Successful weight loss plans are all based on one simple principle: burn more calories than you eat. Unfortunately, this principle has some complicated pitfalls that limit success. Ignoring calorie intake, eating excess junk food and physical inactivity are the quickest ways to kill weight loss.
1. Ignoring Calorie Intake. A calorie deficit is a state in which you burn more calories than you eat. During periods of calorie deficiency, the body is forced to burn fat stores for energy to make up for the difference between the amount of calories burned and eaten. Too often, those looking to lose weight estimate or completely ignore calorie intake. This leads to overeating and a non-existent calorie deficit; no calorie deficit means no weight loss.
Creating a calorie deficit is a two step process: 1) figure out how many calories your body burns each day and 2) ensure you burn more than you eat. It is fairly easy to estimate how many calories your body burns each day. Tools such as the calorie calculator estimate energy needs based on age, gender, size and physical activity level. After you figure out how many calories you burn each day, use a calorie counter such as MyFitnessPal to easily track your intake.
2. Excessive Intake of Simple Carbs and Sugars. Slow digestion keeps you full for a much longer period of time than quick digestion, keeping your calorie intake lower. Foods high in simple carbs and sugars are the biggest culprits of quick digestion. These foods are high in calories and do little to fill you up causing overeating. Foods made from simple carbs and sugars include: soda, candy, baked goods (doughnuts, muffins, cookies), fruit juice and white bread/pasta. Limit your intake of simple carbs to during and immediately following intense exercise.
3. Eating Out/Not Cooking. Eating out while avoiding home cooked meals leads to an increased calorie intake. Meals at restaurants typically contain more calories than home cooked meals. Cooking allows you to control calories, portion sizes and cleanliness.
4. Junk & Fast Food. Junk and fast foods are loaded with calories but provide little satiety. These foods are digested quickly leading to overeating throughout the day. Meals from fast food restaurants contain 1,000 - 1,500 calories, an excessive amount for any weight loss plan. Junk snacks are also high in calories. A few cookies can contain 300 - 400 calories. Instead of relying on unhealthy convenience foods, plan ahead by packing a lunch and planning healthy snacks throughout the day (fruits, salads, nuts, seeds).
5. Physical Inactivity. There are two parts of a successful weight loss strategy: diet and exercise. It is extremely difficult to lose weight without combining both. Physical inactivity quickly kills even the best diet. Exercise builds muscle, burns calories and makes losing weight easier than dieting alone. Get a free, personalized exercise routine.
The Bottom Line
Permanent and healthy weight loss takes planning. Conveniences such as eating out, junk food and watching too much TV are nice but cause unwanted weight gain. Losing weight requires sacrifice: counting calories, cooking your own meals, eating healthy snacks and exercising.