It really is as simple as that. If you are looking to gain weight, you would need to make sure that you take in more calories on a daily basis than you expend. Looking to lose weight? That comes down to expending more calories on a daily basis than you take in. And both take consistency.
Ok, while that equation holds true time and time again, we all know its not easy. But why? There are so many factors to take into consideration that influenceBOTH variables. Consider that your sleeping habits and stress levels all can influence your eating habits or your motivation to work out. Humans are complex beings with countless microprocesses taking place simultaneously to help us function and live. Also, consider that I am writing about weight loss, not fat loss. And I’ve found that most of the time when people are speaking about weight loss, what they actually mean is fat loss. On further contemplation, many people are fine with maintaining the same weight if they lose fat and maybe gain some muscle. I think it’s a good reminder that when push comes to shove a simplistic viewpoint on food is that it is energy. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed so that fuel needs to express itself in some way. And how your body uses that “energy” can be determined on several factors such as the above-mentioned sleep and stress. Often, our body will use food for energy to carry out bodily functions, during exercise, metabolizing foods, and even during non-exercise activities. And the amount of energy expended during many of these activities can be very difficult to quantify. However, if it is not used in any of these activities it is often stored as fat. Fat has function. It exists as padding for your organs as well as reserved energy stores when needed. So, what are some things you can focus on to help you lose weight? Here are some things you can do for both variables that effect weight. (calories in and calories out) To Reduce Calories In:
Eat fiber-rich foods. Fiber-rich foods take longer to digest and need more energy to break down. Your body has trouble absorbing as many calories from these foods. They also help create sensations of fullness to prevent you from craving more food.
Eat more protein. Protein will help you feel more energized to stay active or workout. Many people recommend eating your bodyweight in ounces of protein. So, if you weigh 150lbs, they would recommend eating 150 ounces of protein per day.
Eat more slowly. Give your body an opportunity to tune into your hunger signals. This will help you eat to satisfaction not to being completely stuffed.
Sleep plays a big role in your eating decisions the following day. If you don’t get a good night’s sleep you are more likely to make poorer eating decisions the next day.
Portion your food. You are more likely to consume more calories when eating out of a bag or container versus portioning your food onto a plate. For example, think about the chip Pringles in those cans. Their slogan used to say, “once you pop, you can’t stop.” It may be of no surprise that they have changed their slogan since then.
To Increase Calories Out:
Add some cardio to your daily routine or workouts. If you are currently on a strength training routine and not getting much cardio in, consider starting with some steady-state cardio at the end of a couple of your workouts. If that does not apply to you, perhaps set a daily step goal. Most phones have step counters or apps you can download at no cost. 10,000 steps a day seems to be a popular target.
If you are not currently on a strength routine, I highly recommend it. Strength training will help you burn more calories, boost your metabolism, and build some muscle.
Making decisions that will help you better manage stress (meditation, yoga, affirmations) and get better sleep (turning off electronic devices an hour before bed, reading, taking deep breaths) will help improve your overall metabolism and burn more calories at rest.
Focus on small behaviors that involve more movement such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away from your destination to encourage more walking, or riding your bike instead of driving.
Are you interested in what eating habits would be needed to ensure that you lose fat versus lose weight? Hit us up and we can get you on the right track!
By Ross Youmans