How to Lose Weight - A Detailed Guide
Can we agree that it’s safe to say almost every individual would change at least one thing about their body? For the average American adult, the desire to lose weight and get in shape is present, but oftentimes desire outweighs the actual effort.
In fact, a Gallup survey says 51% of adults want to lose weight, but barely half as many (25%) say they’re seriously working toward this goal . As you can imagine, this discrepancy has been around for years.
Instead of dreaming about or wondering how to lose weight, take the necessary steps to start your weight loss journey.
How to Lose Weight
In this article, we’ll delve into the fundamentals of how weight loss works scientifically, the most effective way to lose weight, and the psychology behind success.
Plus, we want to talk about the importance of losing weight the healthy way, ensuring that you can choose a sustainable lifestyle and habits to carry with you after your weight loss journey.
Mindset and Commitment
If you’re seeking ways to lose weight, a positive mindset is the first step to achievement. You’ve heard it before, but if you want to start your weight loss journey, start now. It’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll start tomorrow” or “I’ll start after the holidays.'' But in reality, there will always be an excuse -- an upcoming trip, a birthday, a night out with your friends, etc.
It’s up to you and only you to change your mindset and be committed to this goal, no matter the circumstances. How are you going to say no to the food that will deter you from your weight loss path when you haven’t set a plan? Before getting caught in the thick of holidays or outings, have a plan in mind. Already have the answer ‘no’ in the back of your head so that when the time comes, you won’t cave and later feel a sense of guilt and failure.
Over time, your brain will naturally tell you that a lightly sweetened food will taste too sweet. And eventually, a food that’s too sweet will taste overwhelming, even to the point of being gross.
Now that we’ve knocked out the pep talk, let’s get into the science behind easy weight loss.
How Weight Loss Actually Happens
Have you ever really wondered where fat goes when you lose weight? Most people don’t know. In fact, some will guess it evaporates, passes through your system, or perhaps you’ve heard of fat “burning”, but do these things really happen? Well, what if we said you actually breathe fat out?
The Mathematics of Weight Loss
Physicist Ruben Meerman, who had his own weight loss journey, stepped onto the TEDx Talk stage back in 2014 to share his experience, but furthermore, his experiment to see where fat really goes -- as any normal person does after losing weight (kidding).
We can break it down but watch Meerman’s TEDx Talk, The Mathematics of Weight Loss (embed), to see the full experiment.
Being a physicist, Meerman draws out several equations, and while weight loss is not an exact mathematical formula, here’s what he did prove:
- 84% of fat is exhaled as CO2
- 16% of fat is excreted as H2O
- 10 kg fat becomes 8.4 kg of CO2 and 1.6 kg of H2O.
In other words, every human breathes out carbon dioxide and excretes the water (H2O) at rest (like sitting on a couch). So, it only makes sense that you can exhale and excrete more carbon dioxide and water when you move/exercise because you’re breathing much harder.
Logically, if you’re not breathing heavily and sweating profusely, you’re not really getting rid of the fat – at least not as much fat as you could be breathing out.
By watching the video, you’ll see how breath actually contains “mass.” Perhaps you already knew that your breath contains oxygen and carbon dioxide atoms, but have you ever “seen it”? To demonstrate this visually, Meerman created “powder” from the atoms in breath and it’s absolutely breathtaking -- yes, we had to throw in the pun.
It may even want to make you take deeper breaths throughout your everyday life to get all the unwanted fat out, but Meerman stops you right there by saying that’s not how it works. Instead, just remember this notion: eat less, move more.
In summary, by moving more and eating less, you’ll trigger the biochemistry to release the fatty acids and use them as a fuel source, which in turn creates the carbon dioxide and water. Simple enough?
Best Types of Workouts
Let’s start with half of the phrase, “move more.” Embarking on your weight loss journey can be intimidating -- especially in knowing which types of workouts to do at the gym. We don’t want you to go to the gym without a plan and walk away feeling like a failure.
So, here are some different types of workouts that will produce different results, but all in all, will contribute to losing weight the healthy way:Cardio
The age-old question: Which is the best way to lose weight fast? Cardio or strength training? Let’s get into some benefits of cardio. First, cardio burns more calories per session. But, it heavily depends on your weight and how intense of a session you have.
It’s simple. The more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds (73 kg), you’ll burn around 250 calories per 30 minutes of jogging at a moderate pace .
In general, you can burn more calories through cardio than a strength training session of the same duration. But what’s the flipside?
While cardio will burn more calories per session, strength training burns more calories on an everyday basis. Implementing some type of strength training into your routine is a good way to lose weight because it will also produce other benefits like building lean muscle. And it’s important to know that muscle burns more calories at rest than other tissues -- including fat .
Because muscle burns more calories at rest, it’s well known that building muscle is key (and an even better approach than hours of cardio) to increase resting metabolism.
For example, one study measured participants’ (both men and women) resting metabolism after 24 weeks of consistent weight training. The study found that weight training led to a 9% increase in resting metabolism for men, and a 4% increase for women .
While weight training and building muscle can increase your metabolism, it’s important to remember that weight training won’t automatically make your metabolism skyrocket. There are, however, additional calorie-burning benefits.
Over time, several accounts of research have proved that a person can burn more calories post weight training, compared to a cardio session . This means that those calorie-burning benefits you desire aren’t just limited to when you’re actually exercising. Potentially, you could continue burning calories for hours, or even days, afterward.
In burning calories, we think weight training produces more results than cardio, but these aren’t the only two workout methods to losing weight.
Though not as commonly known as cardio and weight training, there’s a third option. We’re talking high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It has become an increasingly more popular type of workout for those seeking after the best way to lose weight but in short bursts of time. Because let’s face it, time is limited in your everyday life.
So, what is HIIT? It’s a type of workout that involves short bursts of very intense exercise (you know, give it all you got type of exercise), alternated with low-intensity recovery periods. You can perform a HIIT workout with a variety of different exercises, ranging from sprinting and biking to jump roping and other bodyweight exercises. Yes, you can use your own bodyweight to see results -- perfect for those nights where you don’t have access to a treadmill or weights.
A typical HIIT workout will take about 10-30 minutes. It’s perfect for those that dread an hour-long cardio session because it’s a whole lot quicker, yet provides similar benefits. In fact, HIIT may burn even more calories than both cardio and weight training…
Through a study comparing the three types of workouts, researchers found that HIIT burned 25-30% more calories than the other forms of exercise . This doesn’t go to say that cardio and weight training aren’t helpful in losing weight -- any form of movement is better than none, but if you’re really wanting to target unwanted fat and maximize calorie burning, HIIT has our vote.
If burning more calories all in a shorter time frame is what you want, HIIT is the best way to lose weight. Learn more and try out this HIIT circuit to get started. But remember, both exercise and diet are critical for losing weight the healthy way…
Best Types of Diets
There’s a common misconception that diet is the only important thing when it comes to easy weight loss (don’t go forgetting the best types of workouts we just talked about). And it’s hard enough when ‘diet’ is already such an infamous word. But it doesn’t have to come with a negative label -- your diet should already be a normal part of your lifestyle. You’re simply altering your lifestyle by eliminating useless foods.
On the extreme end of the spectrum, some people think dieting means restricting all foods. Rather than focusing on calorie restriction, let’s focus on calorie moderation.
In fact, calorie restriction is harmful to your health and isn’t how you’ll lose weight. Not getting the right amount of calories your body needs can result in a lower metabolism, weaker bones, fatigue and nutrient deficiencies, and lower immunity.
According to several studies, low-calorie diets can also decrease the number of calories the body burns by 23% . So, when you think restricting calories equals direct, easy weight loss, remember that it could actually be pushing you further away from your goals.
Diet and exercise are equally essential, so here are some popular diets that emphasize calorie moderation rather than restriction:
The low-carb diet isn’t new to the weight loss world. It’s been popular for decades, and though it used to be highly controversial, it has gained broader acceptance.
The typical low-carb diet doesn’t have a set definition -- other than it being a low-carb or a carb-restricted eating lifestyle. Pretty straightforward. It’s also said to cause more weight loss than a low-fat diet . Plus, it can improve cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
This type of diet hits hard on meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and other healthy fats, while it restricts high-carb foods like potatoes, grains, sugary junk food, and high-sugar beverages.
While the recommended carb-intake heavily depends on your personal goals and preferences, consider these rules for weight loss:
- 50-100 grams is intended for steady weight loss, rather than a rapid change. This range should be easier to transition to as it’s not meant to be a quick fix -- meaning, you can eat all the fruits and veggies you’d like.
- Under 50 grams, however, is the best way to lose weight fast. Continue to eat plenty of vegetables, but limit your fruit intake to berries (berries are low on the glycemic index). This approach isn’t as sustainable but is geared towards rapid weight loss all while still getting the nutrients your body needs.
Much like the low-carb diet, a ketogenic (keto for short) diet is low-carb, high-fat. Don’t be scared off by the name. Here’s all that it means: a keto diet aims to keep carbs low so that your body will go into a metabolic state known as ketosis.
And why is ketosis so sought after? Once your body reaches this state, insulin levels drop and your body will naturally release large amounts of fatty acids from its fat stores and burn fat for energy. As you might gather, it’s a popular, easy weight loss route and can even reduce appetite .
A keto diet focuses on high-protein, high-fat foods, and typically limits carbs to 50 (and sometimes even 30 or 20) grams a day. While the traditional eating pattern is known as the standard ketogenic diet (SKD), there are a couple of variations depending on your goals:
- The cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) means eating a keto diet on most days, then drastically switching to a high-carb (the right kind of carbs -- not junk food) diet for just 1-2 days each week.
- The targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) means adding small amounts of carbs around workouts.
The Zone Diet
Last but not least, The Zone Diet was created by Dr. Barry Sears, an American biochemist. It has slightly stricter rules but promises that weight loss will be entirely made up of fat and only fat, rather than muscle or water. It also promises to reduce inflammation, which is a key component of weight gain according to Dr. Sears .
Here’s how it works: The Zone Diet is all about ratio. It instructs its followers to stick to an exact ratio of 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat at every meal. While carbs are a large part of the diet, you should choose carbs with a low glycemic index, meaning a slow release of sugar into the blood to keep you more satisfied and fuller for longer.
If you’re more of a visual learner, just think about what your plate will look like at each meal. Your plate should have a palm-sized portion of a protein that will take up one-third of the plate, two-thirds should be filled with “nonstarchy” fruits and vegetables, and a dash of monounsaturated fat (like olive oil, a handful of nuts, or avocado).
That method is also known as the hand-eye method and can be a simpler way for beginners to follow the Zone Diet. If you want to take a more advanced approach, try the Zone Food Block method. Each Zone block is made up of a protein block, fat block, and carb block:
- Protein block: contains 7 grams of protein
- Carb block: contains 9 grams of carbs
- Fat block: contains 1.5 grams of fat
Stay with us. Essentially, the main meal like breakfast, lunch, or dinner will consist of three to five Zone blocks (while a snack will always contain one Zone block). This means 14 Zone blocks for the average male each day, and 11 Zone blocks for the average female each day. You’re more likely to stay on track if you know the exact amount of protein, carbs, and fat you should be consuming each day.
If this sounds like a sustainable option for you, read more here and try it out.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the different diet plans available, but remember all good things should be taken in moderation. Eat whole, nutrient-dense foods, but don’t overeat. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. It’s easy for some to overeat healthy foods because they assume healthy choices can’t do any harm. When actually, overeating will set you back from losing weight, so be mindful.
If you do decide to try one of these diets, pick a plan that suits you and your lifestyle. Dieting is not always a one-size-fits-all approach. What meets one person’s preferences may not align with yours, so ultimately, the best diet is the one you can stick to. We believe the Zone Diet offers the most sustainability and provides the easiest macro ratios to follow if you’re really committed to losing weight.
Macros. If you’ve heard of them, great! You’re ahead of the game. If you haven’t, no worries. We’ll break them down. The term “macro” actually stands for “macronutrient”. And we’re going to hit on three of the primary macronutrients:
So why do people track macros? Simply put, the whole idea behind calorie tracking and planning daily meals will confidently tell you the exact amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat you’re consuming. And this will help you stay on track with your weight loss goals.
In fact, optimizing your macro-nutritional and calorie intake is probably the most important thing you can do in losing weight the healthy way. Remember, it’s not about calorie restriction, but moderation. Counting your calories will help keep you accountable through your weight loss journey.
Total Daily Energy Expenditure
Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is the total number of calories you burn in any given day, and it’s determined by four key factors:
- Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
- Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)
- Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)
- Thermic Effect of Activity (TEA)
When you add these things together, you receive an estimate of the grand calorie number you need on a daily basis to maintain your current weight. But don’t get too hung up on each of these things; let the calculator do the work for you.
Again, there is no one-size-fits-all option when it comes to tracking your calories, so by plugging in your weight, age, activity level, etc., the calculator will come up with a plan fit to you and only you. Try it out for yourself!
And if calorie tracking seems heavy or too strict, take a look at this article for a full beginner’s guide to counting macros.
Types of Food to Ditch or Include
Now we get to the fun part -- actual food. Yes, believe it or not, healthy food choices can and should taste good! We’re here to share our top picks that will not only help you in losing weight the healthy way, but help you regain energy and satisfaction, alongside the foods that just don’t do anything but destroy your body.
Foods that Fill You Up
Food is fuel. That’s what food is intended to do. But you want to be careful in selecting what fuels your body. Even if you pick foods that fall into your macro allotment, a cookie or brownie won’t give you the right kind of fuel. Focus on foods rich in protein, fiber, and volume, and low in energy density.
Here are some satiable foods that you should add into your diet (if they’re not already) to make you feel fuller for longer:
- Eggs. Eggs are a terrific source of protein (offering up about six grams), plus they include all nine essential amino acids.
- Oatmeal. Oatmeal is a very filling breakfast choice because it’s high in fiber, fairly low in calories, and will ward off feelings of hunger throughout the day.
- Fish. Fish doubles in both high-quality protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. We need these essential fats, but they also offer up a bonus of increased feelings of fullness.
- Lean meat. Lean meats are extremely filling. In fact, beef falls right under fish as the highest protein-rich food.
- Greek yogurt. Like oatmeal, greek yogurt is another great breakfast option because it’s higher in protein than regular yogurt. It also reduces appetite until the next meal.
- Vegetables. As you should already know, vegetables are packed with all kinds of vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. They’re also high-volume, low-calorie foods -- meaning, you can eat a decent amount without going over your caloric intake. Because they’re so rich in fiber and water, they will keep you fuller for longer.
- Fruits. With fruits’ low-energy density and high-fiber profile, digestion slows down and helps to make you feel fuller for longer. Specifically, apples and oranges are high on the list. (And it’s important to note that eating whole fruits is much more beneficial than sugary fruit juice.)
- Cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is low-fat, low-carb, and high-protein. Its effect on fullness it similar to that of eggs.
- Legumes. Beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, etc. all fall into the legume family. And they each provide key nutrients. They’re loaded with fiber and plant-based protein, yet have a low energy density. This is what makes legumes so filling.
- Quinoa. The popular seed/grain offers a rich source of protein, and offers all the essential amino acids. Thus, it’s seen as a complete protein source . It’s also higher in fiber compared to most grains, leaving a fuller feeling for longer.
- Nuts. This popular snack choice is extra high in healthy fats and protein. Several studies have directly focused on their effect on fullness, and how nuts are an extremely filling choice .
At the start of any diet -- even if you desire to lose weight -- curbing your cravings can almost seem impossible, especially regarding those foods that have become part of your everyday routine (yes, we’re talking about that sugary drink your brain has convinced you of thinking as a necessity). But unfortunately, sugar only leads to more sugar, so there has to be a solution before the problem eats you alive.
To combat these cravings, focus on foods that will almost act as “replacements”. Once you get yourself into the habit of choosing naturally sweet foods that are healthier than your once beloved sugary drink, you might even go as far as thinking that drink sounds disgusting.
Focus on these alternatives instead:
- Healthy snack bars (made up of whole oats and fresh/dried fruit)
- Chia seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Greek yogurt
- Sweet potatoes
- Smoothies (with whole fruit, not fruit juice)
We also recommend not keeping sugar in the house, and not shopping when you’re hungry -- both of which are easy traps for you to fall into when you’re especially craving something sweet.
We can provide all the lists in the world of healthy options when it comes to food, but the bottom line is: you’re responsible for the choices you make. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. Is it worth sacrificing that cheeseburger and shake to lose weight? (Granted, there will be times for you to indulge every now and then, but we’ll get into that later.)
Something to keep in mind: sugar will always be around. People sometimes find themselves in the habit of saying “I have to eat that treat because it might not ever be around again!” When in fact, sugar will be right where you left it after you’ve figured out the balance in healthy eating.
We recommend eating healthiest in the morning -- right when you start your day. This means absolutely no refined sugar in the morning -- no poptarts, no sugary cereal, no doughnuts, etc.
Most people have more willpower right in the morning before they feel sluggish and beaten down in the late afternoon. Eat broccoli in the morning if you really have to! Okay, you don’t have to be that extreme, but easy tweaks like cutting out sugar will result in easy weight loss.
How to Eat Healthy in a Time-Conscious Way
Above almost anything, people tend to get hung up on the time it takes to make and eat healthy foods. Because in reality, life gets the best of us. There aren’t always enough hours in the day to shop for fresh ingredients and prepare a complete meal with the nutrients your body needs.
When there are easier, faster options right in front of you, it’s extra hard to stick to your weight loss plan. To stay ahead of this, choose what you’re going to eat beforehand. Don’t let the temptations sneak up on you without already having a plan.
No matter what choices a health-conscious person makes, nature inevitably takes its course and everyone ages. Unfortunately, aging results in weight gain. It involves changes in hormones and TDEE which will result in less muscle and more fat over time.
Professionals say that body fat will steadily increase after age 30. But, your lifestyle choices can at least slow down this process . By exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, and limiting alcohol consumption, you’re more likely to stay in better shape for years to come than those that completely give up on the ways to lose weight.
Other Side Effects
Apart from a decrease in exercise and calorie burning, men also experience a decrease in testosterone as they age. While maintaining a regular routine will slow down weight gain, men should also consider healthy supplements for a natural way to maintain testosterone. Consider this dietary supplement which contains Zinc and Magnesium -- helpful minerals in increasing testosterone levels.
The beloved cheat day. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed when starting your weight loss journey -- in fact, that’s normal. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel: cheat days. Some will argue that cheat days cause regression, while others think it plays a role in progression.
Occasionally indulging actually helps some to stick with their diets. It all depends on the approach, however.
Psychology Behind Cheat Days
If you think your cheat day is a designated day to eat anything you want, try again. It’s much easier to overeat and feel lousy with this mindset. It’s important to go into a cheat day with intention and a game plan. Rather than giving yourself a single-day binge, try occasionally indulging in small portions of your favorite foods on your cheat day. Notice how we said favorite foods -- don’t eat random garbage just because you can! Be intentional.
Experiments published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology were performed to see if cheat days had an effect on weekly eating. Researchers found that subjects restricted to a lower calorie intake for six days with an allotted cheat day on the seventh day were more likely to stick to their calorie restrictions and overcome self control, compared to subjects who were given a higher calorie intake (but with no cheat day option at the end of the week) .
Researchers gathered that a zero-tolerance approach might actually hinder weight loss and put a strain on motivation. Remember that one cheat meal or one cheat snack isn’t going to make or break how you lose weight. Life wasn’t meant to be lived so rigidly -- treats are meant to be enjoyed, all within boundaries.
If you cheat a little bit, don’t let your mind slip into thinking that you’ve failed your weight loss journey. Eat the wings every now and then, and move on. You’ll be okay.
“Eat less, move more” should be stuck in your head by now. And while making health-conscious choices is key in losing weight the healthy way, you can even go a step further. Implement vital supplements into your routine to maximize your weight loss. What kind of supplements? We’re talking protein, fat burners, and micronutrients.
Increasing your protein intake is the most effective thing you can do to lose weight and increase muscle/improve body composition. And while the best diets up above heavily focus on a high protein, you could get even more of a protein boost from protein powder. That being said, not all protein powders are made the same.
If you’re going to add extra protein to your diet, be sure to avoid high-caloric protein powders. They’re out there. Many are sneakily loaded with sugar to completely throw you off your weight loss journey, so do your research beforehand.
Be mindful of artificial flavoring, sweeteners, and preservatives, too. This goes hand in hand with too many calories. Oftentimes, a protein powder will market itself to be naturally sweetened, but make sure you check the ingredients list. If there are one too many ingredients you’ve never heard of, chances are they’re not beneficial for your body.
For a safe, healthy way to lose weight, we recommend our grass-fed whey protein isolate at Transparent Labs. It’s ideal for metabolism support, lean muscle, and satiety -- all of which are optimal for weight loss.
Fat burners are also useful when it comes to easy weight loss. According to the journal, Obesity Reviews, a fat burner is a nutrition supplement that claims to do a number of things: increase fat metabolism or energy expenditure, impair fat absorption, increase weight loss, and increase fat oxidation during exercise .
Fat burners are loaded with several ingredients -- each of which play their own role, but when combined, can significantly enhance fat metabolism, which is the most effective way to lose weight.
Key ingredients in a standard fat burner:
- Green tea extract
- Salicin bark extract
- Cayenne pepper extract.
Caffeine and green tea extract, specifically, have data to back up their fat metabolism-enhancing powers.
When researchers performed exercise physiology studies on the effects of caffeine on metabolism back in the 1970s, they found that caffeine significantly elevated fat oxidation rates as well as performance levels before a strenuous workout .
Green tea extract has shown similar results as conducted animal studies found increased fat oxidation rates during exercise. Green tea was also proven to increase fat metabolism at rest, too, and may contribute to fat and easy weight loss .
Though, both caffeine and green tea extract have stronger weight loss effects when paired together. Try out our fat burner at Transparent Labs to increase basal metabolic rate (BMR), prevent hunger cravings, and lead an enjoyable lifestyle during your weight loss journey, all while maintaining/building muscle.
Food is vital for hormones because of the essential micronutrients it can offer -- micronutrients being magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and B vitamins. Unfortunately, we don’t often consume enough micronutrients just from our food -- even when we are eating properly. That’s where supplements are crucial to maintain hormone balance.
After first making wise food choices, consuming supplements with high-quality ingredients is the best way to make up for the lost nutrients and restore hormone balance. Don’t skip out on micronutrients. Give our fiber-packed, gut-flora friendly Prebiotic greens drink a try to make up for the mineral dense veggies you might be missing out on in your regular diet.
No matter where you are in your weight loss process -- whether you’re somewhere in the middle, finding it harder and harder to stick to your diet, or you’re right at the beginning feeling overwhelmed by the overload of information -- remember to start out slow and make your weight loss plan personalized to you.
The best way to lose weight stems from the basics. Eat food because it fuels you. Exercise to improve your physical and mental health. Take supplements to make up for the nutrients you’re missing. Whatever you do, know that losing weight is achievable and should be a rewarding experience. Now get going!