I struggled with my weight for many years. I tried nearly every diet out there. I lost weight with some diets, but shortly after I regained even more. I resigned and was 100% sure that I'll never wear a cropped shirt or a fitted leggings.
But then I learned that losing weight is not that difficult and actually simpler than gaining (muscle) weight. Here is the uncensored truth about body fat reduction.
90% diet, 10% exercise (or even less)
Calories are king. You have to consume less calories than you burn, in order to lose weight. Carbs don't make you fat! Fat does not make you fat! Too many calories make you fat!
You don't have to exercise at all to lose body fat. However, it's easier when you work out, because you can eat more and you'll look better in the end.
If you want to add regular exercise to your routine make sure to focus on weight lifting, instead of cardio. Many people gain weight when they only do cardio.
Why? Because people often times overestimate the calories they burned during a session (30 minutes of vigorous exercise burns just a few hundred calories - even if the cardio machine or your fitness tracker say otherwise!). And it's too easy to eat the calories back.
However, if you love cardio and you really want to implement it into your workout routine, don't do more than an hour or two per week. If done correctly, it can speed up the process of losing body fat a little bit.
Any program that promises a loss of 5lbs/2kg per week is bullshit
Quick fixes and fast solutions. That's what most people look for. I know, it's tempting to lose wight without great effort.
The truth is, however, every diet program that promises a weight loss of 5 lbs (2 kg) per week is utter nonsense! Why? It's almost impossible - unless you weight A LOT - to lose so much fat every week. Nor is it healthy.
Yes, while being on a crash diet you will lose weight in a short period of time. But it's not all body fat, but also water and muscle, which explains the rapid weight loss. Plus, your metabolism adapts to the amount of energy you feed your body. Hence, you burn calories less quickly than usual to "survive" longer.
See, you have to think twice about trying such fads. In the end, you might have lost the amount of fat you wanted. Well done. You also managed to lose several pounds of very important muscle mass and your metabolism is so efficient, that you now gain fat by eating 1.600 calories. Yo-yo effect anyone?
Not all exercise routines are healthy or beneficial
These days people are so cardio-centric. Let me tell you that chronic-cardio is not healthy at all.
I see lots of people doing 45 minutes on the Elliptical every day, wondering why their physiques never change. It seems like cardio has overtaken every other fitness activity.
Remember, too much of anything isn't healthy. Listen to your body, it tells you when something is not right.
Furthermore, your body is a lot smarter than you think. The more you do a specific exercise, the more your body adapts to it in order to increase it's efficiency. Again, this is why most people think they burn more calories than they actually do, which can leave you in a caloric surplus at the end of the day.
That's why I love weightlifting. By increasing the weight, you're able to put your body in a new situation every time. Hence, it's a lot harder for your body to adapt to the exercise.
Don't believe the crap fitness models on Instagram or other social media try to sell
Unfortunately there are many industries in this world, that are just really bad, like for instance the tobacco industry. But the fitness industry is certainly up there in the top 3 and it makes me sick to my stomach.
The most 'powerful' and important people in the business are not the ones that know their stuff. There are exceptions of course, but generally, the well educated, knowledgeable people are only 'famous' within specific circles, not in the general public.
Meanwhile, celebrities use their social reach to sell worthless advice, plans, books and other crap, just because they are skinny or look remotely athletic.
Sure, celebrities have fans. And fans believe their idols. But that doesn't mean you should follow their advice for everything. On top of that, you have 'fitness Youtubers'. Most of which use performance enhancing drugs but claim they don't. Even though everyone who knows how those work, can tell from their looks. But their fans believe them. Buy their overpriced, bad quality supplements.
Don't get me wrong. By all means, support your favourite Youtuber, if you want to! It's a nice way to show your appreciation for their work. But never follow influencers mindlessly.
Losing weight is a lifestyle, not a diet
First, those extreme calorie-deficit-diets require extreme deprivation, it's unlikely you can stick to such a plan over time. And if you can stick to it, it's not fun at all.
Generally speaking, diets that dip below 1100 calories per day are very difficult to adhere for a longer period of time. It's nearly impossible to get all the essential nutrients your body needs in order to work properly.
Please stop researching for "fast weight loss diets" or "how to lose weight in 3 days". You didn't put that extra weight on in 3 days, so you aren't able to lose it in 3 days. Look for more sustainable ways to live healthier and to lose weight by making healthier decisions. This shouldn't be a change that lasts for about 3 weeks and then you go back to your old habits.
Incorporate more healthy habits into your lifestyle on a weekly basis. Even baby steps are steps in the right direction. For a healthy lifestyle it also matters where those calories come from. They should be made up as much as possible of whole, unprocessed foods, combined with quality protein, complex carbs and healthy essential fats.
Moderation in the long run is much better and healthier than extremes in the short run.
Your body is telling the truth
I will keep this one short.
It doesn't matter if you say you eat less or if you exercise more often. Your body always tells the truth.
There is no such thing as a magic weight loss pill, magic food, combinations or tricks. If you aren't losing weight, you still eat too much. Reduce your food intake and make smarter choices. For example, a huge salad with lean protein will fill you up much longer than a cookie.
Know the saying "Just eat healthy to lose weight"? Unfortunately, that's not true. To lose weight it's not enough to just eat healthy. You have to be in a caloric deficit!
High protein it is
By consuming higher amounts of protein, your overall deficit increases due to higher caloric expenditure.
The higher amount of protein will also spare muscle on a fat loss diet, which means you'll not lose as much muscle mass as you would on a diet low in protein (your body will not only burn fat on a deficit, but muscle too).
Even if calories are equal, high protein diets have been shown over and over again, to produce better results, due to the high thermic effect of protein.
So high protein it is. In general, aim for roughly 2g per kg of body weight or 1g per pound of body weight per day. Going a little bit higher than that could be necessary to protect muscles even more, depending on your genetics. But don't do 300g protein diets like some bodybuilders do! Your kidneys will thank you.
Depending on your body type, genetics and preferences, you should have either carbs high and fat low or the other way around. Don't do high fat AND high carb! That's it.
See, it actually is quite easy. Now that you have the most important keys to losing weight, you need to look at the things that are keeping you from reaching your goal. Habits, stress, activity level, mindset - all these things come into play.