is a load of bullshit and there is no scientific evidence for either of those claims. As far as we’re concerned, relatively frequent deviations from your diet plan will prevent you from reaching your goals, or in the very least, they will make you struggle to the finish line.
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