Are you looking to lose weight sustainably and successfully? It can be hard to navigate myriad diets, fitness programs, and weight loss tips. But with the right knowledge and resources, it is possible to progress toward your goals.
This article will provide an overview of creating a sound plan for reaching your desired weight loss results.
We will cover topics such as goal setting, programming nutrition for a calorie deficit, strength training, cardio exercises, sleep hygiene habits, stress management techniques, and motivation strategies.
Additionally, we’ll discuss the importance of building a supportive community that provides accountability along your journey.
Let’s get started!
Setting up weight loss goals and systems to be successful.
When setting goals for weight loss, it is important to have one primary goal that is measurable, achievable, and realistic. Then breaking this overarching goal into smaller milestones or mini-goals can help keep motivation levels high.
Smart goals are a great way to stay organized and focused. When creating a smart goal, the acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Oriented.
For example, a SMART goal for fat loss is to lose 10 pounds of body fat over the next 12 weeks by following a calorie-controlled diet plan and exercise regimen.
Setting up systems
To ensure that you meet your objectives, it’s essential to establish systems that will keep you on track. A system is a set of step-by-step processes that you can use to achieve your goals.
For example, a system that assists you in managing calories may begin with measuring your portion sizes.
How to program your nutrition
Proper nutrition is a key factor in achieving successful weight loss. Programming your nutrition involves understanding your daily calorie, macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbs), and micronutrients.
With this knowledge, you can apply a calorie deficit to optimize your results. Let’s talk next about calories.
Calories are the units by which we measure the energy in food but also how we measure the energy that we use. This concept is called calories in, calories out, or CICO Understanding how many calories you need per day is the first step.
Macronutrients, aka macros
Macros are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, or the three nutrients that provide us (humans) energy (calories). Regarding health and weight loss, we need to be mindful of how much of each macro we consume.
Protein is a macronutrient that provides energy, about four calories per gram. In addition, protein provides us with amino acids, which are responsible for helping us build muscle.
When it comes to weight loss, protein plays a pivotal role. Not only does it help to preserve lean muscle mass, but it can also keep us satiated for longer. There is also some evidence to the idea that we can build muscle while losing fat, commonly referred to as body recomp.
Dietary fats are also an essential macronutrient. Fats provide nine calories per gram and essential fatty acids for cardiovascular health, hormone production, and brain development.
Dietary fats are very energy dense, providing double the amount of calories compared to protein and carbs. While they are essential for a balanced diet, we should be mindful of the types and amounts consumed.
Carbohydrates are our body’s and, more specifically, our muscles and brain’s preferred energy source, providing four calories per gram. Carbs come in two forms, simple sugars and complex carbohydrates.
The current climate in terms of weight loss is low-carb diets. While low-carb diets can be an effective weight-loss strategy, lowering or removing an entire food group can limit the total amount of nutrients you get.
During a weight loss phase, the goal is to restrict your daily calorie intake to below what you need. Eating less food means that you also may forfeit some important micronutrients. This is something you want to try and avoid.
To lose weight, a calorie deficit is needed. A calorie deficit means you eat fewer calories than you expend daily. Many strategies to achieve a calorie deficit include counting macros, intermittent fasting, and more.
Nutrition by addition
The last topic within programming your weight loss nutrition is the idea of nutrition by addition. Rather than focusing on what to take away from your eating habits, it’s better to focus on adding healthy foods such as lean proteins, whole grains, dairy, fruits, and vegetables.
There is a lot to consider when trying to improve your diet. I am looking to cut down on processed foods and increase my intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, but I need to ensure that I get all the nutrients necessary for a balanced diet. That is why I trust Cronometer as my nutrient tracker. Check out the best food-tracking app today!
What about exercise and weight loss
Your nutrition will have the greatest impact on your weight loss, but exercise will be the second crucial factor. Exercise helps increase your overall energy expenditure and thus burns more calories, assisting with weight loss.
Intentional vs. Nonintentional Exercise
Intentional exercise is when you plan and structure your workouts to build strength, improve body composition, increase energy expenditure & burn calories.
Nonintentional physical activity is your daily movements, such as walking to the car, taking the stairs, or doing yard work. This is another variable that can affect your weight loss.
The importance of strength training
Weight loss is more than just shedding pounds; it involves the reduction of body fat as well as muscle.
Strength training is essential to losing weight because it helps preserve muscle. Think of muscle as this greedy organ that requires a lot of energy (calories). The more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is going to
Cardio and weight loss
Cardiovascular training is the intentional increase in one’s heart rate for some time. While it does burn calories, its primary purpose is not for weight loss. It can be used as a tool to help with weight loss, but it should not be the primary focus.
Lifestyle factors that will make or break your weight loss success
As we have uncovered nutrition and exercise related to weight loss, we can now explore other lifestyle factors that will make or break your weight loss success.
Sleep, stress management, and mindset will play a role in your weight loss success.
Sleep plays a critical role in your health and turn, will affect your weight loss success. Adequate sleep helps to regulate hormones such as ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and leptin (the satiety hormone). Both of these hormones play a pivotal role in weight loss.
Stress levels also have an impact on your weight loss success. I commonly see high-performing individuals with stressful lives either using food and alcohol to manage their stress or are too busy and skipping meals. Either way, stress oftentimes leads to over or under-eating.
The last factor to consider regarding weight loss is your mindset. Without the correct mental attitude, your chances of weight loss success can be severely hindered. It is important to remember that weight loss and being healthy are daily practices and challenges.
Building a community
Finally, building a community of people who want to see you succeed in your weight loss journey is essential. These people can provide support and accountability while helping to keep you motivated during the process.
You may not know what to do when just starting your weight loss journey. You may consider hiring a dietitian or weight coach during the early stages to help guide you. Alongside a coach, you should surround yourself with uplifting individuals who can provide emotional support.
Having someone other than your significant other and family to hold you accountable for your progress is essential. Whether that be a weight loss buddy or someone you meet weekly to check in on your goals.
Teaching others what you have learned throughout your journey may benefit you and them. Mentoring someone else is a great way to stay focused on your goals and can motivate you to stay on track with your weight loss plan.
In conclusion, if you are serious about losing weight and achieving a healthy lifestyle, it is important to approach it like a science experiment. Make sure to view it as an ongoing process, and always be patient with yourself.
Have a goal, establish systems, healthy eating, focus on staying active, get adequate sleep, manage stress levels, and maintain a strong mindset. Most importantly, build a strong community for accountability and support.
With these steps, you will be well on your way to successful and sustainable weight loss.
Good luck on your journey!
Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.
Noah Quezada is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist located in Denver, Colorado. Over the course of more than a decade, he has gained extensive experience in helping clients manage their weight through in-person sessions. Noah is also the 2023 President of the Colorado Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.