These seven weight loss strategies helped me lose weight and stay trim over the years.
After losing 62 pounds and keeping it off for more than a decade, I’m pretty familiar with the challenges of maintaining my preferred body over the long run. But it wasn’t always easy, and working with dozens of coaching clients over the years has made it clear to me that most overweight and obese people find it hard to stay trim, and will struggle if they don’t have a few proven weight loss strategies to fall back on.
I’ve been eating a vegan diet for 13 years, and went more than a decade eating a diet entirely composed of raw fruits and veggies. If you listened to the hype, you’d imagine that these strategies alone would be enough to keep my weight exactly where I wanted it. But even these “magic,” buzz word strategies are often not enough for everyone.
Luckily, I feel like I’ve got an effective system dialed in, and maintaining my weight isn’t a struggle at this point.
The math gets a little tricky because I’ve gained more than 20 pounds of muscle since I started strength training in 2011, and on and off my body fat levels has fluctuated a bit as I’ve experimented with different things or just gotten lazy because I figured I had everything under control. I’ve even done several weight gain and weight loss experiments just to try out different techniques or experiment with various theories of weight management.
But I always return to the same weight loss strategies for losing fat and maintaining weight loss. They work for me, and they seem to work well for my coaching clients.
Here are my core weight loss strategies that have stood the test of time.
One: Calorically-Diluted Food
Eating food that’s more energy-dense than is necessary to curb your appetite frequently leads to overeating.
That’s why raw fruits and vegetables have been the core of my diet for years. When you can fill your stomach up with fewer calories, you generally eat less food, and therefore fewer calories.
Is it possible to overeat even on calorically-diluted food? Sure, and that’s why some the strategies below become necessary. But particularly if you don’t intent to track your calories religiously, making sure you stick to calorically-diluted foods and practice food dilution makes a lot of sense.
Even if you don’t want to stick to a mostly raw diet, making sure your food choices are low in caloric density, and further diluting density with very-low calorie vegetables, works well.
Learn more about this strategy, and give a detailed chart showing the caloric densities of various foods to help you make good choices in Raw Food Weight Loss And Vitality.
Two: Meditation, Food Awareness, and Shifting Mental Gears
For some people, the challenge of weight loss is more mental and emotional than physical. For instance, they might be perfectly satisfied after a healthy meal, yet find themselves back in the kitchen soon afterward, munching away.
There is no single answer. Some people use food to bury emotions. Know the term, “comfort food?”?
It’s almost universally heavy, hard-to-digest food that’s full of fat and processed carbs. Put that in your belly and you’ll feel a bit sleepy and numbed out. Suddenly, your problems don’t seem so immediate anymore – it’s kind fo relaxing, but it doesn’t address your actual problems and makes you fatter to boot.
Others eat because they’re bored, stressed, or want more food because they barely paid attention to the food they’ve already consumed.
So how do you get around these problems?
- Meditation is key component of my life. Not only does it make me happier and more productive, but I’m universally more conscious of my food choices after a good meditation session. Get my free introduction to meditation here.
- Change Your State: If you’re interested in eating again after a filling meal, sitting down at a computer or watching TV probably isn’t a good idea. But if you can get more connected to your body, and get it revved up, you’ll probably feel less driven to consume excess calories. Simply cranking out a few sets of burpees almost universally breaks the temptation to eat for me. Going for a walk after dinner works for others. I talk about more strategies to stop overeating here.
- Pay attention as you eat. Stop eating at your computer or in front of your TV. Instead, sit down, chew each bite at least 15 times, and keep your mind on what you’re doing. You’ll likely notice the cessation of hunger far more quickly, and will be more likely to be satisfied with what you’ve already consumed so you don’t end up going up for seconds. Attention is a powerful thing.
Three: Food Habits and Rules
Having habits and rules established around food makes losing weight and keeping it off easier. I’ve got a number that work for me. Besides simply limiting myself to healthy, low caloric density plant foods on almost all occasions, the most powerful food rule I’ve embraced is intermittent fasting. There are a number of health benefits stemming from it that have been identified by researchers, but simply keeping your eating window limited and not overindulging when you do eat makes shedding fat far easier.
Back around 2007, my first attempt at intermittent fasting was, “no eating before noon or after 8 p.m.”, and I stuck with that for years, with great success. Later I decreased that window further, not beginning eating till 2 or 3 p.m.
I’ve tried picking one or more days of the week and not eating at all, but didn’t like the decrease in athletic performance on these days.
A variation I experimented with last year, and which I enjoyed quite a bit, was fasting for 24 hours twice a week, but with that period beginning at 7 p.m. on one day, and ending at 7 p.m. on the next. So I still ate every day, and could still get in a good workout, but went 24 hours without food.
Another good food rule to consider is eliminating “healthy foods,” that you find you can’t eat moderately. If you consistently overeat on it, it’s probably not a good idea to have it, at least not regularly.
Four: Sufficient Protein And Fat Intake:
If having a trimmer body costs you your libido and causes incessant hunger and lower muscle mass, it might not be worth it.
Luckily, these problems can be eliminated or at least heavily ameliorated by tailoring your diet.
Five: Exercise For Weight Maintenance
The National Weight Loss Control registry has found that exercise plays a huge role in maintaining weight loss – just not the up-front weight loss itself (diet plays the bigger role here, despite what you’d think with all the people who join gyms to lose weight).
Virtually all of those on the registry who have kept excess weight loss off during the long run do regular exercise. Find a way to get it into your life on a daily basis.
Six: Low Reward Food Choices:
Processed fat (like oils), processed sugar, and salt are tempting to the human palette, and they frequently cause us to overeat. Studies looking at salt, for instance, have found that people will eat considerably more calories from a salted food than from an unsalted one because adding salt makes the food more stimulating. Do an experiment to see how much cutting out processed oil, sugar, and salt affects your appetite.
The King Of Weight Loss Strategies
Running A Calorie Deficit
Let’s be blunt: if you want to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories – anyone who tells you otherwise is delusional or lying. The science is clear in this regard. If you want to keep that weight off, you need to continue consuming this reduced amount over the long haul.
How do you do this?
You can use the tools laid out above to try create a caloric deficit without consciously restricting calories.
You can also simply track your caloric intake with a small deficit – enough to lose a pound a week, for instance. Some find this route to be less stressful if they have a history of overeating, since they know for certain that they’re on the right track at any given time.
I’ve used both strategies, and have found one or the other to be more effective at various points of my life, depending on what I wanted to do. They’re both perfectly valid – don’t let youtube gurus tell you caloric restriction is wrong. Tracking calories does not make you broken or a failed vegan/plant-based eater.
Ready to get started on a diet plan that will help you lose weight and feel more energized?
Check out Raw Food Weight Loss And Vitality.