A “summer body” is the most coveted possession as spring hits. Here’s the scenario: It’s just passed Easter, and you realize you only have a few months left to prepare that lean beach body. You instantly go on your phone and search up “How to lose 15 pounds in 3 months,” only to find a list of fad diets. It may seem like a good idea but after years of trying all of them, your weight bounces back like a yoyo, year after year after year. If only there was a magic formula to consistent weight loss, which you can easily keep off.
It turns out, this magic formula isn’t magic at all, and it’s actually much simpler than you think. In essence, the human body has a method for gaining, maintaining, and losing weight. The mother of this concept, is “caloric intake vs. caloric output,” where the human body expends a certain number of calories per day, through your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) and intakes calories when eating and drinking. Your TDEE is primarily dependent on your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) which is the amount of calories that your body will burn through natural bodily function without any movement, and secondarily dependent on any additional energy expenditure, whether it’s through exercise, walking, or even fidgeting. In theory, you will gain weight or lose weight if the amount of calories you intake during a day is higher or lower than your TDEE. If weight loss is the goal, then one should be trying to decrease caloric intake to the point where it’s below the day’s caloric output, through smart eating choices and exercise — not through following some fad diet.
Still, with so many food choices, many people look to specific diets to support their goals. With tons of different diets in the world, it can be hard to crack the key to weight loss. Many of these diets are designed to either decrease water weight significantly (like the ketogenic diet) or to deprive your body of calories and nutrients, causing a crash and a seemingly immediate weight gain after falling off track. While many of these diets work well for certain individuals due to their internal infrastructure, they don’t work for everyone — in fact, the majority of people on Earth run best on a well-balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and other necessary micronutrients which can be easily attained through healthy options.
The Ketogenic diet is designed to alter the body’s main form of energy from carbohydrates to fats, placing the body into a state of ketosis within 3-7 days of starting. The diet consists of eating a select amount of each macronutrient in your diet: 20-30% of proteins, 75-90% of fats, and only 0-5% of carbohydrates! That means to stick to a true ketogenic diet, you can’t even have an apple since it consists of 15-21 grams of carbohydrates. Eating too much protein can also be detrimental to the body’s ketosis state due to the fact that an overload of protein can be altered by the body into carbohydrates if they’re unused.
As you can see, this is only one of many fad diets, and it’s extremely restricting. General restrictions can be beneficial if used to cut out loads of junk food, but it’s best used in moderation. Too much restriction can actually lead to the opposite: a marathon of binge eating, which can set you further back from your weight goal than you originally were. Other diets will cut out all junk food (causing major cravings), cut out fats (which are needed for satiety, a healthy mind, and healthy bodily functions), and much more. Balance is key, and without an equilibrium of all foods (even junk food in careful moderation!), you can set your body off track, causing stress, sleep troubles, tiredness, and weight gain.
Even fitness icons still eat junk food! Dwayne Johnson is arguably one of the fittest men in Hollywood, and his cheat meals are crazy, and we mean CRAZY, while always making sure to include his fair share of tequila.
You may be wondering how this works. “Everytime I have junk food, I just gain more and more weight! How can someone eat like this and still be insanely fit?” The answer is simple: moderation. Dwayne Johnson may have seemingly insane cheat meals, but they are only one out of many meals for him, as he’s said that he eats 7 per day. Every other meal that The Rock eats, consists of a serious amount of protein, healthy and whole carbohydrates, and a selection of healthy fats which contain essential minerals — a good resemblance of the meals that is optimal for most people if they’re trying to develop a better bodily composition.
With balance being key, this also requires watching your caloric intake if you’re trying to lose weight. This can be easily done by weighing and tracking the foods you eat throughout the day. Doing so through a fitness app, like MyFitnessPal or FitBit, is made very simple for users to use in order to keep a healthy lifestyle. Without tracking and weighing foods, it’s common for a lot of people to underestimate the amount of calories they’re eating, leading to minimal or even no weight loss. With tracking, you know exactly what macronutrients and micronutrients your body’s being fed.
The average pound of fat equates to approximately 3500 calories; this means to lose a pound per week (a safe amount of weight to lose per week as recommended by many fitness professionals), you need to be in a caloric deficit of 3500 calories throughout the 7 days. This might seem like a massive number, but when split into 7 days this is only a deficit of 500 calories per day. That means that someone who has a TDEE of 2500 calories, can only eat 2000 calories, which can actually consist of quite large portions of food when made into healthy choices, like satisfying proteins, vegetables, and carbs to refuel the body. Simply eating less food per meal can be an easy way to do this but another very efficient method used in assistance to losing fat is intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is a fasting method where in a nutshell, someone will only eat in a certain window of time throughout the day. Outside of these hours, no calories can be consumed: only water, black coffee, tea or any substance that doesn’t contain calories. Generally a 6-8 eating window is suggested while being surrounded by 16-18 hour periods of pure fasting, but some people even choose to eat only one meal a day (the OMAD diet!) There are many scientifically proven benefits to intermittent fasting, such as increased focus, boosted human growth hormone, significantly lowered insulin levels, and many more. A simple beneficial outlook on intermittent fasting is that no food is consumed throughout over half the daytime, so more caloric space will be left over for the couple meals you have within your eating window.
Fad diets may be attractive after you hear they make their users lose two, five, or even ten pounds in a week. While that may be true, the detail that promoters don’t include is that this weight loss, consists of water weight, muscle loss, and fat loss — instead of purely decreasing the body’s fat levels. The worst part is that fad diets may be claimed to produce somewhat magical weight loss but most people who try these diets don’t succeed in keeping the weight off. Weight and fat loss through calories in vs. calories out is easily maintainable, non-restrictive, and even though it may plateau at times, all plateaus have a cliff, meaning fat could drop off at any time!
In all, there are many ways to lose weight — but only one method is the truth to fat loss and permanent weight loss. Don’t let all these fad diets stray you away from the truth, because consistent weight loss only comes down to 3 things: patience, discipline, and balance.
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