Hello everybody! I've completed my longterm goal to get back into sub 80 kg category where I was 8 years ago (from 95 kgs 2 years ago) and I'm here to share the simple truth about losing weight that for some reason some people still try to argue against. It's free, it's simple, it's healthy. But first, here's my quick manifesto to losing fat:
To hell with the cardio. To hell with not eating sweets. To hell with the supplements. To hell with the expensive diets. To hell with detoxing. To hell with the gym. To hell with buying the weight-loose gadgets.
I tried it all. Nothing worked. I'm a lazy person by definition. I gained 15 kgs by just eating pizza because I couldn't be bothered to cook. When my belly started to give me troubles sleeping, I decided to finally get fit. I tried for 3 years with little to no luck. Everything from the manifesto I tried. I hated every damn minute of it. And I hated it even more because it didn't work.
I even started to think that 95 kgs were my "functional weight" and that I needed it to stay healthy as I couldn't drop a single kilo. In case if you are also trying to lose weight as me and nothing works, then I wrote this article specifically for you! Keep reading.
Warning: this article can be extremely unscientific, before trying out any advice from it, do your research. Find scientific studies published in peer-reviewed journals. Never trust anyone but research. Fit people are eager to give advice. Don't listen. Listen only to the research. Fit people never tell you how they lost weight, they tell you how they would have liked to lose weight. Make sure you understand this.
I gained my theoretical knowledge from numerous studies read on PubMed, and I gained my practical knowledge from my own experience trying different things.
What doesn't work
Let's first address the elephant in the room: there are things that are popular but either don't work, work temporarily (e.g. lost 4kgs in a week and shortly after gained 6kgs in 3 days) or work not because of exhausting your body with unnecessary limitations but because of the indirect effect of the reasons listed in the "What works" section.
- Sport — calculate how many calories you burn working out or jogging. You'll lose one donut worth of calories for 1 hour of jogging. One donut. Can you stop on one donut? I surely can't. Sport doesn't help to burn more than you eat, rather, it increases the number of calories you intake for various reasons (an increasing appetite or congratulating yourselves with a burger worth 1000 kcal because you worked out for an hour which is worth 200 kcal).
- Mono diets — like eating only apples, only fruits, only veggies, only mango, only bananas.
- Limiting particular nutrients — like fats, carbs or protein.
- Temporary diets — you need to develop a lifestyle instead, otherwise, you will gain all the weight back when your diet ends.
- Supplements — they don't work. All the "Fat burners" are a waste of money.
- Calorie restriction
- Time restricted eating
- Counting every single calorie
- Tracking your weight every day
This is the silver bullet for people trying to lose weight! In fact, it's the only thing that can work. Our weight consists of consumed calories minus burned calories — that's the secret. The only way to lose weight is to either burn more than you consume or consume less than you burn.
The reason all the mono diets work is that they restrict calories: eat less, lose weight. The "experts" say that they've "lost 10 kilos by only eating apples" when in reality they lost the weight due to restricting their overall intake and not due to abandoning a group of nutrients.
It should be noted that there is no need to dramatically reduce the number of calories right away: there is a chance of dropping your metabolism levels close to zero. Most often, you should just eat below your normal intake of calories (mine is about 2000 kcal per day) to lose weight. Everyone has their normal intake — the only way to learn it is to measure the weight and calories consumed per day and crunch the numbers after a couple of weeks to see how much you need to eat to lose weight.
By the way, metabolism is the reason why all kinds of keto do not work. Yes, the first month you will burn fat, the weight will decrease — and then there will be a plateau of progress. Stagnation will last for months, and you will hate yourself and everyone around you more and more every day, as you limit yourself — and for what? Just to maintain your plateau of weight.
To keep being overweight you need an excess of calories! Yes, to stay fat, you need to eat more than necessary! You don't have to starve to lose weight, you just have to not overeat!
Time restricted eating
A good thing to try, even if you don't want to lose weight, it allows you to start working with your circadian rhythms, not against them, improves your overall health, sleep, etc. The idea is simple: eat calories only within a 10-12 hour window of the day.
For example, you wake up, have breakfast at 8 AM and plan to have the last meal at 6 PM at the latest. You don't have to start with a 10-hour window right away, you can start with a 12-hour window, you will still feel the benefit — although a bit worse than with a 10-hour window.
Here's for whom it will not work: for people who do not understand where calories come from. Let me remind you that milk, little snacks, chips, coffee are all calories. There are no calories in water. Yes, only drink water outside your eating window. Any calorie absorbed outside your eating window will upset your circadian rhythms.
Simply limiting your eating to 10-12 hours will already reduce your calorie intake and increase your metabolism by making your body more efficient.
Counting every single calorie
And I mean every single calorie. Have you had a cup of tea, coffee or milk? Write it down. Did you eat a nut? Write it down. A potato chip? Write it down. Have you eaten a slice of a pineapple pizza? Write it down.
Use some kind of a tracker app. Yes, you will have to write it down manually, but what else can you do? There are plenty of cool trackers with giant nutrient bases to help track calories. I'm not gonna recommend any one of them here, or you'll think it's a promotion.
What to do with restaurant food? Either ask for the nutrition value of every dish when you order them — or simply don't eat in restaurants (another life hack for you to save money). It's much more fun to eat what's cooked at home and invite friends for dinner.
Buy a kitchen scale so that you can clearly understand how much and of what you are eating. You will be surprised at how different products have different energy values. I was very disappointed with beef, for example — but I was very happy with the cucumber and tomato salad, which is now always prepared at home and which I snack on. The berries were also extremely low-calorie.
And this is how you live from now on? No, not at all, you don't have to do it for too long. For example, I have a clear daily diet. In the evening, I prepare overnight oats with nuts, berries, milk, cinnamon for breakfast. I eat a cottage cheese pie for lunch, and I don't limit myself at all during dinner. I don't give up anything I like.
I don't track calories anymore — everything's on autopilot.
Tracking your weight every day
Don't listen to anyone who talks about psychological pressure from taking weight measurements every day. People who are weighed every day lose more weight than those who are weighed once a week. This is a consequence of a simple rule: whatever goal is tracked, gets accomplished.
But you shouldn't just focus on weight. Let me remind you that muscles are heavier than fat — and body loses them first, as the most ineffective and unnecessary part of the body during hunger. That's why I keep track of not only my weight, but also my waist size and percentage of fat. The percentage of fat can be measured by any cheap scale.
A note about the fat percentage: do not worry about absolute values. Different brands and methods of calculating the percentage of fat give different figures. The only thing you have to look for is decreasing your relative fat percentage on the same scale. Don't worry about your friend that has 10% of fat and your 29% — you only need to compare your results to yourselves earlier, no to somebody else's results.
In addition to just tracking the metrics, you should also look at how your actions affect the metrics. Ate a pack of chips yesterday and the weight went up today? Maybe next time you won't eat chips? Ate oatmeal in the morning and didn't want to eat all day, and the next morning you lost weight and percentage of fat? Eat oatmeal in the morning then, it helps!
It is important to note that measurements should be always taken at the same time in the same conditions. I measure first thing in the morning before anything else. Otherwise, by evening I have both a wider waist and a larger weight (I eat during the day and gain weight).
That's it! Four simple rules — and you make the percentage of fat, weight, waist circumference go down. Notice, there was no advice on what you need and don't need to eat — just simple physical facts.
Diets don't work partly because they end. You need to change your lifestyle — and to do so you should follow the rules above. You need to eat healthy all your life, not just the next couple of months.
Stop wearing out your body with restrictions and idiotic advice without a scientific basis! Your body wants to lose weight — it's made to maintain optimal weight for your longevity. You don't need to punish yourself, you need to start working with your body, not against it.
Feel free to ask any questions in the comments, I'll be happy to answer them! Peace.