Embarking on a weight loss mission always seems so difficult. Most of us don’t know what to do exactly and how to start a diet. What if I told you that, in order to begin losing weight, it is enough to take a few precise steps? In this new post I will be showing you how to start losing weight in a healthy, natural and long-lasting way.
Imagine you are going to do something very important. Where are you going to start from? Any important project in our life has to be thoroughly analyzed and planned. The same goes with the weight loss process.
There are lots of trendy diets out there. Web portals and magazines try to give us the best tips on how to lose weight fast. You may even be willing to try one of the countless advertised products and supplements promising fast and effortless results. But such things work very little, if we are not fully aware of how our body works and of our individual health.
Diets will have little and short-term results, whereas those products which promise they will help us lose weight will have no effect on us, if we are not willing to change our nutrition and life style.
As with any other project in life, we have to be aware of what a real weight loss process means (even when it is only a few kilos to lose), if we want long-term results and if we don’t want to be stressed out by the actual changes we have to face in order to get valuable results.
So, how to start a diet? Here is what we must be doing in order to begin losing weight.
The first 7 steps to start losing weight
Step #1: Determine your goals
The first step is essential, because it helps us understand how far we want to go. The goals to reach may be:
- Lose weight – how many kilos, what waistline and/or arm, thigh girth we want to get.
- Improve digestion and overall health – improve symptoms such as fatigue, costiveness, headache, belly bloating, swollen legs.
- Strengthen muscles.
It is advisable to write down all of our goals in order not to lose track of them during the whole process, and also because it may prove useful during the monitoring phase (step #7).
Step #2: Calculate the Basal Metabolic Rate and the calorie requirements to keep the current body weight
The Basal Metabolic Rate is our energy expenditure at rest.
It includes the amount of energy necessary for vital metabolic functions (respiration, blood circulation, digestion, body temperature control, nervous system activity). Basal Metabolic Rate accounts for almost 45-75% of the overall daily energy expenditure.
In short, the Basal Metabolic Rate is the number of calories necessary for our body to work at rest.
In order to calculate the Basal Metabolic Rate we may use the Mifflin – St. Jeor equation:
Our daily calorie requirements include the calories necessary to live (Basal Metabolic Rate) and the calories necessary to carry out several activities during the day.
Here is how to calculate it according to our life style:
- Sedentary (very little movement, office job) = BMR * 1,2
- Little active (little movement, physical exercise 1-2 times a week) = BMR * 1.375
- Moderately active (physical exercise/gym/sports 3-5 times a week) = BMR * 1.55
- Very active (physical exercise /gym/sports 5-7 times a week) = BMR * 1.725
- Extra active (physical job, intensive physical exercise, workouts/sports 2 times a day, marathons etc.) = BMR * 1.9
This way we are going to have a detailed overview of the calories our body needs to be active and to keep its current weight.
Step #3: Choose the approach
The choice of the approach to take has an importance of its own. Our weight loss process is going to be successful or unsuccessful depending to the approach we choose. Actually, there are three types of approach:
We have to analyze our goals carefully and chose the approach to take according to our personality traits and eating habits.
The pleasant approach is successful in most cases, as it helps a gradual transition to a healthy eating style with slow results, which in the long term, prove to be better than those you may get from an aggressive approach.
The pleasant approach doesn’t include a drastic calorie reduction, and lets you eat even those foods that aren’t that healthy (cheeseburger, fries, alcohol), provided that they are not more than 30% of the calorie requirements to lose weight.
For instance, if in order to lose weight you need 2000 calories a day, 600 calories (30 %) may come from those foods you like.
The realistic approach is maybe the best to get fast and long-lasting results. In this approach we are allowed to eat 20 % of those foods we often eat and find hard to give up on.
For competitive and disciplined people, the aggressive approach is the best and includes just 10% of cheat foods.
Step #4: Calculate the daily calorie requirements to lose weight
We have set our goals, we have understood how many calories we need to keep our current body weight and we have chosen the approach to take. The right time has come for us now to calculate the daily calorie requirements in order to lose weight.
If you want to lose weight (extra fat) then you should reduce your daily calorie intake by 10-30%. Reducing calories by more than 30% is a counterproductive strategy. (You may be interested to read: 8 Dieting And Weight Loss Myths Debunked)
For instance, if your calorie requirements to keep the current body weight is of 2000 calories/daily, then eating 1400 (which is 30% less) – 1800 (which is 10% less) calories a day will help you lose weight.
Step #5: Divide macronutrients
Not only the number of calories is important, but also a well-balanced division of the macronutrients to eat every day. The macronutrients are: proteins, fats and carbs.
According to nutritionists we should eat 1.4-2.0 grams of proteins per kilo of body weight. It equals 25-30% of daily calories requirements.
As concerns fats, they are extremely valuable and guarantee a healthy and long-lasting weight loss.
About 25-40% of the calories we consume every day should come from fats.
And in conclusion, carbs are to be 30-50 % of the calories we take every day.
Here is an easy chart listing the different options:
Step #6: Choose the basic ingredients and schedule daily meals
Meal scheduling is essential as it helps us follow our nutrition plan and improves our chances to be successful in the long term.
Issuing a weekly list of the meals we are going to have and buying our groceries in advance may be highly motivational, because cooking our meals at home allows a better control of the calories and the macronutrients to assume.
Step #7: Monitor and measure
The last step is extremely valuable in order to understand if our weight loss plan is working or not. It is advisable to weigh oneself and measure the waistline once a week on an empty stomach. In case you are also taking physical exercise, it will be hard to evaluate the results by just weighing yourself, as we lose fat mass and gain lean mass, and as a consequence our body weight won’t chance much. A mirror may come in handy! Looking in the mirror how our body is changing and measuring the waistline are the best ways to monitor the results.
So, if you ever wondered how to start a diet, these 7 steps are exactly what you need to do to start losing weight. Clearly these tips can’t replace medical advice. If you suffer from any health disorders or if you need a specific diet plan, I suggest you see a healthcare provider or a dietitian. Whereas if you want to lose some weight for the swimsuit season, following these tips may definitely help your weight loss process.
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