I can sum up my number one weight loss tips in two words: slow. down.
I was doing some research the other day looking for inspiration for this and future blog posts. During my research, I found several iterations of the same question popping up again and again: “How do I lose weight fast?” “How do I get rid of belly fat fast?” “Can I lose belly fat in seven days?” “Can I lose belly fat overnight?” The list goes on and on.
There are lots of ways that you can lose weight fast. The best way to lose weight and keep it off, though, is to slow down and stop looking for quick fixes.
Why Do You Need to Slow Down?
There are plenty of strategies you can try to lose weight quickly. You can drink nothing but detox tea for a week. You can cut your calories to <1,2000. You can try the snake diet or the blood type diet or any other fad diet. You can chop off your least favorite limb.
For most people, the issue isn’t actually losing weight. It’s losing it and keeping it off. The majority of people who lose weight end up regaining it not too long after. Often, they end up even gaining so much that they end up weighing more than they weighed beforehand.
In many cases, when people regain weight, it’s because they went to extreme measures to try and lose it in the first place. They do something that’s unsustainable and, eventually their willpower runs out. This, then, leads to them going back to their old way of eating and regaining the weight they lost (and then some, a lot of the time).
If you slow down, it’ll take longer for you to lose weight, obviously. You’ll have to be more patient and set more realistic expectations for yourself. The good news, though, is that you’ll be more likely to keep the weight off once it’s gone.
You’ll also be able to avoid many of the health issues associated with yoyo dieting (losing and regaining weight over and over again). Some specific health issues you’ll get to dodge include the following:
- Changes in leptin (a hormone that signals fullness) levels
- Increased body fat percentage (when you yoyo diet and regain weight, your body actually creates new fat cells, making it harder for you to lose weight again in the future)
- Reduced muscle mass (and, by default, a slower metabolism)
- Increased risk of developing a fatty liver
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of heart disease
There is also some research that suggests yoyo dieting could be worse for your health than just staying overweight.
Tips to Lose Weight Slowly and Sustainably
Okay, you’re convinced that slow weight loss is more beneficial than quick fixes and yoyo dieting. How do you lose weight in a slow, sustainable way, though? Here are some of my other tips:
Eat in a Small Calorie Deficit
If you want to lose weight, you need to eat in a calorie deficit. This means you consume fewer calories than your body burns.
A lot of calorie calculators will automatically tell you to eat 1,200 calories without taking into account your current metabolism or dieting history. You don’t have to slash your calories in such a dramatic way to lose weight, though.
I recommend first tracking your calories for a week or two to see how many calories you’re eating on average. This will help you understand how much it takes for you to maintain your weight. Once you have this number, I suggest eating about 250-300 calories below it.
By eating this amount, you’ll be on track to lose about half a pound per week. It’s not super fast, but it’ll also be less of a stressor on your body. This, in turn, will make it easier for you to stay in a deficit without feeling deprived.
Increase Your NEAT
Exercising actually doesn’t burn that many calories. I’m absolutely an advocate of exercise for everyone, including people who want to lose weight. It’s not the end-all-be-all, though.
Instead of trying to figure out the most optimal “fat-burning” workout that’ll burn the most calories, I’d recommend placing more of an emphasis on your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (or NEAT for short).
NEAT encapsulates all the activity you do throughout the day outside of your structured workouts. It makes up a big part of your metabolism, and staying active all day long (taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking at the far end of the parking lot, etc.) can help you burn more calories than doing an hour-long workout and then not moving for the rest of the day.
Still do your workouts, of course. However, also look for ways that you can add more low-level activity to your day so that you’re burning more calories without having to make time for long, intense workouts.
Get Enough Sleep
I am such a sleep zealot! I get made fun of for it, but I notice such a big difference in the way I feel when I’m sleeping well and when I’m not. I also know that it’s much easier to lose weight and keep it off when sleep is a priority.
People who don’t sleep well or who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to experience cravings, and there’s a bigger chance that they’ll give in to those cravings. Poor sleep can also slow down your metabolic rate and make it harder for you to lose weight, even if your nutrition and exercise are on point.
Look Beyond the Scale
When you’re focusing only on the scale and losing weight slowly, it’s easy to feel discouraged. That’s why I recommend looking at other measures of progress beyond the number of the scale.
Take progress pictures every few weeks, pay attention to the way your clothes fit, and think about how your behavior has changed. For example, are how many days have you tracked your calories/macros and hit your targets (or got very close to them)? Are you working out consistently? These are big wins, even if they aren’t directly translating to weight loss (yet).
Prioritize Muscle Maintenance
Make sure you’re doing everything you can to prioritize muscle maintenance, too. You can’t really gain muscle while you’re eating in a calorie deficit (unless you’re a beginner), but you can take steps to preserve the muscle you already have.
You can continue to strength train, for example, and you can ensure you’re eating enough protein (around .7-1 gram per pound of body weight is recommended). These things can help you keep your muscle and make sure your metabolism is working as efficiently as possible.
Moral of the Story: Be Wary of Fast Weight Loss Tips
If someone promises you that, by following their plan, you can lose a ton of weight really fast, be wary. They’re likely offering you an extreme plan that will yield extreme results, but they’ll also be results that you have to work extremely hard to maintain.
Instead of continuing to yoyo diet, why not try making slow, sustainable weight loss your focus? Try the tips of listed above (including my biggest one — slow down), be patient, and see how that works out for you.
What is the biggest obstacle holding you back from long-term weight loss? Comment below are let me know how I can help!