Your number one objective should always be your health. Therefore, the commandments within my article will enhance your well-being and they will also help you become fit and lean again.
It is mandatory for you to not follow strict diets focused on aggressive fat loss in the fastest way possible, nor following a training regimen that is not adapted to your current fitness level. Rather than that, focus on a balanced diet with right habits that over the long run will help you not only to lose weight, but also to sustain it easily.
My methods of losing weight are consistent and they rely on my lifetime experience. Hence, if you follow them, you may expect to lose at least 2 pounds of body fat each week.
1. Set Goals
- 1 kg [2,20 lbs] = 1000 grams
- Fat has 9 kcal per gram
- Human fat tissue is approximately 87% lipid
As a result, it is estimated that 1 kilogram of bodyfat represents around 7500 kcal.
You should approach a fat loss diet gradually, and by that I mean you should focus on losing around 1 kg per week of stored fat. To ensure your goal, you will have to be in a caloric deficit by at least 1000 kcal everyday. Respect my following commandments and your goal is safe!
You could actually lose more than that, but I don’t recommend you to start a fat loss diet following extreme measures. Manage your expectations and start from here, then little by little, you will be able to push your body even further and lose more than 3 pounds a week. First you need to adapt to a new lifestyle before pushing the limits.
2. Reduce the Macro Intake
People gain weight because they either lack in physical activity and/or they no longer control their appetite. As you already know, the sensation of hunger can only be eliminated if you eat foods containing calories. The foods that are categorized as macronutrients are the ones rich in calories.
To have a better understanding about macros and about what I will tell you next, you must read this article: The Basics of Nutrition.
Macros are represented by carbohydrates (4 kcal/1 gram), proteins (4 kcal/1 gram) and lipids (9 kcal/1 gram). Alcohol is not a macronutrient, but it contains 7 kcal per gram, so please eliminate it because it might compromise your goal of getting fit.
Your primary focus should be on drastically reducing the intake of saturated lipids coming from animal sources.
The good lipids [unsaturated fats] are essential to your health and you should not completely eliminate them, just reduce their daily intake a bit. For instance avocados, olives, nuts, seeds are some good examples of good fats – they are nutritionally balanced, which means they are not only rich in calories coming from fats, they also contain micronutrients and/or proteins.
When you decide to reduce the consumption of lipids, eliminating certain products will help you, but there is more of that in the cooking method. Try to cook or order foods that are usually steamed, boiled or prepared in any other cooking method that does not require oil.
Vegetable oil like extra virgin olive oil is very essential to your health. However, consume it raw and use it exclusively on salads. Don’t fry potatoes and meat with it!
Fats are not the only ones responsible for your weight gain. Carbohydrates are also macros that can be deposited as stored fat if you don’t burn enough energy throughout the day or if you simply choose the wrong ones instead. I know that lots of diets will encourage you to eliminate the consumption of carbohydrates, but my recommendation is the exact opposite.
Take your energy mostly from complex carbohydrates and not from fats or proteins. Consume whole grains (like whole wheat pasta) because they are richer in fiber and other nutrients, as I already recommended in the article about the basics of nutrition. Some examples of good sources of complex carbs are: whole wheat, whole grains, brown rice, quinoa, peas, lentils, beans, sweet potatoes, etc. And because you will also feel the need of something sweet, then choose to eat fruits. They are simple carbs, but their sugar is found naturally.
Limit your consumption of fruits however, and try to have them usually during the first part of the day. Fruits are rich in micronutrients and fiber, but some of them are also rich in calories. Search on internet to know which ones fit better in your diet, because some of them could be a great choice for a late snack.
To reduce your macro intake without estimating calories is easy. You must first learn and understand how to classify foods. Then make these small changes and reduce the portion size of them a bit for each meal. Try to eat less carbs, fats and proteins than you used to.
3. Eliminate Table Sugar
Almost everything that you eat and tastes sweet contains added sugars, in the form of sucrose -which is commonly known as table sugar. It is not to be found naturally like fructose in fruits. Unlike fructose, table sugar is a refined, manufactured product that can also encourage diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
Which is why instead of eating sweets, you should choose to eat complex carbohydrates that are also rich in fiber and micronutrients.
Table sugar can be found in cookies, cakes, donuts, biscuits, chocolate, ice cream, and basically almost everything that tastes sweet. It is added to some beverages, too, such as coffee, tea, syrups and juice. For example, a can of cola can have as much as nine cubes of sugar – more than the recommended daily limit for adults.
Sugar has no essential nutrients besides calories (no fiber or micronutrients) and for this reason it is called an empty calorie food. Their energy input is of 4 kcal/gram – the same as complex carbohydrates.
For example, if 100 grams of chocolate contains 30% added sugar, then that means it contains 120 kcal from sugar alone. Now, imagine how easy is to surpass your daily calorie limits, because that chocolate has calories from other sources as well, like milk and cacao.
When you feel the desire for something sweet, then seek products that are low in calories, without added sugar. They are usually found in the supermarket as sugar-free foods. There are a lot of juices and foods made out of other ingredients that are not necessarily healthy, but they might contain few calories.
The most important rule when you want to lose a couple of pounds is to pay attention to your calorie intake. You must burn more than you get from food. Then comes the following important commandment:
4. Clean-Up Your Diet
To reduce your calorie intake is crucial, but for health and for the metabolism to work efficiently, you must follow a diet that is also clean and not only low in calories. A healthy and clean diet is one that helps to maintain or improve overall health. It provides the body with essential nutrition and supports energy needs for physical activities too.
The basic principles of a good diet are simple: eat less, move more, eat fruit and a lot of vegetables. For additional clarification, a five-word modifier helps: go easy on junk foods.
- Choose good carbohydrates: whole grains (the less processed the better), vegetables, fruits, and legumes. Avoid white bread and white rice, as well as pastries, sugared sodas, and other highly processed food.
- Pay attention to the protein package: good choices include fish, poultry, nuts, and beans. Try to avoid red meat.
- Choose foods containing healthy fats. Plant oils, nuts, and fish are the best choices. Limit consumption of saturated fats, and avoid foods that contain trans-fat (butter and margarine are examples of trans-fat).
- Consume a fiber-filled diet which includes whole grains, vegetables, and fruit.
- Eat more vegetables and fruits—the more colorful and varied, the better. But, don’t eat caloric fruits during evenings because you have a weight loss goal to focus on.
- Include adequate amounts of calcium in the diet; however, milk is not the best or only source. Good sources of calcium are collards, bok choy, fortified soy milk, baked beans, and supplements containing calcium and vitamin D.
- Choose water over other beverages. Avoid sugary drinks, and limit intake of juices and milk. Coffee, tea, artificially-sweetened drinks, 100-percent fruit juices, low-fat milk, and alcohol can fit into a healthy diet, but are best consumed in moderation. Sports drinks are recommended only for people who exercise more than an hour at a stretch to replace substances lost in sweat.
- Limit salt intake. Choose more fresh foods, instead of processed ones.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Doing so has health benefits, but is not recommended for everyone.
5. Avoid These:
- Pastries, such as: donuts, cookies, crackers, pretzels, and biscuits
- Sweets, such as jam, fruit compote, chocolate, sugar [white table sugar], and brown sugar
- Fast-food, junk food, and sandwiches made from white bread and high-fat cheese
- Chips, jellies, sodas, Coke, and fruit juices
- French fries, white rice and white bread
- Fat-rich dairy products. Go for low-fat dairy products instead
- No more than 2 eggs at a time because they are full of cholesterol
- Canned food, such as beans, fish, and corn as much as possible
- Unnatural ingredients, such as white salt
- Mayonnaise or any other sauce that is rich in calories or fat
- Appetizers, sausages, salami, frankfurters, cheese, melted cheese, and butter
- Almost any type of high-caloric cream from cheese and margarine
- Caviar, Pangasius fish, coconut oil, and palm oil
6. Eat a Nutritious Breakfast
Skipping breakfast is often a weight loss strategy for many persons. I personally think that you don’t have to skip it altogether and instead, extend the fasting window a bit.
- Have a fasting window of at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. For better weight loss results, you should extend it up to 14-15 hours
- Eat all your meals and foods within 12 hours
- If you choose to skip breakfast, then have a nutritious and caloric lunch
- It must be easy to prepare
- For a calorie intake of 2000 kcal, breakfast can represent 500 kcal. This means that your breakfast should represent around 25% of your intake calories that day. Try to not exceed 500 though
- Should be easy to grab at work if time is a problem
- It must contain complex carbs, proteins, small amounts of fat, and micronutrients (vegetables, fruits)
- Drink water before eating, and as soon as you wake up (if you add lemon, even better!)
- Try to consume breakfast no later than 3 hours after waking up
The calorie dispersion throughout the day should be like this:
- Breakfast can be the highest in calories
- Lunch comes in second place for calorie intake. Though, if you skip breakfast then you can consume slightly more calories for lunch
- Dinner must contain less calories than lunch or breakfast
I have published an article with breakfast recipes and a lot more ideas about it: Ideas for Breakfast
7. Have a Nutritious Lunch
Lunch is another meal that is acceptable for you. Your calorie intake for lunch can go up to 600-700, even if you ate a 500 kcal breakfast. The remaining calories are adjusted for dinner and the snacks you eat throughout the day.
- Avoid high-calorie sauces, like those made with mayonnaise or sour cream
- Lunch must be cooked properly (without oils); it is better if it is steamed or boiled
- Must be rich in micronutrients, complex carbohydrates, and complete proteins
- Should be low-fat, and if you choose a salad that has chickpeas or rice, and chicken, then make sure that the fats are from a vegetable source
- Be sure to eat lunch at least 3 hours before exercise because of the presence of complex carbohydrates
- Consume water with lunch
- Include starches containing fiber
- Eat more gluten-free starches and grains. The ones that contain gluten are: wheat, barley, rye, couscous, farina, graham flour, malt
- You can eat a soup or stew too.
- Brown rice with salmon and salad or leafy greens
- Sweet potatoes with chicken breast and leafy greens
- Lentils with meat and vegetables (broccoli, spinach etc.)
- Chickpeas with turkey and some vegetables
8. Dinner Smartly
Dinner is one of those meals where you truly have to be smart. I say this because you must keep in mind that this most likely will be your post-workout meal. Thus, you must respect certain principles:
- Should be low-calorie
- Should be low in complex carbohydrates
- Eliminate simple carbs entirely
- Make sure to eat dinner no more than 11-12 hours after you ate breakfast
- You can eat complex carbs, but mostly those that are low-calorie (corn, beans, chickpeas, green peas, polenta)
- It should consist mostly of proteins and micronutrients
- Make sure not to eat processed or overcooked food
- Should be low-fat
- It must be a small-sized meal
- Must be easy to digest, so don’t eat red meat or starches than contain gluten.
Do not exceed more than 100 – 150 grams of complex carbs during dinner. For proteins, go for the complete ones like: fish, chicken, turkey. Actually, dinner can be the perfect moment where you can add a great nutritious salad with leafy greens and maybe chickpeas. I’d say that a dinner should not have more than 300 – 400 kcal.
9. Move More Often
Before everything, you must know that absolutely every kind of sustainable physical activity will burn calories. The length and intensity of your exercise will determine how much bodyfat you burn though. It will be hard for you, as a beginner in fitness or sports, to train at high intensity, hence you will have to keep it low to make sure you will endure for longer.
After all, when it comes to losing weight, one of the most effective methods of training will be to exercise for longer. Avoid performing very intensive workouts that last 10-15 minutes and concentrate on exercising for at least half an hour.
Begin with baby steps and include in the beginning at least 3 training sessions per week. As you get more adapted and you establish a habit, increase the frequency to 5 workouts per week. The length of a training session should be from 20 to 60 minutes, depending on fitness level and intensity.
Some of you may find it hard to even jog or skip rope. Approach it gradually and don’t worry about the distance covered. Focus instead on jogging or skipping rope for longer periods of time. If you are only able to jog 15 minutes until collapsing, then that is your starting point.
10. Run and Do Calisthenics
As I said, any kind of exercising will burn calories. My recommendations though will be to pick up exercises that are not only natural to your body inertia, but also the most effective for building a good fitness level. So far, I have found that swimming, athletics and bodyweight training (calisthenics) are the ones that will bring you the best results.
Jogging and running are aerobic exercise and they build great stamina, as well as a good fitness level. I used to run for months to get rid of around 10 kg of stored fat. If you can’t run, then jog, and if you can’t jog too, then walk as much as possible. Take the bike and use it for going to work. Walk instead of taking the car, and the list goes on.
Set weekly goals like how much you want to run without stopping. Then try to beat that record and set a new and harder one. After a period, jog to warm-up and do a couple of sprints.
Boxers and martial artists used to jump rope a lot. It can also be a great replacement for running although I recommend you to do them both.
Besides the aerobic training there is also anaerobic training – like strength workouts. Here, calisthenics comes into its own. Depending on your fitness level, you can add 1 to 3 workouts a week among with your running and sprinting sessions. Do a circuit style with minimum break time and perform a high intensity workout that lasts 20-30 minutes.
My eBook Fresh Ideas for Losing Weight with Calisthenics & Nutrition encompasses every important aspect for losing weight naturally. If you are interested, learn more here:I Want to Learn More!