words Al Woods
There are an overwhelming number of diets and weight loss regimens that claim to be the best. But how can you know which are reliable and backed by science? This article will describe five tips to help you reach your fitness goals.
Achieve a Caloric Deficit
If you are trying to lose weight, you will need to consume fewer calories than you burn, which is known as a calorie deficit.
Achieving a calorie deficit of 500 calories a day (consuming 500 calories less than you burn) can help you lose about one pound each week. For example, if you consume 2,000 calories, you would need to burn 2,500 calories to reach a 500-calorie deficit for that day.
Making simple substitutions in your diet can help you reach a calorie deficit. For example, you can reduce the calories you consume by drinking water instead of drinks containing sugar.
Adhering to a low-calorie diet can also help.
Consider adhering to a diet that includes foods such as:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Lean proteins
- Whole grains
Eating smaller portions can also help ensure that you are consuming fewer calories.
In terms of exercising to induce a calorie deficit, you should get at least 30-45 minutes of exercise most days each week. If you have difficulty exercising for 30-45 minutes at once, try splitting your active time into several 10- or 15-minute increments daily.
Work with a Dietitian or Nutritionist
A dietitian or nutritionist can help you make healthier eating choices and understand what foods to avoid and what foods to include in your diet to help you lose weight.
What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?
- A nutritionist is a nutrition expert who provides education or counseling in regard to nutrition or meal planning services. Nutritionists may or may not be certified or licensed.
- A dietitian is a nutritionist who has undergone specific training and licensing. In other words, all dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians.
Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (not eating or drinking anything except water for a certain amount of time) can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
There are three main fasting schedules for you to consider:
- Alternate-day fasting involves eating a normal, healthy diet one day and eating nothing or eating one small meal (usually fewer than 500 calories) the next day. In other words, alternate-day fasting requires you to switch from eating to fasting every other day.
- Daily time-restricted fasting involves eating normally within an eight-hour window each day. For example, you may eat lunch at 11 AM and dinner at 7 PM.
- Five-two fasting involves eating normally five days a week and fasting two days a week.
Intermittent fasting can induce ketosis, which causes your body to burn fat instead of glucose (sugar) for fuel. Research has indicated that alternate-day fasting produces a similar amount of weight loss compared to a low-calorie diet without fasting.
However, intermittent fasting can cause side effects, such as:
- Decreased concentration
These side effects should diminish with time (usually after one month) as your body adjusts to fasting and its effects.
Incorporate Cardio and Strengthening Exercises
Cardio and strengthening exercises are done for different purposes and provide different benefits, but incorporating both types of exercise will support optimal health.
Cardiovascular activity (also referred to as aerobic activity) is a type of exercise that increases your heart rate and keeps it elevated while you are exercising. It can be done at a low, moderate, or high level of intensity.
There are two types of cardio exercise: steady-state cardio and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
- Steady-state cardio keeps your heart rate steady and elevated for the entire workout, and is usually done between 64-76 percent of your maximum heart rate. Examples of steady-state cardio exercises include cycling, running, or taking an aerobics class.
- HIIT is a workout that alternates between periods of vigorous aerobic activity and short resting periods. HIIT workouts are usually shorter but more intense than steady-state cardio workouts, requiring you to perform at 77-93 percent of your maximum heart rate.
Strength training (resistance training) helps you build and strengthen muscle tissue. Strength training exercises do not burn as many calories as cardio exercises do. In fact, gaining muscle may make it seem like you are not losing weight. However, gaining muscle leads to increased fat-burning rather than decreased overall weight. If you are on a low-calorie diet, resistance training will help prevent the loss of muscle mass caused by your calorie restrictions.
You can incorporate resistance training into a HIIT workout by lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises during your rest periods.
Ask Your Doctor About Medical Weight Loss Injections
If you are having a hard time reaching your fitness goals with diet and exercise alone, you may want to talk to your doctor about taking medical weight loss injections in addition to your current diet and exercise routine.
There are three once-weekly medical weight-loss injections available:
- Liraglutide (Saxenda) works by decreasing your appetite, slowing digestion, and making your pancreas produce more insulin, a hormone that converts sugar into energy.
- Semaglutide (Ozempic and Wegovy) works by decreasing your appetite and making your pancreas produce more insulin.
- Tirzepatide (Mounjaro) works by suppressing your appetite. It is even more effective than liraglutide and semaglutide. Liraglutide and semaglutide are glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists. Mounjaro is both a GLP-1 agonist and a glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) agonist.
If you are interested in medical weight loss in Seattle, consider concierge medical practices that can offer treatment at home or via telehealth services.
You can take many different approaches to improve your fitness and lose weight. Dietary changes that bring about weight loss include achieving a calorie deficit (consuming fewer calories than you burn), eating a low-calorie diet, and participating in intermittent fasting.
You can work with a dietitian or nutritionist to help you develop a meal plan.
Exercising will also help you achieve a calorie deficit, and doing both cardio and strengthening exercises will help you improve your heart health, lose weight, gain muscle, and burn fat.
If diet and exercise are not enough, you can ask your doctor about medical weight loss injections that can improve the results of your diet and exercise efforts. They can help you develop a fitness and weight maintenance plan that can help you feel your best.