All too often I get asked about the latest diet, supplement or trending tactic used for losing weight.
Cutting out carbs, not eating past 7, whole foods only, the list goes on and on and I’m sure you could add 10 more items to the list without thinking too hard.
The biggest question with the tactics and diets comes down to this: what actually works, like without a doubt?
There actually is an answer, it’s so simple though that most people don’t believe it.
Calories in versus calories out.
Believe it or not, it has been scientifically proven that weight control comes down to the quantity of calories consumed each day, and the important aspect being consuming less calories than you burn.
This actually goes back to Newton and his First Law of Thermodynamics. Energy cannot be created or destroyed but can transfer from one form to another.
In other words, the food energy (calories) you eat, has to go somewhere. But when you eat less than your body needs for its daily activities (living, breathing, watching Netflix, taking your cat for a walk- what, I don’t judge) you will dip into the stored energy (fat) to continue to function.
Quality of foods, types of foods, and even food groups can all play a role in weight loss and some tactics may work better than others for an individual to help them reach this state of being in a calorie deficit, but the working mechanism is the same behind them all:
You ate less than you spent.
I’ll end this with a few tips on how to get into a deficit.
The first, you’ve heard, and I can already hear the groan forming from your lack of enthusiasm.
Counting your calories.
Using a food tracker like myfitnesspal can seem tedious but there is literally no better way to make 100% sure you are in a deficit than making sure you match your numbers at the end of the day.
This one tactic, for those brave and committed enough to use it, has helped more people than I can count change their lives and get to their goals.
And with myfitnesspal or other trackers constantly updating and making their apps easier and quicker to use, there’s no real excuse for not logging your food. Unless you’re a “food picker” which brings me to the second option.
Eating more nutritionally dense foods (VEGGIES)
Adding more veggies to your meals can put you in a deficit by proxy. You fill up on the veggies and eat much smaller amounts of the food you intended to eat (mac and cheese, Chick-Fil-A, and the new Mac and cheese from Chick-Fil-A) and therefore eat much less calories.
You don’t have to track your food with this approach, but can instead focus on just eating better and filling up on the good stuff.
Another option that can help when done correctly, is drinking more water. One of the best times to do this in fact is when you’re taking those important supplements and vitamins in the morning. Drinking water, specifically cold water as soon as you wake up has been shown to create a slight thermogenic response in the body.
This kickstarts your metabolism for the day and gets you burning a few extra calories. It’s minimal, but say your minimal actions burn 50 calories each. Do ten of them daily and you’ll burn an extra 500 calories without having to do another set of burpees. I’d call that a win.
That’s one aspect of using water. Another is simply drinking more of it. You’ll want to drink more water with your meals instead of before as drinking water in order not to eat as much before meals actually backfires and you’ll be facing more hunger pangs later on. The best technique is to drink lots of liquid while your body is already digesting food so that you just won’t eat as much or worry about feeling hungry later on.