Weight Loss (or How To Lose Fat)
First, let's change this term. Weight loss is not specific enough and it is misleading. I know this is the term the industry uses, but a more accurate term is fat loss. You see, it's very, very easy to lose weight, but much harder to lose fat.
I'm not going to give you any diets here, there are plenty of them on the market. Instead, I'm going to give you some information which I think is important so you can make some better eating decisions. If you are over-weight then you should be fully aware that your health is at risk. You have a higher chance of getting cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and having a stroke. There is no doubt about this. And of course, the more extra fat you have the higher your chances of poor health. Keep in mind that no one is going to give you a warning before you get cancer, diabetes, or suffer a heart attack. And, assuming you survive, reversing the effects of these diseases is much harder than never having gotten them in the first place. In many cases reversal is just not possible.
Severely restricting caloric intake, especially with low physical activity, will result in muscle loss, water loss, and a lowering of metabolic rate. And ironically very little fat loss. Once you go off the diet you will probably gain more weight and more fat as compared to the levels you were at before. And to make it worst, regaining the lost muscle requires a lot of exercise, and the metabolic rate may never go back to where it was before. In addition, the more diets you go on the less responsive your body will be. In other words, the first diet may work, but the second will work a bit less, the third even less, and so on.
Your metabolic rate is the amount of calories that your body uses throughout the day, even while at rest. The lower this is the less calories you burn and vice versa. Raising your metabolic rate requires a lot of exercise over a long period of time and is dependent on genetics and age. Lowering your metabolic rate is easy, don't exercise and don't eat properly. There are some drugs that may raise it as well, but they carry the risk of dependency, and after a while your body becomes tolerant to them.
If you are going to restrict your caloric intake, reduce it by a small amount. About 200-300 calories per day, no more. Any more than that and it is not healthy, and you will have a lot of trouble maintaining such a regimen.
Combine any fat loss with plenty of physical activity. This will help you burn extra fat, keep your metabolic rate up, and help maintain muscle mass.
Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. These foods provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and slow releasing energy. They have very few calories compared to process foods and they make you feel full. Many studies have shown that people who eat vegetables and fruits have a lower chance of disease. In your salads, avoid fatty dressings. If you want a dressing on your salads, go for olive oil. Avoid things like ranch dressings, which is full of calories and the bad types of fats.
Stay away from processed foods. If it doesn't come in its own wrapper then it's processed. Processing destroys vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Processing also requires the introduction of fats, sugars, oils, and preservatives. Stay even further away from fried foods e.g. french fries, onion rings, donuts, etc. Even if it is advertised that it is fried in vegetable oil stay away from it. You see, heating vegetable oil changes its molecular state so it becomes just as harmful as animal fat/oil. Don't let the label fool you.
Improve your eating habits one small step at a time e.g. instead of your afternoon chocolate bar, have an apple. Make this a strong habit then move onto changing something else. Instead of eliminating bad habits try and replace them with good habits. Instead of soda (which is full of calories) go for fresh juice or low fat milk.
Don't ever let yourself get hungry. Once you're hungry you tend to start craving junk food. Eat something healthy such as an apple or banana between meals. Along with healthy snacks, drink plenty of water. Thirst may make you crave soda.
Have you heard of high carb – low fat diets? Toss them out. They are a scam. They don't work, people don't understand them, and they may make you fatter. Years ago the experts started promoting high carb diets. But many people got confused with the word ‘high.' They thought it meant ‘a lot.' So they started filling up their plates with pasta, rice, potatoes, breads, etc. Well, these things are full of calories. And worst of all they are full of calories that are very easily converted to simple sugars which gets converted to fat very quickly. Eat a variety of foods (fats, proteins, carbs), but in small amounts.
Don't do the high protein diet thing either. It probably works but it's not good for you. It puts a lot of stress on your kidneys and liver. And you can't keep it up for very long. So once you're done you'll probably gain the fat back in no time.
Serving size is another big issue. In north America we've become accustomed to large everything. The bigger the plate, the bigger the value. Well, this has led to many large waist lines. Reduce your serving sizes. And if you get hungry between meals have a fruit for a snack.
The healthiest diets, and by diets I mean healthy eating styles, are the ones followed by diabetics. You see diabetics have to consume small amounts of food throughout the day, avoid large meals, and avoid foods that cause a spike in insulin levels. And there are plenty of books on how to eat if you are diabetic.
Some people have trouble losing fat because of insulin. When they eat their body releases more insulin than normal. Insulin takes the sugars that you've just eaten and stores it in your cells. If your cells don't need this sugar for immediate energy then that sugar is converted to fat. For this reason you should avoid foods with simple sugars e.g. candy, chocolate bars, soda, table sugar, and honey. For more information on this kind of thing you might want to learn more about Glycemic Index.