3 Keys for Weight Loss You Need to Know Now

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3 Keys for Weight Loss You Need to Know Now

Have you ever wondered what you should prioritize when trying to lose weight? Cardio, strength training and counting your macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat) are the three big components of weight loss. You should be doing all three, but each of these is not created equally.

Here’s how I rank those three elements for weight loss:

1. COUNTING YOUR MACRONUTRIENTS

Logging your food is the most important component of weight loss. Figure out what a safe calorie deficit is for you (MyFitnessPal can help you do this), follow these guidelines consistently and the weight will come off. Make sure to readjust your daily goals as you lose weight.

Case in point: In 2010, Mark Haub, a professor at Kansas State University, lost 27 pounds in two months by eating mostly processed snack cakes and other junk food. Wait, what?! Yup, 27 pounds! How? His normal, pre-diet caloric intake was roughly 2,600 calories per day. When he went on his “Twinkie diet,” he limited himself to 1,800 calories per day and didn’t alter his daily activities or exercise.

Neither Haub nor I recommend the Twinkie diet or anything that’s equally non-nutritious, but the idea of eating less by being aware — by counting your calories — means it’s unlikely you’ll overeat.

Technically, you don’t have to exercise to lose weight. But, is this approach the most optimal for overall health? No! Counting your calories and macros is vital for weight loss, but it takes more than that to be strong and healthy. Keep in mind, we are organisms that are dependent upon work — or, in other words, exercise.


WATCH > ASK A TRAINER: ON LOSING WEIGHT


2. BUILDING STRENGTH

Strength training is the best form of exercise you can do, no matter your age or whether you are trying to lose weight. I know that not everyone loves the weight room. But the return on investment — denser bones, stronger ligaments and tendons, better posture and, most importantly in this context, more muscle to burn calorie — is incredible.


READ MORE > 10 OF THE BEST WORKOUTS FOR WEIGHT LOSS


Your strength has a direct effect on how you interact with your environment. The stronger you are, the easier daily tasks become, such as climbing the stairs, carrying a full laundry basket and raking leaves. Strength train for the future: Preserving muscle for your 50s and beyond will help delay the need for assistance with everyday activities. Did you know that many people who have to check in to assisted living homes do so because they are unable to get off the toilet, open a door or dress themselves? Muscle is what keeps us moving, and it needs to be fed a steady diet of weight training. An optimal, efficient way to strength train: complete compound exercises like squats, shoulder presses and deadlifts two to three days a week.

3. CRANKING OUT CARDIO

Cardiovascular exercise is often thought of by the mainstream media and even some doctors as the best way to lose weight. It’s not. That’s not to say that it isn’t important, it’s just not at the top of the list.

I’m a big believer in being balanced, so every single one of my clients does some sort of conditioning work, whether it’s running on a treadmill, riding a spin bike or pushing a sled. I suggest twice-weekly sessions of 10–20 minutes of lung-scorching, high-intensity interval training. You can do these types of workouts at the end of your strength-training sessions or on the days in between.

Another option is to do low-intensity, steady-state cardio. It’s the perfect place to start if you are new to the exercise game or in the early stages of losing weight. Walking or using a recumbent bike are also acceptable for such workouts. Try doing this two times per week.

Remember: The best place to start when trying to lose pounds is counting calories. Make sure your daily caloric allowance is a safe deficit. Even if you don’t count your daily macros, your body does. Adding strength training will help you maintain your muscle mass for today and for the future. And, no one likes to feel winded walking up a flight of stairs, so round out your program with a little cardio conditioning work. Good health comes at a cost: time, energy, money, sacrifice and hard work. Just keep in mind that the cost is even greater if you don’t commit.

 

Related

  • rjc1008

    A problem I still have is trying to compensate for exercise Calories, which I don’t think are very accurate. I’m tending instead to stick to 1600 non-climbing, 1800 if rock climbing days or long run days which seems to be working on average.

    Now does rock climbing count as “strength” or “cardio”? MyFitnessPal calls it cardio, and it can be done as cardio if you choose a low grade and go for distance. But at higher grades or on the circuit wall?

    • Christy

      It’s both. Rock climbing is a great workout. Weight bearing cardio is some of the most efficient exercise out there. 200 calories extra on the day sounds low for an extended rock climbing session. I use a heart rate monitor to gauge my exertion and refuel afterward with whole grains or potatoes and lean protein. Good luck and have fun!

      • rjc1008

        Thanks.

        I think at the moment my muscles are getting a good workout. Not sore today at all, but felt I’d worked hard after the session.

    • Keryn Vella

      I agree with Christy – using a heart rate monitor to gauge exertion is the way forward. I tried losing weight with Myfitnesspal a number of times using their estimates of calorie burn and lost nothing. Then I got a Fitbit HR and paired it with Myfitnesspal. I got a much more accurate measure of my calorie burn and, hey presto, lost 9kg in six months and hit my goal weight. Accurate info is everything…

      • rjc1008

        I’m finding that my Garmin is reporting lower Calorie burns than MyFitnessPal would for the same exercise, especially for something like rock climbing where you may spend a reasonable amount of time not moving. Also for cycling HR based is consistently lower than speed/distance based.

  • Karlo Garcia

    Creating a calorie deficit while logging foods & exercise will lose weight!!!

  • Anthony hurst

    I am on my 6th day of 800 calories a day for 8 weeks. Have lost 7 kilos or 15 pounds so far. I have a pretty severe disability so cannot exercise anywhere near as much as I used to. After the first couple of days I have found it surprisingly easy. Cannot emphasize enough the need to drink a lot of water, which I have always naturally done. Check out Dr Michael Mosely the Brit behind the 5/2 diet. He has suggested the science is beginning to support the idea of losing weight fast. 800 for 8 fights off type 2 diabetes onset. I had my Dr take my bloods 6 days ago and we will get them done again at the end of the eight weeks. I intend to switch to 5/2 fasting after the 8 weeks to maintain my goal weight. I see 5/2 fasting as a lifestyle change for the remainder of my years.

    • Eddie

      Bad idea. You are starving yourself and burning muscle for fuel. Eventually the lbs will creep back up. Do some strength training so you can put on muscle and eat a little more. Do some cardio so you can eat a little more. A 500 calorie deficit per day is recommended.

  • Symone

    Hi just a question. For 3 weeks I was sticking to 1200 calories and only lost 1 kg in 3 weeks so I figured I wasn’t eating enough so I used an online bmr calculator and it shows my body needs 1400 calories. So now (1 week so far) I have been only eating 1400 calories everyday including my rest days and focusing on my macros 45% protein, 30% fat and 25% carbs.
    I do boot camp twice a week and HIIT once per week. Does this sound right or should I be eating more on bootcamp and HIIT days?

    • Bobby Rowland

      Your percentages need to represent your lifestyle. Right now you are eating like a bodybuilder. Increase your carbs to 50-55% and your body will thank you and reward you with weight loss. I am degree certified trainer with 10yr experience in the field just FYI. My name is Bobby.

    • Jerry VanSickle

      Just FYI. Look at Type I diabetics. There are groups on Facebook and I belong to a few of them that I joined after my daughter got juvenile diabetes. Dr Richard Bernstein is also a T1D and was diagnosed at around 12 years old. Nearly loss his legs and life eating a USDA recommended diet. In his early years he was an Engineer. He became a Dr after experimenting on himself and reversing all of his complication and finding that he only needs 6 grams of carbs for breakfast, 12 for lunch, and 12 for dinner. The group focuses on those guidelines. Most T1D are pretty thin. They are not fat like a majority of the population. He discovered we don’t need carbs to survive really. At least not what the USDA recommends. That is a whole other story as well regarding the USDA and FDA. They basically completely turned the food pyramid upside down against the opinion of the many of experts they hired to put it into place. The govt allowed big business/Corp to come in and that messed the whole thing up. Anyways, your body and and does convert fat and protein to fuel the body. One of the biggest prob is that Americans have replaced good fats in the diet with carbs and the crap that they put into our food now makes us overeat. I just moved back to the US after living in Germany for 3 years and I can count the number of obese people on my hands and feet that I saw in Germany during that time. Their food is so much more healthier than ours and they eat lots of fat. Pork and Chicken is primarily consumed,because beef is so expensive,but even with all the pork and fat sausage they eat,they are still skinner than Americans. THey don’t eat GMO and eat lots of veg. Most foods you find in American stores that are packaged wouldn’t even be allowed in Germany. :: Mountain dew, fruit loops,etc. No GMO. I actually dropped from 205 to 178 after living in Germany. I came back in June of 2014 and went from 178 back up to 206. Now, I cut out the processed food and don’t eat anything out of a box and since Jan 1, 2016 and I dropped back down to 182 lbs.

  • The best way to lose weight is to cut back on what you eat and increase your burn through exercise. I need better portion control. more consistent cardio exercise, although I have been very consistent with stretch and tone exercises. I had stopped tracking and when I restarted I saw where I was eating more then I realized, even if most of it was the right things. I have recommitted to tracking my nutrition and exercise.

    • Sarah

      Same here, and my fitbit is keeping me honest about it, very motivating! Good luck to you!

  • like it good advice!

  • epickett

    1800 calories of snack cakes is what, *6*? 🙂 Doesn’t seem like a lot to eat at ALL..

  • DetroitSinkhole

    I don’t count calories. I eat when my body tells me to eat but only eat nutritious, unprocessed foods. When I got rid of sugar, processed foods, and most grains, the pounds melted away and I never felt hungry or deprived. I am amazed how good “real” food tastes after getting rid of all the cr@ppy food. Happy and healthy!

    • Katya Tsaioun, Ph.D.

      As a Registered Dietician Nutritionist I applaud your approach. This is the foundation that I base my approach with my patients. I don’t tell anyone to count calories nor dramatically immediately change their activity level. I teach gradual adjustment of their “normal” lifestyle to be in tune with our natural reflexes that we lose in this society.

  • Losingweight

    I started on a high protein, low carb and fat diet about 3 months ago. I eat about 1500 calories per day and burn 3500 (per fitbit) about 5 times per week. I know this is an incredible deficit, but I have lost about 25-30 lbs so far. I do a core DVD workout in the mornings and then hit the gym after work (45 mins of running + strength exercises afterwards). My question to you is this: Is this lifestyle sustainable for maybe another 6 weeks (I have a beach trip at the end of May) or should I increase my caloric intake? What is the toll on the body? Thanks.

    • Brian Masters

      A 2000 calorie daily deficit if not sustainable. 750 per day deficit is more reasonable for loseing a lot of weight, it takes longer, but isn’t as taxing on the body. Once you’ve reached your goal maintaining becomes the optimal lifestyle. To maintain you’ll want to eat as much as you burn. I would highly recommend talking to a professional and setting clear goals and a solid program.

  • Ruth Duckless

    This is discouraging for someone in their late 60’s with very little stamina left. At 1200 calories a day and walking on treadmill at 3 mph for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week I have only lost 3 lbs in 2 months. At 50+ lbs overweight my efforts seem pointless.

    • Brian Masters

      That’s actually great progress. The weight gain was a slow long term lifestyle change, any progress is good this is life not a race.

    • Sarah

      Actually, that is not very good progress for such a low calorie diet. You might try going up to 1500 or 1600 calories and see if you feel better. Are you drinking lots of water, not just sipping throughout the day? Instead of doing the treadmill, can you go outside and walk, a nice park with hills? Are there steps in your house? Instead of going up and down once, do it twice. Maybe dance for 10 minutes at a time in your living room? There are many ways to get moving that are going to be more effective than a slow treadmill pace. Don’t be discouraged!! XO

    • Jerry VanSickle

      Slow walking is prob the least amount of burn calorie exercise you can do. Riding a bike as fast as you can for a few min and then taking like a 1 min slow pace or break and repeat over and over is prob better. HIIT programs would be better as well. I agree with this article a lot. For the first time in my life at 44 years old with a bad back. I went from 206lbs down to 182lbs in 3 months. I mixed it up all the time and did what my back would allow. Weights, treadmill, bike, HIIT,etc. I lost over 5″ off my waist and I’m starting to show my 6 pack. I am 5’11”. I went into a strict caloric deficit between 1000 and 1200 calories for the first month. No carbs.Just vegetables, protein, and lots of water. I lost about 9 lbs and hit a plateau perhaps so I mixed it up started eating more and exercising more. Then lost another 9 or so lbs. Body will get use to what you are doing. You need to constantly mix it up. As a father of a Type I diabetic and keeping blood sugars under control, I learned to eat low carb foods that don’t spike blood sugars def help keep the wait off. I agree that if anyone was to be basically starved to death, you will lose weight. Its not healthy to do it real fast, but I did and took a multivitamin and ate lots of good fats. Fat is needed to fuel the brain and it can also feed the body. I eat things like fish, chicken breast, deer meat, broc, cauliflower, cabbage, mixed vegetables, etc. Drink only filtered water. I only use himalayan salt and use lots of spices on my food. Curry: pepper, turmeric, paprika, onion powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, ginger, italian seasoning. Once I got down on my weight, then I started to slowly add fruits. Mostly berries, oranges, grapefruit, and bananas once in a while. Now I eat yogurt with berries, oatmeal with protein powder, and my starch is sweet potatoes.Nothing with white flower, nor bread, nor white or red potatoes, rice, etc. Those things spike blood sugar and can cause weight gain. I’ve seen first hand what certain foods do to blood sugars. You want things that are complex carbs that won’t spike blood sugar. I don’t drink anything but water and a little milk now with a protein shake. Oh, sorry, I do drink green tea plain and I will use black coffee to make the tea. That away I get a little bit of an energy boost from the caffeine and weight loss benefits of green tea.

  • Rochelle Walela Black

    I am 55 years old, I have been in a high intensive sport since I was 6 years old till I was 46 years old. I have lifted weights since I was 12 years. I became a zumba and MMA instructors in 1998 and stopped about 4 years ago (2011). I worked out a total of 6 days a week for 4 hours a day I don’t want to do that anymore. I have started jogging and walking up steep hills at least 5 days a week and watching what I eat (1200 cals) but I really am done with all the weight lifting and high intensive cardio. I can’t do yoga because of the strain on my wrists. I only want to lose about 20 lbs (a little less) I am 4′ 9 1/2″ tall. Is not lifting weights really going to be so detrimental to my weight loss and over health?

    • Sarah

      Just a little plug for yoga…if you want to do it, find a good instructor who can help you with your wrist problems. Many yoga poses put no weight on the wrist at all! =)

  • robinbishop34

    I think the most important thing to take from this article is the idea that “you do NOT have to exercise to lose weight,” calorie intake is all that really matters for gaining or losing weight.

    Now, of course it is beneficial to be active for overall health, and your calories should be made up of high lean protein, low glycemic carbs, and healthy fats, BUT like the Twinkie diet mentioned in the article… it isn’t absolutely necessary.

    The reason I emphasize this over and over in other article comments is because until a person figures their total daily energy expenditure, and then regularly consumes a reasonable amount below that total, you will stay overweight.

    Forget all the shortcuts, the supposed “fat burning foods,” “not eating at night,” etc. It doesn’t matter if you eat right before you go to bed, or if you eat 3 meals, 6 meals, or 20 meals a day… as long as you stay in a calorie deficit.

    The old “stick and rudder” method of weighing everything you eat and recording the calories in a notebook is the best way. Read labels, understand the portions, use a food scale, and get started.

    • Katya Tsaioun, Ph.D.

      i understand what you are trying to do: attract attention by being controversial, but as a health care professional and a scientist I hope that this message is going to be lost among other more in line with evidence.

      • Sarah

        Not sure I see the controversy here…Robin is correct!

      • robinbishop34

        What exactly about a reasonable calorie deficit isn’t in line with scientific evidence? You are probably not looking past the fact that I said you don’t need to exercise to lose weight and making a reflexive assumption that I’m discouraging people from doing so… which I’m clearly not.

        • Katy

          Then there must be something “wrong” with me then. I think all bodies are different, and one thing does not apply to all. It doesn’t matter how long I eat a deficit, I will not lose. Sure, say I am counting my calories wrong, say there is no way, that it is physically impossible. To me, anything is possible, and there is no one way or the highway for anyone. I do think some people need exercise and calorie deficit. In fact, I do not lose weight until I eat more, AND exercise. It is weird, I know, in fact I am bewildered by my own body. But I guess what I am trying to say is, there is no way to blanket everyone into one lump. No matter what science says as being definitive – sometimes we don’t know everything there is to know, and things can be proven wrong.

          • robinbishop34

            I’m not claiming to know everything there is to know, but as you correctly guessed, I’m going to speculate that you are not actually in a deficit. I disagree that there is not “one way for everyone.” If I were to lock you in a room for 30 days and only slide 500 calories worth of food under the door everyday, you’d be significantly thinner by the end of that month. The reason you’d be thinner is because the calories provided is below the amount needed by your body to maintain a heavier than normal weight. This is a terrible way to go about it but the point is you’d lose because you’re in a true deficit.

            I talk to a lot of people who say the same thing as you… and while they are making admirable efforts to cut back, they are almost always overestimating the # of calories burned, and underestimating the # of calories consumed. A strict log of what you eat, complete with accurate portion and calorie count is vital. This isn’t nearly as tedious or hard as it sounds. After just a week or two you’ll have accumulated a pretty comprehensive log of the things you eat most often which you can use over and over as a guide.

            Start by googling “TDEE calculator” to figure a good estimate of daily calories burned, and then begin with a 20% deficit. For example if your TDEE is 2500 calories/day, reduce that amount by 20% and max out at 2000 per day. Remember though… the TDEE calculator only gives you a good estimate of total energy expenditure. You will be able to get a more accurate gauge of it by monitoring your rate of loss.

            WHAT YOU NEED: Notebook, pencil, calculator, digital food scale.

            WHAT YOU DO: Read labels (ALWAYS look at serving size/portions), write down everything you eat along with accurate # of calories for each thing, weigh once a week in the morning before you eat and after you use bathroom, monitor progress.

            DON’T FORGET TO INCLUDE ANY OIL/BUTTER USED FOR COOKING, CONDIMENTS, SUPPLEMENTS, LICKS OF SPOONS, ETC.

          • Merry Collop

            As reasonable as your argument is, Robin, I need to disagree. Several years ago I was very ill with IBS and ulcers. Constant diahrea, and for several days I didn’t eat. I also didn’t lose any weight. At that point I was on several medications, one for epilepsy, that made an enormous impact on my weight. My weight doubled within a few years. According to the Epilepsy Center, that particular medication affected some, but not all, with weight gain that would never plateau as long as they were on that medication. That medication altered my entire health system, being instrumental in diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, thyroid dysfunction and numerous other issues. When a person goes with NO food for days, without weight loss, it is not reasonable to say that they are not in calorie deficit. I am not trying to be argumentative; it is only that each person has been created differently, and what works for one does not necessarily work for others. Evidently, eating more works for Katy. I do remember when Johnny Carson was still on tv; he made a comment that when he did NOT exercize he would inexplicably lose weight. At this point, I am no longer on that particular medication, but still struggle with my weight. I have no thyroid, am on numerous meds, faithfully do cardio and resistance training, and do pretty well to eat healthy foods. I finally had my metabolism checked to find out just where I need to set a calorie level. That is very helpful, because, we are all created different. The amount you eat might blow me up with additional pounds. I also had food allergy testing done, and removed food sensitivities from my diet. My doctor is helping my gut to heal with supplements, and she feels that when my gut is healed, it will be much easier for me to lose weight. I am feeling much better, so I am hopeful that will prove true. I encourage people not to beat themselves up; research medications that you take to see if they could affect weight loss/gain, have your metabolism checked (mine was $30.00 through our local hospital), and find a doctor who can and will check the health of the entire body, especially the gut. Even if you don’t lose weight quickly,
            you can make changes to benefit the health of your body, which we know makes a huge difference in how we feel on a daily basis.

          • robinbishop34

            This part… “I finally had my metabolism checked to find out just where I need to set a calorie level,” is whats important. If you maintain a moderate deficit from that level, you will lose, as you’re finding out. I encourage you to use a TDEE calculator and see if the results aren’t near what the doctor/dietician set for you.

            Obviously you are dealing with conditions that most people trying to lose fat are not dealing with so that, combined with a cocktail of medications, may be what is causing you to have difficulty. Despite this however, you still have a maintenance level that you can either go below and lose, or exceed and gain.

          • WOuld you be willing to be my partner in my weight loss or my helper? I already have been using MyFitness Plus and have a good record of what I’ve eaten for about a month I think now. Can you and will you please help me?

            If you could talk to me on video chat, give me ideas, let me be accountable to you, I’d so appreciate it.

          • robinbishop34

            What are you need ing help with?

          • Megan

            Katy – I am in the same boat as you. I’ve used My Fitness Pal religiously for several months. In February, I cut out alcohol, coffee, added sugars, any fast food, and ate an avg. of 1200 calories a day. I also tracked my calories in Excel so I could calculate average and see a day-to-day comparison chart. I worked out 1-2 times a week. I didn’t lose any weight. In March, I upped my work outs to 4-5 times a week for at least 1 hour, and started eating an average of 1500 calories a day. I now also allow myself the occasional alcoholic drink, piece of cake, etc. That is when I started to see changes. For me the mixed of eating a healthy amount and working out was more successful then cutting way back on calories. I’m not saying this works for everyone, just sharing my personal experience. 1500 calories a day is still pretty low. I obviously wouldn’t see results from working out daily and eating a 2500 cal/day diet.

          • Bur1yman

            I feel it takes time for the body to understand what you are trying to accomplish. Usually after 3 weeks of starting to exercise, I finally start to see results. I don’t really think you are eating “more”, but more often. This makes sense. As long as the body is busy burning something eaten, it doesn’t go into “conserve” mode and burn less calories for the same amount of work. As long as the end tally of calories is lower than what is needed, you should lose. I don’t believe that calories before bed are the same as calories before a walk. Finding that personal sweet spot is the tough thing to do. All I can say is LOG EVERYTHING…. Eventually, it will become obvious what balance works for you and your body..

          • Corinne

            Katy, this discrepancy comes about possibly because of blood type. Eating Right For Your Type by Dr D’Adamo is very informative. I absolutely agree that eating less calories loses weight, it works for me, but if your eating the wrong foods for your blood type the lectins in the food will cause weight gain amongst other things. If your blood type O like me, we work best on high physical exercise whilst eating beef increases our metabolism, but Os can still lose weight without exercise via calorie counting. I highly recommend his books. His following book Live Right For Your Type follows on with even more information..all the information makes a lot of sense. I also have his specialized books on Arthritis & Cardiovascular Disease.

          • EJ

            I agree with the eat more, lose more theory. As long it is the right food. The calorie deficit method seems to rely on the human body’s calorie burning engine being something static. I think that nature and gotten very good and making the systems smart and to alter the settings to best survive hardship. Some people’s bodies are better at turning down the metabolism during a deficit than others, as it should be. Ensures survival of species. These would be the people that would last the longest during a prolonged time with no available food.

            Satiating that survival mechanism with the food it needs to feel safe allows for a greater burn rate during exercise. There was the Michael Thurmond diet that was based on that theory.

          • Dawn Martin

            I had the same issue as Katy…until I stopped eating white starchy or fatty foods…pasta, breads, cheese, pop…I literally lost 30 pounds in 3 months and never went to the gym. I did calorie counting and made a diet up for myself that really finally worked without the gym. I couldn’t even believe it. I ate 5 times a day while keeping my snacks at 200 cal or less and meal times at 350. I had a pretty good deficit going. I started sharing my menu with my mom too, she lost 25 lbs. Couldn’t be happier!

          • Lori Carter

            I too gave up sodas breads and pasta and in 5 months have lost 60 lbs. Went from size 18 to size 10. My fitness pal is my life. I love the articles and keep my journal here everyday, no matter when I cheat or not it goes in my fitness pal app. I Don’t have a exercise routine yet. My town is putting in a fitness center and I can’t wait. By end of July I will be working out alot. Where i work has a free fitness center 24 hrs a day but when im off on a swing shift its hard for me to get it together..calories and my fitness pal have been a life saver for me. Off my bp meds and heartburn meds and feeling great.

          • Dawn Martin

            That is awesome! Congrats and keep up the good work! It sure pays off!

      • Diane Tincher

        I lost 150 lbs over a 2 year period of time without incorporating many fruits and vegetables into my diet. I did tons of strength training and cardio. I also very strictly counted my calories every single day. I have maintained my current healthy weight for the last 2 years by continuing to do strength training and counting my calories religiously. I occasionally have a cardio session, but my job is so physically active that I rarely get to the gym to do anything more than strength training. I am trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet now, but it’s really hard because I just don’t enjoy eating them.

    • Animal SoulBonder

      It absolutely matters if you eat right!

      • robinbishop34

        I didn’t say you shouldn’t “eat right.”

    • bill

      Yes you can lose weight without exercise, but you would kind of be missing the whole point! Exercise is VERY important for a healthy, well functioning body and MIND. Understand what exercise is. It certainly is not limited to sweating bullets grunting in a gym. Walking, dancing, gardening, house cleaning, yard work, snow shoveling….in other words MOVING is exercise. Better yet if it raises your heart beat. Stay active. Eat efficiently-in other words, choose foods with the most nutrition per calorie. Yes, that does pretty much eliminate donuts! Real food (not processed) is often high in nutrition and low in calories. A lot of it is really inexpensive as well!

      • Anonymous Is A Woman

        Yes, yes, and yes, Bill. Exercise is just moving. There is a whole body of research on non exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT. It basically posits the theory that one significant difference between lean and overweight people is that lean people are more active during the day. They get up and walk around more, choose to take steps rather than escalators or elevators, and park their cars a little further when they shop, etc.

        Just learn to be active. And of course count calories. That still is the most important part of weight loss. Can’t get around that.

        • I discontinue working at shopritte and now I’m getting $75-97$ p/hour. How? I’m working on the net! My employment did not actually make me delighted thus I made a decision to take a chance on something new…after 4 years it wasn’t simple to drop out my day job but now I couldn’t be more happy.>>> OKNO.UK/r/279j3

    • Lo

      If you eat less then your body needs to maintain your current weight, YOU WILL lose weight even without exercise. HOWEVER, what exactly are you losing? Muscle! The most important part of your body that keeps you going day after day. To increase and optimize those muscles, for your sake, you NEED to exercise! Period. Eating healthy grown foods will nurture your body, and mind. Sure you could eat whatever you want, but you definitely won’t feel as well as eating wholesome grown foods.

      • robinbishop34

        “HOWEVER, what exactly are you losing? Muscle! “
        Nope. When I say “current weight,” I’m talking about a person’s current overweight status. A moderate calorie deficit w/o exercise (or moderated activity like walking) is the best way to ensure a higher percentage of fat loss. As a person’s body fat % gets down around 20%, some resistance training and an increase in the proportion of protein intake would be encouraged to prevent muscle loss.

        When it comes to building muscle, a person should cut to the point of seeing a soft 4 or 6 in their abs, at which point they would begin a heavy lifting/progressive overload, full body split type workout, in conjunction with a moderate calorie surplus.

    • TrainerRon

      If you only lose weight by counting calories and completely excluding exercise outside of your daily activities you will also lose muscle mass. This also causes your body to require less calories daily. That means you will constantly need to decrease your daily intake just to maintain your new weight. That is exactly why the article referenced weight training. Adding lean muscle not only looks better, but it makes the ability to maintain the thinner, leaner you all that much easier.

      • robinbishop34

        Most people who comment here are significantly overweight, and a good percentage of those who are complain of limited mobility, knee/back problems.

        These people… and anyone really, only need to be in a reasonable calorie deficit with proper proportion of macros to lose. Yes.. of course the caloric limit is constantly re-adjusted UNTIL a person gets to their ideal weight. They are then simply eating maintenance at where they should of been all along.

        You’re speaking of cutting after a bulk which is different insomuch that the person will maintain lifting heavy weights, but decrease volume in conjunction with a high protein, moderate calorie deficit.

      • Nick Fergadis Giannakopoulos

        Long sessions of cardio while on caloric deficit will also eat up muscle mass.

  • Sarah

    If you can live and be happy off 800 calories, go for it, but nothing extreme is going to be sustainable. Slow and steady wins the race. Type 2 diabetes doesn’t creep up overnight, and the risk is not going to go away overnight, either.

    • Anthony hurst

      800 cals x 8 weeks. 2 months is a sustainable duration and certainly not extreme. I am then only fasting two days per week as I said. The concept is to quickly get down to were you need to be then intermittently fast to maintain weight. I didn’t say I was on 800 calories for the rest of my life and I didn’t say diabetes was my main motivator I said that is what this Dr is espousing with his diet. I’ll go with the latest science thanks and rapidly lose my 20 kgs, (8 more to go), then stay there. Slow and steady will work too just not anywhere near as well. If you are happy doing that, go for it but nothing too slow is going to work, you are leaving yourself open to lapses in willpower, or just giving up. It’s not rocket science, losing the weight in 8 weeks not 12 months is better any way you look at it.

      • Sarah

        Relax, Anthony…I wasn’t attacking you! I wish you well. Different things work for different people. I hope it works for you and that you are able to maintain good health with it.

        • Anthony hurst

          I’m sorry, it’s early morning here and I seem to have woken up a bit defensively. Thanks for your well wishes.

          • Sarah

            It’s ok, have a good day, wherever you are! =)

  • Patrick Henry

    I can tell you from experience that losing a large amount of weight with diet only will leave you in an unhealthy state, you will lose muscle and fat with diet alone and you will be a weak skinny fat guy in the end.
    I would highly recommend incorporating strength training during your weight loss, it is much more inspiring and motivating to see an athletic and fit body pop out as you lose the fat.
    Also, as you build muscle it allows you to push your cardio harder and scorch more calories as you operate those larger muscles.
    Just my 2¢

  • Paul Harris

    I find that all of the above is important, but so is the need to stay hydrated. I am 62, was weighing 175 pounds and with monitoring carb intake, walking 3+ miles a day and drinking 2+ liters of water a day I have lost 20# on 5 months. I think the water is a big contributing factor!

  • Tim Stout

    Great stuff–thanks for the article!

  • Jeanne M.

    After a full year of exercising virtually every day, and rarely eating more than 1500 cal., I put on 15 lbs. Needless to say, I’m fed up with the whole thing.

    • Kia Crawford

      Go to the doctor. If you are tracking and doing everything right and you have gained weight then there may be something else at work in your body.

      This is assuming that that weight is fat and not muscle. Remember: body fat percentage is an almost better way to measure your progress. Look up the navy body fat calculator and see if your measurements show a decrease is fat, despite the increase in weight.

      IF you have indeed not lost any fat when you are eating right and exercising talk to a doctor. I had a hormone imbalance that kept fat on me and made me feel like I was starving all the time. A simple pill once daily and I am down 40 pounds.

      • Lo

        If you eat less then your body needs to maintain your current weight, YOU WILL lose weight even without exercise. HOWEVER, what exactly are you losing? Muscle! The most important part of your body that keeps you going day after day. To increase and optimize those muscles, for your sake, you NEED to exercise! Period. Eating healthy grown foods will nurture your body, and mind. Sure you could eat whatever you want, but you definitely won’t feel as well as eating good wholesome foods.

  • Krissy

    To those of you who are saying weight loss can be achieved without exercise. Well, yes and no. If you want to look like a skinny saggy untoned walking piece of string- YES… If you want to get lean- NO…
    Example: Back when I was overweight, I started reducing calories without exercising. Eventually, I had lost over 60 pounds but was soft, weak, and almost underweight. I began strength training along with cardio HIIT and toned up quite a bit. I still eat the same way and count calories, but the only difference is now I exercise and am a lot more solid. I’m even slowly forming abs. EXERCISE MATTERS!

  • Krissy

    OR… you can just listen to your body. I lost over 60 pounds by learning to eat intuitively and listening to REAL hunger cues. No calories counted. Am now a healthy 125 at 5’7.

  • Gina Camp

    If a person eats too little for their height and gender (yes gender it definitely plays a roll) your body will try to hold onto fat not lose it but if you literally only have what your body truly needs for your height and gender & are otherwise on the fairly healthy side (no thyroid issues etc) you should always be able to lose when there is a caloric deficit cuz your body will burn fat for energy cuz there are no extra calories there as a buffer so to speak.

  • Elle317

    The most important thing to do is ignore all these people who tell you there is only one way to do it. That gets in your head and then you decide that you are a failure. Do it your way. Calories in/calories out, that’s all it is.

  • Kelleygurl74

    I eat about 1100 calories a day. According to MPG I should be eating 1900+. Eating 1100 a day is mostly forced eating. I eat light, salad twice a day, a few snacks a day. And a veggie/fruit blend shake daily. I’m a teacher of 25 – 5 year olds. We are moving and dancing and playing outside all day. I rack about 7k steps a day. I haven’t lost a pound. I am gaining. I have been doing this for 5 months now. What am I doing wrong?

    • Shawna Hoffman

      Your not eating enough calories. Not eating enough can be just as detrimental to your weight as over eating. My doctor advised me that as I women I should not cut calories to less than 1200 calories a day.

    • bountifulwoolley

      Shawna is right. You’re probably eating at 30, 40 or even 50 percent below your total daily energy expenditure. You should never drop below 25%. If you do, for any length of time, you’ll do some serious damage to your metabolism and really add to your weight gain problems. You can fix all that by doing this:

      Once you find your sweet spot you will feel and notice metabolic changes in your body. Your sweet spot is between 20% and 25% below your total daily energy expenditure. Once you find your sweet spot, you’ll be losing about half a pound of fat per week until you reach your percent body fat goal.

      Find a good online total daily energy expenditure calculator or use this Katch-McArdle formula (its the formula all calculators use): (lean body mass in kilos or take your weight in pounds and divide by 2.2) x (21.6) + 370 = Basal Metabolic Rate or what they refer to as your Resting Daily Energy Expenditure (RDEE). To figure our your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) you have to add in your exercise/movement. Its a bit of a guessing game to hone in on the right number. If you’re not losing .5 pounds of body fat per week, then you’ve got your exercise number up too high. Lower it. If you’re losing more than half a pound of fat per week, you’ve got your exercise number too low. Raise it.

      Here’s the formula: RDEE (resting Daily energy expenditure) x Exercise Level = Total Daily Energy Expenditure.

      You get your RDEE from the formula above. You get your exercise level by estimating it based on the following:

      6 hours per week enter: 1.45

      You may be familiar with exercise formulas that have as many as nine multipliers ranging as high as 1.9, essentially almost doubling your daily calorie intake by doubling your basal metabolic rate or RDEE (Resting Daily Energy Expenditure) to 190 percent.

      Those calculations are bogus. They make you believe that you can eat as many calories as you can burn. That simply is not the case. Once you get to the 1.45 multiplier (which most of us reach when we get to the 6 or more hours of exercise per week level) your body doesn’t show any significant fat loss, so stay with these ranges and don’t let faux science confuse you into thinking there is an unlimited upside to the “I can eat as many calories as I can burn” meme.

      So if your Resting Daily Energy Expenditure is, say 1,700 calories. And your exercise level, selected from the above list is 1.35. You can calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) Using this calculation:

      1,700 x 1.35 = 2, 295

      Now comes the fun part. How much of these 2,295 calories should be protein. How much should be carbs. And how much should be Fat?

      If you’re a woman and you’re around 25% body fat, then you should eat about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Once you get below 20% body fat you should up that to 1.1 grams.

      Using the above example of 2,295 calories as the TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure), and throwing out a number like 145 pounds as the weight of this individual. The protein target should be: 145 grams per day.

      The Fat should be 20% of total calories.

      Carbs is everything else: Total Calories minus your fat and protein calories.

      * remember that there are four carb and protein calories in every carb or protein gram, and nine calories in every one gram of fat)

    • Tiffany Bradshaw

      probably not enough calories…Your body may think it’s starving a bit and storing the calories you are eating in your fat. Or the moving and dancing and playing outside is causing you to build muscle which weighs more.

    • Tiffany Bradshaw

      also, how much water are you drinking?

  • abc

    this article is pure bullshit, I eat shit and I am Fat, I eat less shit, I lose weight and is still Fat. I dont buy the number games for weight, bottom line, eat shit and become shit and a pile of poos

  • Janella Rollert

    I just have dummbbells and a very small kettle bell. What are optimal exercises for strength training for me?

    I also walk and hike.

  • J

    New supplement to lose 10 lbs in a week email me for details: jsnjthibod at gmail . com

  • Alexandria Ellison

    For God’s sake, be consistent with the level of sodium/sugars/fats/calorie range you take in each day too. I’ve had trouble for months with my weight bouncing up an down because of it. Just completed a month of general consistency (with maybe a couple of errors on the radar), and dropped seven pounds. I am pushing to keep up the tightness and make myself do some activity 7 days a week to see if I can get a consistent weight loss for at least a couple of more months before I start to see a plateau.

  • Alexandria Ellison

    I’m doing something similar. I’ve been eating between 1300-1800 calories a day since I’ve started controlling the consistency of my intake (instead of eating 1100 cals one day, 3000 another, 2000 another) and of sodium/sugar/fats/etc. I lost 7 pounds the last month and am going to be watching myself like a hawk over the next couple of months to see if the loss stays consistent, even if I start to lose less. I am trying to get myself to be ultimately active every day via walks, cardio and strength training. I think with that I’m going to set an ideal calorie limit at 1700 given that a burn a few to several hundred calories a day power-walking and using the elliptical. Of course the cap would only be that high if I don’t go over more than 30% of the calories/nutrients I burn. I definitely think you’re onto something here.

  • Kate

    Was there not a better example than the “twinkie diet” to prove how limiting your calorie intake can be helpful in weight loss – or a healthier example??!! Sure, not eating food at all will help you lose weight, but you’ll end up getting sick and losing a lot of energy. I know MFP is a weight-loss site/app, but shouldn’t it be encouraging healthy eating at the same time?

    Also, being active is part of a healthy lifestyle. Working out may not help you lose weight, but it will help strengthen your heart and reduce the risk of disease. Even if it’s just walking for 30 min. a day, it’s important to keep it up.

    This article makes me very confused. I’m not an expert by any means and I have a long way to go with my weight loss goals, but even I know that eating nothing but twinkies and not exercising is a terrible way to see results.

  • Windy Weaver

    “Did you know that many people who have
    to check in to assisted living homes do so because they are unable to
    get off the toilet, open a door or dress themselves” WRONG. In order to qualify for assisted living you MUST be able to do all of those things. You must be referring to nursing homes?

  • ImaMe

    I’ve started logging my food, again. I’ve done it a few times in the past but can’t seem to get past the part of not knowing the nutritional info since I make the majority of the food I eat and breaking down the nutritional value seems an impossible task, but now I’m logging the food to keep track of junk food. I had ice cream tonight for the first time in 3 weeks 🙂 Before I’d have ice cream a LOT more often lol I did feel excited when I read “you do NOT have to exercise to lose weight” cuz I hate it more than anything else in life, but I do. I use my treadmill and started Tae Bo again.

  • ahealthyyou7

    Moderate caloric intake, exercise and consistency working in tandem usually produce desired weight goals.

  • Pam Flowers

    i have a friend who was morbid obease , she started exercise ing and lost all the weight ,, she ate mounds of food ,, never gave no kind , type of food up

  • Carol

    This is a great article! Hope some people who need it, read it. It truly is this simple but I’m not sure why some folks who want to lose weight so bad are so against counting their calories. At least until they are aware how many calories are in all the things they eat. Once you know you may not even have to track all the time. I’ve been counting for almost 3 years now and I’m a little afraid to stop yet but it is my goal to someday be able to just do it in my head (and with a watchful eye on my fitbit).

  • jmc

    The link for this article doesn’t match the topic. This is supposed to be a keto article.

    • sh7562

      I clicked on the link in the email to read about Keto and got this BS – wtf.

    • Tiffany Bradshaw

      I was very dissapointed to see that as well…keto diet ruined my friend’s gallbladder and I was interested to find out what the answer was in this article but has nothing to do with keto grr

  • sh7562

    > Click email to read about Ketogenic diet, title reads “Is the Ketogenic diet safe?”
    > Article has nothing to do with Keto and never mentions it.

    Thanks Under Armor.

    • Fischer Bacher

      It had me thinking the same thing!

  • Jaime Lynn

    I think it’s misleading to click on a link that asks “Is the Ketogenic diet safe for weight loss?” but not mention Ketogenic at all. Alot of people don’t even know what it is. I am Ketogenic and I have lost 20 lbs and 2 pant sizes. That’s all I have to say….I’m not posting more in depth than that.

    • Brandi

      That’s EXACTLY what I was just thinking!!

    • Fischer Bacher

      It had me scratching my head too!

  • Brandi

    Everyone can NOT lose weight simply by reducing calories. There are lots of medical reasons why someone could eat lower calories and still not lose. I happen to be one of those people. It’s more what I eat than how much. I don’t mean I can eat certain foods with reckless abandon, but I’ve done everything possible and nothing ever worked. Until I figured out some hormonal imbalances and other things going on inside my body and began feeding myself to deal with that, that is when things started going the right way for me, and my calories are not lowered compared to what I had been taking in.

  • Shay

    Good article, but like Katya, I tend to lose more weight when I eat more and work out. I’ve tried long term runs of both eating an 1,800 calorie diet and burning 600 calories or more in the gym 5 days a week, and restricting to an 1,000 calorie plan with 400 calorie workouts. I lose more when I aim to net 1200 calories a day, and plateau much faster if I eat less than that. Severe deficits can make the body think it is starving, and it will hold on to as much fat as possible.
    Also, the foods that I’m eating play a big part in my ability to lose weight. I have PCOS, so 1,000 calories of carb-heavy foods will actually make me gain weight because my body will overproduce insulin. Honestly, if I stick to a ketogenic diet and avoid foods that are high in carbs (alcohol, breads, pastas, fruits, starchy vegetables, etc.), I can eat to my heart’s content without counting calories and still lose weight.

  • Mango

    Yes, exercise is a way to stay healthy and fit. Most of us know that. But what’s not mentioned here to defend the need for exercise for weight loss, especially strength training and HIIT cardio, is that it boosts your metabolism. Doing these things regularly will naturally increase the number of calories you burn even while at rest thereby increasing your calorie deficit without eating less. Controlling calories and adding regular metabolism-boosting exercise will accelerate weight loss. I had no interest in weight machines at the gym until I understood that bigger muscles makes my metabolism faster. I’ve been able to go on a couple of trips and indulge in my favorite foods without coming back to the scale telling me I gained 5 pounds in 3 days.

    • Fischer Bacher

      If you research this you will find that the notion of training to lose weight did not exist before the 1960s and 1970s. Kind of goes along with the George McGovern folly of the food pyramid and the (SAD) standard American Diet.

  • Scott

    The article DIDN’T address the topic

    • Fischer Bacher

      I think they call this “link bait”. lol

  • Michael Ibach

    This article has nothing to do with keto.

    • x_ray_tech

      I replied to you with the correct link Michael but it is on hold because of the link address I assume.
      So just type in ketogenic diet into their search engine and you will find it.

    • Tiffany Bradshaw

      agreed and this ticked me off a lot

  • Laura Meece

    Stop counting calories! They are not all created equal! Carbs are what stimulate insulin production. If you are sensitive to insulin, the insulin will help transport the glucose into the cells for energy production. If you have more glucose than you need for energy the insulin will help by storing it as fat, to use later. When you go on a calorie restricted diet, you slow your metabolism. This is a safety measure for times of famine so you won’t die. During this phase you will lose weight. But it will be 40% fat stores and 60% muscle. When your calorie restriction is over, you will gain weight back, just in case there is another famine. So you will be more prepared for the next famine, you will put the weight you gain on in the proportions of 80% fat and 20% muscle! That is a process for gaining overall more body fat than you had before. If you increase your protein intake, and cut your carbs, not worrying at all about calories, you will lose only the fat. If you keep lifting weights with enough protein intake, you will build more muscle, which will keep increasing your metabolism. Eat fats to satiate your hunger. Fats are not stored as fat. There is no way to completely balance the energy expenditure/intake equation so tightly. Just count carbs, increase protein and keep lifting heavy weights!

  • Sorry.
    This is the same tired “advice” that my doctor gave me every check-up for 25 years. “You need a calorie deficit. Eat less, move more.” The result was a weight gain of 65 lbs and Type 2 diabetes.

    A calorie is not a calorie because carbs, fats, and proteins affect hormones, and hormones — especially leptin and insulin — control fat burning and metabolism.

    My first life-saving discovery was Dr. William Davis and Wheat Belly. The elimination of refined sugar and most carbs, increasing healthy fats, led to 1) elimination of severe joint pain in 2 weeks, 2) reversal of gum recession in 6 months, 3) drop of 40-50 points in fasting blood glucose, 4) a lost of 51 lbs in 13 months. When my weight loss plateaued in the summer of 2015, Davis encouraged me to look into a ketogenic diet, actually wheat belly plus. I did and while difficult to maintained, helped me lose weight. Through 2016 I gained back slowing into the 230s and in early 2017 the 240s. A month ago I discovered I was eating too much protein — as much as twice too much. I have adjusted my macros and have lost 13 lbs in 3 weeks.

    Insulin is the key. Carbs (grains and sugars) spike insulin and exacerbate insulin resistance and causes incessant fat storage and weight gain.

    Intermittent fasting — 16-24 hours at a time 3-5 times a week — reprograms the weight set point and allows for additional weight loss.

    “Eat less – move more” is a myth. For 70 year old guys like me, who have followed USDA guidelines and their Food Pyramid all my life (“6-11 grain servings per day, at least half whole grains” ~ first declared by South Dakota Senator George McGovern and his “Select Committee” in 1977, bolstered by one of his greatest political contributors, the National Wheat Growers’ Association), I became fat, obese, diabetic, and nearly unable to walk or stand due to joint pain. Wheat Belly, Ketosis, and Intermittant Fasting have freed me from all of this.

    My blood readings are normal. My FBG has dropped from 160s to 1-teens. My weight is again heading down from 249 to 230. Fat satisfies hunger naturally and provides all the nutrients we need (Eskimos never ate fruits, vegetables, or bread ~ just fat and protein. When they started eating what we eat, they got fat and sick, just like we are).

    With all the research being produced today, one would think that these kinds of articles would begin to die. I have damaged myself and need therapeutic levels of fat to overcome the damage. But slowly my body is beginning to heal itself from the “all things in moderation” false promise.

    Sorry for the blast, but you would do well to not criticize what you obviously do not understand. For your reading pleasure, read
    Davis, Wheat Belly
    Davis, Undoctored (most recent and best IMHO)
    Dr. Jason Fung (Obesity Code)
    Dr. David Perlmutter (Grain Brain)
    Dr. Joseph Mercola (Fat for Fuel)
    And books by Jimmy Moore (Guide to Fasting, Cholesterol Clarity, Keto Clarity)

    Nothing is more frustrating to us fat people who have strained and struggled to “eat less and move more” and still gain weight, only to be accused of “cheating” in between visits. It is not just a lie, it is a damned lie because it is sending thousands to early deaths due to obesity, inflammation, insulin resistance, metabolic disorders, and the resulting cancers, kidney disease, dementia, and diabetes.

    My 91-year old diabetic mother-in-law (tough old bird) went into the hospital recently and was put on a “diabetic diet” which included ice cream, bread, biscuits, orange juice, mac n cheese, potatoes, and skim milk. Then the medical staff wondered why her blood sugar shot up! And so they INCREASED HER INSULIN DOSAGE!! (Until we got their ear and changed her foods — her BG dropped immediately.

    Old myths due hard, even when they are causing people to die early needlessly.

  • jeff_in_brooklyn

    I highly recommend people read “What Makes Us Fat” by Gary Taubes. He looks at studies that show that simply staying in calorie deficit for long periods of time–i.e., being hungry–is just not sustainable for most people. Yes, you can do it for 3 or 6 or even 12 months, and you’ll definitely lose weight; but very few people can maintain that. Being hungry all the time sucks.

    SPOILER ALERT: What makes people lose weight is reducing the amount of fattening (simple) carbohydrates they eat. Some people will disagree and say, no, they’ve simply done calorie reduction, and they’ve kept off weight for years. However, they’ve also reduced their overall intake of simple carbohydrate (including sugar) quite a bit. In fact, most people, when they diet, naturally cut out the worst of these carbohydrates. That’s what leads to the weight loss.

    Anyway, the data and science behind it are in the book. Trust science–it is your friend! Happy reading.

  • Sharon Hainsfurther

    This article was not about ketogenic diet – but it was titled “Is the ketogenic diet safe for weight loss” (?)

  • kristin hegazi

    The email from MFP had a headline about keto diets and the link brings you to this article which doesn’t even mention keto. Please either give more relative headlines or create correct links.