It’s that time of year again–the season of holiday parties, office cookies, and the official demise of our diets. It begins with the Halloween candy and continues through the Thanksgiving binge, Christmas festivities, and New Year’s Eve bash. Then suddenly, January 1 is upon us, and we find ourselves making our weight loss resolutions again.
Too often, we make the same resolution year after year and never reach our goal. So, how can we break the cycle in 2019 and finally attain the results we want? Instead of making big lifestyle changes on January 1, start your journey today by making four small changes.
Before you begin purging your kitchen, you should understand the fundamental rule of losing weight: weight loss is a calorie game. Calories alone will determine whether you lose weight or not. This is why simply “eating clean” is not a good strategy for weight loss. Every food has a caloric value, even healthy ones. Therefore, instead of focusing on “good” or “bad” foods, focus on your daily caloric intake. Put simply, if you eat slightly less calories than your body uses throughout the day, you will lose weight. Taking in fewer calories is the basis ofthe following four steps to crushing your goals!
Step One: Download a food tracking app
The first step to reaching your weight loss goal is tracking your food. A great app to try is MyFitnessPal (and it’s free). Start a week of tracking without a calorie goal in mind and see how many calories you naturally tend to eat. The benefit of using an app is that it will not only track the calories of your food, but it also shows all the nutrients within them. There are three key nutrients that are the most important ones to track, and they will be discussed in Step Three.
If you choose to use an app likeMyFitnessPal, you must also use a food scale to weigh your food. Measuring cups can lead to a lot of extra calories and are not made to measure all foods (e.g., how would you measure a steak with a measuring cup?). Therefore, if you want to be accurate, you must weigh everything you log. A food scale will allow you to weigh both solids and liquids. Plus, it makes your clean up much easier.
Step Two: Calculate your daily caloric needs
Everyone has different calorie needs which are influenced by factors like your lean body mass, age, weight, and activity level, among others. You can easily calculate calories on your own using an online calorie calculator, but these calculators can generate very inaccurate numbers.Therefore, don’t think of your calorie count as a concrete amount, but rather as a fluid number you can adjust as needed.
The best way to determine if your calorie goal is the correct number is to weigh every morning and make sure you do not gain weight or lose weight faster than 1-2 pounds per week. Slow and steady weight loss is the only way to be successful in the long run.
Step Three: Set your macronutrient goals
Once you know your daily caloric needs, your next step is to set your macronutrient goals. Macronutrientsinclude three nutrients that your body needs in a large quantity: protein, carbohydrates and fat. Each of these nutrients plays a different and vital role in your body. What many people do not realize is that allfoods will break down into some ratio of these three nutrients. For example, an avocado is high in fat, moderate in carbs, and low in protein, while a chicken breast is high in protein and low in carbs and fat. Together, protein, carbs, and fat will equal 100% of your daily calorie intake.
Research has shown that as long as you are in a calorie deficit and have an adequate protein intake, your ratio of carbs and fats does not matter. For example, you could eat a high carb/low fat diet and lose weight in the same manner as a low carb/high fat diet. This allows you to completely customize your diet to what works for you. Generally, you should start with 50% of your calories coming from carbohydrates, 25% from protein and 25% from fat.
Step 4: Be patient with yourself
The beauty of dieting through calorie counting is that it allows much more freedom than restrictive diets. As long as you hit your targets, you can eat anything you want and still lose weight. You can still go out to dinner and indulge your cravings without derailing your progress. This is a much more fun way to diet, as well as being something that you can adhere to for long enough to reach your ideal weight. That being said, we are all human and will certainly make mistakes. The trick to being successful is not letting a bad night turn into a bad week, month and year. If you mess up your diet, accept that it happened, move on, and start again the next day.
If your objective for 2019 is to reach your weight loss goal, don’t make drastic changes on January 1. Instead of giving up entire food groups (e.g., carbs) and restricting yourself, use your energy to download MyFitnessPaland track your food. Counting calories and macronutrients is becoming a popular way to diet because real people see real results, without having to make too many sacrifices.
So, what are you waiting for? Ditch the restrictive dieting of 2018 and reach your goals once and for all.
Four Steps to Successful Weight Loss