Weight loss is often portrayed as being very complicated, but it really isn’t. That’s not to say that losing weight is easy, but the theory is very simple. In this article, we will be looking at how to lose weight naturally.
The Science of Weight Loss
Weight loss and weight gain are governed by energy balance. This is a measure of the calories (units of energy) that you eat/drink vs the calories that you burn each day. It’s often called calories in vs calories out or CICO.
- Food that you eat
- Drinks that you drink
- Resting metabolism (the calories you burn sitting around doing nothing)
- Digestion (you burn calories digesting the food you eat)
- Non-exercise tasks (gardening, brushing your hair, climbing a ladder, mowing the lawn)
- Exercise tasks (going to the gym, playing basketball with your friends, going for a run)
If you eat and drink more calories than you burn, then you will gain weight. If you eat and drink fewer calories than you burn, then you will lose weight. If your calories in and your calories out are identical then you will maintain your weight.
When talking about CICO, it is best to think in terms of weeks and months, rather than focusing on it day to day.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when trying to lose weight, is to place too much emphasis on short term success.
“Right, I want to lose weight fast so I will cut out loads of calories from my diet and go to the gym every day for the next 100 days!”
This approach rarely works, because it is too extreme and completely unrealistic. This is why you see so many people joining the gym in January and leaving in March.
A Different Approach to Weight Loss?
Instead of this short term approach, let’s look at the problem differently. At the moment, you are either maintaining your weight or gaining weight. If you are currently maintaining your weight and want to lose weight, then you only have to make one small change to start seeing a difference.
Let’s take a look at that again. If your weight has been the same for a while (maintenance) then your calories in and calories out will be equal.
Let’s say that your calories in are 3,000 per day and your calories out are 3,000 per day. If your calories were higher, you would be gaining weight. If they were lower you would be losing weight.
- If you were to lower your calories in to 2,900 per day while maintaining your calories out, then you would lose weight over time.
- If you were to keep your calories in at 3,000 per day but increase your activity to 3,100 calories you would lose weight.
- If you lowered your calories to 2,950 per day and increased your calories burned to 3,050 per day you would lose weight.
So, how many calories can you burn by walking for 30 minutes? Well, a 175lb man (80kg) who walked at a normal pace for 30 minutes could burn around 146 calories according to this calorie-burning calculator.
This means that a 10-minute walk would burn around 50 calories. Rather than trying to fit in five 1-hour gym workouts per week, you could just add 10 more minutes of walking to your schedule!
Does that sound a lot more realistic?
Now, how would you consume 50 calories fewer each day? Crazy diet? Or how about this?
A 2013 study in the British Medical Journal found that on average, people underestimated their calorie intake by 500 calories per day. This is partly due to not measuring grains such as pasta or rice.
So why not start measuring your rice next time you make a meal? This could easily save you 50 calories per day.
How to Lose Weight Naturally
Those two steps: Walking for ten minutes more, and properly weighing your rice or pasta before each meal should save you 100 calories per day. Do that for 35 days and that is 3,500 calories. Which would represent 1lb of fat burned.
Now we know what you’re thinking, “1lb? I need to lose 10lbs”.
But that’s 1lb of fat in just over a month from barely making any changes to your lifestyle. Increase your walking from 10 minutes extra per day to 20 minutes extra per day and that’s 5,250 calories in 35 days. Increase your walking to 30 minutes and that’s 7,000 calories per day.
Swap out your usual 200 calorie chocolate bar for a 150 calorie chocolate bar, and that’s a further 1,750 calories per day. Maybe swap your current treat for a high protein one that can help boost your metabolism and will be lower in calories too? Check out fitnstyle.com to learn more.
Start off very small, establish a habit, and then build on that habit.
Once you’ve created this habit you can look at Firedout’s guide to developing a sustainable fitness habit to build on this further.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to lose weight naturally?
The trick to losing weight naturally is to ensure that the new habits that you start to follow fit in naturally with your current lifestyle. Small changes over time are much more successful than huge changes that fizzle out within a month.
How to lose weight fast?
The desire to lose weight fast is completely understandable. But there are no quick fixes when it comes to weight loss. Not healthy ones anyway. The best thing that you can do is to make a sensible start and come to accept your current body for what it is.
Fast weight loss methods tend to involve drastic calorie cutting or excessive exercise techniques, in a desperate attempt to create a massive calorie deficit. But these methods are dangerous, do not work long term, and can actually lead to a weight gain rebound in the future.
How to lose belly fat?
Sadly, the claim that you can target fat loss (i.e. lose fat from your belly while not losing fat from your legs or hips) is false. When your body is burning fat, it does so from wherever it is stored, usually from areas that have the highest concentration of stored fat.
What exercise burns the most belly fat?
Again, you can’t target where you lose fat from, you can just pick exercises that burn lots of calories. Finding the exercise that burns the most fat is not too hard. A high intensity interval training workout (HIIT) should do that.
But you want to create a program that will burn the most fat overall, and that may mean that you choose a different form of exercise that suits your needs. For example, if you are 50 years old then a HIIT program may not be suitable and could cause injury. A 90 minute bike ride may be a better choice and is therefore the best fat burner for you.