Lean bodies don’t come from a new pill. If they did, we’d all look the way we want. Unfortunately, we’ve all tried the do-whatever-it-takes approach to losing weight. Not only does that lead to a shortage of cash, it also bends our will.
In fact, a UCLA study notes that nearly 70 percent of people don’t believe that exercise and diet can help them lose weight. That’s a scary number for a nation that’s already losing the battle against obesity.
It’s no wonder scientists estimate that the obesity trend won’t slow down until the year 2050. And by that time, it’s estimated that nearly half the country will be overweight. The problems surrounding fat loss are multifactorial.
Below, I breakdown the biggest issues and explain what you can do.
PROBLEM: People aren’t weight training.
We actually don’t need to exercise to lose fat. We can shed unwanted pounds by making sure we eat fewer calories than you burn. (This is where great eating habits can really help.)
However, if we avoid exercise, we won’t retain as much muscle and our metabolism will be less efficient, which means it’ll be harder for us to eliminate the love handles.
When adding resistance training to our routine, it can speed up the weight loss process by making our muscles more efficient fat-burning furnaces. What’s more, it’s also good for bone health, cardiovascular health, as well as optimizing glucose control so our body processes carbohydrates better. Plus, we’ll build definition in your entire body and be able to eat more food.
Resistance training is the key to eliminating fat and toning muscle – as opposed to just losing weight. That’s the real key to looking like you have a new body, rather than just seeing a different number on the scale. Resistance training burns calories during your sessions and stimulates your metabolism afterward.
All we need to do is start is with 2-4 sessions per week (choose a number you can really commit to).
PROBLEM: People aren’t moving their bodies enough.
Get up from your desk as often as you can. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park as far away from the office/gym/store as you can. Avoid taking the car for any errands within one mile. Walk the cat around the neighborhood.
All these activities are important because it increases our non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT plays a big role in the number of calories we burn, so engage in as much activity as you can throughout each day.
PROBLEM: Nutrition Confusion
To put it simply, our bellies come from eating too many unused calories. If we overeat, we’ll store fat, regardless of what foods those calories come from.
Controlling weight gain is more about total calorie balance than eating any particular food.
Now, that said, some people find it easier to control their weight when they reduce or avoid carb-heavy foods that they have a tendency to overindulge in. And some people have sensitivities to processed grains and gluten, which make the fat loss process more difficult. But if you can control your intake and don’t have sensitivities, enjoy the carbs. The best way to prevent overeating is to make sure most of your carbs come from raw fruits and vegetables, while leaving a small portion for desserts.
Do I have to plan to eat 6-8 small meals each day?
Your meals are like the music you listen to: It’s all personal preference and what you like may not be enjoyable for others. Some people do great with a grazing pattern, while others prefer more substantial meals with less frequency.
But there’s a catch:
When people are eating fewer calories than they’re used to, they tend to prefer eating two to three larger meals rather than four to six small ones throughout the day.
As for more frequent meals being better for your metabolism? That’s just a myth that’s been recently disproved by science.
Canadian researchers proved this in 2010 when they compared folks eating three meals versus six meals and found no difference in participants’ fat loss when the exact same foods were consumed.
On top of all of this, it can be difficult planning, preparing, packing, carrying and maintaining 6-8 meals each day for most people.
Should I avoid most fats?
There’s no need to avoid any particular type of fat, except for partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, which contain the harmful type of trans fat. Recent research has shown that saturated fat is actually good for you and isn’t linked to heart failure or cardiovascular disease.
In fact, the standard American diet doesn’t include enough healthy fats(marketers have done a very good job brainwashing us about the benefits of “fat free” versions of manufactured foods, which basically means extra salt, sugar and additives to make up for flavor loss).
The standard American diet lacks omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in fish like salmon and sardines. Aside from that, the majority of the fats you eat should come from whole, minimally processed foods like meats, dairy, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, avocados, grains, and olive oil.
What should I eat?
Here’s something easy to digest: You need to eat to lose. In particular, eat protein in every meal and snack. Focusing on protein fights off hunger and makes your stomach unlikely to bulge since protein is less likely to be stored as fat.
That’s because protein is harder to digest, so you burn more calories just eating the food. This process also helps ensure you eat less. Men who made sure their diet was at least 30 percent protein ate almost 450 calories less per day and lost 11 pounds more than those who ate less protein, according to a study published in Nutrition & Metabolism.
What’s more, British researchers found that emphasizing protein in each meal leaves you feeling fuller, accelerates fat loss, and maintains your muscle mass, which is key to shedding pounds and toning up.
Starving yourself on 1,000 calories or being a slave to diet and exercise isn’t the difference maker. In fact, it’s that obsessiveness that leads you down that vicious cycle instead of closer to the body you want.
Instead, start with a weekly strength training routine, move your body throughout each day and figure out a sustainable eating schedule with meals centered around protein and vegetables (while rotating healthy fats and carbs).