To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you take in. I can just hear the thousands of “no duhs” being muttered as you folks read this shocking revelation! However, there are several components to creating a calorie “deficit” (not just eating less), and using them all together will be the most effective. Plus, you won’t be starving yourself like you usually do when you diet.
My dear sweet Grandma (may she rest in peace) struggled with her weight her entire life. I always got a good chuckle when she would say to me, “Matthew, I wish I could lose weight like you. I don’t understand, I hardly eat anything at all.” I never wanted to challenge my 70-something year old Grandma on the scientifically impossible statement she made. If you are taking in less than your body requires, you will lose weight, end of story. If your body could gain weight from eating nothing, you’d be on Dr. Phil, Oprah and the Today Show tomorrow!
So, how do you create this calorie deficit? It is a combination of watching your intake with anaerobic training (the interval-style training) and resistance training, both of which burn calories not only during activity, but also after, as long as 36 hours after completion! When you eat less and burn more, you have achieved the magic fat loss formula.
For a fat loss diet that creates a calorie deficit easily and without hunger, check out my new book The Burrito Diet!
How do I know you are making these fat loss mistakes? Because I did! Here are some great tips for getting past these hurdles on your way to a lean, sexy body.
YOU ARE TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH TOO SOON
Making the life-changing decision to lose weight and live a healthier life? Bravo! Trying to go from Sedentary Slob to Superman on a Monday morning? Not so smart. It is a surefire way to be back to the Twinkies by mid-day Wednesday. Take things one step at a time and you are much more likely to succeed - you can't expect to undo years worth of damage overnight despite what every well-written Internet ad would have you believe.
For example, if you typically eat "three square meals" a day, start out by adding two snacks - one in the morning, one in the afternoon, then work your way to six small meals every 2-3 hours. Drink 5 sugary sodas a day? In the first week, swap one for a low- or no-cal option like water, club soda or diet soda, then continue to chip away until you have gotten rid of them altogether. This approach to fat loss is called kaizen, a Japanese philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement throughout all aspects of life. Making a small change once a day or once a week leads to a constant state of improvement, and can be applied to nutrition, exercise, even water consumption!
YOU ARE LOOKING FOR THE QUICK FIX
I was convinced that I had a Loch Ness Monster in my colon and that was what was causing me to be fat! Needless to say the colon cleanser I purchased only left me with a very sore butt, some leafy-looking things in the toilet and not a single pound lost. Once I grasped the concept that I was looking for fat loss, not scale weight loss, I realized the errors of my ways.
So now I was convinced that I needed a deluxe fat burner - one that would melt away the fat while I sat on my butt doing nothing! After thousands of dollars and lots of false hope, I realized that the only way I was going to achieve the lean body that I desired was to come up with a solid nutrition and exercise plan, and to add supplements that were backed by solid science. I found a great eBook by Will Brink called Fat Loss Revealed that was the most comprehensive evaluation of fat-burning supplements that I had ever seen! Will is an expert in his field, and I would strongly recommend purchasing his book to get a no-nonsense look at the world of fat-burning supplements.
YOU ARE LETTING OTHERS KNOCK YOU OFF-TRACK
My family is full of enablers - they mean well, but they were not sensitive to the fact that I was trying to stay on track with my fat loss efforts. "C'mon a little bit won't hurt you" or "you can start again tomorrow" was all it took to convince me that they were right. Within 30 minutes I had eaten myself stupid and undone all of the positive progress that I had spent the past week achieving - classic one step forward, two steps back. I needed to take control of the situation. Let those around you know how important your fat loss efforts are and what it means to both you, and them, that you stay on track.
YOU ARE NOT GETTING BACK “ON THE WAGON” IMMEDIATELY AFTER FALLING OFF
Often times I would lose my fat loss ways toward the end of any given week - be it Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Whether I had let others get me off track, or I had done it all by myself, I consumed too much food that was not "on the program". It was at that point that I rationalized that, since I was "off the wagon" I would wait until Monday to get started again! Turns out I wasn't alone in my faulty logic.
This probably won't come as a big shock, but science now has proven that weekends can wreak havoc on your waistline. That was the conclusion of Washington University researchers, who found that even people on strict diet and exercise programs lose weight more slowly than expected because they eat more on weekends. The findings were published recently in the journal Obesity.
Past studies have shown that people tend to gain weight during holidays, particularly between Thanksgiving and New Year's. This is the first study to monitor daily body weight, calorie intake and calorie expenditure for several weeks throughout the year. The verdict: People don't need a holiday to eat more; they tend to do it every weekend. On weekends, human lifestyle patterns can be very different. People have social events, parties to attend, and if they have children who play sports, they might be at fields all day long, relying on concession stands for food.
There were two key takeaways for me from this:
1. The best time to get back "on the wagon" was at your next meal - do not wait until you've done more damage.
2. Do not let the weekends be different than any other day - stick with your plan whether it is a Saturday or a Wednesday
With that said, though, you need to have some wiggle room in your plan as you'll read next.
YOU ARE TRYING TO BE PERFECT EVERY DAY
Life is not perfect - and your fat loss program shouldn't be either. You can't expect yourself to follow your program to the letter every second of every day until you reach your goal. If you do, you are setting yourself up for failure. That is why you need to apply the 90/10 rule to your nutrition and exercise.
The 90/10 rule is very simple - if you are on your program 90% of the time, then you will not be hurt by the 10% of the time you are not on your program. Your fat loss plan should have a minimum of 5 meals per day, with 6 meals a very good goal. So following the 90/10 rule with 6 meals a day (or 42 meals a week) means that you have 4 meals a week where you can go off your program without halting progress.
So is that permission to eat 50 chicken wings and a 12 pack of beer for breakfast tomorrow? Not exactly! But if you wanted to have a couple of slices of pizza with two beers, or a burger, fries and a shake (NOT super sized!) then go ahead. Maybe a piece of chocolate cake? Sure! Just get back on your program with your next meal. I try to stick to 2 meals a week where I go off-program, but that can vary depending on my schedule.
Same rules apply to exercise. Let's say your schedule permits you to work out 4 days per week. So in a month, you have 16 workouts - and following the 90/10 rule, you can miss 1 or 2 workouts without derailing yourself. However, I don't encourage you to skip workouts just because you can. Save your "skips" for times when you really need to skip - like a poor night's sleep, illness, or hectic travel schedule.
YOU ARE NOT SETTING REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
So it took you your entire life to get to this point, the point where you are fed up with your size and want to blast the fat off for good, and you expect to reverse all of the damage in 3 weeks? That is what a lot of diet products would like you to believe.
"Just drink this and you'll lose weight," they claim. "No exercise required!" Sure, maybe you'll lose water weight. But the next time you put something, ANYTHING, resembling food into your mouth, the weight will come right back.
You absolutely MUST set goals, but they MUST be realistic. What is realistic? After the large up front weight loss you would experience from losing water weight, 1-2 pounds of fat per week is a good expectation. The more you have to lose, the higher you can set your expectation. But if you are approaching double-digits with your expectations, you will ultimately fail.
There are a million diet plans on the market today. You can increase your chance of picking a suitable plan if you look for these five commandments of successful weight loss.
Satiety is feeling full, gratified. Most diet programs leave people feeling hungry - which has a host of other effects. When you feel hungry, you are more likely to binge the next time you eat. Hunger can also lead to depression, anger, and headaches.
A diet can tackle satiety in several ways – like eating every 3-4 hours. This is a component of most diet plans available today for a very good reason - eating smaller, more frequent meals has been proven to help burn fat and keep your metabolism revved up.
For fat loss to occur, you must burn more calories than you take in. There are several components to creating a calorie "deficit", and using them all together will be the most effective. Plus, you won't be starving yourself like you usually do when you diet. Achieving satiety while also creating a calorie deficit is a challenge, but not impossible.
How do you create this calorie deficit? It is a combination of watching your intake along with the right types of exercise, which burn calories during and after activity, as long as 36 hours after completion!
Besides eating every 3-4 hours, your diet needs to be rich in 4 components known to make you feel "fuller" but also contribute to fat burning - protein, fats, fiber and water.
One of the most difficult aspects of any fat loss program is getting your portion sizes under control. In order to achieve fat loss you need to create a calorie deficit, and one of the ways to do that is through portion control - but how do you do this while not feeling hungry?
Consuming a lean protein along with healthy fats and fiber at each meal, and eating each meal 3-4 hours apart BEFORE you have a chance to feel hungry again, will cover the satiety aspect. You will also notice that you will feel fuller with less food, so you will be controlling your portions without really focusing on it.
You must include fiber-rich foods in your diet (beans, peas, apples, grapefruit). A major advantage of fiber is the effect on weight control. Studies have shown that the majority of seriously overweight people have diets low in fiber. Since fiber-rich foods are filling and usually low in fat, you'll feel more satisfied with less food and lose weight more easily.
It is recommended that between 20 and 30 grams of fiber be consumed daily and at least eight glasses of water to aid the movement of food through the digestive tract.
Dehydration inhibits fat loss. Most people don't get enough water on a daily basis, never mind for training / fat loss. When you don't have enough water, your bowels will also slow down.
Here are a few suggestions to getting water into your program:
1. Never let yourself get thirsty - drink enough that you don't feel parched.
2. If you are exercising, drink 1 ounce of water for every ounce of body weight lost while exercising. So if you weigh one pound less after exercising, you should drink 16 ounces of water.
3. If you are a goal-oriented person, get a half-gallon jug of water and carry it around with you - your goal is to finish it by the end of the day