It’s the festive season, and we all gather with our families around the Christmas tree, having dinner and enjoying a few days off. But a few days later, when we dare to step on the scale, we see the unfortunate result of the good time we have: we gained weight. The good news: Losing weight is not as difficult as it sounds, and you do not need a special diet or behave like a cavewoman or man. We will tell you the secret of losing weight successfully, without selling you anything or forcing you to refrain from meat.
Metabolism and physiology
Let’s start first with what’s going on in our body. There are three main processes which have one thing in common: they need energy.
A good metabolism supplies each individual body cell with everything it needs. This includes energy sources, building materials and auxiliary substances such as vitamins, hormones and enzymes. The metabolism also transports toxins and waste products out of the body.
Colloquially, the term metabolism usually refers to the utilization and metabolization of our meals. This primarily includes carbohydrate metabolism, fat metabolism and protein metabolism.
Fats primarily provide our body with energy and are also stored as such. However, the body also needs fats for the formation of hormones and messenger substances. In fat metabolism, fats are first broken down into fatty acids and glycerides during digestion in the intestine. These are then transported via the blood, among other places to the liver. If you take in more fat than you consume, this excess energy is stored by the body – as depot or abdominal fat.
During digestion, proteins are broken down into their constituent amino acids. They are then transported into the cells via the bloodstream. There they are used for building muscles, hormones and enzymes, but can also be used for energy production.
Carbohydrate metabolism: Important when lose weight successfully
Carbohydrates serve as the main source of energy for our metabolism. However, before it can use them, the complex carbohydrates must first be converted into glucose with the help of enzymes. Only when they have been broken down into their smallest components can they reach the cells via the blood. There, the glucose is “burned” with the help of oxygen.
The liver is an important organ for carbohydrate metabolism: it continuously supplies the organism with glucose – even if glucose is not constantly supplied via the diet. This is because the liver can store glucose by converting unneeded glucose into a multiple sugar known as glycogen. Glycogen is the storage form of glucose and serves as an energy supply for the cells. It is available again when needed. However, in the event of an oversupply of carbohydrates, the liver converts the glycogen into fat and stores it in the adipose tissue. If the liver has to resort to this more often, there is a risk of obesity or even fatty liver.
Sugars: the fuel for your body
Sugar is the fuel for your body. It contains the energy we measure as calories.
Food energy is officially measured in kilojoules (kJ). However, kilocalories (kcal) or simply calories are also a unit that can be derived from kilojoules. The simple conversion is:
1 kJ = 0.239 kcal
1 kcal = 4.184 kJ
Still, calories are more common as a unit to measure energy in food. So we will use them in this article as well. We have three main kinds of nutrients we eat every day.
Protein, fat and carbohydrates are those macronutrients. To discuss the question “How to lose weight successfully” in more detail, we need to take a look at calorific value. The process is simple: We eat and drink and our body burns what we ingest. Thus, each of the macronutrients has a specific calorific value. In other words, each gram of macronutrient has a specific caloric value:
1 gram of fat = 9.3 kcal
1 gram of protein = 4.1 kcal
1 gram of carbohydrates = 4.1 kcal
Protein and carbohydrates each have 4.1 kilocalories, while fat has 9.3 kilocalories.
Don’t worry about the higher calories of fat. There no bad calories. It is just important to know that fat has more of them.
Why calories make us fat
One of the fundamental laws of physics is the mass–energy equivalence. It is the principle that anything having mass has an equivalent amount of energy and vice versa. You may remember Albert Einstein ‘s famous formula: E = m c 2. We won’t get into the details here, just remember that energy cannot just disappear, and so does mass.
When we do nothing all day, our body will still burn calories, meaning converting mass (food), into energy, to keep basic body functions going. Depending on age and gender, we need between 1300 and 1500 calories per day just to provide our body with the fuel it needs. To make it simple: One Italian style salami pizza has 500 calories. If you eat only two a day, you would give the body the enery it needs.
But it isn’t that simple, because of the metabolism. Your body takes energy from carbs first, because they are easy to burn. Protein comes second, and fat third. So, the sugar from the tomatoes on the pizza and the dough may use first, the olive oil and bacon later. There are many diets focusing on fat, carbs and protein and the right amount of each when you want to lose weight successfully.
But actually, it doesn’t really matter. What counts, is at the end the total amount of calories. If you take in more calories than you burn, then you most probably will gain weight. The older you get, the less energy you need. But our body is a bit of a hoarder: it will keep the oversupply of energy for bad times, and store it as fat. Yes, it is that simple: Fat is made of unburned calories.
Lose weight successfully is not a special diet
You may start to sense where this is going to. If you want to lose weight, you need to force your body to use the storage, also known as fat. You just need to know your amount of calories your body needs and then lower the intake. But, and that is a big but: You cannot just skip eating, or lower the calories to let’s say 500 a day. Because your body cannot convert fat to sugar, you will have health problems quite fast. The secret in lose weight successfully is a gliding path.
Imagine a plane is landing: It cannot just reduce speed in front of the runway. It will drop and crash. What it does is using a gliding path where speed and altitude are gradually reduced. With weight, it works similar. What you need to do is reducing the calorie intake by around 20-30%. At the same time, you need to make sure that your food is well-balanced. The best way to provide sugar, the fastest energy source, is by fruits and vegetables. Bread, potatoes and noodles are good as well, but they should not be the main source. Meat is also an energy source, but you don’t want too much in your metabolism. Carbs are your biggest enemy, because they are just so damn delicious.
Change your eating habit and mindset to lose weight successfully
So to get started just follow our checklist below:
- Start counting your calories. Apps like MyFitnesspal have a huge database of calories for food and meals as well as ready-to-eat food from the grocery store.
- Follow the principle of vegetables first, grains and proteins second and carbs third. A rule of thumb is 40%-60& veggies, 20%-40% grains and proteins and the rest for carbs.
- Check your weight and set a reasonable goal for one month.
- Check your weight every three days. Do not worry if after 2 weeks the weight loss is less. That is normal, Just go on.
- If you have reached your goal, increase the amount of calories slightly, but still try to burn more than you need.
- Get a feeling for food, and it’s calories. Be aware what you eat and how many calories it has. Eat a donut, but only one, and compensate the calories by skipping the fries for dinner.
- Keep the balanced way of eating. Having more veggies and fewer carbs is the best secret to lose weight successfully and keep the weight.
- DO NOT set high goals. This will hurt your body, and when you lose weigh too fast, it will bounce back. It is called the Yo-Yo-effect.
Do I have to exercise to lose weight succesfully?
There is a common misconception that with enough exercise you can lose weight successfully. But the truth is: there is no way that you will exercise enough every day to lose weight without changing your eating habits. But: You should do workouts, because it’s good for your body, and you do burn calories. A common mistake is that they are discounted against food, like “I burned 500 calories, so I can eat a pizza today”. Don’t fall into this trap. Use calories you burn during sports and workouts as some extras and compensation for the cheats you did and didn’t write down (yes, you did cheat, we all do…). So, yes, I encourage you to work out, but most important is to change your eating habits and get aware of the amount of calories you eat.