Losing weight often seems like a daunting task that must be an all-consuming part of your life if you’re going to have any chance of successfully reaching your goal weight.
While it’s true that when you’re to the point of trying to get rid of those last five or ten pounds of stubborn body fat it will require a considerable level of discipline, and more finely tuned tactics, these things aren’t as important to the average person that has twenty or more pounds they need to shed.
If this describes you, I have good news for you! Losing weight can be broken down into a few simple steps that, when consistently applied, can get you down to a healthy and fit weight.
In fact, I’m going to give you four steps that can be implemented by virtually anyone who has the desire to get down to a healthy weight, regardless of where you’re starting from.
1. Timing Your Carbs
Carbohydrates are viewed as the “evil nutrient” by those who are trying to lose weight, but the truth is that carbohydrates are getting a bad rap that isn’t really fair.
You need to understand that simply eating carbohydrates doesn’t necessarily lead to fat gains. The problem stems from eating carbohydrates in excessive quantities, eating them at the wrong times, and eating a high amount of processed carbohydrates.
I won’t go into great detail about the effect carbohydrates have on the body in this article, but when carbs are consumed, they are converted to glucose (sugar), which is transported to the blood stream.
If this sugar energy goes unused it will be stored on the body in the form of fat, which is obviously undesirable for anyone that is trying to lose weight.
One of the primary ways this sugar energy can be used up is by being used for fueling the muscles while they’re performing physical activities. Glucose is also used to replenish the energy stores of the muscles after exercise.
While the muscles will first rely on glucose in the blood for their source of energy, they also keep a “sugar energy reserve” for times when the level of glucose in the blood isn’t sufficient to meet their needs.
This sugar energy that is stored in the muscles is in the form of glycogen — a derivative of glucose.
When you exercise for an extended period of time the glycogen that was stored in your muscle tissues will have been depleted to a certain degree and will need to be replenished.
So, by timing the majority of your daily carbohydrates so they are consumed within 2 hours of your workout (before and/or after) your body will use the majority of the converted glucose sugar energy to fuel your workout and replenish your glycogen reserves and it won’t cause you to gain fat.
2. Eat Natural Foods
Processed foods are not only typically higher in calories, but can slow your body’s ability to naturally burn fat.
Preservatives, and other additives in processed foods, must be broken down by the liver. When the liver is bogged down with having to break down processed foods it will be less efficient at one of its other primary functions — oxidizing body fat.
So by eating natural foods the majority of the time your body’s natural fat burning engine will be running in high gear.
Also, since natural foods are generally less dense calorically you’ll be consuming fewer calories per day, giving you the optimum opportunity to maximize your fat loss.
Your grocery list should consist of plenty of fruits, vegetables, rice, meat, poultry and fish. It isn’t realistic for most people to eat natural foods all the time, but doing so as often as you can will go a long way towards your short and long-term weight loss results.
3. Monitor Your Calories
Monitoring calories is something that everyone should be doing. Even if you don’t know the exact number of calories you’re consuming each day, you should at least have a general idea.
Why is this important?
Well, the obvious reason is the fact that you will need to make sure that you’re burning more calories than you’re eating if you want to continually lose fat.
The other reason is so you can adjust your diet whenever your fat loss slows or stops so you can continue making progress towards reaching your goal weight.
For instance, if you know that you’ve been eating roughly 2,000 calories per day for a full week, and haven’t lost any weight, you will then know that it’s time to reduce your daily caloric allowance if you want to continue losing weight.
When it’s time to decrease your calories I recommend making small reductions versus larger ones. Reducing calories to a large degree can cause greater feelings of hunger, making it harder for you to remain committed to your diet.
Plus, extreme caloric deficits have been shown to cause muscle loss, lagging energy levels and decreased immune system efficiency, among other less than desirable symptoms.
4. Exercise for 3 Hours Each Week
No plan for weight loss would be complete without including the always-important aspect of exercise.
Diet controls your caloric intake, while exercise creates a caloric deficit, boosts your metabolism, stimulates the muscle fibers (priming them for growth), increases endurance and is essential for optimal health.
I’m not going to list specific exercises that you should perform, but you definitely want to avoid the common mistake of neglecting weight training and making cardiovascular exercise your sole method of exercise.
Weight training is essential for enabling you to build muscle mass and also leads to an increase in metabolism for many hours after you’ve finished lifting weights.
Besides, once you lose the weight I promise you’re going to want to have some muscle on your body.
So, when at the gym, your goal should be to spend 20–30 minutes lifting weights, with very little time of rest taken between each set to keep your heart rate elevated, followed by 20–30 minutes of some kind of cardiovascular exercise.
You need to do this at least three days each week to see any kind of noticeable results.
If you have extra days throughout the week that you can devote to exercise, do some weight training and cardio (as described above), if you have the time to do both.
If your time is limited, just get in some cardio for as long as you have available to workout.
Keep it Simple
If you’re diet is crap, and you currently don’t exercise at all, even these relatively simple steps can seem like a tough task.
But losing weight requires changes — there’s just no way around it.
However, my goal with this article was to keep things as simple as possible and provide you with a realistic solution to losing weight by focusing on the four factors that will have the greatest impact on your results.
Now go put them into action!