There is so much you can read about weight loss online and so many variations of methods and fad ‘diets’ to choose from that it can often be hard to know exactly what to do. I decided that I would like to help out with this and write up a solid weight loss guide which sets out the basics of fat loss in the most healthiest, body friendly way possible.
In this article we will first learn and talk about nutrition – learning how to calculate the amount of calories you should be eating to promote fat loss, as well as a breakdown of macro nutrient intake and the types of foods you should be eating. We will then go on to talk about exercise and its importance in fat loss (it is not necessary but highly recommended). I will then provide some examples of meal plans etc just to give you an idea of how it works, and to show you that eating healthily does not need to be a bland, tasteless experience. So lets dive in!
The building blocks of a solid weight loss guide starts in the kitchen. The correct nutrition is the most important aspect when it comes to weight/fat loss. In simple terms it is a case that to lose weight, you need to consume less calories than your body is burning each day. This is the most fundamental element of weight loss as your body will need to acquire this energy from somewhere else and hence will then use your fat stores as fuel – resulting in fat loss. The term used to describe eating less calories than your body burns is – Calorie Deficit.
To find out just how many calories we need to be eating to get in to a calorie deficit, we need to first work out our maintenance calorie intake. This is how many calories your body requires each day to break even. To calculate this we take our body weight (in lbs) and muliply that number by 14 (females) or 16 (males) and this will give you your maintenance calorie intake. Now we need to work out how much of a calorie deficit we need to go into to lose the desired amount of weight. This part is not an exact science, as some people will require to cut out more calories than other people. The general rule of thumb is to begin by adding a deficit to your calories of 500 kcals. From here you can judge if you are losing weight or not and alter this value if needed. If you are losing weight at this deficit – great! If not cut another extra 100 calories or so and see how that works out (and vice versa if you feel you are losing too much weight too quickly!). You will need to perform a little bit of trial and error at this point just purely because no body is the same.
- Body Weight: 186lbs
- Gender: Female
- Maintenance Calories: 186 x 14 = 2604 Calories
- Calorie Deficit: 2604 – 500 = 2104 Calories
So in this example, this female would start off by trying to eat 2104 calories each day.
So we now know how to calculate your calorie intake to have your body lie in a deficit, but what break down of macro nutrients should you be eating? We need to break this down in to a ratio of Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats. I recommend breaking down your your calories in to a ratio of:
40% Protein : 30% Carbohydrates : 30% Fats
The fat percentage may look high and you might be under the impression that you should be trying to cut out fat altogether. This is a rookie mistake a lot of people make when it comes to fat/weight loss. Initially this mindset would work great, but this would have a high impact on your hormones and metabolism which would eventually halt your fat loss. Although you most likely will need to cut of fat compared to what you may currently be consuming just now, it is not essential that we cut it out completely as it is a vital macro nutrient that our body requires.
A guide to working out this macro breakdown in to a measurable amount of food is by working out first the amount of calories assigned to each macro nutrient, and once we do that we can work out roughly how many grams of each we should be consuming. First lets work out the amount of calories, we will carry on using the example from above:
- Calorie Deficit: 2104 Calories
- Protein: 40% of 2104 – calculation: (2104/100) x 40 = 841.6Kcals
- Carbohydrates: 30% of 2104 – calculation (2104/100) x 30 = 631.2Kcals
- Fat: 30% of 2104 – calculation (2104/100) x 30 = 631.2Kcals
To break these calorie values in to grams, we follow a rough guide of:
- 4 kcals for 1g of Protein
- 4 kcals for 1g of Carbohydrates
- 9 kcals for 1g of Fat
So in our example we would want to aim towards consuming roughly 210 grams of protein, 158 grams of carbohydrates and 70 grams of fat per day. Unless you are a bodybuilder or top athlete, this can be fairly flexible. As long as you are not going over calorie deficit you could eat some extra carbs in place of some protein, this is just a rough guide to try and stick to.
Find out what types of food is best to eat a long with some example meal plans at the bottom of this article!
Exercise is important no matter what anybody says, mainly just for your overall health and well being. It is also another component in your solid weight loss guide that you can use to help keep your body in a calorie deficit to further lose fat. Think about it like this – if you are currently in a calorie deficit and you then perform some exercise (which is going to require even more calories) then you you then be in an even larger calorie deficit, which will then require your body to burn your fat stores to use as fuel.
Lets forget about your weight loss for a second and focus on why exercise should be a part of your live regardless:
Heart Disease and Strokes: Exercise will help to strengthen your heart muscle as well as other benefits which will improve your cholesterol and overall blood flow which are all factors which can prevent heart disease and strokes.
High Blood Pressure: Regular exercise will lower your blood pressure.
Diabetes: Exercise can help prevent or control type 2 diabetes as it lowers your body fat levels.
Osteoporosis: Weight training regularly promotes healthy bone formation and may prevent different forms of bone loss which is usually associated with aging.
Mental Effects: Exercise is one of the greatest activities which helps to raise your mood. Regular exercises can reduce depression and anxiety and also help you manage stress. I would say it is one of the best anti-depressants out there!
The type of exercise does not entirely matter at all when it comes to weight loss. Unless you have a particular goal of toning or building muscle, beating a running personal best or becoming the next best football player then any exercise will be great and benefit you and your weight loss goals. Hit the gym, walk the dogs, play some team sports, go swimming or even just doing the household chores/gardening would be great physical activity.
Take a look around our site if you are looking for some workout ideas!
What Types of Food Should I Eat?
This is an area where a lot of people struggle when it comes to weight loss and trying to work out a food plan. Personally for general weight loss I like the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) approach. This basically means that if the food you eat in a day meets what you have calculated is required for daily then you should eat it! This is an excellent approach and it will make you realise that dieting and eating healthy in general does not need to be a tasteless and bland experience. There are also a lot of various healthy meal recipes which taste great but have excellent nutritional values also – check out our range of recipes here for some inspiration.
This area is a hard one to discuss as each individual has their own tastes and preferences when it comes to food – but what I want you to take away from this article is that healthy eating and dieting can be enjoyable!
To help give you an idea of how this IIFYM dieting works, I have written the meal plan for one day – carrying on from the previous examples above.
Example Meal Plan for a Day
So our goal macros for this example are:
|Calories: 2104||Protein: 210g||Carbohydrates: 158g||Fat: 70g|
Here is an example of a meal plan to fit this goal:
|30g Cheerios + 125ml Semi-Skimmed Milk||174||6.9g||28.5g||1.4g|
|Protein Shake + 200ml Semi-Skimmed Milk||200||27g||11.5g||5.7g|
|Delicious Tuna Patties||487||47g||46g||13.1g|
|50g beef Jerky||145||20g||11g||2g|
|Healthy Chicken Wrap||523||58.4g||41.6g||12g|
|20g walnuts + 2 table spoons of Peanut Butter||319||11g||8.8g||29g|
|Greek Yoghurt & Strawberries||191||30g||8.8g||0.2g|
As you can see from the above meal plan example – the macro nutrients are just a rough guide and you do not need to be reached perfectly. The above meal plan is actually a little lower in calories and the protein and fat is a little bit lower than we had set out, but not far off which is acceptable. You could even throw in something extra to make up these extra calories and macro nutrients if you wished, or simply a larger portion of Greek Yoghurt for example would suffice.
You will also notice that I added a protein shake in with this meal plan. It is not necessary to take supplementation at all when dieting to lose weight – I just added it purely for convenience. Protein shakes are quick and easy to make and help to get your protein intake required for the day. They also are great for suppressing hunger between meals.
Sign up to our email newsletter, where we will also be providing more larger meal plans in PDF format so you can take them away with you – as well as many other useful resources. The best part is they are free!
During any diet, your hormones will most likely be effected slightly. Certain hormones in your body respond to a calorie deficit in what can be a negative way which can sometimes slow down your metabolism and hence then have an effect on your weight loss. This is the reason that I suggest that at least once a week, you should have what I and many others in the industry call a ‘Refeed Day‘. I have written a post about this on my website which goes in to the details of why this is important and how to refeed your body. This will essentially boost your metabolism again so that it does not slow down and your fat loss continues at a great rate. It also gives you the chance to have a cheat meal and up your carbohydrate in take too – which is always nice. I highly recommend you have a look at my refeed article and include that within your week.
Solid Weight Loss Guide Summary
So here is the weight loss guide summarized in to a few lines to make it easier to recap:
- Calculate your maintenance calorie intake
- Deduct calories to put yourself in to a calorie deficit
- Calculate your macro nutrient needs
- Eat! (Remember IIFYM)
- Refeed once per week
I hope this healthy weight loss guide helps you – and if you follow it right you will be guaranteed to lose weight.
Get Smart, Train Smart, Achieve Goals!