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Stop Starving – Weight Loss Tips

Weight Loss TipsYou’ve heard it time and time again – to lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than you burn off.

‘No problem,’ you think. You’re already burning at least a couple hundred calories with each workout session you perform, so now you’ll just cut back on your food intake and the pounds will melt right off.  As the days pass by and you start seeing results, you start dreaming about just how much better results you’d get if you cut back even more.  Before you know it, you’re trying to get through the day eating nothing but salads, chicken breasts, and coffee, thinking you’re just a few short weeks away from your goal body weight.

But then, the scale stops moving

Frustration sets in and with the amount of hunger you’re experiencing on a day to day basis, you’re extremely tempted to just toss in the towel and dive into that box of Oreos you have stashed away in your pantry.

Does this scenario sound familiar? If so, you’re going about fat loss in the wrong manner.  Let’s look at why this approach is not the best way and why you really don’t have to endure this type of torture to see success.

The Problem With Ultra Low Calorie Diets 

First let’s go over the major problem with this approach. When you get into the ‘less is more’ mindset and start trying to survive off as little food as you can manage, you’re sending your body a strong signal that starvation is taking place.  Your body has mechanisms to outsmart this.  The most advanced is called the Starvation Prevention Mechanism.  This mechanism, an unfortunate result of evolution, dramatically slows any calorie burn and actively conserves calories if you go without food for over 2.5-3 hours.  Doesn’t matter if you are trying to lose weight; your brain doesn’t know this and could care less.  It only perceives an absence of fuel and goes straight to DefCon 5. Remember, your brain doesn’t really care that you want to fit into those size 4 ‘skinny jeans’. It has other things on its mind – like survival. Weight Loss Tips

When so few calories are being consumed, the body will slow its metabolism right down to match.  So now, rather than burning say 1800 calories per day on a regular basis, you’re burning 1300.  That’s five hundred fewer calories you get to eat.  Not good.

Choosing The Right Calorie Intake For You 

A better way to go about this approach is to use a moderate calorie deficit that will still encourage fat loss to occur, but won’t send your body into fright that it’s facing a famine. Remember, you do require so many calories each and every day to keep your heart beating, your lungs functioning, and your brain thinking (which is why sometimes on those low calorie diets you feel like you’re in a mental stupor!)

Decrease your intake below what’s required for these vital functions and you’re really risking some serious problems.  Most people, on average, will require at least 11-12 calories per pound each day to just stay alive. That’s you lying in bed breathing. Not moving, not working, and certainly not exercising.  So at bare minimum, you should be eating this much.  Plus, since you aren’t typically just lying in bed each day, you’ll likely need a little bit more as well.

Shifting Your Focus 

In general, think about a few simple concepts:

  • Always eat breakfast: your body has not just been starved of nutrients and calories while you were sleeping, but it also engaged in systematic regeneration and repair of tissue.  It is ravenous and wants food now.  So, never, ever, skip breakfast.
  • Always eat every 2.5-3 hours: Remember that “Starvation Prevention Mechanism” I mentioned?  Let’s just keep that preservation bio-mechanism asleep forever.  In today’s calorically liberal world, you can almost always plan ahead to avoid missing food in that critical window.
  • When planning, think “Meal-Snack” and repeat (with one caveat): If you start with breakfast, that means a snack is next within that windows from above.  That gets you to lunch and another snack.  Then dinner, and here’s the caveat, and maybe another snack.  If you can eliminate that snack because of your sleep schedule, do it.
  • Try to avoid eating at night: While a late night snack is often delightful, it is unnecessary and totally counterproductive when you are trying to lose weight.  Eating anything after 8:30 should generally be avoided.  Have a glass of water instead.  If you are a night owl, know you will be up late, or retire later than most, have something light and easily digestible.  To do otherwise is to put extra calories in your stomach at the worst possible time.
  • Get enough sleep: We all need sleep and maybe some more than others.  Your body works while you sleep, so give it that time and make that time productive.  For most, seven hours is the minimum goal.  More is great, if you can achieve.  But, start cutting corners on your sleep and you will quickly regret it.

Weekly Meal PlannerNotice, none of those five items talks about what you are eating; only the when and how of your life.  Mastering those habits is nothing more than a matter of anticipating your needs and planning ahead.  You can lose weight often just by changing the when and how of eating, without touching the what!  How sweet is that?!?!

Here’s a quick and simple Weekly Meal Planner to help you get started (it is a PDF of the image above): Weekly Meal Planner

If you want to do more though, to create a calorie deficit for fat loss, rather than focusing solely on cutting back your food intake, also focus on adding more activity to your day so that you burn more overall.  I am not talking exercise here.  Think more like parking further from your office door, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, or doing some manual labor around the house.  Increasing your activity burns more calories.  Do this over time and you will be closer to those beloved skinny jeans.

Along with increasing your activity level, you can also focus on ways to increase your resting metabolism, making fat loss that much easier.  Performing strength training, eating a higher protein diet, and making sure to get enough sleep at night are all ways that you can achieve this.  By doing so, you’re going to make the entire process of fat loss that much more enjoyable.

So ditch those crash diets. 

They really are not going to help you reach your goal weight in record time like you think – if anything, they’ll just work against you and move you further away from success.  Schedule wisely, use a moderate calorie intake, focus on adding calorie-burning activities throughout the day, and do everything you can to boost your natural metabolic rate. That is the ticket to weight loss success that is lasting and manageable!

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