Weight loss might be the most popular topic in the fitness industry, but it is also one of the most misunderstood. From influencers and celebrities pushing unrealistic workouts while also trying to sell you on their products, to your best friend that just lost a bunch of weight, it is difficult to know who to listen to. Not only are we seeing what seems like endless ways to lose weight but weight loss always calls for behavior change...and behavior change is HARD.
The goal of this blog post is to keep it simple and outline some facts that can help you during your weight loss journey. We will dive into nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle factors.
Simple rules of Weight Loss
Rule #1: Calories In vs Calories Out Wins
Let’s start with nutrition. To keep it simple, if you want to lose weight, you must take in less calories than you put out. Let me repeat that, you must eat less food than the amount of calories that you burn. We all burn a certain amount of calories per day at rest. That is called your basal metabolic rate (BMR). On top of your BMR, we also have Active Calories that we burn during the day. Active Calories are any activity that we perform during the day. When we add up your BMR and Active Calories we get the total number of calories that we burn during any given day. If you want to lose weight you need to consume less calories than your BMR + Active Calories. If you are really serious about this it is recommended that you use some form of calorie tracker like MyFitnessPal. This will help you get a better understanding of how many calories you are consuming.
We like MyFitnessPal for weight management of any sort for a few reasons.
The caveat with MyFitnessPal is that it is going to give you an estimate of your BMR and Active Calories burnt. So, if you are using it and not losing weight you may need to adjust your activity level.
Some other factors that can be helpful for nutrition are:
At the end of the day calories in vs calories out still wins but these factors can help fight off hunger cravings and make you more full for longer.
Rule #2: Perform Resistance Training 2 - 3 Days a Week at Minimum
(4 - 5 Days Won't Hurt)
This one gets misconstrued A LOT. People often think they just need to do cardio to lose weight. I am not saying cardio is not helpful during your weight loss journey, but it is not your best tool for long term weight loss.
When you are following Rule #1 (calories in vs calories out) you will lose weight. Some of that weight will come in the form of fat and some will come in the form of muscle.
Our bodies are adaptable to pretty much any environment we put them in. Resistance training signals to our bodies that we need all the muscle that we have, so performing resistance training will help you hold on to muscle while you are in a caloric deficit.
While losing weight, a goal should be to hold on to as much muscle as possible. This helps us:
The higher our metabolic rate is, the easier it will be to lose weight in the long haul.
When thinking about resistance training, we can break weight loss down into two groups.
Group 1: Those new to resistance training or with less than 6 months of progressive resistance training experience.
Group 2: Those that have been weight training for an extended period of time.
If you are in Group 1, you are in luck! You will be able to improve your strength and build lean muscle while still losing weight. Talk about a win - win! This is because your body has a lot of room to grow and can make strength and muscle gains faster.
If you are in Group 2, this process will be a little more challenging and there is a good chance it will be difficult to improve your strength and grow new muscle while losing weight. You may need to lose weight at a slower pace, modify your resistance training program a little bit more, and do some more cardio.
If you are unsure how to perform resistance training or which resistance training program is right for you, we have a 3 Month Weight Loss Program on the FX Well app that would be a great place to start. If you are brand new to resistance training, the Learn the Basics Program on the FX Well app will be helpful.
You could also take a different route and try the Workout of The Day or the select a different Strength Training workout on the FX Well app. This is a great option if you like variety in your workouts.
Working with a personal trainer to help you outline a resistance training program is a great option as well. They can help customize the program to your skill level and fitness goals.
If you are not on the app yet, contact us for more information or see our TEAM during your next visit.
Rule # 3: Do Cardio 1 - 3 Times a Week
This one is simple! Doing cardio can help you balance out the Calories In vs Calories Out equation and help recover quickly from exercise. Here we recommend 1 - 3 days of steady cardio for at least 20 minutes and increasing the duration over your weight loss journey, maxing out at about 40 - 45 minutes per session.
At the end of your resistance training workouts you can perform more Anaerobic Conditioning to help increase the amount of calories you burn in that workout. An example of this would be completing intense cardiovascular exercise for 20 seconds and then resting for 40 seconds. You can repeat this anywhere between 4 - 12 times.
Another stellar form of conditioning during your weight loss journey is Metabolic Conditioning. This can be looked at as a string of full body movements tied together with minimal rest in between sets. These types of workouts will help burn more calories than a general conditioning workout and increase EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption), meaning you will be burning a higher amount of calories post-workout than normal!
Rule # 4: Focus on High Quality Sleep & Water Consumption
Oftentimes, there are tricks, quick fixes, and products influencers sell, that we often overlook the basics of weight loss and our well-being. Getting enough sleep and being properly hydrated are two of the best and easiest ways to help aid our weight loss journey.
Being well rested helps improve hormone regulation and gives us a better chance of fighting off cravings. We have all been there before. How many times have you gotten 4 - 5 hours of sleep and ate an excessive amount of food first thing in the morning? Or hammered an entire bag of chips or tub of ice cream late at night. Focusing on getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night can help you prevent mindless eating at night and lack of will-power during the day. The two go hand-in-hand! When we are tired, our willpower often decreases and when you are trying to lose weight, you need as much willpower as humanly possible!
Good old H2O. Adam Sandler had one thing right in The Water Boy: Water is important! In terms of weight loss, being well hydrated helps in a few very specific ways:
WebMD recommends you drink 0.5 - 1 ounce of water per lb of body weight. You should be drinking closer to 1 ounce per lb of body weight if you are physically active and live in a hot climate. Another good way to tell if you are well hydrated, is to look at your urine. If your urine is clear or slightly yellow there is a good chance you are well hydrated, according to WebMD.
Rule #5: Surround Yourself with a Support System & Commit to the Long Haul
Weight loss takes time and the more you have to lose the longer it will take. When you start your weight loss journey, be realistic! It is not recommended that you lose more than 2.5lbs per week and even that is going to be pretty high. This may be possible if you have a lot of weight to lose in the beginning but will likely taper out during your weight loss journey. MyFitnessPal is very useful in helping you select how much weight you should lose per week. It is not recommended to eat less than 1,200 calories per day for any adult.
Tips to making this process enjoyable and maintaining motivation: