How to lose 50 pounds
Weight management can be summarized by a short and simple equation: calories in – calories out. Calories are units of energy and all foods have them. When you eat food, you introduce calories into your body (the ‘calories in’ part of the equation). You use these calories up naturally throughout the day, and when you exercise (the ‘calories out’ part of the equation).
In order to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn, which means the result of the equation should be a negative number. When you do this your body is forced to use its fat stores as a source of energy, in order to make up for the calorie deficit that you have created.
Calorie requirements differ from person to person and are determined by height, weight, gender, age, activity levels and overall goals. You can use the tool below to get a fairly accurate estimate of your calorie needs.
This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.
For example, a 30 year old lady who weighs 200 pounds, is 5 feet 9 inches tall and exercises 4 times a week will need to consume approximately 2600 calories to maintain her weight, 2100 calories to lose weight and 1600 calories to lose weight fast.
Even when trying to lose weight quickly, it is recommended that most people should not consume fewer than 1000 calories per day unless they are being medically supervised, because doing so can lead to health problems. Eating too few calories can also slow down a persons metabolism which in turn may slow down weight loss progress.
Following a diet that leads to a caloric deficit but also provides adequate nutritional value is key for weight loss. Eating certain types of food whilst cutting out others will help you to lose 50 pounds as fast as possible.
If you don’t already know how many calories you consume, the first thing that you should do is figure this out. You can do this using a smartphone app like myfitnesspal or even just a pen and paper. If you choose the latter, you will need to write down everything that you eat on an average day and then obtain the nutritional information of various foods from a website like nutritiondata.self.com.
Lets consider an example meal plan.
Snack – 1 cereal bar – 139 calories
Total: 3191 calories
You may be shocked to discover just how many calories certain foods have. For example, a 14 inch pizza with cheese topping has around 2400 calories, which for some people is more than their daily calorie requirement!
Once you have a rough idea of your average daily calorie consumption, you can start making changes to your eating habits and substitute certain foods for others to reduce your calorie intake. Here are some tips to help you achieve this.
Eat lots of vegetables
Because they are so low in calories, vegetables should be a large part of your diet. In most cases, vegetables are made up of 80 – 95% water, which is why a cup of raw spinach only has 7 calories and a cucumber has 45 calories. Thanks to this, you can eat a large amount without having to worry too much about ingesting too many calories.
Vegetables, especially the crunchy kind, are rich in dietary fiber. When you eat fiber, it swells up in your stomach and this can help you to feel satisfied faster. This study found that increasing fiber intake can help with weight loss.
Vegetables are also some of the best sources of crucial vitamins and minerals. Some of these nutrients affect metabolic health, and eating vegetables can help prevent you from becoming deficient in them.
Aim to regularly eat vegetables of different shapes, sizes and colours. These include leafy greens, root vegetables and fruit vegetables. Vegetables can be used in salads, soups, smoothies, stir fries and many other tasty recipes.
Eat some fruit
Fruits are also low in calories and rich in nutrients. Most fruits also tend to be much sweeter than vegetables. For this reason, they make delicious snacks and are very handy if you have a sweet tooth.
You can eat dried and fleshy fruit, both in moderation. Aiming to get 2 – 3 servings of fruit per day is ideal. If you are diabetic or very obese, speak to your doctor so that he or she can better advise you on how much fruit you should be eating.
Some excellent fruits that you can add to your diet are bananas, mangoes, apples, pineapples, watermelon, prunes, dates, pomegranates and berries.
You can eat fruits on their own, add them to yogurt, use them as an ingredient in homemade meal replacement shakes and also make healthy desserts with them.
Eat more protein
Protein is very filling, which makes it weight loss friendly. Eating it can automatically help you to eat less food overall. It also boosts your metabolism slightly and increases energy expenditure. As a result, it assists on both ends of the calories in – calories out equation.
Numerous studies have investigated how protein affects weight loss.
This study found that increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of total calories resulted in 441 fewer calories being consumed per day. Eating a breakfast containing protein can help regulate appetite hormones and suppress subsequent food intake as seen in studies such as this and this.
Another study found that a high protein diet reduced obsessive thoughts about food in overweight & obese men.
And this study found that protein consumption increased energy expenditure.
Besides the positive effects that protein has on appetite and metabolism, it also helps with muscle mass maintenance. When you cut calories from your diet, your body sometimes burns muscle tissue for fuel. For this reason, it is recommended that you train with weights and eat a protein rich diet when trying to lose weight.
Protein can be obtained from both animal based and plant based food sources. These include eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, dairy, fish and meat. A general guideline is to have 25 – 30% of your daily calories come from protein.
Don’t fear fat
There is a common misconception that eating fat makes you fat. This is not true. Eating more calories than you require is what leads to weight gain and these calories can come from any of the three macro-nutrients.
Gram for gram, fat does have more than twice the amount of calories (9 / gram) that protein and carbs have (4 / gram), but eating the right types of fat can benefit weight loss.
The fat that is obtained from foods that are as close to their natural state as possible is the best kind. Studies have shown that eating foods that are high in both fat and fiber help to slow down their release from the stomach, which means they keep you satisfied for longer. Fat and fiber rich foods include avocados, nuts and seeds. In one study, participants who ate avocado with a meal felt much more satisfied than those who didn’t.
Other fat rich foods such as coconut oil and fatty fish can also help with weight loss; the former has a thermogenic effect and has been shown to reduce belly fat whilst the latter is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and high quality protein.
The types of fat rich foods that you should limit are junk foods. This includes things like potato chips, cakes, cookies and pastries. These foods have a lot of fat artificially added to them and are very high in calories, but unlike the healthy fat rich foods mentioned above, they provide almost no vitamins and minerals.
Eat the right type of carbs
Low carb diets are very effective for weight loss, but this doesn’t mean you should eliminate carbs from your diet entirely. Instead, you should try and ensure that a large percentage of the carbs that you eat are complex instead of refined.
Complex carbs are digested slowly and provide a steady release of energy. Refined carbs on the other hand provide large bursts of energy and can cause dramatic spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, which does your waistline no favours.
Like with fat, the carbohydrate rich foods that you should aim to eat are those that have been processed very little and are as close to their natural state as possible. This includes foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, oats and unrefined grains.
The junk foods mentioned in the fat section also contain large amounts of refined carbs, which is another reason why their intake should be limited.
The amount of carbs that you should eat will depend on your activity levels, metabolism and age. As a general guideline, aim to eat 50 – 150 grams of carbs per day. You may need to increase or decrease the amount depending on how it affects your energy levels, mood and weight loss progress.
If there is one way to speed up the rate at which you lose weight, it is to drink more water. This is because it has 0 calories, can help to reduce appetite and also slightly boosts metabolism.
A lot of people mistake thirst for hunger and end up eating some food instead of drinking some water. The next time you feel like eating something, drink a glass of water and then decide if you really need to eat.
You can add lemon slices to your water or infuse it with fruit to make it taste better. You can also drink carbonated water and homemade coffee & tea occasionally.
The beverages to reduce intake of are those that are sweetened with sugar. Sodas are especially bad but some fruit juices also need to be drunk with caution.
The reason these beverages are not recommended when you are trying to lose weight is because they are high in calories, but those calories are not registered efficiently by the body.
When you eat solid food, your stomach and brain sense this, so your body knows it should feel much less hungry. Unfortunately when you drink these sugary beverages, all of the calories they contain are not accounted for and this means that you are very likely to consume more calories than you need later on. Studies have found a strong link between sugary beverages and obesity.
Alcohol should also not be drunk in large amounts as doing so may negatively affect weight loss.
Now that you have a good idea of what you should and shouldn’t be eating, here is a revised version of the meal plan above.
Snack – 1/2 an avocado – 161 calories
Total: 1711 calories
By making some changes, we have been able to reduce daily caloric intake by more than 1000 calories! Use a similar approach with your own diet and replace as much junk food as you can with more nutrient dense food.
Once you are in a calorie deficit, you will being to lose weight. The rate at which you lose weight may start off fast but could eventually slow down. If this happens, you might need to recalculate your calorie requirements and make adjustments to your diet once again. Losing 50 pounds can take a fair bit of time but it is important not to get impatient or discouraged if progress slows down.
When trying to lose weight, exercise is also important. It helps you to create a larger net calorie deficit and retain muscle mass.
The more active you are, the more calories you will burn. A person who goes for a 30 minute run 5 times a week will burn far more calories than a person who leads a sedentary lifestyle.
You should aim to exercise for 30 minutes at least 3 or 4 times a week. There are lots of different activities that you can do, including cycling, jogging, swimming, martial arts, hiking and even dancing.
If you don’t exercise at the moment and are not fit, start off slow by taking a 20 – 30 minute walk a few times a week. As your fitness and energy levels improve, you can begin engaging in more strenuous activities.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of cardiovascular activity that has been shown to be very effective at burning fat and boosting metabolism. It involves doing short intense bursts of activity followed by longer periods of the same activity at a comfortable pace.
An example would be to cycle as fast as you can for 15 seconds and then cycle at a comfortable pace for 45 seconds. Repeat this cycle for 15 to 20 minutes.
HIIT is not recommended for everyone though, so if you are just starting out with exercising, slowly ease into it.
Weight and resistance training combined with a protein rich diet will help you to reduce muscle loss. You can either join a gym or follow one of the many home based weight training programs available on the web.
One important point to note is not to rely on weighing scales alone when monitoring weight loss progress. When you step on a regular weighing scale, it is unable to differentiate between fat and muscle. Just like fat, muscle has mass, but it is much more compact and therefore takes up less space in your body.
If you begin to notice that you look slimmer in the mirror and your clothes fit looser, but the number that you see when you step on the scale hasn’t changed much, don’t worry. All this means is that you have burnt fat and built muscle, which is a step in the right direction.
You should measure your body fat percentage at regular intervals and use this in combination with a weighing scale to monitor your progress. At the end of the day, your goal shouldn’t be just to lose 50 pounds but to also have a healthy body composition.
Losing 50 pounds will require a combination of a healthy diet and good exercise plan. Losing large amounts of weight can take a fair bit of time, so it is important to remain patient and not lose motivation.
Once you do reach your target, continue to eat and exercise well so as to prevent yourself from regaining the weight you lost.