Losing weight is notoriously difficult, both to achieve and to maintain. There are so many diet ‘gurus’ out there just trying to sell a book or a supplement with pseudoscience and it makes it confusing for anyone to understand what exactly they need to do to lose weight. So, what actually works? Thankfully, there is a large body of evidence that shows a few things that do work for weight loss. Unfortunately, it’s nothing new or exciting and it won’t sell a ton of books or make anyone a million bucks. But, if you’re ready, here are the 5 most important things to focus on for weight loss.
- Nutrition. The only way you lose fat is to consume fewer calories than you burn. It’s just the way the human body works and there is no way around it. Every diet on the planet works for fat loss if it causes you to be in a calorie/energy deficit and not one of them will work if it doesn’t. Just remember that as your body gets smaller it will require less energy, so you’ll have to adjust along the way.
- NEAT. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is all the movement that isn’t an exercise session. Fidgeting, doing chores, showering, etc. This makes up a majority of your energy expenditure outside of what your body burns just to stay alive. So, stand instead of sitting, get up more often, and park farther away. All that seemingly meaningless movement during the day is actually very meaningful when it comes to fat loss.
- Exercise. While an exercise session does not burn a significant number of calories for most people (usually far fewer than your fitness tracker will tell you), it does help in reshaping the body which is what most people want. It also leads to muscle gain which makes your body much more efficient at burning calories throughout the day and night. Resistance training with a progressive overload focus will be most effective.
- Recovery. If your goal is fat loss it is important to manage your sleep. More waking hours leads to eating more, stressing more, and recovering poorly from workouts and daily activity. So go to bed and make sure to do what you need to to get consistent, restful sleep.
- Stress Management. Stress impedes your ability to make positive decisions when it comes to diet and exercise among other negative effects on the body and well-being. So, go to therapy and make sure you’ve got some good coping skills for when the challenges of life come.
If you are ready to seriously address fat loss, take a look at these five areas and then make a commitment to be consistent. It does not make any difference what kind of diet you choose or exercise plan you embark on if you are not able to be consistent. Nothing works if you don’t stick with it. So, choose a plan you can really live with over time. And be patient. There are no quick fixes. It really does just take time. If you miss a few workouts or overeat, just keep going the next day or the next meal. Don’t give up.