Eating to lose weight...

Weight loss or more correctly fat loss is one of the most common goals that I come across as a personal trainer.  In today's day and age, we are more sedentary than in the past.  There is also an abundance of calorie-filled food and beverages available to us at a moments notice, often without even leaving the couch.  With this, it is no surprise that a large proportion of us are overweight and want to lose a few kilograms.

Most people who are overweight will have tried a diet at one point or another.  Many of them will have lost weight, and I would venture to say that most would have put it back on again.  Many diet programs out there are not sustainable long-term, or just aren't suited to everyone, and as such are hard to keep at for any reasonable period of time.

There are plenty of options too - the Meditteranean diet, intermittent fasting, ketogenic diets (low carb) and many more.  The options are myriad and often contradictory in what they offer.  It is no surprise that people are confused as to what is the best diet for them.  But the one thing they all have in common is this...

They all aim to get you into a caloric deficit.

It is not magic.  

To lose weight, you have to eat fewer calories than you burn during each day.  And consistently do this over a long period of time.  

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet here.  It is tough to do and takes time.  But it is doable.

So what should you do to get started?

Firstly you need to make sure that you are in the right headspace to do this.  You need to be ready to avoid many things that may tempt you.  Sometimes multiple times a day for weeks and months on end.  

Don't get me wrong, slipping up occasionally is OK, it isn't ideal but it is unreasonable to think you will eat perfectly forever.  And to do so would be ridiculous, to be honest.  I mean if you can't eat peanut butter chocolate chip cookies then is life really worth it the hassle?  

But you need to be thinking long-term with this.  It needs to be a lifestyle change and not a quick fix.  Think of it like this and you will have a much greater chance of making a change for good.

Next, you need to know what sort of nutrition program is going to work for you.  I have written a little about this previously.  If you struggle with choosing the healthy option over the unhealthy one then maybe removing choice and doing intermittent fasting is for you.  If you enjoy meats and vegetables but aren't so fussed on pasta, then going low-carb could be a good option.  Basically, you need to think about the healthy foods that you enjoy eating and look at a way you can maximise these in your diet and still remain in a caloric deficit.

Next, you need to look at a way to track both your progress and your calories.  Sorry, my advice does include tracking your food.  Studies have shown that when people are asked to estimate the food they have consumed they underestimate the calories, sometimes dramatically.  They also overestimate how many calories they burned through exercise also.  So tracking through an accurate food diary app is vital.  

I talked about my favourite app in a recent blog post.  So get an app and start tracking.  Most apps will take you through a series of questions to determine your metabolic rate - how many calories you burn through daily activity.  And then prompt you to ask how much weight you want to lose and then set a target calorie level for you.  If you would like this a little more accurate then I suggest you visit a nutritionist who can do this for you.

You also need to look at exercising.  Yes, I just said that people overestimate how many calories they burn through exercise, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it!  Exercise does burn off calories, it also helps build muscle.  The more muscle mass you have the higher your daily calorie burn just sitting there watching TV, so it is equally important to look at how much exercise you are getting.

One last thing you should do is stick with it!  Too many people hit the first setback and quit on the spot.  One bad meal and they are done.  I have heard this compared to getting a flat tyre and then taking a knife and slashing the other three because the first one was flat.  You only fail when you quit, not because you made a mistake.  Keep getting back on that horse (I wonder how many other cliches I can fit in here?).  But seriously, just keep at it, your health is an investment, and it pays off with a long life and fewer trips to the doctor.

This is a long post with a lot of stuff to take in, but if you would like to talk about anything further then just get in touch with me through my website and I will help you as best I can.  

What nutrition program has worked well for you? Let me know through my website.


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