I don’t know what has been going on lately, but I’ve been approached recently about how to lose weight by several people. I answer with the basics: eat less, move more. It’s math! If you want to lose weight, you have to put your body into a calorie deficit. That deficit needs to be about 500 less per day in order to lose 1 pound a week. Here’s the deal, if it were simply this easy, more people would be living a fit lifestyle. So, in that vain, let’s break it down!
Eat less (or eat smarter)
First things first: how many calories do you need in a day? This varies by individual, but most humans need about 2,000 calories a day to sustain basic activities plus a little vigorous movement. Also, do you eat out? Ask about the number of calories in the food you order. You need to get a handle on what you are inserting into your body before you can make a concerted effort to reduce.
- Record the food you eat every single day for a week. *** Scroll all the way down for a link to a food journal to help you here ***
- Once you have your number of calories in a day and week, let’s breakdown the rest of what major categories of nutrients you need: fat, carbs, and protein.
- You can find all this on the food label as well.
- Add up the number of percentages – these are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. If you get over 100% in any category, this may be a red flag on something you want to watch moving forward.
- Now, let’s get a plan in place! First of all, let’s ensure we’re putting a healthy balance of nutrients into your body!
- Carbs are NOT your enemy! You need these for quick energy! Expect to get around 50% of your daily calories here. The trick is to focus on complex carbohydrates, not simple. Try to avoid high sugar content, and instead, focus on whole grains that will include the calories along with a healthy amount of fiber.
- Fat – the easiest way to reduce what you put into your body. We all still need it, but not nearly in the high number we ingest on a daily basis. Fats are used a lot as food preservatives, so you’ll find very high numbers here! Something you might have noticed in step #2 is how high this number is. You will need to get about 20 – 30% of your calories from fat – and try to focus on unsaturated fats versus saturated. Healthy sources of fat would include lean poultry, fish and healthy oils, such as olive, canola and nut oils. Limit less healthy full-fat dairy products, desserts, pizza, burgers, sausage and other fatty meats.
- Protein – Emphasize plant sources of protein, such as beans, lentils, soy products and unsalted nuts. These high-protein foods have the added bonus of being higher in health-enhancing nutrients than are animal sources of protein. Eat seafood twice a week. Meat, poultry and dairy products should be lean or low fat. Get 15 to 30% of your total daily calories from protein.
- Water – drink lots of water! Good ole H2O makes up a HUGE portion of the human body, and we need to drink this. In the world of drink this, not that – stick to water, just water, and nothing but water, thank you very much! If you don’t have a healthy source from a tap, you can buy bottled water, but better yet: get yourself a reusable water bottle and fill it up at home before you leave the house. Ensure you drink the entire thing 2-3 times through, every single day. Make this a habit! You might be amazed that when you cut out the soda and other sugary drinks with more water, how much better you feel! You need 8 8oz glasses of water (i.e. 64 ounces of water) every day. So, if your water bottle holds 32 ounces, you need 2 full bottles every day.
- DO NOT DIET!!!!!!!! I can’t emphasize this enough: DIETS DON’T WORK. Healthy lifestyles work – long term. While a diet may work in the short term, you will eventually go back to your old ways, and you can pack the weight back on faster when your body loses its efficiency in working with what you’re doing now versus adapting to the diet.
Use the food journal I’ve included here, and get a handle on your daily food intake. This is your first step in getting a handle on phase 1! Once you have a handle on this, you can then put a plan in place. This phase alone will likely have a big impact on your life, as you become aware of how you are fueling your body’s energy needs.
DOWNLOAD: Bryan Miller Fitness Food Journal
Next month, I’ll post about how to move more: finding what moves you, excites you, things you like to do, and then: how to challenge yourself to do more!