Tired of seeing list after list of what you need to do in order to lose weight? I gathered tips from top experts like the Mayo Clinic, Prevention Magazine, Fitness Magazine, Heath Magazine and others, compared them and found the 10 tips they had most in common. You might be surprised to see what they agree on.
Everyone has a plan
People are hungry for a formula, a plan, something to help them lose. Sometimes it's significant weight like I needed to lose when I started. And sometimes it's just those last several stubborn pounds of stomach flab like I need to lose now.
I decided to dig a little deeper into the subject and see just how much the many, many lists out there have in common. There has to be some overlap between all of these definitive "do this and you'll lose weight" articles, right?
Well, yes and no. Some branched out and said things like "Eat more peppers! They contain capsaicin which is a proven fat-burner." Others talked about tips for eating out, handling stress, and avoiding junk food. Everything sounded reasonable, but it was good to see that more than 50% of the time all of the sources agreed upon 10 basic principles that will help you to lose weight.
The sources I found
I tried to cover a variety of sources, some targeted towards men, some women, some both. I also tried to include ones that are more reputable. The ones I used were clear lists of things you should do in order to lose weight in a healthy manner. I give the full list of articles and authors I surveyed at the end of this post, for reference.
#1: Don't succumb to fad diets
Of course, you say, this one is obvious. Well if it were, why would there be so many fad diets out there? And what is a fad diet anyway? Good question, the interpretation will vary. My definition is any diet that you can't reasonably live on for the rest of your life. In other words, we're not talking a quick fix. We're talking changing your lifestyle and your relationship with food to one where you can be happy and content with what and how you eat for the rest of your life. And the food you eat provides you with the nutrition your body needs to be healthy. That automatically excludes liquid diets, detox diets, and many diets that eliminate whole categories of macro-nutrients (no carbs, no fats).
Jillian Michaels puts it well in Health Magazine when she says "Everyone's like: 'Give up carbs!' 'Give up fat!' 'Wait, no, now I'm taking pills!' None of them are manageable long-term—and they wreak havoc with your metabolism! Because you're either starving yourself or you're cutting out a major food group. Then you go back into weight-gain mode, but it's even worse, because your body has adjusted to all that crazy fad cr*p."
#2: Drink lots of water
This one shouldn't surprise you. Water has so many benefits it is surprising that more people don't go to it as their beverage of choice. I have a blog post that gives many of the benefits of drinking plenty of water. They include maintaining the balance of body fluids, controlling calorie intake, energizing muscles, promoting skin health, and helping your kidneys.
What does all of that have to do with weight loss? Steve Stiefel from Muscle & Fitness says "Water is the medium in which most cellular activities take place, including the transport and burning of fat. In addition, drinking plenty of calorie-free water makes you feel full and eat less. Drink at least 1 ounce of water per 2 pounds of bodyweight a day (that's 100 ounces for a 200-pound person). Keep a 20-ounce water bottle at your desk, fill it five times a day, and you're set."
#3: Get enough sleep
I made a blog post about getting enough sleep to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. We all know that sleep is important, but how does it affect weight loss? Diana Kelly writes in a Prevention Magazine article "Make a point of turning in earlier and you’ll see weight loss within a week. Recent research from the University of Pennsylvania found even just a few nights of sleep deprivation can lead to almost immediate weight gain. Scientists asked participants to sleep about 10 hours a night for two days, followed by five nights of sleep restriction and four nights of recovery. After the 11 days, the sleep-deprived group gained almost 3 pounds, compared with a well-rested control group.
#4: Eat more protein
This one is a little surprising. On the surface, you'd think that more protein intake would be good for those who are lifting weights and require more protein for muscle synthesis. But how can eating more protein help with weight loss? David Robinson in Bodybuilding.com says "protein, due to the complexity of its composition, requires additional energy to be properly digested. If we do not eat enough protein the body will break down muscle tissue to ensure there is enough of it to fuel the many biological processes that require it. So, to boost the metabolism to encourage fat burning it is essential that we at all times consume enough protein."
#5: Eat more often
Most fitness professionals agree that eating smaller meals more often assists in the weight loss process. In a Men's Fitness article, Scott Neumyer says "There’s a reason that most nutritionists tell their clients that they should be eating six small meals a day rather than the three large meals that most people are accustomed to eating. It’s all about managing cravings and to prevent overeating. When your body goes several hours without food, it starts to assume its never going to get food again, upping the odds of eating binges and dangerous cravings. To combat that effect, it’s smart to eat six small, well-timed meals a day to keep yourself full throughout the day."
#6: Eat a good breakfast
Most of the articles I surveyed talked about the importance of eating a balanced breakfast. Stephen Perrine in Women's Health Magazine says "Eating breakfast jump-starts your metabolism so it's no accident that those who skip this meal are 41⁄2 times as likely to be obese. The heartier your first meal is, the better. In one study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology, volunteers who got 22 to 55 percent of their total calories at breakfast gained only 1.7 pounds on average over 4 years. While those who got zero to 11 percent gained nearly 3 pounds."
#7: Eat healthy fats
Isn't it interesting how we've gone from avoiding fat altogether to embracing it now as a healthy nutrient that actually helps us lose weight? Steve Stiefel in Muscle & Fitness says "Healthy fats are totally underutilized by individuals trying to shed body fat. You have to reduce calories to get rid of body fat, but you don't want to cut out healthy fats completely. Fats take longer to break down in your stomach and help control blood-sugar levels, leaving you more satisfied and reducing your cravings. Include avocados, fatty fish, olives, nuts and seeds, and oils such as olive, flaxseed and canola in your diet."
#9: Do interval cardio training
Mitzi Dulan in Business Insider states "Most people stick to the same ‘ole, same ‘ole at the gym without getting the results they crave. If you want change, you must try high-intensity interval training, which is an excellent way to help you lose fat. Getting your heart rate above 75 percent of its maximum rate has been shown to increase your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories. High-intensity exercise burns nine times more fat per calorie than low-intensity exercise does."
#8: Do weight training
David Robson in Bodybuilding.com says "One major mistake many overweight people make is to mistake bodybuilding training - that which emphasizes weights over cardio - for a pure muscle building activity. While weight training does of course build muscle it also encourages fat loss, a fact lost of those who instead opt to run on the treadmill five days a week, burning a little fat, but losing much of their muscle size in the process. Weight training will work one's body much more intensely than most forms of cardio will, thus stimulating a greater metabolic response, which will ultimately lead to increased fat loss above and beyond that directly attributable to aerobic work. Further, by building muscle - and thus permanently increasing our metabolic rate - we become walking furnaces, burning fat even while at rest. Given that muscle is a metabolically active tissue, it requires a continual turnover of energy to maintain, a degree of output that steadily targets our fat cells for fuel."
#10: Allow yourself to cheat
This one had a number of different suggestions, but all basically agree that simply avoiding all unhealthy foods altogether isn't a good strategy. Steve Stiefel states "If you love a particular food, you shouldn't prohibit yourself from eating it. Avoid the bad foods that you don't love or crave. And when you eat cheat foods, eat them for flavor. Don't eat the whole pizza—have a few slices, savor the flavor and enjoy it. Share the rest." And Jillian Michaels says "Make 80 percent of the food you eat healthy and take 20 percent of your daily calories and make them fun. Otherwise, you'll feel deprived—and more tempted to go off the deep end. Don't buy more treat food than you're going to eat in one day. Get just one calorie-controlled allotment, like a small bag of chips, so you can't continue to go back for more."
Muscle & Fitness, Steve Stiefel, 20 TIPS TO SHED BODY FAT FOR GOOD
Bodybuilding.com, David Robson, 5 Forgotten Fat Loss Tips
Fitness Magazine, Richard Laliberte, Slim for Life: 10 Strategies to Lose Fat and Keep It Off
Health Magazine, Jillian Michaels, Jillian Michaels: Weight-Loss Tips That Work
WebMD, Sonya Collins, The Truth About Belly Fat
Women's Health Magazine, Stephen Perrine, Leah Flickinger, 15 Easy Ways to Burn More Fat
Bodybuilding.com, Bill Geiger, 17 TIPS TO HELP YOU LOSE FAT FASTER!
Men's Fitness, Scott Neumyer, HOW TO GET LEAN: 25 WAYS TO LOSE FAT FASTER
Forbes, Jennifer Cohen, 6 Ways to Burn Your Belly Fat Fast
Prevention, Diana Kelly, The 25 Best Diet Tips Of All Time
Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic Staff, Weight loss: Strategies for success
WebMD, Wendy C. Fries, 10 Painless Ways to Lose Weight
Health Magazine, Melissa Daly, 10 Fast Weight Loss Tips (We Tried Them!)
Women's Day, Karen Asp, 20 Ways to Burn More Fat
Business Insider, Mitzi Dulan, How To Lose Fat Fast