The Easiest Way to Lose Weight
It seems today like everywhere you look there’s a new diet, a new superfood, or a new dietary restriction. For people who want to lose excess fat, the slew of misinformation being hurled at you is confusing and overwhelming. This is done in part because marketers are always looking for ways to sell new or more products. All this misinformation causes people to try fad diets, which they inevitably fail at because these diets are not made to be sustainable.
What’s the alternative?
It turns out to be a lot simpler than you might expect. For most people, losing weight is as simple as burning more calories than you take in. But what exactly does that mean?
Calories are a form of energy and we can get calories from fats, carbohydrates, and protein in the foods that we eat (and the drinks!)
Everyone burns calories just by existing and exercise helps you to burn more calories.
If you eat more calories than you burn that day, then the extra calories get stored in your body as fat.
If you burn more calories than you eat, your body will have to make up the difference by burning fat for calories.
The amount of calories you burn in a day is your total daily energy expenditure or TDEE.
Being taller, heavier, and more active all increase your TDEE. There are lots of online calculators you can use to calculate your TDEE.
If you want to lose weight, the total amount of calories you eat must be less than your TDEE, so that your body has to use up the energy stored as fat. Between 300-800 calories is generally a good deficit. A larger deficit will make you lose weight faster, but may also be harder to maintain.
How to Apply The Facts
This all seems so easy, yet calorie counting is often difficult, frustrating, and confusing. It can be unreliable as we're generally pretty bad at estimating serving sizes. Worst of all, for most people, calorie counting is unsustainable! If you eat high-calorie foods that are not nutritious, you'll find yourself hungry and feeling like calorie counting is impossible. In addition, if you only focus on the number of calories and not the foods you're eating, you may find that once you've reached your goal and stopped counting you may return to the eating patterns that got you to that weight in the first place! But by making conscious decisions about the types of foods you eat, you can reduce your calorie intake without counting calories.
For people who are just starting their weight loss journey or those who are struggling to be consistent, it can be beneficial to simplify the process. Instead of meticulously counting calories, or eating overpriced diet food (that is often full of the same amount of calories!) a good first step is swapping high-calorie staples with low-calorie alternatives. The best part is that most of the swaps will save you money while grocery shopping! Here are four ideas to cut calories without having to count anything!
4 Ways to Cut Calories
Swap Soda for (Almost) Anything Else
Soda is a crazy amount of calories, especially since it’s not filling at all! If you’re drinking 2 or more sodas a day and you replace them with something lower calorie such as water, unsweetened iced tea, or even a zero-calorie soda you will likely notice a dramatic change.
Swap High-Calorie Cafe Drinks for Regular Coffee
The problem with all the sweet and creamy coffees, or the blended frozen drinks, is that they’re full of extra stuff that you don’t really need that adds a bunch of calories. These drinks compared to small meals in terms of calories, and they’re nowhere near as filling! To absolutely minimize calories from coffee, try making your own coffee at home and substituting cream and sugar for a low calorie flavored coffee creamer.
Swap Carbs for Veggies
If you make an effort to include lots of vegetables in your meals, you will easily lower the calorie counts. Vegetables have a lot fewer calories per volume than processed carbs. If you used to fill half your plate with carbs and one quarter with vegetables you’ll notice that switching to half a plate of vegetables with one-quarter carbs will help you lose weight. If you say you don’t like vegetables, you likely just don’t know how to cook them! You can read more about why we may hate vegetables and how to learn to love them.
Swap Junk Food for Fruit
Buying less junk food and more fruit can help cut down calories, as fruits are more filling and have fewer calories. This can be a harder change to make if you’re used to snacking on cookies and chips, but it will make you feel much better throughout your body, including your skin, while also helping you lower the number of calories you eat every day. You may find yourself craving processed sugars at the start, but if you stick with it your body will eventually learn to enjoy fruits as much if not more than processed treats! One of my favorite fruits to snack on when I want sweets are grapes because they’re like eating candies!
Of course, there’s a lot more to losing weight than just a few swaps, but starting with small changes is one of the best ways to ensure sustainable results. And for most people, if you make these swaps (without adding anything extra to your diet) you will see changes that will help motivate your health journey forward.
Remember to never be too hard on yourself; these swaps are guides, not rules, and it’s okay to treat yourself in moderation.
If you want to start exercising to raise your TDEE, a good place to start is a 5x5 gym program. Another option is setting a fitness goal for yourself and then achieving it.