Weight loss isn’t just a case of looking good; it’s building your health. According to public health England, in 2017 63.8% of adults in England have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or over. The closer you are to being obese, the more at risk you are of disease. Check out the regional statistics below:
Statistics sourced from wikipedia
Losing weight can be tricky, at times it can even seem impossible. I remember following a “calorie deficit” program a long time ago; it just didn’t work. In fact I regularly receive emails from folk eating as little as 1000 calories a day, who cannot lose weight.
Calorie deficit diet plans are not the best way to lose weight, these diets are doomed; destined to fail. Its outdated science – your body needs nutrients not calories, besides that counting calories is inaccurate. Proper weight loss has to be targeted – specifically from fat mass. Generic weight loss means nothing; it’s absolutely not a measure of how much body fat you have lost.
That’s why I have put together this fool-proof guide, so that you can quickly discover exactly what you need to do to actually lose weight, and more importantly, the right kind of weight. I cover all the fastest ways to lose weight, in both lay-terms and in expert terms; there’s a take-home for everyone.
If you are serious about weight loss, simply follow these tips, and you will crush it.
The best part, you can start right now.
Tip 1. Weight training facilitates weight loss.
It appears that weight training is synonymous with bodybuilding, yet building muscle isn’t just a case of lifting weights. There is a misconception that if you visit the gym a couple of times a week, you’ll end up “too big”.
Don’t worry, that won’t ever happen. So what’s weight training got to do with weight loss?
Simply put, weight training is one of the most overlooked and incredibly effective ways that you can lose weight fast. This is because muscle is the furnace where body fat is incinerated. If you don’t have enough muscle mass, then you cannot effectively burn body fat and lose weight.
People who suffer from extreme obesity cannot lose weight because of insufficient muscle capacity
For example, this is an overwhelming problem in people who suffer from obesity and have become so heavy that they can no longer walk. Their muscles literally aren’t strong enough to lift their bodies, rendering them immobile.
Unfortunately in these scenarios, where the ratio of body fat to muscle is so high, it is unlikely that they will ever lose all of their excess weight. This is simply because they do not have the muscle capacity to burn the body fat.
If you don’t have adequate muscle mass you will never conquer weight loss either. Ergo, training with weights is an absolute must if you are serious about losing weight.
Weight training stimulates an increase in muscle; this in turn increases oxidative capacity and your ability to burn body fat.
Oxidative capacity refers to the ability of your muscles to use oxygen. While this may sound simple, its implications are far reaching.
Consider a candle burning on the bench of a chemistry lab; it will continue to burn as long as its wax lasts. Conversely, cover it with a glass bell jar and within seconds the flame will cease, regardless of how much wax remains.
This is because the flame will run out of oxygen. In the absence of oxygen, the process of oxidation cannot continue and the candle flame will be extinguished, it’s a basic premise redox (reduction/oxidation) reactions.
In order for a substance to “burn”, oxygen must be present. Consequently, your ability to lose weight from burning fat is largely governed by your muscles ability to use oxygen.
The energy density of fat is well over twice that of protein and carbohydrates. When you burn fat, you need more oxygen and the greater your oxidative capacity, the greater your capacity to burn fat.
Mitochondria and oxidative capacity
Oxidation of any substance occurs within cellular mitochondria. All cells from all tissues have mitochondria; essentially these are the “power-plants” of the human body.
These microscopic organelles have a fundamental role in metabolism including fat metabolism. If you want to lose weight you’re going to need optimal mitochondrial function.
Resistance training can not only increase muscle mass, but can also improve oxidative capacity (1). Therefore, it is hugely important for weight loss. The greater you’re fat burning capacity, the faster you can lose weight.
Question: Can I lose weight by lifting weights only?
No, even though weight training can increase oxidative capacity, it does not specifically stimulate weight loss. Weight training is effective for weight loss when combined into a holistic training and nutritional plan, including all the tips in this article.
Tip 2. Keep sugary foods to a minimum
Added sugar is pretty much everywhere and you are likely eating far too much of it. Not only is this stopping you from losing weight, it is effectively increasing your chances of becoming obese. Depending on your sugar intake, you could even risk developing a myriad of other diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.
The trouble nowadays is that most folk have become functionally hypoglycaemic (2), that is, they have entrained their bodies to be artificially spiked with sugar and insulin. It has become the “norm” to regularly consume snacks of sugary tea, biscuits and other such treats in between meals.
Thus resulting in continual training of their bodies to feed of what’s in the gut, versus living off its structure (body fat). The key here is to feed the body effectively so that the body doesn’t crave.
In terms of weight loss tips, this is one of the most important – become accustomed to reading labels and avoid added sugar as if it’s the kryptonite to your Superman.
Sugar has some profound effects on our bodies; none of them are notably good. Consuming large amounts of sugar (100 grams + per day), significantly increases your insulin level. High insulin is typically associated with fat storage.
You can think of insulin an energy storage hormone. Sugar is fast energy and if you are not burning it off quick enough, you are most likely going to store it as fat; insulin transports sugar in to fat cells (3). Furthermore, insulin makes fat, and the more insulin you’re producing, the more fat you’ll be storing.
Low glycemic index is best for weight loss
Nevertheless, not all carbohydrates are your enemy because not all carbohydrates are equal. It’s true that all the carbohydrates you eat ultimately become glucose, but the route that they take to get to the glucose varies tremendously. Pure sugar (glucose) takes no digesting at all and will very rapidly increase your blood levels and spike insulin.
They key is to choose your carbohydrate sources carefully. Eat only complex carbohydrates that don’t digest too quickly and cause a rapid increase in insulin.
The ability of a carbohydrate to increase insulin is measured by its glycemic index (GI). The lower the glycemic index of a food, the less insulin you’ll get from eating it. The glycemic index uses a scale of 0-100, with 100 being pure glucose.
Question: Will cutting out sugar reduce belly fat?
Eating less sugar will reduce insulin, less insulin means less fat storage. However, it is impossible to “spot-reduce” fat from particular areas of the body. There is no set rule for where you will lose fat from first. As you lose weight, you will notice an overall reduction in body mass.
Tip 3. Don’t drink calories
Alcohol, fruit juices and soda are stealth calories. They tend to fly under the radar while you focus on reducing your intake of solid calories. In terms of weight loss, however, these are even worse than the latter. When the body ingests solid calories, it compensates by limiting further intake; you feel satisfied. This is not the case with liquid calories which don’t increase satiety, but count towards fat levels nonetheless.
Sugar sweetened beverages are also a key player in spiking insulin, as I highlighted earlier, insulin instantly kills fat loss. Furthermore, steer clear of “low-sugar” and “zero-carb” advertised drinks. These are usually loaded with the artificial sweeteners such as acesulfame K and aspartame.
Despite these sweetened drinks being be low or sugar free, acesulfame K and aspartame come with their own plethora of unwanted side effects, and have also been shown to amplify insulin response in the presence of glucose.
Although the evidence does not appear to be 100% conclusive on artificial sweeteners spiking insulin, as an added precaution I’d recommend staying away from these.
Your appetite is regulated by a hormone called leptin. Leptin is an adipokine, produced by your adipose tissues and is part of a vast array of hormones that collectively form your body’s hormonal axis.
Your hormonal axis is self-regulating and is in constant feedback with itself. Leptin’s primary function is to regulate “energy balance”, it does this by sending signals to your brain of satiety.
If your leptin negative mechanism gets broken, your body will not feel satisfied and unless you eat, you will be struck by hunger-pangs.
This is a huge problem in people who suffer from obesity, their leptin levels become so high that they become leptin resistant and their in-built ability to manage their energy balance and fat mass is diminished (4).
Your will to lose weight can be over-ruled by your hormones
Even the strongest will can be over-turned by hormonal dysfunction. For instance, if you’re not armed with the right knowledge you could easily fall folly to the cunning ingredient combinations of commercial drinks industry.
In 2018 the UK soft drinks market was estimated to be valued at 16.7 billion Euros (5). Needless to say the global corporations behind the soft drinks industry know their science, and pay their food scientists large salaries to ensure continuity and growth in sales of their soft drinks.
Let’s take a look at the soft drink coke, it contains caffeine, salt (sodium) and sugar. Caffeine is a diuretic and makes you pee water, salt makes you thirsty and sugar masks the taste of salt. The more you drink, the more you want to drink. The net effect is that your body is tricked into drinking a ton of sugar-laden soft drink.
Regularly consuming sugar sweetened beverages will sky-rocket your insulin, and fat mass too (6). This can pose an increased risk of leptin resistance, it’s a slippery slope and before you know it you could be on a downward spiral to join the obesity club.
What does this mean for you?
If you consume an extra can of coke or equivalent, per day, for a year, you could gain up to 15.6 lbs of fat.
Here’s the maths:
1 pound of fat = 3500 calories, this is based on:
Fat contains 9 calories per gram
1 pound (454 grams) of body fat is approximately 85% fat and 15% water
0.85 x 454 grams = 388 grams of fat mass
388 x 9 = 3492 calories
Rounded off to 3500 calories
One can of coke contains approximately 150 calories.
365 days/year x 150 cal ÷ 3500 = 54’750 calories
54’750 ÷ 3500 = 15.6 lbs of fat a year.
You might be wondering, are soft drinks the cause of the rapid increase in obesity?
That depends on who you talk to. According to:
Scientist for the National Soft Drink Association
BMJ 326, March, 2003
"There is no association between sugar consumption and obesity".
I will leave that there and let you draw your own conclusion.
Question: Will fruit make you fat?
Fruit contains natural sugar in the form of fructose. However fructose does not spike blood glucose and insulin and has a glycemic index of only 20.
Fruit also contains some awesome nutrients; vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and other phytonutrients. If you want to lose weight you can definitely eat a couple pieces of fruit each day.
However I recommend sticking with lower glycemic index fruits such as bananas, apples, cherries, apricots, grapefruit, dates and oranges and mangoes.
Tip 4. Ditch the Sweat Suit (these are great for water loss only)
Contrary to popular belief, working out in a sweat suit does NOT burn body fat. Sweating excessively is a fantastic way to lose water weight and increase dehydration.
Nevertheless this does not help the body to burn any body fat. Weight loss achieved through the use of a sweat suit will inevitably return as soon as those lost fluids are replaced.
This technique appears to be a popular method that boxers use as an aid to make their fighting weight. Little do they realise, dehydration significantly impairs physical performance.
There are no expert-terms for this tip, simply refrain from doing it.
Tip 5. Food before exercise kills fat burning
The thought of exercising on an empty stomach may seem quite daunting to some, however it is essential not to eat any food prior to a fat burning workout (low intensity cardio).
If your weight loss routine involves coming home from work, eating dinner, then shooting off to the gym to spend an hour on the treadmill, understand this; you will are not burning any fat.
Carbohydrates stimulate the release of insulin, insulin instantly “switches off” fat burning. Some proteins can also stimulate the release of insulin (gluconeogenesis). Dietary fats on the other hand are hardly insulinogenic at all.
Nevertheless eating fat before a cardio session will remove the need for the body to break down and burn (oxidise) stored fat mass as energy. Furthermore, food in general is a preferential energy source over body fat.
Thus the resultant effect of eating food before working out is that you burn food for energy. Burning food for energy does not equate to weight loss. If you want to lose weight, you need to burn fat mass.
However, I must stress, lifting weights is totally different to performing a fat burning workout (low intensity cardio). Eating a meal prior to weight lifting is essential.
See also: 6 of the best pre workout meals you need to know.
Question: Is it better to eat before exercise or after to lose weight?
It depends on the purpose of your workout.
If you are training with weights to increase your muscle mass and oxidative capacity, I’d suggest eating a balanced meal 1-1.5 hours prior to working out. If on the other-hand, you are doing a fat burning workout, such as speed walking. I’d recommend doing this fasted, first thing in a morning.
Tip 6. Cardio for weight loss
There seems to be some misconceptions about cardio and weight loss. Some people say that low intensity cardio is best, while others argue that high intensity interval training (HIIT) burns more calories. So which is best? Both have their pros and cons, I will explain how you can best use cardio to lose weight fast.
HIIT workouts are as you would imagine, very brief periods of high intensity exercise, followed by a “recovery phase” which usually lasts at least as long as the duration of intense exercise. A good example of a HIIT workout would be as follows:
100 metre sprint -> walk back recovery
100 metre sprint -> walk back recovery
100 metre sprint -> walk back recovery
100 metre sprint -> walk back recovery
100 metre sprint -> walk back recovery
Each sprint would be performed at maximum speed and intensity, and the recovery phase, although not intense, does not include any static or stationary rest. The complete workout is designed to be brief and usually last around 15-20 minutes.
This style of training is nothing new; rather it seems to have been newly named “high intensity interval training”. HIIT is great for explosive and cardiovascular fitness but burns sugar/glucose rather than body fat.
Low intensity cardio burns fat mass over sugar/glucose, however, weight loss takes a long time from low intensity cardio alone.
To put this in perspective, 1 hour speed walking on the treadmill will burn approximately 300 calories in total. Additionally, only 150 of those calories would be from body fat. It would take approximately 20 – 25 hours on a treadmill to burn 1 pound of body fat (3500 calories).
If you want to lose weight, you’re specifically talking about losing fat mass. Fat is incredibly energy dense. Proteins and carbohydrates both have 4 calories per gram, whereas fat has 9 calories per gram. As I explained earlier; everything needs oxygen to burn. Therefore burning fat requires a lot more oxygen than burning sugar or protein.
If you’re gasping for air or panting while you’re working out, you’re in an oxygen deficit. This means that you aren’t supplying enough oxygen to facilitate body fat to be burnt and used up as energy. Ergo, when you pant you switch to burning sugar, period.
For those of the opinion that HIIT burns more calories and therefore burns more body fat, I’d like to point out that burning calories does not equate to burning fat. Weight loss has to be targeted from body fat stores. Furthermore, research also shows that HIIT workouts are not advantageous for fat burning and weight loss (7).
Are you doing the treadmill for cardio training or fat loss? You can’t do both at the same time.
Question: Does HIIT help lose belly fat?
There is no exercise on earth that is proven to spot reduce body fat from a particular area of your body. Weight loss is a process of gradually losing body fat from all over your body. Lose weight properly, and you will gradually reduce fat from all over your body.
Any claims that you can spot reduce body fat are cases of media sensationalism. Don’t just make a claim, back it up with scientific proof.
Tip 7. Supplements that are best for weight loss
Here is my top pick of supplements that boost weight loss:
- Omega 3 fish oil
- Thermogenic fat burners
- Vitamin D
- Chromium Picolinate
Omega 3 fish oils
It is a well established scientific fact that Omega 3 fatty acids increase weight loss from body fat mass. In fact, some studies have actually linked obesity to low levels of omega 3 fatty acids.
One study in particular showed that supplementation with long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids promoted weight loss in obese adults (8).
Thermogenic fat burners
In tip 6 we saw that low intensity cardio promotes weight loss by burning fat. However this is a slow process. You can speed weight loss up and maximise your efforts by supplementing with a thermogenic fat burner prior to doing your low intensity fasted cardio.
A thermogenic fat burner helps increase your body temperature by stimulating fat mass to be burnt as energy. Your body temperature increases because you are burning extra fat mass which releases heat energy.
Thermogenics have also been shown to increase RMR (resting metabolic rate). Increasing RMR leads to an increase in energy expenditure which can lead to a decrease in fat mass over time (9).
Taking a thermogenic fat burner before doing cardio is an absolute must. Try using either thermo-xy fat burner for men, or thermo-xx fat burner for women before your cardio workout, to boost your weight loss.
Vitamin D amongst its many functions, promotes fat loss and helps regulate a balance between skeletal muscle tissue and body fat (10). The main problem with vitamin D is getting enough of it. Foods that contain vitamin D are rare, and in the UK we have around 6 months of the year where the UVB from the sun is too low.
The amino-acid L-carnitine transports fatty acids into your muscle cells mitochondria where they are oxidised and used for energy. It acts as a shuttle service for fats, one a one way street to incineration. L-carnitine also has an anti-oxidant effect on mitochondria and helps maintain oxidative capacity
Maintaining your chromium status is one of the ways you can sustain a stable level of insulin. In fact, chromium is essential for maintaining a normal and healthy insulin metabolism, and for reducing insulin resistance (11). Unfortunately most modern diets are lacking in this essential mineral.
Every time you eat sugars, especially sugar sweetened beverages, your blood sugar sky-rockets and so does your insulin. The universal law of cause and effect is ever in motion and inevitably the increase in insulin is the cause of your liver metabolising the excess into blood triglycerides (fats) which are quickly accumulated into your fat mass.
Question: What vitamin deficiency causes weight gain?
Some research data shows an association between obesity and vitamin D deficiency. Although research is not conclusive that vitamin D deficiency is a cause of weight gain, it’s a safe bet to supplement with vitamin D in any case.
Tip 8. Increase protein intake to increase weight loss
Adding protein to your diet is perhaps the easiest and most delicious way to lose weight. It has been demonstrated that protein can increase satiety and decrease food cravings and snacking. In other words, not only will it help you lose weight, but the more protein you may eat it, the less you will miss your usual comfort foods.
For most people, protein is synonymous with steak, beef, chicken, pork, fish and other animal sources. Don’t think that eating more protein necessarily means eating more meat. There are plenty of other, plant-based options out there, like almonds, quinoa, tofu, lentils, and various types of beans or chickpeas.
Although plant-based protein sources generally don’t contain all of the 9 essential amino acids, by combining a couple of them in the same meal, you can usually make up for this shortfall.
Every working unit in the human body is a protein. Everything else, essential fats, minerals, vitamins etc are all co factors to these proteins. You could say that protein is of primary importance, in fact the word protein stems from the root greek word; prōteîos (meaning primary).
If you are serious about losing weight, you can benefit from eating more of it. Research shows that protein can boost your metabolism and energy expenditure (12), and thus increase weight loss.
Question: Is protein powder good for weight loss?
Protein powders alone aren’t going to help you lose weight, you have to think holistically. Eating more protein every day, combined with all the other tips in this guide will help you lose weight.
You can definitely supplement your diet with a protein shake each day, but don’t be fooled into thinking gobbling down a “diet protein drink” is the answer to losing weight.
Tip 9. Eat more fibre (increases satiety AND regulates blood glucose)
Fibre improves constipation and helps keep you “regular” by improving digestive transit of food stuffs; it supports colon health.
Some studies show that fibre, and especially viscous fibre, can help your body reach satiety faster than other foods (13). In terms of weight loss, fibre helps keep you fuller for longer and the more satisfied you are, the less likely you are to overeat.
To up your intake of fibre say hello to your new best friends, veggies. If you don’t already eat them you should do because vegetables are full of essential nutrients and a great source of fibre.
If you thought that the only thing fiber did was to keep you fuller for longer, you’d be wrong. Studies also show that fibre has a regulatory effect on blood glucose, and starchy foods that have a higher fibre content are associated with a lesser insulin response (14). Properly controlling blood glucose and insulin is imperative for weight loss.
UK Government guidelines published in July 2015 say that your dietary fibre intake should be 30g a day. The problem is that most folk rely on processed and pre-packed foods, resulting in them eating far less than the recommended 30 grams a day.
For weight loss I’d recommend eating as much as 40 grams of fiber every day.
The different types of fiber: soluble, insoluble and more
Fiber isn’t technically a food for humans; rather it’s a part of a plant that our bodies cannot properly digest, nontheless you definately need to include a good amount into your diet plan.
There are literally hundreds of different types of fibers, each with their own different physiological effects. There are six basic categories of fibers:
To cover all bases, you should eat a little of each:
- Soluble fibres such as the pectins in apples and oranges
- Gummy fiber in rolled oats
- Insoluble celluloses in wheat bran
They key to proper nutrition is eating a variety of whole foods and as I said before, it’s important to understand what foods contain what.
For instance if you thought of having a walnut salad with your avocado and salmon, you’d absolutely get a dollop of fibre, but probably too much fat. Despite those foods containing good fats, it’s still too much fat. Don’t be ignorant to what you put into your body, it’s your responsibility.
High Fibre Foods (Nutritional Info based on 100 grams of dry/uncooked food) *All values are in grams
To make it easy for you, I have listed my top 10 picks of high fibre foods below. All nutritional values have been referenced from the United States Department of Agriculture.
Question: Can eating veggies make you fat?
Vegetables are naturally low in calories, high in fibre, and packed full of micro-nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
It would be near on impossible to eat enough vegetables to gain weight because they are so calorie rare.
Focus on eating a mixture of green cruciferous vegetables with each meal and this will help support your weight loss.
Tip 10. A proper sleeping pattern is great for weight loss
Studies have linked poor sleeping patterns with an increased risk of obesity in adults (15), as well as with an aggravation of cravings throughout the day.
As it turns out, sleep might be as important as dieting and exercise in terms of weight loss. Do not underestimate the importance of a regular, healthy sleeping schedule.
There are no end of biological processes that take place when you sleep, including expending energy. Of course the energy demands of sleeping are low, but this is perfect for weight loss.
As I explained earlier in weight loss tip number 6, burning fat requires a lot of oxygen. Sleeping doesn’t put you in an oxygen deficit, and the slow energy provided from fat mass is the perfect fuel for a good night’s sleep.
Melatonin is a master hormone that regulates sleep, circadian rhythm, and over 100 physiological process that are set to run while sleeping, including burning fat. Sleep is a great window of opportunity for weight loss.
In fact, working at night can around double the chance of being overweight; you can’t entrain or override circadian rhythm.
It’s also important to note that some electromagnetic frequencies significantly interfere with melatonin production. For example, the frequency of light emitted by the backlight on your mobile phone interrupts melatonin production.
When darkness descends your melatonin system kicks in. If you continually interrupt this process, not only will you age faster, you will not burn body fat sufficiently.
Question: Can you lose weight by sleeping?
Proper sleep will help regulate your hormonal system, not to mention, keep you in good health. In terms of weight loss, sleep is an important part of the equation, but don’t rely on sleep alone to lose weight.
You cannot over-eat then expect to lose weight by sleeping.
What about calories, portion Control, and meal frequencies?
You don’t need to count calories to lose weight, if anything, track your macronutrient intake. Opt for a 50/30/20 split of protein/carbohydrate/fat respectively.
To control your portion size, try using a smaller plate and take your time eating, you will feel full before you have finished eating this way.
Eat 4 balanced and nutritious meals per day and add in a couple of healthy snacks in between meals if you need to. Fruits, nuts or even a large mixed salad is good, stick to whole foods.
We have become so accustomed to all kinds of processed foods that switching back to single-ingredient, whole foods now appear to be a colossal effort. However, the benefits of a whole food diet, as opposed to the damaging effects of processed foods, simply cannot be overstated.
Most importantly, it would be very difficult to gain weight around such a diet – you would have to try not to stay lean.
So now it’s your turn, what has proven to be your most valuable weight loss tip?
Article by Paul Jenkins CEO and founder of DNA Lean®
Scientific Reference Data:
- Resistance training increases skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and net intramuscular triglyceride breakdown in type I and II fibres of sedentary males
- Functional Hypoglycemia: Facts and Fancies
- NIH study shows how insulin stimulates fat cells to take in glucose
- Leptin Resistance and the Neuro-Adipose Connection
- Market value of soft drinks in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2015 to 2020
- Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity
- A systematic review and meta-analysis of interval training versus moderate-intensity continuous training on body adiposity.
- Prior supplementation with long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids promotes weight loss in obese adults: a double-blinded randomised controlled trial.
- The effects of a single-dose thermogenic supplement on resting metabolic rate and hemodynamic variables in healthy females – a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial
- Vitamin D and Its Relationship with Obesity and Muscle
- A scientific review: the role of chromium in insulin resistance.
- The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review.
- Dietary fiber and body weight.
- The effect of dietary fiber and other factors on insulin response: role in obesity.
- Meta-Analysis of Short Sleep Duration and Obesity in Children and Adults