(If you were linked to this article just for the “simple weight loss” you can scroll to the bottom. I would suggest reading this anyway, though. True, sustained weight loss, or really mastery in anything, is driven by informing yourself and learning why/how things work.)
There are a lot of different ways to approach weight loss.
As long as whatever you’re doing is keeping you in a consistent caloric deficit you will lose the weight. There is no “better” or “worse” way to do it insofar as the way the body works. What I used worked for me, and it would also (if executed correctly) work for you.
The caveat to this is that the reason it worked so well for me is because, for me, it was very very easy to adhere to (still is). If you want healthy, sustainable weight-loss, you need to choose something you can stick to that is rooted in good nutrition. Consider this personal story a lesson in proper diet programming for losing body fat and looking good.
Here were my stats before I got to where I am now:
-Program: 5/3/1 Powerlifting
You need such stats to plot the path ahead. With these stats I was able to determine that, with a sedentary lifestyle, I need to eat 2,700 cals/day to sustain my weight, 2,200/day to lose 1lb a week, and 1,700/day to lose 2lbs/week. There are formulas to figure this stuff out, but they’re less hard-fact and more “guideline” (very pirate-y), so I just use any generic calorie calculator to ballpark it.
In addition to these calories, I wanted to make sure I retained my muscle when I lost weight. So, because I had 25% body fat, and I weighed 254lbs, that means 190lbs of my weight was lean mass (muscle). I want to sustain that muscle, so I want to eat 190g of protein (or close to it) a day.
So now, I know that if I want to lose 1lb a week I need to eat 2,200 cals a day and if I want to do it while retaining my sexy-mass (muscle) I need to eat roughly 190g protein a day. Can you lose weight without these numbers? Sure. Do you need to track calories? Nope, I don’t anymore. SHOULD you, until you understand how your body gains and loses, empirically, with more to point to than a hunch? Absolutely.
You don’t solve an algebra equation with only half of the variables you need. You don’t just guess at what numbers are: you find them and act on them. This is an essential skill: LEARN.HOW.TO.TRACK.CALORIES.
Now, I set my calories at 2,200, as if I were sedentary and didn’t work out, even though I lifted. Why? Well because estimating how “intense” your exercise is each week in order to account for calories a day can lead people to over or under estimating. If I set my exercise level to “Moderate” on the calculator I linked, suddenly my maintenance calories is 3,400/day. All “Moderate” is defined as on the calculator is “exercise 3-5 days a week,” yet the types of exercises people do, and the intensity at which they do them both matter. Remove that variable from the equation: assume you’re sedentary, because fact of the matter is, if you’re a beginner, whatever exercise you’re doing is likely not having the sort of positive impact you think it is.
So, everyday, I tried to eat:
-2,200 calories +/- 300 or so.
-190g protein or more
-1 Gallon of water
Obviously: get adequate vitamins and minerals, but otherwise that is all I attempted to adhere to. My only supplements were a daily multivitamin, fish oil, and protein powder.
My stats now, are:
Never once did I increase my deficit or do absurd amounts of cardio. I didn’t eat “super foods” or “all vegan” or “gluten-free” etc. I stayed in my deficit and hit my protein goals. I lifted while doing this, lifting has a lot of benefits but my favorite is its retention and refinement of that “sexy mass” (muscle). There are a lot of benefits to that, but this post is about the diet.
***If you are a novice, and you don’t want to track the way I do, here is a very simple “diet” that I gave my girlfriend which helped her lose 25lbs (and counting) of fat (not muscle), in 6 months, with no additional exercise***:
-Find your calorie goal, as mentioned above. Attempt to stay under it.
-When eating, make sure 10% of whatever you consume is protein. So, for example, if you eat 200 calories, make sure 20g of it is protein.
That’s it. It really is that easy.
The challenge for you will be finding foods and an eating schedule which lets you stick to that. Once you do, you’ll be very happily surprised with what happens to your body. Once you master the simple diet, you can take the training wheels off and attempt to adhere more strictly like I did. Either way you’ll lose weight.
I hope this helps some people. Thanks for reading.