Reducing your total body fat not only helps you lose weight, but also can have significant improvements on your health. Lowered risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea are just a few benefits of losing excess fat. When you're trying to lose weight, it's ideal to lose only excess fat. However, without proper planning, dieting can also lead to the loss of lean muscle mass. While you'll see a reduction in your overall weight, losing muscle mass may lead to weakness, fatigue, poor athletic performance, and decreased metabolism. A well balanced diet can help you lose excess fat mass, minimize muscle loss and improve your overall health.
"I quickly realized that if I ate foods that were less calorie-dense, I could have much bigger portions, so I'd make salads with a literal pound of vegetables, eat whole bags of frozen vegetables—I still do this—and slowly fazed out the chips and other junk," he says. Change didn't exactly happen overnight, however—inevitably, there were setbacks. At first, he'd lose some weight, gain it back, and have to start over again. Cravings were the most difficult part to deal with: "There were countless nights when I would lay awake in bed fighting the urge to go into the kitchen and eat everything in sight," he says. "When I would wake up the next day without giving in to the urge to binge, I would feel victorious."
Talk about a catch-22: Doing something healthy, like eating a low-cal meal, can make you less likely to exercise and more likely to gorge yourself with food later on. This is because of a phenomenon scientists call licensing, which happens when we feel that we've earned the right to be self-indulgent. Most people have a tendency to want to balance things out, says Kathleen Vohs, Ph.D., an associate professor of marketing at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. So when we do one thing that's good for our health, which often requires exerting plenty of discipline and self-control, we like to follow it up with something that lets us indulge ourselves.
Research has shown that the calorie density of our diets will impact our weight. The calorie density is the amount of calories in a given weight of food. Consuming foods that are considered low-calorie dense aids in weight loss. These foods will provide a high volume without a lot of calories. By replacing foods that are considered high-calorie dense, you save additional calories. Some find it more satisfying to focus on consuming low-calorie dense foods in large quantities versus counting calories. The Pritikin diet also encourages daily exercise and stress-reduction techniques.
Plus, a 2015 study from the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that for those who have a hard time following a strict diet, simplifying the weight loss approach by just increasing fiber intake can still lead to weight loss. Women should aim for at least 25 grams of fiber per day (based on a 2,000-calorie) diet, according to the most recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines. Not sure where to start? Check out our step-by-step guide to increasing your fiber intake.
“There are many diet plans on the market today that promote good health,” says Emily Kyle, RDN, who is in private practice in Rochester, New York. “The key is finding one that does not cause you stress or agony.” Ask yourself questions such as: Would the diet guidelines make you happy? Anxious? Stressed? Are you able to follow them long term? “Factors such as enjoyment, flexibility, and longevity should be strongly considered,” adds Kyle.
First of all, just want to say thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise to me and many other people who benefit tremendously from it. I’ve been working out following your recommended routine in your book since a year ago, and switched to follow your suggested fat loss diet/workout routine 9 weeks ago. All I can say is although I did have self-doubt or frustration for very short periods during the process, I trust and stick with your routine and am amazed with the progress I’ve made. Thank you!
Which leads us to point number two: If you want to lose belly fat, you'll need to lose weight. If you stick to the following plan, you won't have to lose as much weight as you might think because your body will burn more fat for energy, but still. Reducing your body fat percentage will require losing some weight. Don't go into this thinking you won't have to lose weight, because that's the surest way to fail.
Lastly, as I indicated, all my lifts are going up, but my weight (and even LBM, assuming my scale is even remotely accurate) so is it fair to say that strength gains are not directly related to muscle gains? Is this the “beginner” phase that you speak of frequently? The scale would indicate that muscle is going down….. But my presses, squats, deadlifts are all up.