We automatically imagine working out in the gym and eating salad when you think about healthy weight loss. Those are pretty much the only things that people do if they want to lose weight. But there’s so much more to the equation if you want healthy weight loss that will actually last. Fad diets and overworking your body is not the recipe for slimming down. Of course you have to focus on your exercise routine and your diet, but there are many more pieces to the puzzle that people often overlook.
There are many different habits that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. For example, you’re not going to lose any weight if you’re staying out late every night and barely getting enough sleep before you hit the gym the next morning. It doesn’t matter how many weights you lift or salads you eat—if you don’t have your whole lifestyle in order, you won’t see any change in your physique and overall body fat.
There’s no one right way to achieve healthy weight loss, but there are definitely some fundamental ideas and concepts to follow in order to hit your goals. Here are six healthy weight loss tips to help you get there.
Be in a Calorie Deficit
In order to lose weight, you have to be burning more calories every day than you’re consuming. No matter what kind of trendy diets and workouts you see online, this is the only tried and true formula for healthy weight loss. You need to be burning more calories than you’re consuming every day. Just to give you a little more reference, the human body loses one pound of fat from being in a deficit of 3,500 calories. So every 3,500 calories you burn, you lose one pound.
I know that counting calories every single day for the rest of your life sounds miserable, and I would never insist that you do so. But counting calories in the first few months or weeks of your weight-loss journey will significantly help you dial in the correct calorie intake so you get big results in the end. However, before you get started, you have to know how many calories it takes to sustain your body each day. You can either use a macro calculator or get a rough estimate by multiplying 15 by your bodyweight. From there you can decide how many calories to cut each day in order to reach your goals. I would recommend starting with cutting 300-500 calories a day, depending on your goals and current weight.
Prioritize Strength Training
A common mistake that people make when they’re in pursuit of healthy weight loss is doing a ton of cardio every day. You might think that by running 5 miles and sprinting on the bike for 30 minutes every day will burn more calories and help you lose weight faster. This is a rookie mistake. Cardio has its benefits and you should be putting your cardiovascular system through a healthy amount of stress so it can adapt accordingly, but it’s not going to be the key to your healthy weight loss.
Strength training is the key. The more you lift weights, the more lean muscle mass you build, the faster your metabolism works. And the faster your metabolism works, the more fat you burn while you’re resting. There are a ton of other benefits of lifting weights (stronger bones, resilient immune system, better sleep, improved mood, increased sex drive), but perhaps the best benefit is that it will help you lose weight faster. Plus, when you strength train in the morning, you end up burning more calories throughout the day than if you went for a run that morning.
Eliminate Processed Foods and Refined Sugar
The quality of your calories matters just as much as the quantity. You can’t achieve healthy weight loss if you’re eating potato chips, fast food, and brownies every day. There’s nothing wrong with having a dessert every now and then, but it’s important to limit the processed foods as much as possible so your body is a fine-tuned machine. This will help you digest food better and lose weight faster.
Rather than eating food and snacks that come out of a package, fill your plate every day with lean protein, fresh vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Prioritize foods like fish, chicken, and beef, and pair them with tons of leafy greens. Instead of eating simple carbohydrates like white bread, go for things like sweet potatoes, quinoa, and brown rice instead.
Get High-Quality Sleep
Sleep is the most overlooked health factor that contributes more to healthy weight loss than people like to think. When we’re stressed or busy, our sleep is the first thing that suffers. But you’re missing out on some major weight-loss benefits if you don’t get enough shut-eye. There are a lot of things that happen in your mind and body when you’re exhausted—and none of them are good.
When you’re tired, you experience elevated levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which naturally makes you eat more. Your amygdala, the deep emotional center of your brain, is hyperactive while your prefrontal cortex—the “CEO part of the brain” that’s responsible for logical and rational thinking—is much less active. This is a lethal combination that causes you to have emotional outbursts and emotionally overeat. Furthermore, when you don’t sleep enough, your metabolism functions much slower and isn’t able to work properly. If you truly want to lose weight at a healthy, sustainable pace, sleep more!
Optimize Your Sun Exposure
The sun is another factor that folks don’t think about that much when it comes to healthy weight loss. In fact, you probably rarely think about how much time you spend in the sun every day. The average American spends 7% of their life outside. That only equals to 1.5 hours per week—that’s hardly any time at all! There are big benefits to being outside in the sun every day. The more time you spend in the sun, you experience increased levels of serotonin, which is the happy chemical in your brain that curbs cravings and makes you feel fuller for longer. You also experience increased levels of testosterone in your body, which not only puts you in a better mood but also speeds up your strength training gains and your healthy weight loss.
Get outside and be in the sun for as much time as you can every day!