If you've been trying to lose weight for sometime, the chances are, you are feeling overwhelmed with the quantity of health information available on weight loss—weight loss pills, low-fat diets, low-carb diets, counting calories, counting carbs, you name it, they have it.
To be exact, you'd get over 40 million answers on Google just on how to lose weight fast.
Your best hope is that one of those hits would provide a credible, actionable and practical guide that will help you lose the unwanted pounds and body fat fast as they promise.
But instead what you get is outdated weight loss tips or health experts who can’t seem to agree on what actually works and what doesn’t.
That's even without advice on fad diets, weight loss pills and quick weight-loss plans that you already know don’t work as they promise.
This makes losing weight feels like mission impossible.
Not being able to find easy and simple answers to healthy, safe and permanent weight loss is frustrating.
We get it.
That's why we created this simple guide on "how to lose weight fast" with only science backed, safe and sound weight loss tips.
It's practical and actionable, so you can finally start losing weight, burning unwanted body fat and living a healthier and happier life that’s less prone to sickness.
There are many ways to lose weight, but according to latest research we outlined the most important ones below.
This simple weight loss guide outlined here will help you:
- Double your weight loss by starting a weight loss journal or food diary
- Keep your calories in check by showing you how to count your calories
- Increase your daily energy expenditure
- Start losing the first 10 pounds within a month
- Do the right cardio exercise for weight loss
- Level up your strength training exercises, for a toned, tighter body
- Put everything in one plan for a greater success
Keep a Food Diary
Let me kick off this list with one simple trick that's neither exerciser nor food restrictions.
Best of all, it can double the weight you lose.
According to one study conducted by The Kaiser Permanente’s Center of Health Research, people who keep a food diary lose twice as much weight as those who don't.
The findings were from one of the largest and longest running weight loss maintenance trials ever conduced.
Keith Bachman, MD, a Weight Management Initiative member adds that "writing down what you eat doesn’t have to be a formal thing. It can simply be posting a note to yourself or sending yourself a text message. What’s more important is that the process of reflecting on what you eat and how much you’re eating that helps us become more aware of our habits and prevent mindless munching."
In addition to keeping a food diary, participants were asked to follow a heart healthy DASH diet which is short for (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
The DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat or non-fat dairy.
Takeaway: Tap into the power of keeping a food diary. By doing so, you’ll become more aware of what and how much you’re eating.
Writing down the foods you eat is a good first step towards developing healthier eating habits and getting rid of unhealthy ones that are blocking your weight loss.
When embarking on a weight loss journey,one of the first questions people ask is how many calories should I eat? or something like how many calories in a pound?.
Or if you are one step ahead and already know your overall calories count for your weight loss goal, you may be asking more specific questions like how many calories in a banana and how many calories in an avocado?
Whatever your calorie questions are, Emma Bryce can best answer how to determine the calorie count that's right for you in great details here.
If you haven't already noticed, the process of counting calories actually takes several steps and involve a bit of math, which may be a bit difficult to get a full grasp just from the video.
For those looking for a step-by-step guide on how to determine your calories and how to count calories, there is a practical guide later on in this section, so Keep reading.
Should I or Should I Not Count Calories?
Counting calories is a hot topic in weight loss with so much controversial.
And it's also one task every dieter loves to hate.
If you are confused whether you should or shouldn't be counting calories, think about this.
Should you budget your finances?
Yes. Especially, if you are a reckless spender.
Yes, but maybe not as much if you are a cautious spender.
Calorie counting is at its very basic, it's a food (energy) budgeter.
More you have problem keeping your portions in moderation, more counting calories takes importance and makes an impact in your weight loss.
But if you can't bear the idea of counting calories day in, day out, there is another way.
And that is what calorie counting opponents suggest.
Because all these foods tend to be lower in calories, calorie counting becomes less of an importance, and you don’t necessary need to know exactly "how many calories to lose weight”.
Despite a growing popularity in this type of diets such as Paleo, most of us don't necessarily follow a particular diet that completely eliminates the need for counting calories.
So for the majority of us trying to lose weight, counting calories is still one of the most scientifically backed and effortless ways to go about losing weight.
So let's take it from the beginning.
What Is a Calorie?
Calories are a way of keeping track of the body’s energy budget.
A healthy balance between calories occurs when we put in just as much energy as we lose.
If we consistently take in more energy into our bodies than we burn, the excess will gradually be stored as fat in our cells, and consequently, we’ll gain weight.
But, on the other hand, we burn off more energy than we replenish, than we’ll lose weight.
This is why we have to be able to measure the energy we consume and use, and we do that with a unit called the calorie.
One calorie, the kind we measure in food also called a large calorie is defined as the amount of energy it would take to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius.
Everything we eat has a calorie count, a measure of how much energy the item stores in its chemical bonds.
That energy is released during digestion and stored in other molecules.
When the body needs it, it gets broken down to provide energy.
It’s used in three 3 ways:
- 10 % digestion
- 20 % physical activity
- 70 % basic functions for our organs and tissues
That third usage corresponds to our Basil Metabolic Rate ( calories needed for survival ), this is the number of calories you would need to survive, if you weren’t eating or moving around.
Adding some physical activity and digestion, and you arrive at the official guidelines for how many calories the average person requires each day: 2000 for women and 2500 for men.
Those estimates are based on factors such as average weight, physical activity and muscle mass.
So, does that mean everyone should shoot for around 2000 calories?
No, not necessarily!
If you’re doing an energy guzzling activity, like cycling the Tour de France, your body could use up to 9,000 calories per day.
Pregnancy requires slightly more calories than usual, and elderly people typically have a slower metabolic rate, in which energy is burned more gradually, so less is needed.
Here’s something else you should know before you start counting calories.
The calories counts on nutrition labels measure how much energy the food contains, not how much energy you can actually get out of it.
Fibrous foods like celery and whole grain take more energy to digest, so you’d actually wind up with less energy from a 100 calorie serving of celery than a 100 calorie serving of potato chips.
Not to mention the fact that some foods offer nutrients like protein and vitamins, while others provide far less nutritional value. Eating too many of those foods could leave you overweight and malnourished.
And even with the exact same food, exactly how many number of calories you'd get can be different from others.
Variations in things like enzyme levels, gut bacteria, and even intestine length mean varying individual ability to extract energy from food.
So a calorie is a useful energy measure, but to work out exactly how many of them each of us requires we need to factor in things like exercise, food type, and our’s body’s ability to process energy.
In case you’re wondering, how the calories contained in foods are measured, here is the scoop.
They are measured with devices known as calorimeters.
There are quite a few different varieties of calorimeters, but they all operate on the laws of thermodynamics and involved measuring various heat-related properties of food.
How to Count Calories?
One of the first step in knowing "how many calories should i eat a day" is to first figuring out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
As I mentioned earlier, your BMR is the 24-hour measurement of the amount of energy your body uses to perform all basic functions to stay alive.
This counts for about "70% of your body energy uses" excluding any and all physical activity.
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) can be calculated using the Mifflin-St Jeor equations.
These equations require the weight in kilograms, the height in centimeters, and the age in years.
Your BMR has to be multiplied by an activity factor to estimate the daily calorie requirements.
It means taking your activity level into consideration by multiplying your BMR by a number between 1.2 ( if you’re sedentary) or 1.8 ( if you’re really, really active).
- Sedentary (1.200), don’t exercise at all.
- Lightly active (1.375), exercise 1-3 days per week.
- Moderately active (1.550), exercise hard at least half an hour per day.
- Very active ( 1.725), means you engage in fairly strenuous exercise or sports 6-7 days a week.
- Extra active ( 1.900), You have a physical job where you are very active throughout the day.
Women: BMR = 10 X weight + 6.25 x height - 5x age -161
Men: BMR = 10 X weight + 6.25 x height - 5 x age + 5
While it is difficult to estimate your metabolic rate with an estimation, research has shown that the Mifflin St. Jeor Equation consistently gets it within 10% of the actual BMR.
While it is good to have an idea how your BMR is determined and works, you probably don’t want to plug numbers into that equation.
I know I don’t. It's quite messy.
Well, you don’t have to that.
There are a number of free BMR calculators available online that you can use with great ease.
My favorite BMR Calculator that I like to use to calculate BMR is the one fromMyFitnessPal. It is really easy to use.
If you want more options, here a few links to other BMR calculators below.
Once you know your BMR, you know from metabolic standpoint.
This means that you know how many calories you need to eat per day to stay at the same weight.
But BMR doesn’t tell us what happens in days when we're active—like when we exercise, walk an extra mile.
This leads us into our Total Daily Energy Expenditure.
Total Daily Energy Expenditure
BMR is your base caloric measured in a 24-hour period, measuring how much energy your body uses to perform all is basic functions related to keeping your alive (excluding any physical activity).
Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is an estimation of how many calories you burn per day in addition to your BMR, taking into consideration of things like house chores and physical exercises.
Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is calculated by first figuring out your Basil Metabolic Rate, than multiplying that value by an activity level.
So while your BMR is essentially the amount of calories you should be eating at a bare minimum to stay at your current weight. Your TDEE is the amount of calories you burn in addition by taking your activity into account.
A great example, is my close friend Judith who’s 35 years old, 5ft 6 inches and weighs about 140 pounds.
She’s moderately active and exercises a few times per week, but works in retail and is usually standing while at work and moving around.
According to thefastdiet.co.uk, based on Mifflin St-Jeor formula, at the bare minimum, she burns 1,346 calories a day, which is the number of her BMR and for any additional physical activity she does, she estimates her TDEE to be 2,088 calories.
Now let’s jut say Judith wanted to lose 5 pounds in a week - is it possible?
For Judith to lose 5 pounds in a week, she would have to either increase her TDEE while maintaining her diet or eat less than her recommended TDEE.
The body is really good at adjusting and maintaining homeostasis. This is the internal conditions that are relatively constant.
What this means is that if we are not paying close attention to what we are eating, and just working out, we will naturally eat more to compensate for the additional calories we have burned.
So it takes conscious effort of both regular exercise and healthy eating (fewer calories) to successfully lose weight fast and reach your weight loss goals.
How to Lose 10 Pounds In a Month?
First let’s look at how Judith can lose 1-2 pounds per week, and from there she can make more adjustments both to her eating and exercise regimen that will allow her to lose extra pounds she wants off, which will easily equal to the 5 pounds she’s trying to lose.
If Judith's TDEE is 2,088 calories per day, we can safely assume that she is also eating about 2,088 calories per day.
In our post “how many calories are in a pound”, we discussed that 1 pound of fat is made up of 3500 calories.
So in order for Judith to "lose 10 pounds in a month", she needs to burn an additional 35,000 calories, or about 1,200 calories a day.
Frankly, burning and reducing 1,200 calories a day from your diet is pretty tough.
But what is more ideal is probably chopping about 500 calories from her diet, and burning 700 more calories from exercise. That way the total calories expended would still be 1,200!
And yes it is possible. And you ask how?
Just how much food is 500 calories?
- 1 bottles of Coca-cola Classic (20z) - each can is about 240 calories
- Plain bagel ( 3oz) with cream cheese (2 tablespoons)
- 1 large McDonald fries
Vigorous exercise can burn 200 calories in half hour. In fact 20 minutes of Kettlebell workout can chop up about 400 calories.
No to mention just by walking burns approximately 150 calories in half an hour.
And saying no to unhealthy foods, like that morning bagel and cream cheese and replacing with healthy breakfast such as kale banana smoothie, you are well on your way to 10 pounds less within a month.
Though weight loss is not all equal for everyone.
It is important to know that genetic variability plays a big role in whether we will burning all that fat and pounds off or not.
Generally, people who are overweight or obese actually have an easier time losing weight and burning excess fat and weight than leaner people, because their bodies have more fat to use up as energy.
What’s more important to takeaway from here is that BMR and TDEE provide a baseline to begin some experimentation to understand your body and its caloric needs.
As you can see that counting calories and going on low fat and low calorie diets isn’t recommended for healthy weight loss.
You need to understand your body’s specific calories needs before you begin cutting back on calories to lose weight.
How To Determine the Calories in Food
Once you know how many calories you need to achieve your target weight, you have to figure out how many calories are in the food that you eat.
Below we’ll show how to calculate the calories from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats also know as "macronutrients".
Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy.
Nutrients are substances needed for growth, metabolism, and for other body functions. Since "macro" means large, macronutrients are nutrients needed in large amounts.
There are three macronutrients:
While each of these macronutrients provides calories, the amount of calories that each one provides varies.
- Carbohydrates ( provides 4 calories per gram.)
- Protein ( provides 4 calories per gram.)
- Fat (provides 9 calories per gram.)
So, if you are looking at the nutrition Facts label of a product and it said 12 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fat, and 0 grams of protein per serving, you would know that this food has about 48 calories per serving ( 12 grams carbohydrates multiplied by 4 calories for each gram of carbohydrate = 48 calories.
Besides carbohydrates, protein and fat, the only other substance that provides calories is alcohol.
Alcohol provides 7 calories per gram. Alcohol per gram, however, is not a macronutrient because we do not need it for survival.
Quick notes: Fiber consists of carbohydrates that are not digestible and can be subtracted from the amount of total carbs.
One Day Sample Weight Loss Meal Plan
As mentioned earlier, exercise can also add to your calorie expenditure.
If you read our posts in fitness, you already know that there are generally two types of exercise.
We'll cover them both in this section.
Exercise burns calories.
Whether it is cardio aerobic, strength training, or going dancing the night away with friends, all modalities of burning additional energy will contribute to your weight loss efforts.
But the benefits of cardiovascular training are embedded in its name. It’s good for your heart, lungs, and circulatory system.
Not to mention the endorphins released will help you cope with stress, which is a weight increaser itself.
Here are some additional benefits of cardio exercise:
- Promotes brain growth
- Prevents stress
- Promotes focus
- Interrupts anxiety
- Regulates depression
A simple prescription for beginning cardio training is to start with light to moderate exercise.
For sedentary people, this may be a brisk walk or light jog pace. Make sure to invest in some good running shoes to give your feet proper support.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommend that adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity of exercise per week.
Exercise recommendations can be met through 30-60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise ( five days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise (3 days per week)
If you’re new to fitness, make sure you get screened by your health care professional and then start with 25 to 30 minutes of exercise for 2-3 days a week. For the first 5-10 minutes, start at an easy warm up pace (50% of your max heart rate, or about a 4 or 5 out of 10 in terms of perceived exertion scale).
Then pump up the volume to what you feel would be moderate, or a 6 out of 10, check what your heart rate would be here, but it will likely be over 50% of your MHR.
As you your fitness level improves, you can start increasing either the intensity or duration, or both.
While cardio workouts win the battle when it comes to burning calories, but all modalities of exercise will also help you lose weight.
Strength training will particularly help the growth and maintenance of lean muscle tones, meaning it will help you get a nice toned body.
A good balanced in your "workout program" regimen should include both strength training and cardio.
This will ensure you maximize the benefits of exercise while expending sufficient calories to both lose weight and keep it off.
Here are some additional benefits to strength training:
- Increased bone health and lean muscle mass
- Better coordination and body mechanics
- Disease prevention
- Mood enhancement
As we mentioned earlier, your BMR, basal metabolic rate, is how many calories your body uses at rest. And an increase in lean muscle mass will increase your BMR.
One study shows that your muscles contribute to as much as 20 to 25% of your BMR.
This essentially means that you burn more calories, simply by the virtue of having more muscle.
More specifically a pound of muscles burns 6 calories per day at rest, while a pound of fat only burns 2 calories a day. Muscle is about three times more metabolically active at rest than fat.
The best way to achieve this is through strength training.
Getting started with a strength training workout program.
A beginner’s prescription for strength training includes hitting all the major muscle groups through compound exercises or multi-movement exercises. As you become more acquainted with your training, you can begin using free weights such as dumbbells, kettlebells and medicine balls.
For strength training or resistance training, ACSM recommends healthy adults to train each major muscle group 2 to 3 days a week.
Aim for 2 to 4 sets of each exercise to improve strength and power.
While many believe performing as many repetitions maximize results, it's far from the truth. Appropriate repetition count is based on your fitness level and goal.
Here are some general guidelines released by ACSM.
- 8-12 repetitions for improving strength and power
- 10-15 repetitions for improving strength in middle-age and older adults with minimum exercise experience
- 15-20 repetitions for muscular endurance
Resting 48 hours between strength training sessions is recommended for most exercisers.
If you are just starting out, I suggest starting off with just body-weight workouts such as the ones below:
- Beginner’s guide to body weight workouts
- Quick morning workout routine
- 7 minute workout
Continue these bodyweight only workouts for 2-3 weeks before adding weights or additional resistance.
If you are short on time, this 20 minute bodyweight workout is also an excellent one that incorporates compound, multi-joint movements that target your full body.
Grab the workout below.
Put Everything Together
As you can see, knowing your BMR and TDEE gives you a way to monitor how many calories you need and how often you need to exercise to lose weight.
I hope it's apparent by now that there’s no need to take weight loss pills or weight loss supplements to lose weight fast.
The two most effective and scientifically proven ways to lose weight is through healthy eating and exercise.
And more specifically, counting and budgeting your calories while being physically more active is the way to lose weight effortlessly.
Leave us a comment below to let us know your thoughts, or if you would like more tips on how to lose weight fast and safely!.