Guide To Enjoyable Weight Loss (Part 2: Weight Loss Diet)
This is part 2 of the “Guide To Enjoyable Weight Loss. Make sure you read part 1 first.
If you’re looking for Part 3, click here.
Weight Loss Diet
- 1 Weight Loss Diet
- 1.1 Intermittent Fasting
Results are made in the kitchen. Diet is responsible for 80% of your success.
These statements are nothing new. In fact, you have probably read them before many times. However, the advice that follows these statements is often not terribly helpful.
“Eat a lot of fruit, vegetables and lean meat.”
Every 5-year-old knows that vegetables are good for you.
Eating healthy foods isn’t a weight loss plan. If you eat too many calories from fruit, vegetables and lean meat then you will gain fat instead of losing it.
Don’t get me wrong you will feel better if you eat a healthy diet and I am by no means recommending ‘the McDonalds diet’.
However the most important aspect of a successful weight loss diet is and always will be…
Burning more calories than you consume.
In order to burn more calories than you consume you need to know two things:
- How many calories you eat
- How many calories your body burns per day (on average)
If you know those things you can either adjust food intake or add exercise to lose weight.
In this chapter, you will learn how to find out how many calories you need to eat in order to lose weight.
This step takes a bit of trial and error to get right. I am going to give you a basic formula that will get you close to your maintenance calories. You will have to try eating that number of calories per day for a week and see how your weight changes. If you gain weight you have to lower by 250 calories. If you lose weight then you are probably about 250 calories below your maintenance.
As a starting point you take your body weight in pounds and multiply it by 15. That will be reasonably close to your maintenance intake. As an example I will use a 200lbs male who isn’t active. (If you are already quite active you should multiply your body weight by 17.)
200lbs x 15 = 3000 calories.
For females this number will almost always be lower because they tend to be smaller and lighter.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you are going to have to track your food intake. We have already discussed that calories are what matter most in any diet. So tracking how many calories you eat is obviously very important. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take much time and isn’t difficult at all.
There are some useful tools online to help you keep track of your food intake. The one I use is MyFitnessPal. There is an app you can download on your phone so that you can record your food intake without having to use your computer. It’s easy to use and there is a huge database of foods that you can find on there.
You have to accept that the tracking will never be 100% accurate. Restaurants and fast food chains don’t have perfect calorie counts. Even the nutritional labels on foods only need to be within 10% of the actual value.
So don’t worry about getting it perfect. What is important is that you consistently do it the same way. As long as you always track foods the same way you’ll be fine.
You also have to be careful not to add ‘hidden calories’. Hidden calories are when you add something to cook or prepare a meal that you don’t track in your food intake. For example if you cook 200g of chicken breast in 1 tbsp of olive oil. The correct way of tracking it would be:
220 calories from the chicken breast + 120 calories from olive oil = 340 calories
The other possibility would be to search for “pan-fried chicken breast” on MyFitnessPal. According to that there are 374 calories in 200 grams of pan-fried chicken breast.
In the example above the results are quite close but they can vary more depending on which method you use. Both methods work and it is completely up to you which one you choose to use. Like I mentioned before, consistency is what matters.
Some people who start tracking their food intake take it to an extreme. They won’t eat out unless they know exactly how many calories their meals have. There is also no need to track small things like 5 grams of sugar in your coffee. Just be careful with adding oil to meals because calories from fat can add up quickly. (9 calories per gram as opposed to 4)
All I am trying to say is: You don’t need to be obsessive about this to lose weight successfully. Use common sense and you will reap the benefits while still living a normal life.
Another common question I see from beginners is if you should weigh the foods raw or cooked. I suggest you weigh everything before you cook it. I find it easier that way but you could do it after you have cooked everything as well.
I’ll repeat it once again: Consistency is what matters.
You have to be especially careful with foods like pasta and rice. They absorb water and will become heavier after they are cooked. Make sure you choose the right calorie value in MyFitnessPal.
100 grams of cooked rice: 130 calories
100 grams of rice (dry weight): 350 calories
A lot of serious athletes and body builders will track their macros (Carbs, Fats, Protein) as well. MyFitnessPal automatically tracks them for you. For fat loss you don’t have to pay any attention to those numbers in my opinion. I have tracked them in the past and found it to be more hassle than simply counting calories. They aren’t completely irrelevant but tracking your overall intake isn’t important. In the chapter on avoiding hunger I will explain the benefits of different macronutrients.
The huge advantage to counting calories is that you can eat foods you love while still losing weight. Some foods are healthier or more filling than others but for fat loss calories are what matters.
This makes sticking to a diet a lot easier and more enjoyable.
I won’t ever tell you to not eat any single food. You have to find a balance between foods that fill you up and foods you love to eat despite the fact that they aren’t very satiating.
Once you count calories you become free.
You get to choose what to eat on a daily basis. Tracking food intake also gives you the freedom to choose how your body will look in the future.
In my opinion that makes tracking calories a great habit. The only ‘down side’ is the small amount of time it takes. Unlike reading countless fitness blogs every day, tracking food intake is a fantastic investment of your time.
This is a tricky subject. Some people claim that drinking alcohol shuts down fat loss and muscle gain for days but in my opinion that’s garbage. Alcohol is used as fuel by your body and will be used before burning fat. So in terms of weight loss you can really think of alcohol as a source of calories just like carbs, protein and fat.
There are a lot of fitness sites that recommend not drinking at all. That’s fine if you are a serious bodybuilder or athlete but once again this shows that they are not trying to help the average reader.
If your goals are simply to lose weight, gain muscle and look better, you don’t have to cut out alcohol. You can probably get away with drinking a lot as long as the calories from drinking fit into your daily allowance.
I don’t recommend that approach because while it won’t hurt your weight loss results, drinking (a lot) regularly isn’t good for your health.
The best way to decide if you want to continue drinking is to look at the nutritional label and find out how many calories are in the drink. If you know what you are consuming you can make an informed choice.
You have to be careful when drinking though. If you get so drunk that you can no longer stay on your diet – meaning you end up eating a lot of crappy snacks – that is a huge problem when trying to lose fat.
Some incredibly disciplined individuals can avoid that simply because they are disciplined. If that isn’t the case for you I recommend you leave plenty calories spare on days where you think you’ll be drinking.
Drinking with others who are serious about trying to lose weight can be a good strategy for not over-eating. You can keep each other motivated and you won’t feel like an outcast when you aren’t constantly stuffing your face like everyone around you.
A supportive group of friends that know your goals and won’t get in your way is great. However, if you don’t have friends like that there isn’t much you can do in the short-term. Just avoid situations that will tempt you to blow your diet.
Weight loss shouldn’t consume your whole life. If you enjoy drinking with friends continue to do so. I could tell you that it’s bad and all that but you wouldn’t listen anyway.
I much prefer making the journey easier and enjoyable for people. You don’t have to be 100% strict on a diet.
Have some fun and enjoy yourself. That will make it less likely that you end up quitting and in turn more likely you get the results you want.
How To Suppress Hunger On A Diet
You now know that losing weight is simple in theory. All you have to do is create a calorie deficit through either exercise or changes in your diet.
While losing weight is definitely simple that doesn’t make it easy. A lot of people struggle to lose weight these days. Modern life is very convenient. You don’t need to hunt your food; all you have to do is cross the street and walk into any Fast Food chain you want.
It’s fast and convenient. Frankly, it’s a lot easier to eat Fast Food than to prepare healthy food.
Everyone ‘knows’ they should eat healthier to lose weight but ….
…it’s not easy to avoid the temptations 24/7.
I want to show you some methods you can use to avoid hunger while losing weight. If you aren’t hungry it’s a lot easier to stay on track.
Generally, advice on the internet tends to follow the lines of: “Just eat healthier foods because they will fill you up.” While that is true it doesn’t really help anyone because everyone already knows this. Advice should be applicable to your life. If I can show you a couple of tricks that you then implement into your daily routine that will help you more than simply ‘eating healthier food’.
So let’s get started with how to reduce hunger.
Intermittent Fasting is the most effective way to reduce hunger in my experience. Some experts believe that Intermittent Fasting has all kinds of benefits for your health and weight loss. I am not entirely convinced but it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Intermittent Fasting is a great way to avoid hunger.
Intermittent Fasting is really just a ‘cool’ way of saying: Don’t eat breakfast. There are variations of it but the most popular one is the one I recommend for weight loss. Basically you limit the time in which you consume food to 8 hours a day. For the remaining 16 hours you are fasting. You should still drink water, coffee or diet soda during the fasting times.
How this looks in practice:
You get up at 8am. Throughout the morning you drink water and coffee but don’t eat anything. At around 1pm you have your first meal. If you want you can have a snack between lunch and dinner. Otherwise your second meal of the day would be at 8 or 9pm.
You have been fed a lie. Breakfast is absolutely not the most important meal of the day. You would think that skipping breakfast would make you a lot hungrier. But it actually doesn’t.
It might take your body 2-3 weeks to adjust to not eating in the morning but after that you will be a lot less hungry.
Since you are only having two meals now you have a lot more options for foods to eat. Eating two large meals is a lot more fulfilling than having a lot of small meals spread throughout the day anyway. Never feeling full is a bad thing for people who want to keep fat off their body in the long run.
Intermittent Fasting even makes it easier to work foods that you love into your diet. As long as you track your calories you will know when it’s fine to have some chocolate or ice cream.
Even during the first few weeks you will only be hungry in the morning. Sticking to a diet for 5 hours in the morning is a lot easier than doing the same thing for 12 hours every day.
You will still occasionally feel hungry before it’s time to eat. Most people will try to resist the feeling. That’s why you might think only very disciplined people can lose large amounts of fat. If your “plan” for losing fat is to resist hunger then you will need to be incredibly disciplined to achieve your goal. Since you are reading this, chances are you aren’t that disciplined. (Being extremely disciplined with your diet comes with its own problems, Eating disorders) And even if you are a very disciplined person wouldn’t you want to make the fat-loss process as easy and enjoyable as possible?
Ways that you can suppress hunger until it’s time to eat:
- Drink 1-2 glasses of water when you become hungry.
You should drink a lot of water anyway because it’s good for your health but it will also help you lose fat by reducing hunger.
- Throughout the day drink either Coffee or diet soda depending on your preference.
- Stop thinking about food and your diet.
If you are focusing on a task that you need to achieve, you will soon forget that you are hungry. A lot of people eat because they are bored and looking for something to do rather than because they are hungry.
- Don’t eat because you’re bored.
If you notice you want to eat something because you haven’t got anything else to do, immediately go do something. Anything. I literally don’t care what you do as long as you aren’t sitting around thinking about food. Preferably do something that distances you from food. For example going for a walk in the park is a better idea than going to the supermarket to do your grocery shopping. (Do your grocery shopping after eating one of your fulfilling meals. You will make better food choices without having to use all your discipline.)
Eating healthier foods isn’t a weight loss plan. It is often used as one (unsuccessfully) by people who don’t know any better.
I will repeat it once again: Creating a calorie deficit is the only way to lose weight. However, some foods are still better than others because they will keep you feeling full for longer. I won’t call these foods ‘healthy foods’. There are no such things as ‘healthy foods’. If you want to look at the impact of food on your health, you have to consider the whole diet. That is a topic for another day because a healthy diet is different from a diet for weight loss. (Losing weight will obviously improve your health if you are overweight.)
So instead of healthy foods I will tell you a bit about foods that will help you to lose weight.
By this point in the book you know that a calorie deficit matters the most. Because you track your calories and follow flexible dieting, you have a choice to make in regards to what you eat every day. There are no banned foods. You can work anything into your calories.
However. if all you eat is ‘junk food’ it will be incredibly hard to stay on your diet for long periods of time. Since this isn’t a crash diet you will have to make long-term changes to your lifestyle for it to work.
If you struggle with sticking to your calorie goals despite using the methods outlined in the previous chapter you will have to work more filling foods into your diet. (Or adjust your training which we will get to shortly.)
So how do you know if a food is filling? Besides the obvious suggestion of seeing how you react to different foods there are some guidelines to follow.
Please note that I said guidelines and not rules. Feel free to only follow some of these suggestions and ignore others. If you are getting the results you want simply by using Intermittent Fasting and tracking food intake, then that’s great too. Whatever gets you where you want to go on your weight loss journey.
In general I can say that:
- Foods high in water are satiating. (Examples: Watermelon, grapes, apples, etc.)
- The bigger (either volume or weight) a food is per calorie the better. (Example: Baked potatoes have only 93 calories per 100 grams)
- High Protein foods are more filling per calorie than foods high in fat or carbohydrates. (Lean meat, fish lentils, etc.)
- Dietary Fibre also helps to keep you full.
If you want to see a more detailed explanation or a list of satiating foods check out this site.