With the advent of technology, we humans have gotten used to instant gratification in all aspects of our lives. While our parents and grandparents had to go to a local library or institution to search for answers to most of their questions, we’ve got Google at our fingertips.
To save time and effort, we pick instant meals and TV dinners or opt for the drive-thru lane and takeout counter at a fast-food joint.
And even when it comes to weight loss, we think we can get instant results by choosing anything that’s low-fat or sugar-free at the local supermarket and shopping for those pricey fitness gadgets advertised on TV.
Then reality strikes, and we awaken to the fact that losing weight isn’t as easy as it seems. After a week or two of very little or no results, we’re already floored and ready to concede to the thought that some people are just luckier than others. That’s because we’ve taken the wrong approach to weight loss to begin with.
There is a right way to do it, and a fast one at that. In this article, we’ll get down to the details of a how a reduced carb, high-protein diet can help you lose fat without the usual hunger pangs you experience with most low-carb regimens.
What’s great about this approach is that your food choices will also help speed up results, preserve lean muscle, and develop a well-toned physique.
10 Things to Keep in Mind When Trying to Lose Weight Fast
1. Load up with low-carb veggies for a start.
Much of your excess weight is really water, so you need to eliminate that first. The best way to do this is to embark on a low-carb, high-veggie phase for a couple of weeks. Eliminate all simple carbs from your diet and turn to low-carb veggies like cucumber, zucchini, asparagus, spinach, and broccoli.
Doing so lessens the amount of glycogen stored in muscle tissues, so the body can eliminate excess water. You’ll be surprised at how much weight you can lose when you adopt this approach. This will also train your body to turn to fat stores for energy.
What is most important during this initial stage is that you don’t consume simple carbs like grains, bread, corn, or potatoes. Stay away from sugary foods as well, or else you’ll have to start from square one.
Once you’ve successfully worked through the two-week period, it’s only fair to give yourself a little reward. Day 15 is cheat day, so treat yourself to whatever you want to eat! Then get back to low-carb dieting the day after, and from thereon, reward yourself every five to seven days.
Cheat days are suggested but not required. They work for most people who feel they have deprived themselves of the foods they love. So it won’t hurt to have them occasionally, as long as you don’t get into the habit of bingeing during your cheat days.
On the other hand, some individuals feel they don’t benefit much from cheat days. If they have conquered their cravings and gotten used to low-carb eating, why mess up the routine and feel guilty afterward?
Skipping cheat days is definitely fine, especially for those who are easily addicted to high-carb foods and find it difficult to get back to low-carb options.
Key Point: Follow this 14-day low-carb, high-vegetable regimen to the letter. It is designed to curb your appetite, accustom your body to turn to fat stores for energy, and set up your system for fat loss.
2. Each meal should have a good balance of veggies, protein, and fat.
Much of your success at weight loss lies in curbing your appetite without really going hungry. That means building your meals around lots of low-carb vegetables (ideally two to three cups), plus a reasonable amount of protein and beneficial fats.
This combination can really speed up fat loss due to a reduced calorie intake. So skip the pancakes, cereal, sandwiches, or bagels — they may be convenient for breakfast but not when you’re trying to lose weight.
Key Point: It may be advisable to have smaller meals more frequently through the day. That way, you keep those hunger pangs at bay. Most people find that they feel less hungry when they eat five or six smaller meals every two to three hours.
This also helps regulate insulin or cortisol hormones, which can trigger dips in your blood sugar level and cause you to crave sugary, fatty foods.
3. Opt for high-quality protein sources.
Years of research have proven that one of the most effective ways to reduce body fat is to achieve a threshold dose of 10 essential amino acids with every meal.
When preparing your meals, make sure you build them around high-quality proteins, and be sure include enough sources of protein (most plant-based proteins aren’t complete) that cover all your bases.
With high levels of amino acids per calorie, these food choices provide you with the best nutrition without making you fat.
Key Point: The recommended daily protein level is 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight. This ratio has proven to work best in developing and preserving lean muscle when on a strict calorie count. As an illustration, a 160-lb individual should be receiving approximately 116 grams of protein on a daily basis.
4. Be sure to include low-carb veggies in every meal.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, which is why you’ll see a lot of athletes load up on carbs prior to competitions and extreme activities. That’s why you cannot totally eliminate carbs from your diet, even when you’re trying to lose weight.
The trick is to choose your carbs and restrict your daily intake to less than 50 grams. That way, your body will not depend on converted glucose from carbs for energy and will turn to your fat stores instead.
Your best bet will be low-glycemic veggies such as leafy greens — they’re highly nutritious, low in calories, and contain a lot of fiber that can help cut down your food intake.
Take your pick from these low-carb veggies: broccoli, zucchini, celery, cauliflower, cabbage, green beans, asparagus, collards, avocado, bok choy, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, onions, eggplant, turnips, garlic, and leafy greens.
Key Point: It’s vital that you go low on carbs when losing weight. The only exception to this veggies-only restriction is when you engage in extreme workouts. You can have some fruit after intense exercise: apples and berries are great since they’re low in carbs but rich in nutrients.
Those with low-fasting glucose levels (90 mg/dL or lower) may also go slightly higher in carbs. However, this condition is quite unlikely, especially among overweight individuals.
5. You will also need beneficial fats.
It must be the term “fat” itself that makes us think we’ll put on weight whenever we have it. But the total absence of fat in our diets can make us feel terribly miserable. We just have to choose the ones that are good for the body.
Everyone needs to know that a low-fat diet won’t tell your body to turn to fat stores for energy. On the contrary, increasing your fat intake while going slower on the carbs is the best-known method to ramp up your metabolism so the body burns more fat for energy and weight loss.
Fats also make food flavorful and tasty and help improve their texture. Avocado, olives, and nuts are high in beneficial fats. Make sure you also take krill oil or flax seed oil supplements as they’re rich in essential omega-3 fats DHA and EPA.
Key Point: Use saturated fats like palm oil or coconut oil when cooking at high heat as they don’t get oxidized like olive oil does. Olive oil is only recommended for low-heat cooking and is best used fresh (unheated).
6. Refined and packaged foods are a BIG no-no.
Refined and packaged foods you pick from the supermarket shelves are loaded with lots of sugars and nutritionally empty calories. They also contain processed fats and carbs, which can cause glucose spikes and cravings for foods that are high in carbs.
All these can cause you to build and store body fat that can cause weight gain. It’s best that you totally eliminate them from your diet.
Key Point: Foods are best consumed in their natural state. If you want to lose weight and stay healthy, go slow on processed foods and takeouts and opt for home-cooked meals instead.
7. Steer clear of sugar and other high-glycemic foods.
We’re not only talking about cane sugar you normally use to sweeten your food and drinks, we’re also referring to the carbs that break down into glucose in your blood.
The reason why we call these foods “high-glycemic” is that they have the tendency to significantly raise blood sugar levels and cause the release of the insulin hormone. High insulin levels will usually trigger an increase in your appetite.
Insulin is also known as the fat-building and fat-storage hormone. It directs our cells to pick up glucose from the bloodstream and store it as fat for future energy source. A high-carb diet will contain large amounts of sugar, which can be quite taxing for the body.
This can lead to a state of insulin insensitivity, which slows down the metabolism and causes weight gain.
Key Point: To optimize the metabolic process, cut your sugar intake drastically. The best way to do this is to eliminate ALL carbs from your diet, except those non-starchy veggies that are low in carbohydrates.
8. Skip alcohol and other caloric drinks.
Alcohol shouldn’t be in your diet if you’re attempting to lose weight the fast and healthy way. Alcohol is essentially a poison that the body has to process — it can slow down the metabolism and even worse, cause inflammation.
The same goes for caloric beverages that are packed with lots of sugar. These include juice, soda, and sports drinks. Have coffee (black), tea, or water instead, and if you need to sweeten them up, pick a natural, zero-calorie sweetener like stevia.
Key point: Once they’ve gone through the initial two-week low-carb phase, wine lovers can continue enjoying a glass or two of red wine during their high-carb cheat days. In fact, studies have shown that a glass of good red wine with your meals can enhance insulin sensitivity and lessen inflammation.
9. Adequate calorie intake is equally important.
Some people on a low-carb diet complain about lacking energy or feeling ill, and this could be due to a number of reasons: low thyroid activity from a lack of glucose, difficulty adapting to the fat-burning process, or a simple lack of calories.
A calorie deficit is essential for weight loss, but it is also important that your body continues to receive the right nutrients. Getting a bit more calories from fat seems to help people feel better.
Key Point: You might get confused with this advice to consume a bit more calories when you’re trying to cut the fat in the fastest way possible. As we pointed out before, it really depends where your calories are coming from. Beneficial fats can supply the required energy while increasing your body temperature.
This can make you burn fat faster and prevent you from feeling miserable.
10. Perform the right type of workout and get enough rest.
Just as much as your food choices will matter, so will the kind of exercise you engage in. The recommended low-carb diet we’ve detailed out in this article will definitely make you lose weight, with or without exercise. However, a good workout can ramp up the results.
It will help to engage in anaerobic training (lifting weights, strength training, and interval exercise) as this type of activity encourages protein synthesis, which is essential for preserving muscle mass.
Fat-loss diets often lead to loss of muscle, and strength training can prevent this. Anaerobic exercise enhances your metabolism and helps the body adapt to burning fat for the needed energy. This is especially important for sedentary or obese individuals who may require a catalyst for optimum fat burning.
Compared to aerobic exercises, anaerobic workouts use up a larger amount of energy and also increase post-exercise calorie burn (the amount of calories you continue to burn after a workout). The trick is to keep your workouts short but intense. You’ll burn a lot more calories that way.
Also, it is important to let your body get all the rest it needs. So be sure you get enough sleep every night.
Key Point: The type of exercise you engage in matters a lot and consistency is key. Lift weights first, then follow through with sprint interval training. Aerobic routines should come in last. Give yourself rest days in between workouts, as your body needs to recover too.