Diet and calories
When it comes to losing weight, being in a caloric deficit is the most important thing. This means reducing your caloric intake below what is needed to maintain your current weight.
The calories needed to maintain your weight are equal to your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure).
To lose one pound a week, you would need to create a caloric deficit of 3500 calories. This means eating 500 calories less than your TDEE. Here is an example:
Calories to eat daily to lose 1 lb a week
Your TDEE depends on your gender, age, weight, height, bodyfat and activity level. There are many TDEE calculators online!
Make sure to recalculate your TDEE from time to time as you lose weight.
Do you need to count calories? No - but we recommend it, just for the sake of accuracy. Many times we think we’re eating much less than we actually are, and wonder why we’re not losing weight.
The App Store has many calories counting apps, but we recommend MyFitnessPal as they have a huge database of foods and are very well known.
So once you’ve figured out how much to eat, what do you eat?
You should eat fresh, unprocessed foods. Cut out sugary and processed foods like candy or pastry.
This boils down to eating lean meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and fruits & vegetables.
Depending on your preferences and dietary needs, the perfect diet for you may be different to someone else’s.
You may want to check out our Picking The Right Diet guide to find the perfect one for you, or alternatively our Low Carb diet guide, a very popular and effective diet for losing weight.
We don’t always eat to satisfy our hunger - often, we turn to food when we’re stressed or anxious. The foods we pick when we’re emotional also tend to be quite unhealthy.
Do you eat when you’re worried or bored? Do you snack in front of the TV or at the end of a stressful day? Recognizing your emotional eating triggers can make a huge difference in your weight loss efforts.
Here is what you can do to control emotional eating:
When you’re stressed, find healthier ways to calm yourself instead of eating. Exercise can be great as it releases endorphins and makes you feel happier. You can also try yoga, meditation, or relaxing in a hot bath.
When low on energy
If you feel like you need a pick-me-up, try some other activities that will boost your energy levels. This could be going for a walk, listening to music, or taking a nap.
When lonely or bored
Reach out to your friends or family instead of reaching for food. Call a friend, take the dog for a walk, or go anywhere where there are people.
Practice mindful eating
Whenever you reach for some food, think - am I eating because I’m hungry, or because I feel a certain way?
When eating, avoid distractions and try not to eat while working or watching TV, as it’s easy to overeat.
After quitting smoking
Many people worry about putting on weight after they quit smoking. There are a few reasons this can happen. Smoking suppresses your appetite, and you may find that food tastes better after you quit. You might also replace the action of smoking with snacking.
To combat this, we suggest:
- Being aware of the foods you're eating - notice if your intake goes up and what new foods you're introducing to your diet.
- Chewing your food slowly to give yourself time enjoy each mouthful.
- Combatting new hunger pangs with healthy snacks and drinking more water.
- Taking up regular activity like walking or a new sport.
If you're trying to quit smoking, we highly recommend the Smoke Free app, which is the most popular and effective stop smoking app in the App Store.
Stop smoking with Smoke Free, the most popular and most effective stop smoking app available.Get app
We recommend creating a caloric deficit through diet rather than exercise, as it’s much simpler to eat less than try to burn off the calories.
However, exercise is something you should definitely be doing as the benefits go way beyond burning calories.
Exercise increases your metabolism and improves your mood, among many things.
We recommend weighlifting - increasing your muscle mass will shape your body is a way that simply dieting won’t. To read more about lifting weights and gaining muscle, check out our Building Muscle guide.
It’s also important that you pick up activities that you enjoy, such as dancing, hiking, cycling or swimming. Anything is better than nothing!
It’s important to stay consistent and stick to your goals, as losing weight can take some time. To help you stay motivated, you can:
Not just the long term goal of your ideal weight, but short term goals to keep the feedback loop going. For example, 1 lb this week, or succeed in cutting out sugar for 10 days.
Focus on the benefits
When the temptation to cheat on your diet strikes, focus on the benefits you’ll reap from being healthier. You can also create a vision board of your ideal body or another fitness/diet related goal you want to achieve.
Track your progress
There are plenty of apps out there that let you track your progress (weight lost, calories eaten, etc). Seeing the results on a graph can help you stay motivated.
Seek out support and encouragement, whether in the form of friends, family or an online forum.
Get plenty of sleep
Lack of sleep makes you hungrier and can also affect your motivation negatively, so aim for eight hours of quality sleep per night,
Optimize your food environment
Take control of when and what you eat.
- Cook your own meals at home so you can control portion size and what goes into the food.
- Plan your meals ahead of time. Eating on a schedule will help you avoid snacking or eating when you’re not hungry.
- Limit the amount of tempting foods at home. Don’t buy unhealthy food that will tempt you to snack.
Keeping the weight off
Keeping the weight off is as important as losing it - you don’t want your hard work to have been for nothing.
Stay physically active. Keep and stick to an exercise routine.
Regularly weigh yourself
Weighing yourself regularly will help you to detect changes in weight, letting you take action if you notice the weight creeping up again.
Maintain healthy habits
Once you’ve lost the weight, don’t revert back to your old eating habits, because you’ll quickly regain it. Remember that this is a lifestyle change, and you need to develop healthy eating habits for life.
Lose weight in a healthy manner
Lose the weight in a healthy manner in the first place. Crash dieting can lead to binge eating and gaining all the weight back, as it’s not sustainable and very stressful.