I’m a firm believer that the mirror tells you more about yourself than the weighing scale. However, there’s simply no reason to trade one for the other if you can use both.
Having said that, weighing over 200 lbs is overweight (if not obese) for most people. What’s worse is if all that extra weight comes in the form of fat and, together with it, comes all sorts of health concerns such as diabetes, cardiovascular issues, joint pain, and hormonal imbalances.
You’ve probably also heard about all the fitness gimmicks that are circulating social media and maybe you’ve even tried some of them only to fail or stop midway.
You know what, though? That’s okay. That’s part of the struggle and I understand it because I’ve been there too.
There are, however, a few things that helped me in my journey and maybe they’ll work for you just as well. Let me share them with you and help you sculpt your dream bod.
Not all calories are equal
When you’re trying to manage your weight, you have to understand two basic concepts:
- Caloric deficit – Taking in less calories than what your body uses
- Caloric surplus – Taking in more calories than what your body uses
These two concepts work for EVERYONE. No exceptions. Regardless if you’re young or old, man or woman, whatever diet trend you’re on, this applies to YOU.
Specifically, when you’re trying to lose weight, you want to be in a state of caloric deficiency. For example, if you’re eating 2500 calories of food per day to maintain your weight, you’re going to have to eat less than that to shed those extra pounds.
However, not all calories are equal particularly when you’re overweight because all those extra layers might have caused hormonal imbalances, such as:
To keep it simple, Insulin resistance is when your cells aren’t responding normally to the effects of insulin. This causes your blood sugar levels to spike up, especially after you eat.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), one of the risk factors for developing insulin resistance is being overweight.
For this reason, many people give up eating carbs altogether in an attempt to cut weight and regain their health. However, while this may work for some people, others simply love their carbs too much, making the diet unsustainable. If you’re one of the latter, I believe a more accurate advice you should follow is to pick alternative carbohydrates with lower glycemic index (GI) scores.
Carbs with lower GI scores are slower to break down and therefore provide a more controlled rise in blood sugar and a more constant source of energy.
Swapping out your usual carbs such as white rice, white bread, potatoes, and instant oatmeal for lower GI carbs such as wheat bread, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and non-starchy vegetables is a great and healthy way to still keep carbs in your diet while cutting calories.
Leptin, also known as the “satiety hormone”, is charged with telling your brain “Hey! We’re full now! We’ve stored enough fat so you can start ramping up the metabolism!”
Therefore, if you have leptin resistance, you will feel the opposite of its effect. You will always feel hungry, your metabolism slows down, and if you don’t reverse it, you will likely keep gaining more weight.
So, how does anyone become leptin resistant anyway?
Well, it’s theoretically pretty much the same with insulin. When you constantly expose your body to high levels of either hormone, your cells become desensitised and eventually become resistant.
That being said, leptin is a product of adipose tissue (fat cells). Thus, the more fat you have, the more your body produces leptin, which then amplifies your chances of being leptin resistant. This is why multiple studies have linked leptin with obesity because obesity also entails that you’ve been consistently gaining weight over a period of time.
Having said, naturally reversing leptin resistance requires that you stick to a sustainable and healthy diet, which leads us to the next section…
Give the ketogenic diet a try
The ketogenic diet has been around for quite some time but it’s been more popular than ever over the past few years. There are literally thousands, if not millions of anecdotes from people who’ve found success losing weight and, perhaps more importantly, keeping it off through this diet.
The standard ketogenic diet is also very different from the traditionally recommended diet when it comes to macronutrient intake, particularly when it comes to fat and carbohydrates. Here’s a swift comparison to help you get a better picture:
Ketogenic diet VS. Traditional diet
|Standard Ketogenic Diet||75%||5%||20%|
|Traditionally Recommended Diet||20%-35%||45%-65%||10%-35%|
NOTE: The percentages from the traditionally recommended diet came from the Institute of Medicine.
As you can see, the ketogenic diet is a very high fat, very low carb type of diet.
But, among all the other diet trends…
Why choose keto?
In contrast to the GI diet (glycemic index) where you replace your usual carbs with low GI (glycemic index) counterparts, I think this is a better option for people who find giving up carbohydrates easier than it is to give up fatty food. Think cake versus bacon, only healthier.
Plus, the health benefits for obese and overweight people are tremendous!
Apart from losing weight and body fat, research says that the long-term benefits of the ketogenic diet include:
- Lower triglycerides
- Lower “bad” cholesterol
- Lower blood glucose (sugar)
- Increase “good” cholesterol
Oh, and by the way, the decreased sugar levels and low carb intake might help curb the insulin resistance that typically happens when you weigh over 200 lbs.
How does the ketogenic diet work?
Normally, your body takes a good bulk of its energy from carbohydrates. Now, when you drastically reduce your carb intake, you force your body into shifting its metabolism to that of ketosis where it turns to fat (ketones) for fuel.
Moreover, research says that our bodies are “hardwired to favour ketosis” in energy crisis situations such as when you’re training for endurance or when you’re fasting. So, you might have gone through a temporary phase of ketosis without you knowing.
The challenge of maintaining ketosis
The ketogenic diet is a very strict type of diet. One macro out of line and you’re out of ketosis.
So, if you’re running a marathon and your body enters ketosis, you’re out of it the moment you drink your Gatorade after the race. When you’re fasting and you enter ketosis, a bowl of pasta at the buffet is all your body needs to shift back to normal metabolism.
This is what makes the ketogenic diet so challenging to maintain. Plus, it could take days, if not weeks for some people to enter ketosis.
What makes it easier?
Personally, what made my time with the ketogenic diet so much easier is ketone supplements. Of course, it’s not actually necessary but I find that it helped people stick to their regimens better for a couple of reasons:
- They shorten the amount of time it takes to achieve ketosis. Therefore, you start burning fat for fuel and losing weight sooner.
- The additional ketones help keep you in a state of ketosis in case you accidentally took too much carbs.
Know your supplements
On the topic of weight loss supplements, there are a couple of common yet risky ingredients I want you to watch out for: caffeine and yohimbine.
Caffeine, a drink you’re probably already taking, has incredible and scientifically backed weight loss benefits. The problem, however, is that a lot of fat burners and pre-workout supplements load their pills with dosages higher than what most people are accustomed to.
What’s worse is when supplements pair yohimbine with caffeine. Both have similar benefits but, according to research, combining both can lead to increased blood pressure and heart rates. This is bad news, especially since most people who weigh over 200 pounds also have cardiovascular issues.
If you do find supplements with this particular combination, I strongly suggest you practice caution.
Of course, while these two are among the most common ones, there are other ingredients that can potentially be harmful. So, read more about supplements before you actually take them.
Switch up your diet
Some diet trends, no matter how hard you try, just aren’t the right fit but listen to me:
THAT’S. PERFECTLY. FINE.
Besides the ketogenic diet and the GI diet, there are many more you can try out there so switch it up!
If keto isn’t working because it’s way too strict, then maybe try intermittent fasting. If that doesn’t work either because you’re still overeating, then try counting your calories. If again, that doesn’t work because it’s way too troublesome, maybe portion control can do the trick.
My point is that no diet trend, no matter how popular, is universal. What worked for millions of others might not necessarily be the best choice for you.
Start your day with a detox drink
Whatever diet trend you pick, I believe starting your day with detox is always a good first step.
It has plenty of benefits but specifically when it comes to losing weight, detox helps reduce gut inflammation which, in a way, sort of acts like a metabolic reset button.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV), in particular, looks promising. As a matter of fact, research says it can help people with insulin resistance (i.e. the obese and overweight) and, when paired with a healthy diet, can also:
- Significantly reduce body weight
- Improve body mass index (BMI) rating
- Control appetite
- Decrease triglyceride
- Decrease total cholesterol
- Increase “good” cholesterol
That’s a ton of scientifically proven benefits for such a common liquid, isn’t it?
Don’t just get any ACV off the shelf though. It’s believed that unfiltered, murky ACV still has “the mother” which supposedly houses most of vinegar’s healthy properties.
A good brand you can look for is Bragg’s raw and unfiltered ACV. If your grocery store doesn’t have it, any brand will do but make sure to read the label and look for anything that says it still has “the mother”.
Here’s a simple ACV detox drink you can try mixing:
- Warm water – 1 glass
- ACV – 1-2 tbsp.
- Lemon juice – 1 or 2 tbsp.
- Cinnamon – ¼ tsp – (must be Ceylon cinnamon, normal Cinnamon is not safe for every day Consumption.)
- Cayenne pepper – 1 dash (Optional)
- Ground ginger – 1/4 tsp (Too much of this makes it hard to drink so 1/4 tsp is best)
- Raw honey – 1 tsp. (Optional to add a bit of sweetness but it must be raw or local = legitimate honey)
Take it slow
We’ve all seen it. Viral pictures and stories of people who’ve lost 10, maybe 20 pounds in a week. And, honestly, who doesn’t want that?
The problem, however, is that losing too much weight in too little time can be unhealthy and nearly impossible to maintain.
Soon enough, you might find yourself burnt out and, when that happens, you could very well be eating and loafing your way back to your original weight.
Aim to lose 1-2 pounds per week, 3 at the maximum
It’s different for everyone but generally speaking, losing 1-2 lbs, maybe 3 lbs per week is acceptable.
The trick is to find a pace that you can maintain, both with your exercise and your diet. This way, you don’t burn out quickly and you have a better chance of keeping the weight off long-term.
Plus, research says that a slower weight loss regime is better at losing body fat while maintaining lean muscle mass compared to rapid weight loss, so it’s better for your aesthetics too.
On that note…
Exercise like you’re climbing up the stairs, not riding the elevator
What I mean by this is to take your fitness one step at a time. Ramping up the intensity too fast when your body isn’t ready for it will only cause you more harm than good.
If you’re just starting out, don’t do all those jumping and running routines that “fitness gurus” preach about on social media. With all that extra weight, you’re more likely to hurt your joints (and your ego). Plus, your heart and lungs might not be prepared for all that intensity.
Instead, start slow.
If all you can do is walk a few blocks before you get tired, that’s fine. There’s no judgment here. Do it consistently until you’ve made progress then slowly push yourself to do more challenging exercises such as jogging, running, plyometrics, and weight lifting.
Listen to your body
And I don’t just mean physically but also emotionally and mentally.
I know how hard it is just trying to lose weight and if you’re here, I’ll bet you do too. It’s a wild roller coaster. Some days you feel so ecstatic but some others, you just feel like it’s not worth it.
This is completely normal – and, no, you’re not being overdramatic.
From a physiological standpoint, hormones such as androgens, estrogens, growth hormones, and of course, insulin and leptin are all in disarray when you’re overweight.
I won’t get into the specifics because that’s an entirely different topic but basically, the hormonal chaos contributes to how you can feel tired, melancholic, and mentally absent from time to time.
It’s important to acknowledge these hormonal issues (and the emotional, physical, and mental ups and downs that come with it) because, from my experience, it tells me whether or not I made the right move. If I feel positive about the steps I did to lose weight despite the many failures that came with it, I know I’m going the right direction.
This brings us to the last but maybe the most important advice I can give you.
I don’t mean to sound cheesy but, YES, do love yourself.
This means that you take a good look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself dead in the eye, “I know you weigh over 200 lbs right now and there’s an incredibly long and hard journey ahead but that doesn’t mean you stop moving forward.”
THIS is what true self-love is. THIS is the true essence of body positivity.
It’s not about getting six-pack abs, lean legs, and the arms of a teenage athlete.
It’s about progress. It’s about health.
Really, losing weight when you weigh over 200 lbs starts with loving yourself hard enough to realize that you can be better. It’s that love you have for yourself that lets you stick to your goals in spite of all the hardships.
Regardless of what diet trend you’re on, or what fitness class you’re attending, or what supplements you’re taking, losing weight when you’re over 200 lbs all boils down to safety and sustainability.
This isn’t going to be easy. This isn’t going to be fast. No gimmick or trend is universal.
However, if you do find a system that you can safely maintain, then trust me, you’ll get there in due time.
Well, I hope I helped. If I did, do me a favor and share this (on Pinterest) with your friends!