#ScrewDiets! You never keep any of the weight off. They only leave you feeling hungry, deprived and miserable and, once you put all the weight back on, fed up with the process.
So instead of going on another diet to slim down, here are the 5 steps you can take to lose fat almost effortlessly without going on a diet.
"Drop 20lbs in 7 days - just eat kale all day long!"
Step 1: Eat the appropriate food portions
The fastest way to losing a few extra pounds without having to count calories is with one of the most basic weight-loss strategies: portion control.
I know. That's not exactly the "biohack" of the century. But sometimes, the most simple and obvious weight loss approach is also the most effective. Research that looked at the results from many previous studies, found strong evidence that by simply reducing your meal portions, you can easily lose weight and keep it off in the long-term.
For example, this lady managed to lose 75lbs by simply using portion control.
But before you go off to reduce all food and start starving yourself, let me really emphasis something:
Portion control does NOT mean cutting down all food.
It means choosing less calorie-dense crap and more nutrient-dense foods.
If you're worried about what are the correct portion sizes, here's a really easy-to-follow guide:
Source: Precision Nutrition - The best calorie control guide. [Infographic] [link]
NOTE: Keep in mind that the above infographic is NOT a definitive guide. As you can see, these portions should be adjusted depending on how active you are, how often you eat, your appetite and your goals.
Finally, if you need more practical tips to nail the whole portion control thing, check out this article.
2. Eat more protein to lose fat effortlessly
When it comes to weight loss, for some reason protein is underrated. It just gets a bad rap. I've heard doctors and other well-educated people, say that protein puts a strain on your liver and kidneys and they will eventually fail.
If you're worried about the effect that protein can have on your liver and kidneys, let me reassure you:
Unless you have an existing liver or kidney condition, eating a high-protein diet is highly unlikely to cause any health problems.
If you actually do have a condition, please speak to your doctor.
So far the research shows no signs that healthy adults should expect kidney or liver damage from increased protein consumption. But for the sake of safety, gradually increase it up to the recommended amount of three palm-sized portions per day + one as a snack.
Now on to the benefits:
1) Protein provides a longer sense of fullness
Protein provides a powerful signal to the brain giving you a longer sense of fullness. One reason is that it helps your gut produce more of the hormone called peptide YY, which is responsible for the sensation of fullness. It also reduces your levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. So a hormonal double-whammy on feeling hungry.
The power of these signals is very effective. A study showed that women who increased how much protein they ate from 15% to 30% of their daily calories, ate on average 441 calories less, without doing anything else. No restrictions, no calorie counting, no "diet" foods.
2) Protein increases your lean weight (i.e. muscle )
Eating more protein also increases your lean tissues, also known as fat-free weight. You build a bit more muscle and strengthen your bones by making them denser.
Now, I know what you're thinking: "I don't want more muscle. My goal is to lose weight, not gain weight!"
Actually, having more muscle tissue promotes fat loss.
Lean tissue is important for several reasons, including a 'quicker' metabolism, good mobility, stronger bones with a lower risk of fractures and even slowing down ageing. It makes your body use up more calories just for staying alive.
Also, remember that your goal isn't to lose weight. You want to lose fat. If you want to look good, feel lighter on your toes and be able to move around more freely, then you need to focus on losing the right type of weight (i.e. fat).
3) Protein boosts your metabolism
Finally, eating protein makes your body work harder to digest it. If your goal is weight loss, this is definitely a good thing.
Your body burns calories in order to digest food. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF) and makes up around 30% of your daily energy use. It's kinda like how a nuclear reactor needs electricity in order to generate electricity.
(How on Earth did we get into nuclear reactors in an article about weight loss?)
When you're digesting carbs or fats, you burn around 5% of the energy gained for digestion. So if you eat a baguette that contains 200kcal (about a 6-inch baguette), you will probably absorb around 190kcal.
But when you digest protein, your body uses up to 35% of that energy for digestion. So 200kcal worth of egg-white omelette (which is a LOT of egg whites ~ 12 large egg whites), you will only absorb around 130kcal.
Add this on top of the benefits explained in the previous two points and you can see why protein is your friend in weight loss.
In order to have a higher TEF, you should increase your protein intake to about one palm-sized portion per meal.
Note: Most trendy diets lead to weight loss mainly because people increase the amount of protein they eat. Keto, Paleo, Atkins, Zone, South Beach, Dukan - they all focus on more protein. The problem with all diets is that they are overly restrictive. They limit healthy food choices (like fruit, beans and whole grains) and they're difficult to sustain for more than a few months. Remember: If your diet is temporary, then so are the results. Keep this in mind next time you get jealous over someone else's weight loss diet.
4) Which foods are the best sources of protein?
Since protein is essential for losing weight and managing hunger, the next question is what foods are a great source of protein.
Honestly, there are plenty of protein choices.
For non-vegetarians, some of the best choices are lean meats like chicken, turkey, low-fat beef/pork mince, virtually all fish, mussels and prawns, and most low-fat dairy like cottage cheese, low-fat plain yoghurt and skyr. For meats, trim the skin and any visible fats.
For vegetarians and vegans, some of the best plant-based choices are tofu, tempeh, soy-based yoghurt, beans, lentils and chickpeas, as well as plant-based protein shakes (popular choices are hemp, soy, pea or rice protein).
3. Get moving, stay active
The other class of weight loss tips is physical activity.
When you hear physical activity, don't just think about jumping on a treadmill and boringly running towards a slow and painful death. But there are better ways to stay on top of your fitness.
Firstly, make a list of 3 exercises you really, REALLY enjoy.
Do you like playing tennis? Or swimming laps? Do you feel like hitting a punching bag to let go of some steam, even if you don't know how to punch?
Make a list of five you like, then cut it down to the three you really enjoy. They should be things you don't do for the sake of exercise but out of sheer fun. Ones that you get lost into, and stay present with at the same time! Ones that make you gain energy doing them.
For most people, this is usually team sports but have an open mind and trust your gut with this.
Your goal is to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. That's one 30-min bike ride five times a week (e.g. Monday-Friday after work). Or you can do two 60-min yoga/pilates classes and a 30-min speed-walk while listening to a podcast. Or whatever floats your boat.
The second part is staying active throughout the day.
Explore all the possibilities you can do here. Here are a few ideas:
increase your walking speed from slow to moderate
take the stairs everywhere
stand up and stretch every half an hour
walk to the water fountain for a glass of water a few times a day
go for a walk after having lunch and get your mind off of "work mode" for a while.
4. Sleep yourself leaner
The fourth aspect you should be considering is this:
Are you getting your beauty 7-9h sleep?
When I advise women trying to lose weight to think about their sleep, they usually look at me as if I told them to eat a whole cake.
That's because we think of sleep as a passive activity. We lie down and do nothing for 8 hours. How is that going to help anyone lose weight?
Despite what you might think, sleep is very much an active state. Getting enough is necessary for