There are plenty of ways you can adopt to lose weight, fast. But first, we need to take a step back and work out what your goal really is – is it to lose weight, or lose fat or lose belly fat?
Most people confuse weight loss with losing belly fat, which is what we really mean. Weight loss itself isn’t a bad thing, but remember your weight is made up of muscle just as it is made up of fat and water. And you don’t want to lose lean muscle – more lean muscle helps burn more calories, which helps keep the fat away!
So with that said, let’s get into it and see how to lose weight:
What causes weight gain and why do we get belly fat
Before we get into how to lose weight and particularly, how to lose lower belly fat, we need to understand why our body produces belly fat instead of more muscle.
There are many reasons why we get belly fat, and these can range from a bad sugary diet, lack of exercise, stress and little to no exercise. Sometimes, there could be a certain illness preventing you from being able to keep lean. Generally speaking, if calories consumed are greater than calories burned, you’ll gain weight. And if those calories are made up of fat inducing ingredients such as sugars, your weight will be heavily comprised of fat rather than muscle or water.
However, there are things we can all do to lose that belly fat. And boy is it important. There are two known types of fat
- Visceral – fat which surrounds your organs (this is dangerous)
- Subcutaneous – fat which sits under the skin (this can be quickly rectified)
Having a high degree of belly fat, or fat in general, can increase the ratings of Visceral fat in your body, which can subsequently increase the risk of a number of health issues, including: (link to healthline or nhs)
- Heart disease and heart attacks
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cancer – breast cancer and colon cancer
- Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia
4 ways to lose weight, get rid off that belly fat and get rid off those love handles
There are many ways in which we can lose weight and burn fat, and I’m sure you’ve read about all the latest in-fashion / trendy “get slim quick” methods across the various social media channels. However, following a diet, or a fad, without understanding the lifestyle implications will help you get results that are only temporary, make you hungry, and often make you short-tempered with hanger pains.
We outline 4 steps you need to take, as the first step, to start your weight loss journey and begin to look and feel great.
Number 1 – Cut back on Added Sugars
There are no two questions about it, you need to cut back on added sugars. Why?
Sugar is high in empty calories. Note we used “added-sugars”, so are not referring to natural sugars found in fruits and whole foods. Sugary foods tend to be high in empty-calories, which means they offer little nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates and micro-nutrients like vitamins, which your body needs to function properly. Macro-nutrients such as Protein tend to promote the feeling of fullness. Protein does this by controlling blood-sugar levels and regulating your hunger hormones such as Ghrelin, a hormone that drives hunger. Increased protein is also linked to an increase or healthy development of lean muscle mass, which if managed properly, can help with burning more calories, ultimately keeping your weight in control.
However, by consuming empty calories, your body will not be satiated and will make you feel “hungry” again shortly after, leading to you eating more which, if it becomes a habit, will eventually lead to calorie surplus and therefore weight-gain.
Eating sugary foods also increases your blood sugar – hyperglycaemia, which if pro-longed can result in insulin-resistance. Your body produces insulin as a response to move sugar from your blood and into your cells, where it can be used for energy in times where needed – such as exercise or other activity. A high blood sugar levels causes cell inflammation, which then become resistant to insulin therefore causing insulin resistance and impairing the normal energy storage functioning of your body.
Insulin resistance then begins to interfere with the production of another hormone called Leptin, which helps regulate hunger. When Leptin response function is not normal, you feel hungrier which contributes to your weight and fat gain.
Added sugars will contribute to weight gain by increasing your empty-calorie intake, stopping the proper functioning of insulin and leptin hormones which regulate your energy and hunger levels, while depriving your body of essential macro-nutrients such as Protein, which helps you feel fuller for longer, and also contributes to lean muscle mass.
Number 2 – Watch your Diet! Cut out Alcohol and get rid off Meat
A bottle of wine contains about 635 calories, a pint of larger contains about 180 calories. Just cutting this out (and as long as you don’t substitute with another drink), will help cut down weight.
This maybe controversial for some. And we will go into this in more detail in other articles. But avoiding meat is probably one of the best ways of reducing weight and getting rid off fat. You’ll consume less fats, more fibre and micro-nutrients such as Vitamin C, and reap other benefits such as healthier skin and more energy. By reducing the amount of bad fat, you’ll open your blood vessels and begin to absorb more nutrients.
Plus, you’re doing your heart and planet a favour.
Empty calories will quickly add up. If you drink alcohol, full-fat / sugary soda beverages and eat meat, cutting these out of your diet (or moderating to once-twice a week if that) will reduce your calorie intake and help you achieve the simple weight loss formula of Calories In < Calories Burned.
Number 3 – Kick Start your Metabolism by eating Protein
Leading on from point number 1, where consuming added sugars deprives your body of essential macro-nutrients like protein and healthy fats, an important part of your weight loss journey is to jump start your metabolism.
Metabolism refers to the chemical processes that take place inside your body, to keep you alive and functioning “normally”. This process requires energy, and the amount of energy your body needs to do these processes is called the “Basal Metabolic Rate” or BMR. The higher your metabolic rate, the more calories you burn, the more you lose weight and burn fat.
There are a few ways you can do this, including consuming more protein. A diet high in protein has been shown to help assist weight loss by boosting metabolism
Because Protein helps develop lean muscle mass (particularly if combined with exercising), and muscles require energy (read = glucose) more than fat, increasing your muscle mass will increase your basal metabolic rate (BMR) as there is now more muscle on your body which requires energy to keep you alive, which then helps burn more calories.
Be warned, just by adding an increase of protein to your diet itself will not help you lose that unwanted weight or belly fat. That’s because proteins still consist of calories – roughly 4 calories per gram of protein, which will lead to a calorie surplus. In order to maximise benefit of the increased protein, you need to begin weight training, which stimulates your muscle fibres to grow with the extra protein providing the fuel for your muscles to grow. If you can’t introduce weight training into your lifestyle, replacing refined Carbohydrates (cereals, bread) with protein could help by balancing out your calorie intake (not too much, not too little, just right).
Increasing your protein intake will help you lose weight and burn fat, by increasing your basal metabolic rate (BMR). However, if you increase your protein intake, you need to either begin lifting weights to stimulate your muscle growth that is fed by the increased protein, or, replace refined carbohydrates in your diet with the protein to balance out your calorie intake.
Number 4 – Get active and burn more calories. When calories burned are greater then calories consumed, the result = weight loss
Leading from point number 2 above, you need to get active (as much as you can). This could be difficult for some (hence the suggestions above have come first), however if you are able to undertake some form of activity, combined with steps 1 and 2 above, you will begin to maximise your weight loss and fat burning goals.
The consensus usually sticks with weight training as being the best all-rounder exercise to burn the most calories due to its muscle building effects and increase in Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) noted in point 2 above. However, any form of exercise whether weight training, cardio, swimming, mountain climbing and/or calisthenics will contribute to increasing calorie expenditure. Coupled with a good diet, you will begin to see weight loss results.
Remember the simple weight loss formula of Calories In < Calories Burned. A way of burning extra calories is by working out and being active. Being active takes energy which forces your body to begin breaking down the fats/ glucose stores it has and helps you lose weight.
Optional (and recommended) things you can do to lose weight and keep it away
Here are more things you can do to help achieve your weight loss goal, and maximise your fat burning:
- Drink more water – it is often suggested, and cited, that drinking more water can help shed those extra pounds. It can do this by increasing your metabolism, and reducing water retention
- Try intermittent fasting – as you eat only 1 meal a day, during the period in which you are not eating, your body produces less insulin. As insulin causes the body to store energy as fat, the less insulin produced, the less fat you store.
- Drink caffeine (coffee or tea) – caffeine is a thermogenic that can help mobilise fat and increase your metabolic rate. However, please bear in mind you will need to burn more calories through exercising or weight lifting in order to use the fat as energy
- Eat foods rich in fibre – particularly soluble fibre, which essentially slows down how quickly your stomach releases foods into the gut
- Sleep – sleep impacts your weight in several ways, in its most simplest way, by helping you control your hunger cravings
- Reduce stress – stress, along with making you eat more for comfort, releases cortisol, which promotes body fat making it hard to lose weight
- Eat slower – quite simply, eating slower helps prevent you over eat by allowing your stomach to send the signal to your brain, indicating you’re full. Ever heard the saying “eyes too big for your stomach”, yeah… eat small, slow and see if you fancy that second serving
- Follow a diet – sometimes a diet plan can help keep you accountable by tracking calories, macro nutrients and sticking to the plan. A popular diet you can follow is the Keto Diet which limits your carb intake to less than 50g a day, challenging your body to run on fat for energy.
How much weight should I expect to lose when I start? In other words, how much weight loss is healthy per week
When it comes to how much weight you can expect to lose in a week, everyone is different. Some people can lose anywhere from 2-5lb per week, but the more weight you have the quicker you will lose weight. Switching to a Keto diet (high-fat, low-carb) can have a major impact on your weight loss.
In summary, the amount of weight you lose depends on the person and your lifestyle. Some people will lose weight quicker than others, but do not give up! Great results, take time.
In summary, to lose weight in the healthy and sustainable way, you need to make a lifestyle change. Remove added-sugars from your diet; these are full of empty calories and will contribute toward insulin resistance, which limits how your body metabolises food into energy. Removing alcohol and meat from your diet will help you reduce your calorie intake and help you consume more vitamins and minerals.
Increasing protein and taking on an activity; ideally one which contributes to muscle gain such as weight lifting, will assist in increasing your BMR and burn more calories during rest.
But this is a lifestyle change, and one of the quickest and long-term ways of losing weight. For quicker results, you can try Keto or Intermittent Fasting along with adopting a healthy and active lifestyle that further pushes your weight loss goals.
Let us know what you think and what actions you have taken to help hit your weight loss goals.