Losing weight is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions made by Americans. That’s a good thing, on so many levels. Not least of all is that if you are considerably overweight, you are likely low in energy and not very fit, making it harder for you to get motivated to go after your dreams.
But I don’t have to tell you that many people who set weight loss goals end up in one of two places:
- They quit before they get there, because losing weight becomes a seemingly impossible endeavor, or
- They eventually lose the weight they wanted to, but once they quit whatever program they are on, they gain it all back – often, and then some. In fact, according to a survey done by the Colorado State University Extension, around 50 million Americans go on a diet each year but only about 5 percent manage to keep the weight off.
Why does this happen? In the first situation, the dieters are, well, dieting. They attempt to lose weight by depriving themselves. In the second place, the dieters are following a certain program that has them to count calories or points or exclude entire food groups (sorry; I was born in 1970 and the good old four food groups paradigm still works for me 😉 ). As soon as they start eating “normally” again, the weight comes back like a boulder on Wile E. Coyote (I told you I was born in 1970!)
Losing weight doesn’t have to be a struggle
I’m not going to lie to you: trying to lose weight is often not easy, especially after the first couple of months when your weight loss is likely to slow down. But there are principles – lifestyle changes, really – that, when you integrate them into your life until they become habits, will facilitate your goal to not only losing a certain amount of weight, but also keeping it off.
I share the thirteen biggies in my (free!) e-book Journey To Thin. (That link is to the Kindle store, but you can find it at any of the other online retailers.) But here, I want to share the biggies of the biggies, the three keys to losing weight – and keeping it off!
Key #1: Whey protein
I have had my own personal struggle with the use of whey protein. Namely, that whey does not occur in nature by itself and is, in a minimal sense, a processed food.
I am into eating a whole foods diet.
But the fact is, real whey – not the isolated stuff that is fabricated in laboratories – is the most easily absorbed of any animal protein source. As such, your body can build muscle from whey more quickly and more efficiently than any other protein.
“But I’m not a bodybuilder!”
You may think that tidbit is a lot more applicable to someone into strength training. However, it is just as applicable to someone with the big goal of losing weight. The reason? The more muscle on your body, the higher your metabolism.
Some of you ladies might know a guy or two who isn’t all that big in stature, but who eats a lot more than you without gaining any weight. The fact is, the anatomy of men is distinctly different from that of women in a significant way – uh, I mean, other than the obvious.
Pound for pound (or kilo for kilo, for my readers across the sea), men have more muscle mass than women.
They can eat more because they have more muscles which causes them to burn fat and calories more quickly.
Peg it up with the list of “not fair” gender differences, like women having to put up with the discomfort and pain of pregnancy and childbearing, but there you are.
Getting back to the topic at hand, women, you may not be able to ask your husbands to bear a child in your place, but you can tip the fat-burning table in your favor by adding whey protein to your dietary regimen. There are several other important reasons to consider adding whey protein to your diet, even if you are not trying to lose weight. I talk about them in this post.
Whey protein is very low in fat and carbohydrates, and contains very little lactose. It also does not contain the milk protein casein that some people are sensitive to.
On to the next key to weight loss success:
Key #2: Have a cheat day
*GASP!* Really? Yes, really!
How many people do you know who started with a diet program all excited and with the best intentions, maybe even having written down their one-week, one-month, and three-month weight loss goals, but fell off the wagon before they even got through two months?
That would be the vast majority of dieters.
There are two reasons for this. Number one, your body needs nutritious food to feel satisfied. If you deprive it of that, you will get cravings. And you will fall away from your diet plan to fulfill those cravings.
You also need so many calories a day to feel satisfied. Deprive yourself long enough, and your body will drive you to begin eating more. This usually leads to overeating in order to compensate.
The number two reason many people fall of the diet bandwagon early on in the game is that they stop losing weight. They are still eating a low-calorie or low-carb diet (maybe both together, eek) and exercising regularly, but their weight loss plateaus and simply won’t budge.
Anyone in their right mind would go back to a satisfying eating plan after a time. Why should you keep on depriving yourself if it doesn’t make any difference?
So, what causes this plateau – even for those who are still following the rules?
When you eat the same number of calories day after day, and week after week, your body begins to think you are starving. Guess what it does to counteract this, to preserve your energy and fat stores?
It slows down its metabolism.
Enter the cheat day
Understanding that, what do you think your body does when you eat a lowish-calorie diet for a few days, and then pig out for a day, then reduce your caloric intake again, and then four or five days later pig out again?
Your body gets confused, that’s what! You send its fat-burning mechanisms into overdrive on your cheat days, and this heightened rate of metabolism continues for the next few days. Add the muscle-building whey protein into the mix, and you can’t help but continue losing weight.
The third key revs things up even further:
Key #3: Interval training
You already know how old I am. Back then, aerobic exercise was all the rage. And not occasional. Oh, no. If you were serious about being healthy, you went out and ran/rode your bike/swam/danced every. Single. Day.
I’m not going to say anything against people who want to do that. They have some strong hearts! However, for the purposes of weight loss this constant activity can actually sabotage your goals, for two reasons.
The first has to do again with metabolism. When your body gets used to you constantly moving at high speed, it eventually is going to slow down its metabolism to conserve its energy.
The second reason has to do with stress. When you overdo workouts, your body goes into stress mode, releasing the stress hormones. Part of the body’s stress response is to slow down metabolism.
Not good if you’re trying to lose weight.
Interval training, besides being more attuned to the kind of exercise our ancient ancestors used to get, ramps up your body’s metabolism. Here’s how it goes: move at a leisurely pace for a couple of minutes, then go as fast as you can from ten to thirty seconds, then slow back down for a couple of minutes, and so on for ten to twenty minutes.
I hate running for more than twenty seconds at a time, but I enjoy interval training. It’s a slower way to develop my endurance, stamina, and heart strength, but I don’t make myself throw up or feel like my lungs are on fire while doing it.
If you are trying to burn fat, these short bursts of speed during short workout times increase your body’s metabolism much more so than going out and jogging for an hour every day.
You’re welcome. 😉
How often should you do it? For our purposes of losing weight, not more than once every three days. Spend your other days in leisurely activity.
If you have read this post because you are serious about achieving your weight loss goals, good for you! The three keys detailed here will take you far. I wish you all the best on your journey.
But I don’t want you to miss the other ten principles in obtaining long-term weight loss. Remember that my book, Journey To Thin, is available at your favorite online digital book retailer – and it won’t cost you a penny.
Go download and read it, and go on to losing weight!