How to Lose Weight Once & For All: Your Ultimate Guide to Getting Results

    
Emmie Satrazemis, RD, CSSD
Emmie Satrazemis, RD, CSSD

Ready to finally lose weight and get the results you've always wanted? Tired of failing at diets and just looking for the most straightforward, trusted solution you can find?

Well, here it is! The most badass, comprehensive guide you will ever need for weight loss. No gimmicks, no false advertising, just solid, fact based information backed by the latest science we could dig up. Whether you are trying to lose 50 pounds or more or just burn off those last 5 pounds of belly fat, we got you. In fact, if you still have questions that aren't answered here, let us know in the comments below and we will get them added. 

Weight Loss 101  

Contrary to how the process may feel for many, weight loss is not a complicated science. There is no secret trick you're missing out on or special diet you should be following. In fact, the overwhelming amount of diet advice and quick-fix solutions on the internet have done you a big disservice. And while the journey looks different for everyone, there's only a few things you really need to focus on and master to get results. So let's keep this simple and start by breaking down how weight loss actually works.

How to Lose Weight

Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain weight or just manage your weight, the amount of food you eat is the most important thing to consider. It may seem like a no brainer, but many of us get this part wrong. 

Mind blowing, I know, but it really is that simple. The amount of food you eat directly affects your weight. And I'm talking primarily about calories - if you can figure out how many calories you need to eat a day and eat the right amount consistently, you will lose weight. That's it! That's weight loss in a nutshell.

Though we don't recommend it, you can even lose weight eating junk food, as long as you maintain a calorie control. If you don't believe me, take it from a professor who wanted to prove this theory by losing weight on a soda, cookie and chip diet. (1). Or this guy who lost 27 pounds eating Twinkies. 

The number one thing you can do for weight loss is to learn how to count calories.

What to Eat to Lose Weight

Feeling like you’ve been on countless diets and none of them seem to work? That’s because no matter what diet you’re on, the most important thing to consider for weight loss is calorie control. You will not be successful on any diet, unless you can cut calories consistently.

Pretty much every single diet that seems to work uses some form of calorie restriction, either by eliminating major food groups, processed foods or restricting certain macronutrient intakes (by the way, counting macros is just a fancy way of organizing all of your calories into three major food types, but we will get to that in a little bit) (2). 

Of course, certain diets and foods can make the process of cutting calories feel easier. And the best foods for your weight loss plan can really depend on the person. 

Low carb diet plans, like paleo and keto diet, cut out the majority of high carbohydrate foods and processed foods, which can eliminate a lot of food options - most notably high sugar and high calorie foods like cookies, cakes, donuts, candy and many convenient snack choices. Even though it is entirely possible to gain weight on these diets, strictly adhering to the diet standards and concentrating on choosing healthier options, like the whole foods and fresh produce they emphasize, will help you cut a significant amount of unnecessary calories (3,4,5,6,7). Especially if you had a terrible looking diet to begin with. 

Vegan diets and plant-based eating, while typically high in carbs, are also lower in calories from eliminating dairy and meat - which can both be a source of high fat foods (8). Again, french fries and soda are also vegan, so the quality of your choices matters. And weight loss on this plan is still only achieved through a calorie deficit. 

Clean eating and lifestyle approaches, like Whole 30, the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet, are also a way to eliminate calories by cutting out processed foods and convenience options (9). When you are eating more home cooked meals and choosing fresh foods to snack on, you are removing a lot of quick energy sources from your day - like vending machine options, fast foods and restaurant take-out. You're also probably cutting down on portion sizes if you're eating at home more, and if you're not overeating, this can help you drop pounds. 

Ultra restrictive plans like juicing, the Dukan Diet, Master Cleanse and Tom Brady diet, eliminate multiple foods and, you guessed it, by default help restrict calories (10). 

And finally some diets, like gluten-free and FODMAP, are not actually meant for weight loss. These are meal plans designed to support special dietary needs and medical conditions that require a certain way of eating. Even if following these diets causes weight loss, it's likely due to you paying more attention to what you’re eating rather than the prescribed foods.

As far as we know, there is no diet or food that outweighs the need for calorie control when it comes to weight loss.

So, Which Diet is Best for You? 

The best weight loss meal plan can really depend on the person - nutrition needs can differ based on age, gender, fitness, genetics, and general health needs. But realistically, food preferences reign supreme.

Yes nutrients, meal timing, and other areas of nutrition are all important, but focusing on too many things at once can complicate the process for you. So let's make this even easier.

If you hate the food you are eating and can't stick to your diet, there is no way you are going to be consistent and this is going to make getting results that much harder. Remember, your number one goal is calorie control, so find a diet that allows you to cut calories without going crazy. In other words, opt for a diet that includes foods you enjoy eating. 

The best diet for you is one that you can stick to. 

Figuring Out How Many Calories You Need a Day

Alright, we've established that calories are the key to weight loss, but how many calories should you be eating?  

If you eat the exact number of calories you need each day, you will maintain your current weight. If you eat less than what you need, you will lose weight. And if you eat more calories than you need, you will gain weight. Weight management is a basic formula of calories in versus calories out.

How Many Calories Do I Burn in a Day?

While it's not a perfect science, you can estimate your daily calorie goal for weight loss, by figuring out how many calories you are burning each day. This includes physical activity as well as how much energy is needed to fuel your your organs, tissues and cells, and to support your daily energy needs for moving around, fitness, etc.  

To calculate how many calories you burn each day try an online calorie calculator or use these two simple steps below:

Step #1 - Determine Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

The first step in gauging how many calories to lose weight is to determine how many calories you need to currently. 

Your body requires a certain number of calories for survival, also known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is the least amount of calories you would need to consume to keep functioning properly, and does not take into consideration any physical movement or exercise. And it is largely determined by your current weight and muscle mass. 

You can quickly estimate your BMR using one of the following equations:

Women = weight in lbs. x 10

Men = weight in lbs. x 11

Let's see an example:

Meet Joe and Jenny. Joe is a 35 year old male who works a desk job and is looking to lose about 25 pounds this year so he can get back to his college weight. Jenny is a 26 year old female student, who works out occasionally and wants to lose about 20 pounds for her upcoming wedding in 3 months.

  • Joe weighs 225 pounds and will need a minimum of 2,475 calories per day (225 lbs. x 11 = 2,475).
  • Jenny weighs 160 pounds and will need a minimum of 1,600 calories per day (160 lbs. X 10 = 1,600).

Step #2 - Calculate How Many Calories do You Need to Maintain Your Weight

You BMR will tell you your minimum calorie needs, but you burn additional calories from daily movements and exercise. So including your daily activity factor will give you the best estimate of how many calories you burn each day. 

You can determine your active energy expenditure by estimating how much physical activity you currently get each week and how much you move around in general. Do you stand or walk a lot? Are you super fidgety? All of these factors are import to consider when you estimate how active you are. Based on your self assessment, use the chart below to find the right activity factor for you:

Activity Level Description Activity Factor
Sedentary

Little to no exercise. Choose this if you sit at a desk most of the day and do not plan to exercise. 

1.1
Lightly Active

Light exercise, training 1 to 3 days per week. Choose this if your exercise regime includes walking and other activities that do not cause you to break out into a sweat.

1.2
Moderately Active

Moderate exercise 3 to 5 or more days per week. Choose this if you are working out a few days or more each week and breaking a light sweat.

1.3
Very Active

Hard exercise 4 or more days per week. Choose this if you are working out multiple days a week and breaking into a full sweat.

1.4
Extremely Active

Athlete or working out more than once per day. Choose this if you are training at a high intensity most of the tome, training multiple times per day, or working a job that requires constant strenuous, physical activity.

1.6 to 2.9

 

Now you can calculate the total amount of calories you need each day by multiplying your BMR and your activity factor to get your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). This is the amount you would need to eat every day to maintain your current weight. 

Let's see an example: 

  • Joe gets is lightly active, giving him an activity factor of 1.2 and a TDEE of 2,970 calories per day to maintain his current weight (2,475 calories  x 1.2 activity factor = 2,970)
  • Jenny is very active with an activity factor of 1.4 and has a TDEE of 2,240 calories per day to maintain her current weight (1,600 calories X 1.4 = 2,240)

How Many Calories to Lose Weight? 

If you eat the exact amount of calories you need each day to fuel your body, you will maintain your existing weight. But if you eat less, your body still needs that energy, so it taps into reserve fuels (like your body fat!), and burns those calories to keep going. This results in weight loss! 

For most individuals eating 15-20% less than your recommended daily calorie intake, or TDEE, will promote healthy decrease in weight that is sustainable. And cutting too many calories can end up doing more harm than good. Use one of the following options or somewhere in between the two that works best for:

Sustainable weight loss = TDEE x 0.85

Fast Weight Loss = TDEE x 0.8

Back to Joe and Jenny: 

  • Joe is looking to finally shed some pounds and keep it off for good, so he is taking a sustainable approach that he knows he can stick to. Joe has a TDEE of 2,970 and when counting calories should aim to eat 2,525 calories per day to lose weight. (2,970 x 0.85 = 2,525) * 15% calorie decrease
  • Jenny is looking for a more aggressive approach to weight reduction to get in shape for her upcoming nuptials. With a TDEE of 2,240, she should aim to eat 1,792 calories per day. (2,240 x 0.80 = 1,792) * 20% calorie decrease

How Many Calories Are in One-Pound of Fat?

There are roughly 3,500 calories in a pound of body fat.

Since cutting 3,500 calories in a day or two is not realistic or even possible for most people, it is best to spread out your calorie deficit throughout the week. You can cut 3,500 calories by decreasing your calorie intake each day, or increasing the amount of calories you burn through physical activity. In other words, in order to lose one pound per week you will need to cut 500 calories per day from either food, exercise or both combined. And for two pounds lost per week, you would need to cut 1,000 calories a day.

Macros for Weight Loss

Let’s take this calorie concept a little further, with macros. "Macros" or macronutrients are nutrients needed in large amounts, and supply ALL of the calories you get from foods and beverages. No other nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals (aka micronutrients), supply calories, only macros. So if you get into the practice of tracking your macros, you are also counting your daily calorie intake.

There are three main macros found in your food:

  • Protein
  • Carbs 
  • Fat

Carbohydrates and protein provide about four calories per gram and fat provides about nine calories per gram. Thus if you know how many grams of each macro are in your food, you can calculate how many calories it has.

For example, a dish with ten grams of protein, five grams of carbs, and two grams of fat would contain 78 calories.

  • 10 grams of protein x 4 calories per gram = 40 calories
  • 5 grams of carbs x 4 calories per gram = 20 calories
  • 2 grams of fat x 9 calories per gram = 18 calories
  • 40 + 20 + 18 = 78 calories total

Alcohol is also technically a macro because it provides a significant amount of calories - in fact, each gram of alcohol provides seven calories per gram. But it is not typically included in macro-based diets because it does not provide essential benefits and is mostly a source of empty calories. 

In addition to providing energy, each macro plays a different role in your health and fitness and the amount you need of each can vary from one person to the next. Getting the right balance of macros may help you get more out of your workouts, maintain your muscle mass, improve your energy levels, manage hunger and mood, and promote more fat loss during a caloric deficit.  

Here’s how to tell how much of each macro you need for fat loss.

How Many Grams of Protein Per Day to Lose Weight?

When it comes to losing weight, no other macro holds quite the same benefits as protein. That's because protein is not typically a preferred energy source - it is a building block for your entire body, including your skin, muscle, bones, cells, and DNA. This makes this macro pretty darn important for your wellbeing and bodily functions, meaning you are going to prioritize those needs over basic fuel. 

When it comes to fat loss, higher protein intake is associated with a number of potential benefits including:

  • Maintaining and building lean muscle mass
  • Reduced appetite and food cravings
  • Increased metabolism
  • Improved body composition

In a calorie deficit, higher protein intakes can help you maintain (and in some cases increase) your precious lean muscle mass (11,12,13). Sometimes this can cause your BMR and calorie needs to increase, making it easier to cut calories and maintain your weight. Numerous studies associate high protein diets with improved body composition - meaning lower body fat and more lean mass (13,14,15,16,17,18).

Protein is also thought to help curb appetite and reduce unhealthy food cravings. Making cutting calories feel even easier (19,20).

It also takes more energy (calories) to digest protein than any other macro, leading to tiny increases in calorie burn when consuming high amounts of protein (21). In addition, protein is the least likely of all the macros to be stored as body fat in a calorie surplus because of its unique properties - making it the best macro to go overboard on (22,23).

These factors combined make protein the perfect macro for weight loss.

To figure out how many grams of protein you need a day, you can use a macro calculator or estimate your needs based on your body weight and fitness goals. If you are doing strength training and looking to lose fat, your needs are probably higher. 

Aim to get about one gram of protein per pound of body weight on a low calorie diet to protect lean mass and grab any potential benefits.

How Many Grams of Carbs Per Day to Lose Weight?

Carbohydrates have gotten quite a bad rap when it comes to weight loss, but the reality is carbs don't cause fat gain - only too many calories can do that. Plus, not all carbs are created equal and the amount you need can vary widely from one person to the next.

Carbs come from a lot of really nutritious foods, including fruits and vegetables. In fact, fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is associated with numerous health and weight reduction benefits (24,25). So eliminating them for fat loss is not only unnecessary, but may cause you to miss on on some key nutrition that does benefit your efforts.  

However, carbs are also sugars, and too much of certain types, mainly refined carbs and simple sugars, can negatively impact your mood, appetite, energy levels making sticking to your diet feel a little more challenging (26). The key is opting for more carbohydrates from nutritious whole foods and limiting intake of added sugars and heavily processed grains. 

Understanding how many carbs you need a day to lose weight, starts with understanding how your body utilizes carbs.

Carbohydrates are the body's quickest and easiest source of fuel, and the preferred source of energy for your brain. Because of their role in providing an easy source of energy, carbs play an important role for performance, recovery and in building muscle (27,28). If you are fairly sedentary, you can likely get by with little carbs, but if you are hitting the gym hard, you may need a bit more. 

The more active you are, the more carbohydrates you should eat.

How Many Grams of Fat Per Day to Lose Weight?

Similar to carbs, eating fat won’t make you fat, unless you are eating too many calories. In fact, some studies suggest that including moderate to higher amounts of fat while dieting may make you feel more satisfied (29,30). Additionally, fat provides flavor to food and healthy sources of fat often provide notable health benefits (31). 

However, because fat is calorically dense, cutting out added fats from oils, dressings, and toppings is an easy way to cut calories without decreasing the volume of your food (one tablespoon of oil has 120 calories). 

How much fat you need a day can really depend on the person and how efficiently your body burns fat for energy. 

Fat provides a source of long-lasting energy, and is the preferred fuel for your body at rest and during moderate exercise. In other words, if you are less active, you might find a higher fat, lower carb weight loss diet works well for you. But if you utilize a lot of carbs, low to moderate fat diets may be better. 

For most people sticking to 30 to 40% of you calories from fat meets your daily needs and supports weight loss.

Nutrient Timing for Fat Loss

Popular fasting diets argue that meal timing or only eating during certain metabolic windows, like intermittent fasting and fasted workouts, can help you drop pounds faster and potentially improve your health by utilizing your metabolism more efficiently. 

While it makes sense to time nutrients around when you are using them, similar to how athletes fuel and recover during training and performance, does this line of thinking expand beyond the gym? Can eating at certain times of day allow you to burn fat and store energy more efficiently?

Yes and no.

How Many Times to Eat a Day to Lose Weight

You may have heard that eating more frequently is better for your metabolism, eating late at night makes you fat, or that skipping meals can mess with your hunger, but there isn’t really any convincing research proving these claims. For most people, how many times you eat a day is not nearly as important as how much you eat, or even what you eat for that matter. Yup, calories win again. 

Like most things, it depends on the person and what works for you. Based on what the science says, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Eating breakfast or more food earlier in the day may help you eat less later in the day (32).
  • Establishing a pattern or eating routine (such as eating the same thing around the same times each day) might help you stay on track better (33).
  • Eating more calories (especially carbs) around the time you are using them the most, like during workouts, may help you get more out of your training and utilize your nutrition even better (34).

Snacking

Snacking is one of the easiest ways to make or break your diet. If you are having a hard time waiting until your next meal, you’ll want to plan ahead with healthy snacks on hand. But if you’re finding snacking is really just becoming a mindless habit, you can skip it altogether and focus solely on your meals.

The best snacks for fat loss are calorie controlled and contain high amounts of protein or healthy fat. Protein and fat can help satisfy your appetite longer and help keep your energy levels up. Whereas carb heavy snacks may leave you feeling hungry again in 30 minutes.

Aim to keep your snacks around 200 calories or less and look for at least five grams of protein or healthy fat. To boost your nutrition intake, include some fruits and veggies as well. 

Fasting for Weight Loss

There also isn't any research to show the act of fasting itself produces more weight loss or fat loss benefits than calorie control alone (35,36). However, restricting your eating window through intermittent may also help you cut more calories overall if done correctly (37).  If you are able to avoid the natural urge to binge eat once you get to sit down for a meal, and are still keeping total calorie intake in mind, science suggests it can be an effective way to shed pounds. 

There may also be other benefits to fasting including brain health, and longevity, but majority of the research on these effects are only documented in animal studies and not well established in humans (38).

However, it's also important to consider the dangerous health effects of not eating in certain populations, like those with insulin dependent diabetes. If you are taking insulin and not eating, your body does not have glucose available to utilize and you could become hypoglycemic. If you are considering intermittent fasting as a way to control calories, always speak with your doctor beforehand. 

Exercise for Weight Loss

Calorie intake from food is just one side of the weight loss equation, you can also impact your calorie output through exercise. 

Any form of movement, including just fidgeting more throughout the day, can increase your calorie burn and support weight loss. So, depending where you are in terms of fitness, just getting started by walking or body weight exercises can be just what you need. In other words, all types of exercise are best for weight loss - the key is to find something that meets your fitness level and something you will keep up with. This typically means finding a form of physical activity that you enjoy!

If you want to increase your daily calorie burn, find a way to get moving more. Even light workouts like walking, gardening, and housework can really add up.

Best Workouts to Burn Fat

All movement burns calories, but are some workouts better than others for fat loss?

The level of intensity, amount of resistance, and duration of your workout all impact your total burn, fat burn and overall results - sometimes helping you burn more calories with a shorter workout. Cardio workouts like jogging, swimming and cycling are great ways to burn a good amount of calories, but there are two types of exercise in specific that may get you results even faster:

  • High Intensity Training (HIIT)
  • Weight Training

High Intensity Training

While it may seem like moderate intensity, commonly referred to as your "fat burning zone", is the optimal level of intensity for fat burn, total calorie burn skyrockets at high intensity and you may actually end up burning more fat overall. Some research suggests that short duration workouts at high intensity can burn as many calories as a much longer moderate training (39,40,41,42). Part of this is due to the after burn effects from increased metabolism that continues well after high intensity training.

If the thought of high intensity internal training (HIIT) scares you, it shouldn't. The intensity can easily be adapted to your individual fitness level - you can go at your own pace! 

Weight Training Benefits

Strength training is beneficial for weight loss because it can help you protect your existing muscle mass and potential build more muscle, even while cutting calories. And more muscle may assist you in burning more fat all day long (43). Having more lean mass slightly increases your energy expenditure, tipping the energy balance equation in the favor of weight loss. 

Additionally, muscle takes up less space than fatty tissue, helping you look leaner more toned overall. 

Pre-Workout Meals

Unless you are training at intense levels daily or multiple times a day, specific pre-workout meals are not required. Whether you workout fasted or not will not significantly impact your overall nutrition goals or ability to burn fat. Also, if you eat a meal too soon before training this could cause stomach issues, since your digestive system is competing for blood flow with your muscles (44,45). 

It takes two to three hours prior to exercise to fully digest your meals and utilize that energy for training. So if you have eaten a meal one to three hours before the gym you likely don't need an additional pre-workout fueling option, unless you are feeling low on energy.

If you workout first thing in the morning and don't have time to digest food prior, you can workout fasted or try a quicker source of energy 30 to 60 minutes before training. But this is dependent on the person and how you feel during training - feel free to play with different options and find what helps you perform best. 

When to consider including a pre-workout option:

  • You are training multiple times a day or for more than a couple hours at a time.
  • You feel low on fuel and energy.

Post-Workout Meals

Similar to pre-workout foods, recovery and refueling can be accomplished through normal eating for most people, and a large amount of food or carbs for replenishment is not always necessary. 

Aim to get a macro balanced meal - moderate carb, high protein, and moderate fat within a few hours of training and resume normal eating for the day to replenish lost fuel and repair any muscle damage (46,47,48). 

When to consider including a more strategic post-workout option:

  • You are training multiple times a day or for more than a couple of hours at a time.
  • You were fasted prior to training. 
  • You will not be able to eat for another three hours or more.

Weight Loss Mindset

One of the most crucial components to any successful diet is the right mindset. Most diets fail because we get this part wrong, causing us to give up too soon. 

How many times have you gone into a diet with an all-or-nothing mentality? And how many times did that work long-term?

The thing is, weight loss diets may feel temporary, but the only way they are truly successful is if you are creating real change and building new habits that will help you maintain your results. Eliminating everything all at once does not set you up for a sustainable approach. It is small changes that can create the biggest impact. 

If you’re tired of failing at dieting, changing your mindset is key.

Here is everything you need to know to get your head right and go about a better way this time.

What to Expect

As perfect as the calorie model appears on paper, it doesn’t always work perfectly in practice. There are many things that can interfere with this basic principle - like changes in water weight, hormones, stress, sleep, and human error. We like to imagine our weight loss path as a straight line, but in actuality it looks more like a series of wins and fails that trend towards a desired outcome.

How weight loss works

When the results don't come right away, it can be super discouraging. Knowing what to expect and how to tell if your hard work is paying off (regardless of what the scale says) is a huge part of keeping you moving towards your end goal. 

Weight fluctuation is 100% normal and not completely in your control. As long as you consistently aim to hit your calorie goals, you will be moving the needle in the right direction. So focus on consistency, not perfection. Keep your eye on the prize and working on your goals. Remember any progress is progress... no matter how small.  

How Many Pounds Can You Lose in a Week?

How fast you can lose weight depends on a number of factors including your starting weight, fitness level, and overall calorie needs.

The goal is not to starve yourself for faster results - this can do more harm than good. Instead, find your sweet spot where you are losing mostly body fat without negatively affecting your energy levels, mood, and health. At a healthy rate of weight loss, most people can expect to lose about 0.5 to 1% of their body weight per week. So a 200-pound adult can lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week.

At a healthy rate of weight loss, most people can expect to lose about 0.5 to 1% of their body weight per week. 

Sticking to Your Diet

A lot of people will credit willpower or a strong motivation to their success, but that’s really only part of the story. Your underlying determination and resolve are definitely important and will help keep you going when you’re getting results, but what happens when you inevitably fail? Or things just aren’t working out the way you’d hoped? 

Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is a huge part of your weight loss journey. This involves being able to stare failure in the face and look at it from a different perspective. To take these moments and make them an opportunity for growth. This is what is going to help create real change and push you past your obstacles that have been holding you back all this time.

Understanding this part up front is crucial. It’s not about perfection, as much as it is just staying consistent. So when things go astray, don't throw out all of your hard work and abandon ship. Instead, stay focused and know that you can start over at any time. 

Here are five ways, backed by science, to help you get into the right mindset and stay on track no matter what:

  1. Have a Plan

    Studies suggest that having a pre-planned strategy could help double your chance of success (44). And the more routine and systematized you can make you diet, the easier it is going to be to stay on track - especially since you are eliminating a lot of extra thinking and planning as you go. This means creating goals to work on and planning or prepping your meals for each week.

    This also means thinking about how you will deal with temptations before they are in front of you. If you know there is a food related event coming up, make sure there are options on hand that fit your diet - check the menu in advance, pack a healthy option, or eat beforehand. Or if you are planning on indulging, still consider what you are going to have and set limits for yourself in advance.  

  2. Embrace Failure

    Failure is not all bad. It's an opportunity to learn a little bit about yourself and grow stronger for next time. Imagine what you would say to a friend or co-worker who has recently failed. I bet you are thinking about kind and supportive words of encouragement you could offer. Now think about the things that you would tell yourself. Does it sound different? And if so, why? Try to treat yourself with the same kindness and support you would someone else.

    When you fail, dust yourself off and get back to it. Something that really helps me, is even though I’ve failed a lot, I remind myself that as long as you’re trying, there’s a chance to succeed. If you give up, there’s no chance.

  3. Reward Yourself

    Celebrate little victories in non-food ways. Pick a milestone to strive for and treat yourself when you reach it. Whether it’s getting a massage, taking a day off work, posting a personal win on social media, buying a new outfit, etc. Find a few golden carrots you can dangle to incentivize yourself to just keep going. 

  4. Use Your Support Network

    Surround yourself with friends and family who support your goals. We are the sum of the people we surround ourselves with, and studies show hanging out with others who make healthy decisions can influence you to make healthier decisions as well, and vice versa (45). 

    Cutting calories can also have you constantly thinking about food, and the fear of temptation can make you want to cut yourself off from social engagements. But studies suggest keeping your mind active, especially while dieting, can strengthen your willpower (46). Whatever you do, don;t make dieting an excuse to stop living your life, you're going to need to learn how to balance these things if you have any chance of maintaining your results. 

  5. Remember Your "Why"

    What is motivating you to want to lose weight in the first place? Starting with your why is key to keeping you on track and inspiring you to keep going when things get tough. Think about what drives you or inspires you to make a change. Some of us are motivated by family and friends, and others may get more encouragement through rewards and recognition - or maybe it just takes imagining what you will feel like once you reach your goal. Motivation is powerful. And once you find it, keep it close by. Somewhere you can remind yourself when needed.

  6. Be Patient

    The bottom line is, change takes time. You didn't gain all of the weight overnight and you can't expect to lose it that quickly either. Take the time to work on your goals and build new habits - the results will come!

Mindful Eating

Constantly counting calories and analyzing what you eat may create a negative relationship with food for some people, when part of this process should be to establish a better one. Outside of calories, you can also focus on getting more tuned in to your natural hunger-fullness cues and learning what foods make your body feel good from the inside out. 

Yes, learning to count calories and portion you food appropriately is essential for weight loss success, but don't let these numbers define you for the long run. Practicing mindful eating is a great way to avoid this mentality and find more balance - even on a restrictive diet. 

Mindfulness is the practice of being more aware and acting with intention. When applied to eating, being more mindful can help you make better decisions, feel less stressed about your diet and promote a more positive outlook in general (47). It really is just paying attention to what you are putting into your mouth and making a conscious effort to eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full and avoid food situations that lead to guilt and emotional eating. 

In addition, mindful eating is associated with more body positivity, helping you to be less hard on yourself. This can be a really important factor for many people who struggle with poor body image.

You can learn mindful eating using a few tricks for slowing down and thinking things through. Stop and ask yourself the following during your next meal or snack: 

  1. Why are you eating? Are you hungry, bored, tired, happy? Or perhaps there is just free food around?
  2. Are you distracted?
  3. Why did you choose this meal or food? Is it offering you any nutritional benefits or just flavor?
  4. What does the food look like? Smell Like? Feel like? Taste like? Sound like when you eat it?
  5. What does the food look like? Smell Like? Feel like? Taste like? Sound like when you eat it?

Cheat Meals

Contrary to popular belief, dieting and deprivation do not need to go hand in hand. It is possible to enjoy a healthy lifestyle and still splurge from time to time. Follow the 80/20 rule and strive to keep 80% of your intake on track, while giving yourself 20% of wiggle room.

This wiggle room is commonly referred to as “cheat days”. Remember, it takes 3,500 calories to lose one pound. This also means it takes 3,500 calories to gain a pound – and it is a LOT easier to eat 3,500 calories than to cut the same amount. Having a full-blown cheat day can unravel all your hard work for the week if you’re not careful. Instead, have cheat “events” or cheat meals.

Choose one or two meals a week to enjoy yourself instead of a whole day. Make sure you spread them out, so your cheat events aren’t back to back. And try to wait at least one month before adding in any cheats.

Building Your Ultimate Weight Loss Plan

Time for the fun part! Now that you’ve got a good grasp on how weight loss works, what to focus on throughout your journey, and what you can expect, it’s time to start putting these things into action. Here’s your complete starter guide to map out your goals and weight loss plan. 

How to Count Calories and Track Your Macros for Fat Loss

I’ve got a secret for you. Since macros are where all of your calories come from, tracking your macros each day will help you count calories and balance your diet in one simple step. 

Here's how to get started:

  1. Download a macro-friendly tracking app
  2. Log all of your foods and beverages, every day. 

Tracking your food and beverage intake is the easiest way to hold yourself accountable and give yourself daily confirmation that you are sticking to your diet. But it also takes some practice. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your daily macro and calorie tracking in the Trifecta app.

Be Precise

There are over 6 million foods you can search in the Trifecta database, so be sure to select the item that most closely matches what you’re looking for. Watch for subtle differences like restaurant scrambled eggs that will have milk and butter in them vs scrambled eggs cooked at home that just contain eggs. 

Scan It - If the food has a barcode, you can scan it directly into the app and ensure you are getting the most accurate selection. 

Use Portion Control

Measuring your food and being as accurate as possible is a great way to keep your food log accurate and your diet on track. Select the portion size you are about to eat. This is where a food scale or measuring cups/spoons come in handy. And always input food before you eat it so that you can adjust accordingly if it doesn’t fit your macros.

Track Everything

Don’t forget to count small bites of food, dressings and toppings, beverages (including alcohol), and cheat meals. Even the little things can add up quickly! 

Track Every Day 

Track your food every day of the week, not just weekdays. You may be doing more damage than you thought on weekends or cheat days - undoing all of your hard work during the week. 

Use Weekly Averages

Remember, consistency is everything! It may be easy to hit your calories for a few days in a row, but you want to ensure you are staying in a calorie deficit every week. Using your weekly calorie average is the best way to check this (you can fins this under the nutrition analytics section in the Trifecta app).

For more details on how to get the most our of your macro tracking, check out this full video tutorial:

 

 

Setting SMART Goals

Make goals not wishes. This means structuring your game plan in an actionable, measurable and specific way. This allows you to track your progress, build on success and see how much you are accomplishing. SMART goals are: 

  • Specific - provides a clear description of what you want to achieve. Having vague goals doesn't provide you the direction you need to be successful.
  • Measurable - uses some sort of metric to document progress or confirm that your goal was achieved. 
  • Attainable - is challenging but still realistic and achievable for you.
  • Relevant - helps you work towards a larger goal. 
  • Time-Bound - has a start and end date.  

Here is an example: I will track all of the foods and beverages I consume for the next two weeks.

To get started try the following:

  1. Pick one or two small goals or habits to work on (like tracking your food every day). Write them down somewhere. 
  2. Give yourself at least two weeks to accomplish these goals. 
  3. If you’ve stuck to it, add a new goal. But if you still need to work on it, keep going for another two weeks before adding any more goals. 
  4. Continue this process until your small goals become bigger goals and these goals are becoming habits.

Tracking Your Progress

Perhaps one of the most enjoyable parts of any change is seeing results. When it comes to losing weight, there is more to success than the number on the scale - remember sometimes weight fluctuations can make you feel off course, even though you are doing everything right. Plus, it typically takes a little time - more than a couple weeks - for your hard word to start reflecting on the scale. 

To keep yourself from getting frustrated, learn to focus on results over time, not just daily progress. Weigh yourself at least twice per week, around the same time of day and log it in the app. This will provide you a chart of your weigh-ins and more clearly show gradual decreases or increases overall. 

You can also keep yourself extremely motivated and show your progress using photos. Upload a daily or weekly progress photo in the app to visually show how well your hard work is paying off. 

Other ways to measure your progress:

  • Increased energy and endurance
  • Improved mood and mental clarity
  • Improved strength and performance
  • Clothes fitting differently
  • Physical measurements
  • Body fat measurement

Want to make this whole process feel even easier? Have our expert chefs and nutritionists plan, prep and ship the bulk of your food right to your door - all you need to do is heat and eat. No need to meal prep or stress about portion control, our meals are macro-balanced and designed to help you reach your goals. 

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