Let’s face it: getting to your current weight did not happen overnight. It took week after week of bad and unhealthy habits and losing that weight is going to take week after week of reversing those habits into good, sustainable ones.
And it’s possible!
How to actually lose weight when you weigh over 200 lbs might sound like a lot of work but, this guide will help to make it easier for you.
Where do I start if I want to lose weight?
Through years of trying to help people lose weight and what I learned from my own fitness journey, I figured it’s best to consider 3 (groups of) people:
- Your social circle, and
- Your doctor
Yourself, because it’s your journey and your transformation.
Your social circle, because even the most introverted people have a select group of friends and family that they mostly hang out with. These people are your support group.
Lastly, your doctor, because I believe any weight loss journey should be one that improves your health, not compromise it.
That being said, here are a few things you can do (involving these people, of course) to start your weight loss journey:
Establish a baseline
I believe learning how to actually lose weight when you weigh over 200 lbs involves a bit of introspection. So, ask yourself these questions:
- Exactly how much do you weigh right now?
- Where are you at on the BMI scale?
- How many calories are you eating everyday?
- How often do you exercise, if at all?
The answers to these questions are literally where you start and your goal should be to improve on these numbers. These are also going to help you find problem areas that you can fix (which we will talk about in a bit).
Weighing yourself and determining your activity level is pretty straightforward. But, if you’re wondering about your BMI and daily caloric intake, here are a few tools that’ll help:
- The National Institute of Health’s BMI calculator. Just enter your height and weight then get an instant computation.
- The MyFitnessPal app and its built-in calorie calculator. This should tell you an estimate of how many calories you need everyday to maintain your weight.
Also, you might want to take a picture of yourself now so you have a visual reminder of where you started.
Get yourself an appointment with your doctor
If you’ve been carrying extra weight for quite some time now, there’s a good chance you might have altered things inside your body.
These include your sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and hormone levels. Your joints might have already suffered from carrying extra weight.
You need to consider these things as they can make dieting and working out more challenging.
And, while you’re at the doctor’s office, you might want to tell him/her about your ideas about how to lose weight. Whatever they are, your doctor should be able to tell you if they’re safe given your current medical state. If not, ask for alternatives and be willing to adjust.
Figure out what changes you’re willing to make with your current lifestyle
This is where your social circle comes into play because what they do, you’re likely doing, too.
For instance, how many times do you and your friends go out drinking every month? Is it every weekend? If so, can you cut that down to maybe twice a month?
Or, how many times do you and your office mates go out for lunch and where do you typically go? If it’s everyday, can you eat your own packed lunch for at least 2 work days? If not, then can you at least pick restaurants with a healthier menu?
Of course, there are certain things that you do on your own, like Netflix marathons after work, for example. Can you trim that down to maybe just a couple of episodes so you have more time for exercise and sleep?
These are just a few examples but the point I’m trying to make is that if you want to start losing weight, get a handle on what things in your life you can tweak. They don’t have to be major either. At this point, even the most subtle changes can help push you forward.
Why is it so hard to lose weight?
You’re eating too much food
Losing or gaining weight is all about energy balance — or how much calories (energy) you take in versus how much calories you burn.
Specifically for weight loss, you want to be in a state of caloric deficiency (or negative energy balance) where you burn more calories than you ingest.
Now, you might be asking:
If I weigh 200 pounds how many calories should I eat to lose weight?
The MayoClinic says you need to cut about 500-1000 calories a day to lose 1-2 lbs per week. It doesn’t matter if you weigh 200, 300, or 400 lbs.
Having said that, perhaps a more accurate question is, “how many calories should I eat a day to lose weight?”, because the answer to this applies to everyone.
For example, let’s say you’re eating 2500 calories a day right now. You’d need to cut your calories down to at least 2000 to get results.
Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal can help you out here, too. You can install it on your phone for free, it has a calorie calculator, a calorie tracker, and it also doubles as a food diary so you can log everything you eat.
The app will automatically show you how many calories you ingested, as well as if you’ve gone over your limit or still have space for more. It’s truly a convenient way to count calories.
This brings us to the next question you might have in your head:
Should I count calories or just eat healthy?
Either of these will work fine, actually.
However, if you do count your calories, you still want to eat healthy food for better long-term success.
To be honest though, counting calories can be a pain. It’s a good way to keep yourself accountable but it can also be stressful down the road.
In that case, what I recommend is using MyFitnessPal — or any other calorie tracker for that matter — to count your calories for at least a couple of weeks just so you get a handle on how much food you should be eating.
Once you get the general idea, you can stop logging your food and just focus on portion control.
You’re not active enough
This and eating too much food are probably the 2 most obvious reasons why you’re not losing any weight.
Now, I know some of you want to lose your belly without having to exercise (and we’ll talk more about this in a bit) but the fact of the matter is that weight loss is easier when you move more because you will also be burning more calories.
Again, this all goes back to energy balance.
So, if you’re not upping your activity level and you’re consuming the same amount of calories, that number on the weighing scale isn’t going to go down.
You may have hormonal imbalances
As previously mentioned, you didn’t get to 200 lbs overnight. Unfortunately, this means that all those months of unhealthy habits may have changed the chemical balance inside your body and now it’s making it harder than usual to lose weight.
For instance, you could be insulin resistant. Per the Diabetes Community, insulin resistance is closely associated with being overweight/obese. They also said that insulin resistance can come with tiredness and/or hunger, making it even harder to lose weight.
Another hormone you might want to pay attention to is leptin — the “satiety hormone”. Its job is to tell your body that you’re full and you’ve stored enough fat. Your body then ramps up your metabolism as a response.
Now, if you’ve developed leptin resistance, your body doesn’t fully recognize your leptin, so you’re hungry all the time and your metabolism slows down. This makes achieving a negative energy balance much, much more difficult.
There are other hormones — like cortisol, estradiol, and thyroid hormones — that may contribute to why it’s so hard to lose weight. But, the point I’m trying to make is that if the supposedly simple math of calories in versus calories out doesn’t seem to be working on you, you might want to check with your doctor to see how your hormones are doing.
It’s hard to break bad habits
And I say this because I’ve been there.
Like most of you who are having issues with their weight, I’ve fallen victim to bad habits for a few years and it took a toll on both my health and physique.
In large part, I blame the convenience of these bad habits over their supposedly healthier alternatives.
I can’t count how many times I’ve skipped the gym to just watch basketball games and drink beer. Or how I ate an entire family’s worth of pizza and ordered takeout instead of cooking my own food. I’ve snacked on chips instead of fruit more times than I even care to remember.
These things and so many other bad habits have put me on a slippery slope to weight gain and it wasn’t until I broke these habits that I began to finally see change.
Easier said than done, I know, but I promise you it’s possible. We’ll talk more about changing your habits in a bit, too. But, for now, here’s another reason you might be having trouble losing weight:
You’re probably not getting enough sleep
And by “not getting enough”, I mean you’re either sleeping too little or too much.
Per research, both long and short sleeping times were associated with a higher risk for weight gain. Short-duration sleepers (5-6 hours) gained more weight though but the long-duration sleepers (9-10 hours) weren’t far behind.
According to the same study, sleeping 7-8 hours per day is better for your weight and this actually coincides with the hours that the National Sleep Foundation recommends.
One reason for this is that sleep deprivation messes with your hunger hormones.
Leptin, for instance, is reduced when you lack sleep which makes you crave more food. On the other hand, ghrelin, another hunger hormone with effects opposite to that of leptin, is also increased which further contributes to you feeling hungrier.
Sleep deprivation also elevates your stress levels and stress may be one of the more common reasons why many people have trouble losing weight.
Why does stress make it hard to lose weight?
It’s largely because stress of any kind elevates the hormone cortisol (aka the “stress hormone”) which, in turn, affects several other hormones in your body.
However, the effects elevated cortisol has on weight can vary from person to person. Some people get thinner while others gain weight.
Assuming you’re one of the latter, science says the culprit might be because you’ve been stressed for too long.
According to research, chronic stress makes you crave for more high calorie food. Clearly this can lead to weight gain. Acute stress, on the other hand, typically suppresses your appetite likely because your brain is overloaded with stimuli that you can’t think of anything else.
If that’s the case, can stress cause weight gain without overeating?
Well, yes, actually — and it all circles back to your hormones.
Per research, chronic stress has been associated with insulin resistance and this makes you hungry all the time.
And, if you can somehow suppress the urge to eat despite stressful situations (which I think is incredibly hard to do, by the way), studies have also proven that insulin resistance slows down your metabolism, leading to fewer calories burned, and ultimately making it hard to lose weight.
Here are a few tips that might help you stop stressing:
How to stop stressing about weight loss?
Work within your budget
One reason people stress about losing weight is that healthier options are typically more expensive. In fact, research shows that healthier diets cost nearly $1.50 more per day.
That might not seem like a lot but if you have a very limited amount of money, any extra expense is going to feel magnified.
The good news, however, is that there are numerous ways you can eat healthier food while spending the same, if not lesser money.
There’s more detail about this in our How to Start A Clean Eating Lifestyle Without Feeling Stressed article but here are a few examples:
- Buy “regular” instead of more special options like free-range or grass-fed meat, or organic produce. There’s definitely an advantage to choosing the latter but given how bad your diet likely is right now, the regular options are still going to make a huge difference.
- Use tougher cuts of meat. They may take a little bit more time to cook but they’re cheaper and are still terrific sources of protein.
- Buy and cook in bulk. Buying in bulk saves you a few pennies while cooking in batches (i.e. meal prepping) helps steer you away from buying takeout. You want to cook food you actually like though. Otherwise, those meal preps are only going to end up as waste.
- Buy frozen. For one, frozen and fresh produce have similar nutritional profiles. Second, frozen is almost always cheaper and they last indefinitely as long as they’re kept in the freezer.
Get into a routine and make it a habit
There’s a study that says habit formation can take anywhere from 18-254 days. On average though, 66 days is when actions become automatic.
When this happens, everything you do for weight loss becomes easier which then takes out some of the stress.
Check out our work on How to Find and Keep The Motivation to Lose Weight for more helpful tips on habit formation.
Start slow, go slow
Don’t worry about all those transformation pics you see on social media where people lose 30 lbs in 2 months or something. Those transformations are likely from diets with extremely low calories.
It’s unhealthy, it slows down your metabolism, and it’s downright unsustainable. In fact, research says that when these people steer away from their extremely low calorie diets, they regain that weight rapidly, too — and I’ve seen this happen to way too many people.
You, on the other hand, should focus on losing weight gradually and permanently.
How gradual, you ask?
The CDC, the NHS, and several other experts have said that the safe way to lose weight is aiming to lose about 1-2 lbs per week. In 3 months, that’s as much as 24 lbs — enough to see and feel significant results.
You may lose more than a couple of pounds in your first week because of water weight though, but that’s totally normal.
Tailor your diet to food that you like eating
Or, more specifically, you want to swap out the junk you’re so used to eating with healthy food that you actually like. This way, your transition to a cleaner diet becomes so much easier.
Focus on whole foods that are high in protein and fiber, as well as those with high water content and compounds that may help you suppress hunger.
These types of food fill you up without giving you too much calories. It’s also why they’re so great for weight loss in the first place.
For example, let’s say you normally grab a pack of Cheetos for snacks whenever you’re watching a movie. Get popcorn or whatever fruit you like instead.
For breakfast, there’s plenty of amazing smoothies, overnight oats, and egg recipes you can try. Pancakes, waffles, and other breakfast staples work, too, as long as they’re prepared with healthy ingredients.
For lunch or dinner… well, you get the point. Find out what works for you and stick to it.
Walk before you run
A lot of times when people are obese, they don’t have the conditioning to do more intense workouts — and that’s perfectly fine! You don’t have to run, or jump, or lift heavy weights right now if you can’t.
Light cardio workouts, like walking for example, is something you can start with. And, perhaps more importantly, find it just as easy to progress.
We have a full guide about losing weight walking 10,000 steps a day that I think can help but if you’re in a hurry, you basically have to establish a baseline first then add about 1000 steps every 2 weeks or so until you reach 10,000.
You can also ramp up the intensity by walking faster, using the stairs more, climbing hills, and several other methods to make it more interesting.
Also, you don’t have to do your steps all at once. The goal is to have you moving more throughout the day so if you can manage to spread out your steps, that works, too.
Then, when you feel like you can move on to jogging, or running, or getting a gym membership, go ahead and do it.
On that note…
Find what exercises you like best
Because, let’s face it: walking can get boring over time — and when you get bored, you won’t want to do it consistently enough to get results.
So, explore your options. Be it yoga, cycling, swimming, dance, or whatever it is that makes you enjoy moving.
It could take a bit of experimentation on your part but once you find something you truly enjoy, losing weight is going to be so much easier and a lot less stressful.
You could also workout at home if you’re not comfortable having people see you yet. Here are a few exercises to help get you started:
Exercise for overweight beginners at home
Modified push-ups (elevated and/or knee)
Push-ups are a challenging exercise even for some experienced fitness enthusiasts, but you also have the option to do it on your knees, on some sort of platform, or even on a wall to make everything easier while still working out the same muscle groups.
To do knee push-ups, have your hands flat on the ground directly below your shoulders and shoulder-width apart with your knees on the ground. Make sure your torso and thighs form a straight line. Bend your elbows to lower your body as low as you can then come right back up.
Knee push-ups essentially cut your weight in half which makes it easier.
For elevated push ups, assume a standard push-up position but instead of having your hands on the ground, they’re on some sort of platform. A chair, a coffee table, or a bench if you have it works fine. The taller the platform is, the easier the push-up. If that’s still too difficult, have your hands on the wall so your body is almost perpendicular to the floor.
Assisted squats using a chair
Along with push-ups, squats is another compound exercise that works out multiple muscle groups. In this case, it’s your lower body.
However, it’s also one that can be easily butchered without proper guidance.
Worry not, though, because using a chair to assist you almost makes it fool-proof.
You have 2 choices here:
- Position the chair behind you, or
- Position the chair in front of you
With the chair behind you, stand in front of the chair with your feet slightly pointed outward and hip-width apart. Make sure the back of your knees are about 2 inches away from the edge of the chair. Next, slowly hinge your hips backwards as if you were going to sit on the chair but before you actually make contact, stand back up.
Now, having the chair in front of you might actually be easier.
First, make sure that you place something heavy on the chair so it doesn’t tip over. Next, stand behind the chair with your feet hip-width apart and toes slightly pointing outwards. Hold on to the back of the chair and slowly lower your body. Make sure to hinge with your hip backwards so your knees don’t go beyond your toes. Go as low as you can then stand back up.
The chair is supposed to serve as an assistant in case you have trouble supporting your weight at any point during the squat.
Like squats, glute bridges work the lower body except this exercise focuses more on your glutes (duh) and hamstrings instead of your glutes and quads.
Start with your back flat on the floor. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle with both your feet flat on the floor. You can have your arms crossed in front of your chest or have them beside you for stability.
Next, lift your hips straight up until your torso forms a straight line with your thighs. If you can’t go that high, that’s fine, but go as high as you can.
Side-lying hip abduction
Also a great but easy workout you can do at home. These are great for your gluteus medius which helps turn flat butts into round ones.
Start by lying on either side of your body. For now, let’s assume you’re choosing the left side.
With your left hip and knee bent for stability, lift your right leg as high as you can while keeping it in line with your torso. Slowly lower your right leg back to the starting position and repeat. Do the same with the opposite leg.
Planks are a staple exercise in the fitness community but, like squats and push ups, they can be hard even for experienced athletes.
An easy way to do it though, is planking on your knees.
Start on your knees with your elbows straight and your hands on the floor, right under your shoulders (exactly like the starting position of knee push-ups). Next, place an elbow to the floor followed by the other. Make sure they’re right under your shoulders and a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
Finally, move your knees back one at a time until your torso forms a straight line with your thighs. Make sure your core is engaged. Hold the position for as long as you can, then rest.
Weight training (free weights or bands)
Not having fun with bodyweight workouts? That’s fine. Maybe try some weight training at home.
You can either use free weights or bands here. Resistance bands, of course, are cheaper than buying a set of dumbbells so they can be a great option if you’re on a budget.
That being said, ACHV PEAK has a great full body workout using resistance bands that I think is great for obese or overweight people to follow along.
For free weights, on the other hand, you have the option of buying dumbbells or, if you’re still not fully invested in weight training at home, you could also use milk jugs. The fuller the jugs are, the heavier they’ll be, so adjust the contents as necessary.
If you want to try this route, V Fit has a great but basic broutine that you can do at home.
Stationary bike (or recumbent bike)
What’s great about recumbent bikes is that they offer great cardio with minimal, if not zero impact to your joints. This makes them great for obese and overweight people who’re trying to lose weight.
The downside, however, is that they’re generally expensive. The Schwinn 230, for instance, is a great bike overall but it also costs around $600. If you have that kind of money, go ahead!
But, if you’re on a budget, the Marcy ME-709 retails for less than $200.
Now, if you’re not willing to spend any amount of money, you can still do cardio at home for free.
One way to do that is with walking jacks. It’s basically jumping jacks but instead of jumping, you step to the side.
Start by standing straight with your hands to your sides and your feet flat on the floor. Next, step to your right while swinging your arms to the side and up over your head (just like you would with a regular jumping jack).
Step back into the starting position while returning your hands back to your sides, then do the same thing but now, you step to your left.
Having given you these exercises, some of you might actually prefer not working out at all. This raises the question:
Can you lose weight without working out?
Oh, absolutely — and I hate to sound repetitive but it all goes back to energy balance. (If you need a recap, scroll back up to the “Why is it so hard to lose weight?” section.)
In this case, you’re left with the option of ingesting less calories.
This is where all these different types of diets enter the picture. I’m talking keto, paleo, vegan, and all these other diets you might have already heard about.
So, what are the most effective diets for rapid weight loss?
First of all, it’s going to be different for everyone. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa.
Second of all, by rapid weight loss, I’m referring to a maximum of 2 lbs per week.
Lastly, there has to be a criteria for these things and different judges have different opinions as well. Here’s mine:
- It should have a truck load of health benefits
- If it has side effects, they should be minimal, temporary, and never, ever deadly
- It has to be sustainable
If I’m being honest though, the sustainability part is what makes judging this the hardest because the moment you step out of that diet’s restrictions, you likely will gain at least a bit of weight back.
However, sustainability is also my biggest factor. The more likely someone is able to follow the diet for life, the better.
So, without further ado, here’s what I think are the best diets for weight loss:
The Mediterranean diet
A lot of people seem to think that the healthiest diet in the world is the Mediterranean diet, making it an automatic inclusion on my list.
It encourages eating a lot of plant-based foods, seafood, and a medium amount of poultry, dairy, and surprisingly, wine. It also discourages (not prohibits) processed food and red meat.
From this alone, it already makes sense how the Mediterranean diet is great for preventing heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Along with all those, studies also show how this diet reduces the risk for mental illnesses including cognitive decline and depression.
To me though, what’s so good about this is that Mediterranean diet recipes are easy and delicious. With the fact that it favors fresh whole food as ingredients, how could it not?
Low-fat and low-carb diets
And with that, I mean separately — a low-fat diet and a low-carb diet.
I’m grouping these two together because, as one study shows, they aren’t all that different when it comes to weight loss.
Given that both groups regularly exercised, ate as much veggies as they could, and chose healthy whole food over processed junk, both the low-fat group and the low-carb group actually lost similar amounts of weight.
As research suggests, the long-term benefits of a low-fat diet include lower risks for some cancers, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
The benefits of low-carb diets, on the other hand, shows the same potential benefits including a better ratio between “good” and “bad” cholesterol as well as lower triglycerides and blood pressure (which may lead to reduced risk of heart disease), and better sugar and insulin levels.
WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers)
What I like about this is that they evolve with every new scientific finding and use modern technology to make living a healthier life so much easier.
For instance, they have a deep understanding about how there’s no one diet that fits every human on the planet. So, when you join — yes, join — their group, you get assessed based on your habits, preferences, and activity level.
Afterwards, they give you a program that’s tailored to you. And when some research changes the world’s perception on a certain type of food, they adjust.
Pretty cool, huh?
What I don’t like about WW, however, is that there’s a weekly fee. If you stop paying, you lose access.
Intermittent fasting (IF)
Along with the ketogenic diet, IF is currently one of the most popular diet trends around the world.
The concept behind it is simple:
Within the 24-hours of the day, you have a window where you can eat and another stretch where you can’t. Thus, where the name intermittent fasting comes from.
The most commonly used pattern is the 16:8 where you have to fast for 16 hours and eat for 8.
Another pattern is the 5:2 where you can eat whatever for 5 days and have extremely limited calories for another 2 days.
I’ve done both and I personally prefer the 16:8. I find it easier because literally all I have to do is skip breakfast, eat a late lunch, eat dinner, then go to sleep. Sleeping automatically logs 6-8 hours of fasting, so that’s that.
Hypothetically, the fasting should help you eat less calories which could then lead to weight loss. The obvious problem though, is that if you ate an excessive amount of food on your eating window, you still won’t be losing any weight.
Furthermore, the fact that a lot of people advertise IF as having no restrictions during the eating window could lead to unhealthy and unbalanced food choices. So, despite being loaded with calories, you still might be malnourished.
The solution is easy though. During your eating window, be responsible about your portions and lean towards whole food rather than processed food. If you did this, intermittent fasting should also be more sustainable.
The flexitarian diet
It’s vegetarian…But having meat and animal products sometimes.
Really, that’s what this is and I think it’s better than going vegetarian because it’s more doable to a lot of people. I, for one, simply can’t go a week without chicken.
That being said, this diet still focuses on plant-based food with minimal processing. That alone will get you a lot of health benefits. Per study, this includes weight loss, lower blood pressure, and a reduced risk of getting diabetes.
Just eating healthy
Except for WW, I’ve had firsthand experience with all the above diets (and countless others) but through the years, I’ve figured out that what works best for me is just eating clean and healthy food.
There’s not a lot of rules to this, too, which I think makes for less stress and more sustainability.
And, believe it or not, the results from eating clean are almost immediate. Eat healthy for a year, maybe even less, and you’d probably have achieved your goal weight and you’d likely be more than capable of maintaining your figure.
Plus, your skin is going to look better because of all the nutrients you’ll be having, you’ll have better blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and several other health benefits that’ll help steer you away from disease.
Healthy food alternatives for weight loss
Plain water for sugary drinks
Per research, added sugar — or any sugars and syrup that are added to processed or prepared food and drinks — increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. There’s a heightened risk for diabetes and other metabolic issues.
Furthermore, the American Heart Association says that among the major sources of added sugar are drinks like soft drinks, fruit drinks, and sweetened milk products.
I’m telling you this because if you weigh over 200 lbs, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the many people who substitute sugary drinks for plain water. This bad habit might be one of the reasons why you gained all that weight in the first place, and why you’re having trouble losing those pounds right now.
The good news is that you can detox your body from sugar. This not only makes weight loss easier, it makes sticking to a cleaner diet more plausible, too.
Whole grain bread for white bread
The anatomy of a grain consists of the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. Each of those parts contain nutrients that your body can use.
However, refined wheat flour, the kind of flour used in white bread, only uses the endosperm. This means white bread is missing all these incredible nutrients — including fiber, protein, healthy fat, and B vitamins — that the bran and germ offer.
That being said, what makes it bad for weight loss is that it’s loaded with carbs and not much else. Whole grain bread, on the other hand, has more fiber and protein which can help make you feel fuller for fewer calories.
Brown rice and quinoa for white rice
Speaking of whole grains, brown rice and quinoa make for excellent alternatives to the more unhealthy white rice.
As someone who grew up on a steady diet of white rice (I’m talking every single meal, every single day), I have to admit that this took a lot of getting used to.
Brown rice just doesn’t have the same texture and quinoa tastes weird sometimes but in terms of health, man, these two are far superior.
Like white bread, white rice is all endosperm whereas both quinoa and brown rice are whole grains. This gives the 2 latter options more fiber, protein, and nutrients.
Air- and oven-fried food for anything deep fried
When you cook with enough oil to cover most, if not all of your food’s surfaces, a lot of that oil is going to penetrate your food. This helps give food the juicy-on-the-inside-crispy-on-the-outside texture that we all have grown to love.
However, that same juiciness also adds a whole lot of calories from an ungodly amount of fat.
Not only is that unhealthy, it’s counterintuitive for weight loss.
On the other hand, air fryers and oven-cooked food, use significantly less oil which makes them both healthier and more weight-friendly options.
Oatmeal for sugary cereals
The same thing that makes sugary drinks bad for you and your weight can be said for most cereals, and that’s the added sugar.
If you wanted something quick for breakfast, oatmeal makes for a great alternative. Overnight oats, in particular, can be prepared days before you actually want to eat them.
Chocolate Covered Katie has 15 variations of overnight oats that you might want to try. However, her recipes also indicate that you can add as much of your sweetener of choice — but I think that’s a slippery slope you don’t want to be on.
I recommend not putting any as the natural flavors of the fruits you’re going to add already make the whole meal tasty. But, if you had to, the American Heart Association says not to have more than 6 tsps of added sugar for women and 9 tsps for men.
Plain black coffee for energy drinks
Both of these drinks contain caffeine which make them great for boosting physical and cognitive performance.
However, a lot of energy drinks are also packed with added sugar, giving them significantly more calories. Let’s make Red Bull as an example:
|Red Bull (8.4 oz can)||80 mg||27 g||110 kcal|
|Plain black coffee (8 oz/1 cup)||96 mg (per USDA)||0 g||2.4 kcal|
When it comes to health and weight, I believe plain black coffee is the clear winner.
Moreover, studies have long associated caffeine with enhanced metabolism. So, the miniscule 2.4 calories you get with plain black coffee? The inherent properties of caffeine are going to erase that anyway.
Another drink that shares coffee’s zero calorie potential is green tea. It has caffeine as well as EGCG — a compound that also boosts metabolism — which essentially cancels out what little calories it holds.
Berries (and other fruits) for chips and candy
It’s no secret that a good majority of chips sold in supermarkets are junk food. They’re loaded with sodium, sugar, carbs, fat, and well… there’s not much else in there. The same can be said for candy, especially the sugar part.
Even I can’t deny that chips and candy are tasty though. Convenient, too. Those 2 reasons are personally why I used to grab a bag almost every time I watch something on TV.
A better alternative for both is fruit.
Berries (e.g raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries), in particular, all have less than 60 calories per 100 grams. These berries are also loaded with fiber and water to make you feel full, thus reducing the chances of you eating more.
Other fruits with similar benefits include apples, watermelon, grapefruit, apples, and bananas.
Peanuts for protein bars
From what I’ve seen, protein bars have upwards of 300 calories and about 20 g of protein. To be honest, those look like solid numbers.
Upon closer inspection though, a good majority of the protein bars I’ve seen are also loaded with all sorts of artificial flavors and sugars. Even the low-carb options with less than 4g of carbs have all sorts of sugar alternatives that, yes, brings the calorie and carb count down but they also mess up your body’s chemistry.
If you’re looking for a high protein snack, I suggest opting for peanuts instead.
Per USDA records, an ounce of peanuts has 161 calories, over 7 g of protein, 14 g of fat (of which 11 g are the healthier unsaturated fats), and less than 5g of carbs.
Homemade pizza for store-bought pizza
Honestly, I was skeptical about this, too. But, here’s the thing:
When you cook your own food, you control what you use. That alone potentially makes anything you cook much, much healthier.
Having said that, I have a few tips that can make your homemade pizza more weight-loss friendly:
- A thinner crust uses less dough which means less carbs and calories.
- Make high hydration doughs instead of traditional doughs. It’s more challenging to work with (because it’s sticky) but it also uses less flour and more water for fewer calories. It’s also crispier which I think works well with thin crust pizzas.
- Make your own meat toppings instead of using processed meat. Deli meats and other processed meat typically used in pizza are packed with sodium. When you make your own, you can use other spices to flavor the meat without making it unnecessarily less healthy.
- Blend a whole can of whole tomatoes, some herbs, salt, and pepper instead of buying sauce. In my opinion, it tastes just as good, if not better, but has significantly less preservatives.
Other people also use whole grain tortilla or cauliflower for their crust. As an avid pizza fan myself, however, I have to say that while both options net fewer calories, they taste nowhere near the real thing.
On that note, the tips I gave may bring the calorie count down but it’s still very easy to go overboard. So, don’t forget to control your portions and choose healthy toppings as much as possible.
And before we move on to the next healthy food alternative, here are a couple things you’ll need to make your own top-quality pizza at home:
- A wooden pizza peel. The wood helps prevent the dough from sticking.
- A pizza stone. This heats up and gives you a crispier crust similar to that of store-bought pizza.
- An oven. The one you have at home should work just fine.
Boiled sweet potatoes for other cooking methods
It’s not always the ingredients that make food bad for your health and weight. Sometimes, it’s how you cook them.
Case in point, boiled sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index (GI) than its fried, roasted, or baked counterparts. Here’s a breakdown of each method’s GI according to the University of Sydney:
|Glycemic Index (GI)|
|Boiled sweet potatoes||44|
|Fried sweet potatoes||76|
|Roasted sweet potatoes||82|
|Baked sweet potatoes||94|
Foods with higher GI have more intense effects on blood sugar (and therefore insulin and hunger).
For weight loss as well as the insulin resistance typically associated with obesity, you want to consume lower GI food because your blood sugar rises more controllably, giving you a steadier source of energy and a more prolonged satiety.
Let’s move on to supplementation.
Supplements for weight loss that actually work
Supplements are great tools because they grant you more flexibility to your diet.
However, they’re meant to be used alongside your diet, not replace them. So, don’t treat them as your primary source of nutrition. The more nutrients you get from whole food, the better.
Here are a few of the best ones:
Per research, one of the reasons obesity runs rampant is the ingestion of high calorie foods with poor nutritional profiles.
Apart from eating more nutritious food, you can supplement with multivitamins to help you get all the nutrients your body needs to function optimally. According to research, doing so helped obese individuals lose significantly less weight, BMI, fat, cholesterol, and waist circumference.
Try New Chapter’s multivitamin for women. Find the one for men here. It has a great set of vitamins and minerals with solid dosages, it’s fermented for better absorption, organic, and has generally good reviews on Amazon.
As previously mentioned, fiber is great for weight loss because it helps make you feel fuller without having to eat too many calories.
A lot of us aren’t getting enough of it though, and that might stem from a lack of fruits and vegetables in our diet. Honestly, I’m guilty of this, which is also why I recommend it.
Interestingly, the results of one study suggests that simply eating more fiber can net you similar weight loss results to that of more complicated diets. Harvard even wrote about this particular study, which I think adds more credibility.
Moreover, the University of California San Francisco recommends ingesting a total of 25-30 g fiber per day with 6-8 g of that coming from soluble fiber.
Benefiber’s prebiotic fiber supplement offers 3 grams of soluble fiber, 0 sugar, and only 15 calories per stick (serving). Plus, the prebiotics help promote healthy digestion.
Speaking of soluble fiber, glucomannan is one that’s commonly singled out for weight loss.
It’s found in konjac root which I don’t think is widely available. Or, at least not where I live.
What makes it specifically great for weight loss is its supreme ability to absorb water. When ingested, it gets this sticky, gel-like consistency and it stays in your stomach, helping you feel fuller for longer periods of time.
As a study suggests, glucomannan supplements resulted in more weight loss compared to other types of soluble fiber.
Try NOW Foods’ Glucomannan powder. Simply add half a teaspoon of this to a glass of water and drink the mixture at least 30 minutes prior to any meal.
Epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG for short, is the compound largely responsible for green tea’s powerful weight loss properties that stretch beyond just caffeine.
It’s also why green tea is an ingredient in many of the world’s most successful weight loss supplements.
You can buy those if you want, or you could go the simpler route and choose EGCG or green tea extract supplements.
NOW Foods has a solid version, in my opinion, because 50% of the catechins in its green tea extract is delegated solely for EGCG. Pretty good dosage overall, too, and it’s not all that expensive either.
That was a long one, eh?
Nevertheless, I hope all the information you get here helps you effectively and sustainably lose weight.
Just to give you a short recap though:
Weight loss is all about consuming less calories than you burn but while the concept is pretty darn simple, the road to weight loss won’t always be smooth. You will encounter challenges — be it hormonal, budget, stress, or the overall shift in lifestyle — but they are also fixable.
On that note, there are quite a few ways to fix them. So, the challenge isn’t necessarily finding one. Rather, it’s figuring out what fits you the best.
Take your time. Be patient with yourself. Understand that what works for other people might not be your best choice.
And with that, I shall take my leave. Tell your friends about us, will ‘ya?