How to lose weight – not quickly, but healthily

This post was originally inspired by my good friend Marisa at Captive Art Photography who was interested in a post tailored towards brides and grooms looking to get fit by their big day, but as I was writing, I realized that the following information applies to any and everyone looking to better themselves through health, diet, and fitness. 

So! Without further ado – Here’s everything you need to know about

Let’s start with a differentiation between goals; weight loss and muscle building.

(1) Figure out your caloric needs for maintaining your current weight
– You can find a calorie calculator very easily by googling “calorie calculator” and choosing the one you find most fitting
(2) Decide on a caloric deficit
– In order to lose weight, the amount of energy going in must be less than that going out (aka: eating less)
– You will need to choose a deficit that works for you, but a good place to start is between 200 – 500
– What this means is that you will be eating 200 – 500 LESS calories than the number from the calorie calculator
– The larger your deficit (and the more you exercise) the faster you will lose weight
– You should NEVER be eating less than 1200 calories, and that’s liberal – I’d try to stay at 1500 or higher
(3) Keep track of your caloric intakes
(4) Be a flexible dieter
– Do not give yourself unreasonable goals, and allow yourself to eat “off diet”
– In reality, you should be working towards putting together a weight loss diet that is largely the SAME as your day-to-day diet, but minus a few calories
– There will be a list of foods towards the end of this post
(6) Do not expect to lose more than 1-2 pounds per week
– Any more than this would be indicative of unhealthy dieting practices

(1) Figure out your caloric needs and all your macronutrient needs as well
This is an invaluable article full of information about getting started with muscle building, and gives excellent step-by-step instructions for calculating your macronutrient needs
– Here is a very basic run-down:
**Calculate caloric needs
> Add 150 – 250 calories to that number if you would like to incorporate a caloric surplus (to learn more about what a surplus is, visit the linked article above)
> Let’s say I need 2000 calories and I’m not going into a surplus, so I need 2000 calories per day
** Calculate protein needs
> About .5 – 1.5 gram of protein per pound of body fat; the more protein, the better muscle building results you should have
> Since 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories, multiply that number by 4 to figure out how many of your calories will be coming from protein
> Let’s say I weigh 120 pounds and I want to consume about .75 grams of protein per pound of body fat – that’s 90 grams of protein
> 90 grams of protein = 360 calories
** Calculate fat needs
> Assuming your overall caloric consumption will be 20-30% from fat
> Multiply overall caloric needs by .2 – .3
> Since 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories, divide the number above by 9 to figure out how many of your calories will be coming from fat
> Let’s say I decide on 20% of my calories coming from fat… 2000 x .2 = 400, so that’s 400 calories from fat
> 400 calories from fat / 9 calories per gram of fat = about 44 grams of fat
** Calculate carb needs
> Carbs are “what’s left” of your caloric needs
> Add up calories from protein and calories from fat and subtract that number from total caloric needs
> The difference will be the amount of calories coming from carbs
> Since 1 carb contains 4 calories, you will divide this number by 4
> So, 360 calories from protein + 400 calories from fat = 760 calories
> 2000 total calories – 760 used calories = 1240 leftover calories
> 1240 leftover calories / 4 calories per carb = 310 carbs
(2) Track your caloric and macronutrient intakes
(3) Aim to stick to these numbers as much as possible
– Definitely aim to get all of your protein in order to build muscle
– These numbers do not address sugar, which should be consumed in moderation
(4) Put together a weight training routine that works for you and your schedule
– Aim to lift about 4-6 times a week with intermittent cardio
– See this previous post for information on when and how to do cardio in conjunction with weight lifting
– See these posts for ideas for upper body, lower body, core, at-home, and compound exercises to put together your routine
– For more help putting together a routine here is my personal workout, and you may contact me directly for more personal assistance
(5) Do not forget to REST

FOR EVERYONE – general tips:
(1) Prepare majority of your meals yourself
– Mix and match from the foods listed below, but always include a protein
(2) Drink PLENTY of water
– I suggest carrying something like a nalgene around with you; large capacity and a volume gauge on the outside
(3) Get plenty of sleep – more than enough some nights
– Getting quality rest and enough of it is a staple of nurturing a healthy body, and healthy IS what we’re going for, riiiight?

 And now for the most valuable information in this post…

> White meats; turkey, white meat chicken, canadian bacon, white fish
> Other meats; salmon, pork, etc.
Red meats in moderation
Hebrew National 97% fat free hot dogs (on whole grain bread for bun)
> Eggs and eggwhites (eggwhites are MUCH lower in cholesterol)
> Beans; black beans, white beans, lima beans, kidney beans
> Low fat dairy products; milk, yogurts, greek yogurt, cheese
Soy milk
** Here is a great article about protein rich foods. **

> Avocado
> Nuts; minimal salt/flavoring
Peanut butter
> Cheese; low fat
> Fish fats (fish oil vitamins, salmon, etc.)
> Olive oil (used mainly for cooking)

> Whole grain pasta
> Whole grain oats; not packaged oatmeal
> Whole grain bread or wraps
> Brown rice
> Beans; black beans, white beans, lima beans, kidney beans
> Potatoes in moderation
**A note on “whole grain” – Whole grain is different from whole wheat. As the name suggests, whole grain products contain the WHOLE grain; germ bran, and endosperm. Whole wheat products contain only the endosperm of the grain. Nutritionally speaking, whole grain is the better choice.

> Fruits; blueberries, bananas
Really all fruits are good in moderation (lots of sugar), but blueberries are a source of antioxidants and bananas are extremely nutrient dense and filling – they are my favorites
> Vegetables; ALL
Broccoli, peas and spinach are high in protein
> Greens; kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens
You can buy pre-mixed greens at the grocery store
> Hummus and vegetables; carrots and celery generally
> Spinach dip made with greek yogurt
> Reduced fat Wheat Thins
> Plain Pop Chips
These guys are VERY salty, be ready
> Protein smoothies
Base; milk, soy milk, and/or greek yogurt
Add ice if you want it to be thicker
Add fruits for taste; strawberry, banana, blueberry, raspberry, etc.
Protein powder if you want (using greek yogurt will also be a source of protein)
Greens; mix ‘em in, you won’t even taste it
Stevia (or other natural sugar source) if you really need that sweetness
Blend and enjoy!
> Pico de gallo w/ whole grain chips/crackers
Plain tortilla chips are fine too, whole grain is just a better choice
> Vegetable steamers (can be found in the freezer aisle)
Avoid the ones that have fatty sauces or cheese included
> Dark chocolate for that sweet tooth

What to avoid
– Sodas, chips, processed/precooked meals
– High fat dairy products
– Salad dressing (use hummus, avocado, or lemon/lime juice instead)
– Fatty dips like ranch, french onion, etc.
– Candy bars, gummy candies, milk chocolate
– Granola bars (generally very high in sugar and/or fat) – this includes most protein bars
– Fruit snacks/fruit roll-ups
– Canned soups; UNLESS they are reduced fat/sodium
– Most frozen pizzas… you can find a few brands that are okay; but still not the best choice
– Salami and other fatty meats
– Pre-packaged lunch meats… go for the whole cuts at the deli

Eating out
– Generally you can find something healthy wherever you go out to eat, but there are the obvious places to avoid; fast food joints being number one on the list. For the most part Italian restaurants are also to be avoided, but generally there are usually salad or soup options that aren’t so bad. That being said, anything is okay in moderation. Order whatever you want and only eat until you’re satisfied. As for the leftovers, maybe give them to someone else? Or save them for another day? A good rule of thumb for eating out (especially at sit-down restaurants) is to never eat all the food you’re given. The serving sizes are ridiculously large and are usually enough for 3 decent sized meals… Not just ONE.

– Here are some quick tips for eating out:
> Eat until satisfied and save the rest for later or give it to someone else
> If served filler food before the meal, try to eat it in moderation or not at all
> Order water or unsweetened tea to drink (if you prefer sweet, you can sweeten it yourself)
> ENJOY each bite rather than rush to the finish line; you’ll find yourself feeling satisfied much more quickly and may feel less of a need to eat the entire meal

– But there is one place that I eat at almost religiously, because I don’t have to be so quite so careful…
CHIPOTLEHere’s what to order:
> Bowl with chicken or steak
> Brown rice and black beans
> Fajita veggies, any of the salsas

> Lettuce and guacamole
> NO sour cream or cheese, and NO dressing if you order the salad (use lemon or guac instead)

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So, moral of the story?
Don’t be like this guy…


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Best of luck to all brides and grooms, moms and dads, students, full time and part time employees, entrepreneurs, free spirits, and Fit4Reviewers alike.

The body you want can be yours – you just have to go about obtaining it in a healthy way that your body agrees with. Do what’s right for you, don’t rush your results, and don’t get discouraged after just a few weeks of trying.

Make fitness a lifestyle and your results will be long-term and LASTING. Not months, not weeks, and certainly not days – It takes years.

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Pura vida and stay strong, Fit4Reviewers!

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DISCLAIMER: the methods above are not the only way to lose weight in a healthy manner, but rather they are strategies to ensure that you are conducting your weight-loss healthily. The main guideline to remember when venturing away from these strategies (trying carb cycling or other nontraditional diet ideas) is that 1-2 pounds per week is a healthy rate of weight-loss.