I wrote about how I lost 50 lbs in 25 weeks earlier this year. I went from 174 lbs to 129 actually. I also wrote that the only one thing you need to do to lose weight was to eat less. Although weight loss is a marathon, you want to treat it like a series of small sprints was also something I learned.
Since then I have been asked by over 30-40 people on how exactly I lost weight, what did I eat, when, how much, etc. I did write about what I eat to manage an intake of less than 1500 calories daily. That’s very difficult for most people to follow (and it became for me as well).
I figured out yesterday what people want really is a DIY (Do It Yourself) framework. So, here are 5 strategies you can adopt based on your preference. This is neither comprehensive nor complete, but a useful guide, would be my recommendation.
The main point I am trying to make is you need to eat less and make that a lifestyle. How you do it largely up to you based on your own body, your fitness regiment, your other health requirements etc.
- Portion control: This is the technique I use on holidays and most weekends. Eating everything but in small portions works well. When I was more intense and regimented about my food 6 months ago, I used to drive my wife, kids and friends pretty nuts.I would measure all my food intake, in 1/4 cups, weigh nuts with a machine etc. This strategy works best when you have a wide spread and you really want to “taste” everything. The technique that goes hand-in-glove with this is that you should not have “seconds”, else it messes up the strategy.
- Food substitutions: I use this a lot in my salads and you can as well for most other foods. I would recommend before you decide on a substitution, track your food, calories and nutrition for a week using MyFitnessPal to ensure you are substituting good sources of certain nutrients for better nutrients at much lower calorific value. There are certain foods that are “nutrient-dense and calorie-light”. For example I have switched thousand island salad dressing (111 calories per 2 tbsp) with balsamic vinegar (28 calories per 2 tbsp) and now can eat salads with no dressing at all, and found that my palette has gotten used to the taste.
- Smaller, more frequent meals: I like this approach, but can rarely follow this. There are a set of people who swear by this. Similar to portion control, but slightly different, this strategy means you eat very small “meals” every 2-3 hours, instead of 3 large meals during the day. I only do this if I know I have a busy and packed schedule with many meetings all day.
- Avoid certain foods: This is the most popular type of diet actually. No carb for example, or high protein, or low fat, paleo diet, Atkins diet, Raw food diet, Juice diet, etc. There are over 30 of these (or more) diet plans. I dont subscribe to this strategy, but I know many people who swear by these
- Fasting: Once a while, it helps to give the stomach some rest, like the rest of your body. Drinking more water, or drinking hot tea as a substitute for a meal helps. I do this pretty regularly now.
- Smart snacking rule: I use this technique on most weekday afternoons. Most people can eat healthy during lunch and dinner, but snacks are what kills their diet. So, I have a pre-determined “smart” snack planned instead of having to rush to the vending machine or eat some other junk. I have moved to more nuts (preferably unsalted) and fruits, or just plain soy milk.
At the end of the day, you have to pick a strategy (or many) and stick to what works for you. As I mentioned before, instead of telling people do this, I am now saying follow one of these strategies and see which one works.
The most important part before you do this is to benchmark religiously for 1 week (1 month is the best) using a calories counting app. Then you have your nutrition balance figured out as well.
I do have one caveat – I am not a nutritionist neither am I a doctor. I know these worked for me, so speak to a trained professional instead of using my advice alone.