It’s almost summertime, which means – here comes all the new diet trends and posts about how to lose weight for “bikini season.” (rolls eyes)
I’m not here to completely dis “diets.” Hell, I’ve tried a ton of different ones since I was about 17 years old. I understand that people generally mean well and if they see something that may work then of course… why not try it, right? But it’s not always the right choice.
A lot of people don’t do their research and don’t understand that some diets can slow down your metabolism, break down muscle, and have a lot more negative effects that you don’t want including dehydration, hair loss, constipation, irritability, fatigue, and lots more!
Instead of trying a crazy new fad diet, I’m here to give you a few simple lifestyle and diet changes that can really help you lose weight over time without completely wrecking yourself in the process. Yes, I said over time. I know most people want instant gratification but unfortunately that’s not how you keep it off. You must try things gradually, monitor them, stick with them consistently, and then change/tweak things and do the process again. It takes time to learn what works for you so be patient and don’t give up!
I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not a doctor, and this article is not for someone looking to compete in bodybuilding or even powerlifting. Find the right professional or a knowledgeable coach if you are looking for that.
My body has gone through a lot of changes. A lot of people have seen me overweight in high school, then lean way out, and grow muscle over time, so I get a lot of people asking me advice on how to shed a few pounds. Here’s a few tips that I have found to work well for myself and others I have shared it with over the years. Enjoy!
1) Move more.
This is simple. Add more movement in your life.
If you’re in a sedentary job – add a few laps around work office during the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Wake up earlier and take a walk before work. Park in the very back of the parking lot at work or the grocery store. Go on more walks. Be outside! It’s good for you. Both mentally and physically.
There are tons of different ways to add more walking and movement into your day. It doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon or do sprints. It really shouldn’t be that hard to add a little more walking throughout your day if you make a conscious effort to make it happen.
Fitness watches/apps also can really help track your steps in the day that way you can get an idea of where you are at and can increase it gradually over time. After you figure out where you are at and add more, down the road you can even make it fun and compete with your spouse or a friend to see who can get more steps in a week. Whatever keeps you motivated!
2) Eat more protein.
Generally, most people I talk to who follow a lot of macro tracking plans don’t have trouble hitting their fat or carb numbers, but struggle more with hitting protein numbers. I think a lot of the time it’s easier to snack on foods that don’t have protein… ex. chips, candy, ice cream, etc.
Try to include protein into all of your meals. Eat your protein before your carbs/fats.
Whole foods generally are the best option, but if you can’t get it in – opt for a good protein shake even!
Also, know how much protein you are really getting per serving. The chart below should help. I suggest to start around .8g per pound of body weight. I usually take in about 1g per pound. So if I am 175, I try to eat about 175g of protein a day.
3) Eat more carbs around your workouts, less when you’re not active.
Assuming you workout (which I definitely advise some type of physical activity if you are trying to lose weight), try to eat your meals with more carbs within an hour or two window before and/or after your workout.
Eat less carbs during more sedentary hours, like close to bedtime or in the morning if you have to go straight to a desk job.
4) Split up fat and carb meals.
I generally do really well consistently with this method too. It’s a little more difficult if you don’t understand macros well, but I’ll give some examples.
Choose between meals with higher fats or higher carbs, not both.
So if you choose higher fat then low/no carbs. Some sample meals that would fall into this category:
– Steak and vegetables (no potatoe/rice)
– Salmon salad (with low/no carb dressing – no crutons, fries (a Pittsburgh thing), berries, etc.)
– Burger with vegetables but no bun
These are higher in fat and include protein but are low in carbohydrates.
Some sample meals with the reverse (higher carbs, low fat):
– Chicken and rice/sweet potato with vegetables (no butter)
– Pasta with chicken (red sauce)
– Turkey breast sandwich
Just be aware of the macros you are taking in and basically have little to no of one or the other (fat or carb).
Also, obviously everyone is going to be different with what their “high” is depending on a lot of variables. For example – (I am very active, train a lot and sit around 175lbs.) My high carb days usually are 200-250g of carbs a day. A low carb day is still 125g. High fat is 80-90g and low is 30-40g.
If you want to dig deeper into macros, I definitely suggest researching more online and/or getting a coach or someone to help. Just make sure you don’t get someone that puts you on a cookie-cutter low calorie plan. You always should be monitoring and adjusting over time to see how your body responds to things.
5) Track your water intake and drink more!
Most people have no idea how much water they drink, and I’m sure they would be surprised themselves that they definitely aren’t getting enough.
Start keeping track of how much you drink. Being dehydrated is not good and can make you feel horrible. Try to aim for over a half gallon. I try to get closer to even a gallon or more during more active, hot/summer months.
Sometimes your body will feel hungry when you’re actually just thirsty so besides feeling better this could also help you lose weight.
6) Eat less processed food.
Choose whole foods over processed food whenever possible.
Eat meat, vegetables, nuts, fruits, and beans. Avoid things made in packages including cereal, cheese, bread, cookies, chips, microwave meals, etc.
7) Don’t drink your calories.
Realize what calories and especially sugar are in the drinks you consume.
Don’t just assume that if something on the menu says “skinny” that it’s okay either. Specialty coffee drinks are one of the worst!
Cut out soda/pop, coffee drinks like lattes/cappuccinos/frapps, juice, and milk. It will make a huge difference especially if you are consuming a lot of these daily already.
8) Consume less sugar!
I love sugar just as much as anyone, but just look up the harmful effects of sugar and you’ll see why it’s so important to limit your intake… not only for weight loss but your long-term health!
There are so many processed foods out there that have way, way more sugar than need be. Be aware of how much per serving you are eating or drinking. Read the labels, pay attention, and know what you are consuming.
I have general rules for myself and you can develop your own over time. For example, I love BBQ sauce and even though it’s processed and has sugar I still eat it, but I won’t buy any that has over 8g of sugar per serving. I do this with a lot of foods so at least I can enjoy things I like, but also be smart about my choices.
9) Watch what you cook with!
2 tbsp of olive oil is 238 calories, 28g of fat. So if you are cooking with that you are still consuming that. Same with butter or any other oil. They usually are high in fat. I opt for spray olive oil. 2 second spray = 14 calories.
Just because something is labeled as good for you or healthy doesn’t mean you won’t gain weight from it.
This is also goes for marinades, dressings, seasons and sauces! Be aware of just how much you use and how many calories they are. Use more sprinkle dry type seasonings when possible instead of wet options. They tend to be better choices.
10) Organic doesn’t always mean better.
Organic or even “all natural” items have gained great popularity in recent years. There’s a whole isle now at local grocery stores.
Organic is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong. But organic junk food is still junk food. Just because a cookie says organic doesn’t make it better.
So while opting for organic vegetables is good. Don’t get fooled that organic candy bars are better for you than eating a regular candy bar.
I hope these tips give you more ideas for some new or different options to try!
These are all fairly easy things to do and can fit into anyone’s lifestyle. They should help you slowly lose weight over time and make you feel better too!
A lot of these have worked really well for me, but they aren’t a “quick fix.” Really no good or healthy “diet” should be quick! Run away if something tells you that you will drop 10lbs a week for the next 8 weeks. As alluring as it may sound to some people, diets like that are not good and unrealistic. Pick healthier alternatives. Remember that consistency is key. You have to be consistent to see results over time. So try a few of these, track what you do, stick with it, and see the results for yourself.