Updated: Jul 12, 2020
These five methods of weight loss are intended to portray an order of effectiveness when it comes to weight loss; 1 - being moderately effective but most convenient, and 5 - being extremely effective but requiring a bit more diligence.
1. Drink more water
Water (around 500 mL) helps as an appetite suppressant, especially when consumed prior to eating. Your body will also work more efficiently, burning 2-3% more calories than usual within 90 minutes after consuming cold - room temperature water. This is because your body has to work to heat up the water for digestion. Water also helps in getting rid of waste from the body. (1) Finally, replacing water with other liquids that contain calories will instantly cut those unnecessary calories out from your diet. Depending on how much soda or alcohol you tend to drink throughout the week, this could have a big impact.
2. Exercising - duh!
This is a no brainer. Exercise has a plethora of benefits that are too long to list in this article. Furthermore, adding some moderate exercise to your schedule is pretty doable for most people. Sometimes that little bit of added activity is all you need to start losing weight. On the contrary, many people underestimate how much they actually need to exercise to have a substantial and consistent effect on their weight. For example, if it takes you 5 minutes to eat a 300 kcal muffin, it would take roughly 30 minutes to burn those same 300 calories running at a pace of 6 mph. And that is a jogging pace. Some individuals with physical limitations that prevent them from running would require much more time to burn those same calories at a walking pace. Most people don't have that much time to work out either, so many exercise classes and bootcamps attempt to create workouts that give you the most bang for your buck. Regardless of the efficacy exercise has solely for weight loss, you SHOULD exercise. Just narrow your expectations and look at your diet if you increase the frequency of your cardio and don't see the desired results. To summarize this point, moving your body more overall is not a lot to ask for. It will burn calories and put you in the right direction, but might not be enough to make some substantial progress, especially if you have a busy schedule.
3. Reduce Carbohydrate Intake
It is a common misconception that eating carbs causes you gain weight. They are correlated, but there's more to it than that. Overeating is what makes you gain weight, regardless of where those calories are coming from. It is true that an excess of carbs will be diverted to fat storage when they are not utilized. However, even if you cut all carbs out of your diet, you will not lose weight if you are still overeating. But one way to reduce the overall calories you are ingesting is by eating less carbs and therefore, creating more satiety. When you eat carbs, especially high glycemic carbs (simple sugars you find in sweets, sodas, etc), your body releases insulin, which makes you more hungry. (2) So in essence, reducing carb intake will make you less hungry, which will allow you to eat less calories and BOOM -- weight loss.
4. Intermittent Fasting
While we are sleeping we are in a fasted state in which our stomachs are empty. By extending this period after you are awake, you are restricting the amount of time during the day for caloric intake. Typically within one sitting you will eat around the same amount until you are full, so with intermittent fasting you are essentially narrowing the window and eating less meals over all. A typical schedule for fasting is the 16/8 cycle, where your body is in a fasted state for 16 hours of the day (this includes sleep) and you are limiting yourself to the other 8 hours for eating food. The benefits of fasting don't stop there. Studies have shown that fasting (as well as exercise) induces autophagy, or, the body's way of removing damaged cells in order to regenerate healthier ones and in turn, increasing longevity (living longer). (3) The hardest part of fasting which makes it rather difficult in practice is dealing with the hunger pangs. Although with enough consistency and time it becomes much easier. Don't give up before your body can adjust!
5. Tracking Your Calories
This method relies on the foundation of weight loss or any body transformation for that matter (calories in vs calories out). Once you are able to determine your maintenance level (how many calories you need on a daily basis to maintain your current weight), all you need to do from there is reduce that amount of calories by roughly 500 - 700 kcal (we don't recommend a reduction of more than that as rapid weight loss can have other undesired effects). For example, if I find that eating 2,500 kcal a day for a week or two results in no change in my weight, eating ~2,000 kcal a day will result in weight loss. That's it. It's that simple. At this point you are not relying on chance or guessing as to how much you ate. Your weight is a numbers game and with this method everything is accounted for. The best part is that you can technically eat whatever you desire, as long as it is tracked and falls within your calorie limits. Of course, choosing healthy options is fully advised, as you don't want to neglect your health. But if you are someone who wants to eat what they want and still lose weight, this is a great approach. None the less, it has its own set of challenges.
One challenging aspect of this method is the tracking itself. Luckily there are apps available such as MyFitnessPal that make it a lot easier. Just enter in what you ate along with the quantity, and you will have a fairly accurate calculation of the total calories within. This is perfect for people that like to cook their own food since all you need to do is measure the quantity of your ingredients through the use of a decent food scale, measuring cups, etc. to be able to track it with an acceptable degree of accuracy. On the other hand, if you are someone who is constantly eating out at restaurants that don't list the calories on their menu you are at a loss, as it will be pretty tough if not impossible to get a proper calorie amount. After all, the whole point of this method is take to away the guessing games. Getting put off by this method is understandable, as it does take extra work and may require a bit of a lifestyle change. But at the end of the day, a lifestyle change is the ultimate goal when it comes to not only losing weight but keeping the weight off!
So there you have it; 5 methods for effective weight loss. Any one of these methods will help you lose those stubborn pounds in their own right so feel free to pick which one seems the most feasible to incorporate into your daily routine. And if each one can help, imagine if you incorporated all five! Please share your results as we'd love to hear about your journey. Which ones seem to be the easiest for you personally? As always, we are here to help so don't hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns you may have. Good luck!