7 Best Weight-Loss Tips if You Have a Lot to Lose
So, you want to know how to lose a lot of weight? That’s great! But anyone who has ever tried to slim down knows that the more weight you lose, the more difficult weight loss becomes. Indeed, for most people, shedding the first five pounds is a lot easier than losing the last five pounds.
“The first five pounds represent a much smaller percentage of your body weight when you have a lot of weight to lose,” explains Albert Matheny, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., a dietitian with ProMix Nutrition and co-owner of SoHo Strength Lab in New York City. As you get closer to your goal, every “next five pounds” becomes a greater percentage of your body weight and, therefore, more difficult to strip away.
But there are steps you can take to increase your chances of success and help make your weight loss journey a bit faster.
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Here are seven incredible weight loss tips to help you reach your ideal weight:
1. Build confidence with “low-hanging fruit”
When it comes to weight loss, the first step is often the hardest step. Make it easier by starting with what Matheny calls “low-hanging fruit,” which are weight-loss habits that are easily modifiable, but can make a big difference on the scale.
Such simple switches can do more than get you started — they can help keep you motivated to keep going.
“Once people start losing weight, they [tend to] feel more motivated and fired up for continued results,” Matheny says. “They realize that, yes, they can do this.”
2. Pick the weight-loss strategy that is doable for you
Forget what diet everyone else is following. Choose the one that sounds easiest to you.
“Research has shown that the best diet for an individual is the one he or she will stick to, regardless of the macronutrient composition. Whether that’s South Beach, Atkins, Mediterranean, 5;2 diet, or Paleo, the diet that will work for you is the one you can follow with your lifestyle and preferences,” explains Wendy Scinta, M.D., M.S., director of Medical Weight Loss of New York and member of the Obesity Medicine Association.
That’s even more important when you’re trying to lose a lot of weight and may have a longer health journey than someone with fewer pounds to lose.
3. Work out where you feel comfortable
Having confidence in your ability to be physically active on a regular basis is a key predictor of how much and how often you’ll exercise, according to a review in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. The takeaway: You need to like where you work out, and it needs to be convenient.
Gyms aren’t for everyone, and can be especially intimidating for beginners. If the thought of hitting the gym makes you anxious, consider working out at home. Streaming workout services such as Openfit can help you get in the best shape of your life in the comfort of your living room.
4. Eat for satiety
It’s a no-brainer: You’ll be happier losing a lot of weight if you don’t always feel hungry.
Tailor your diet to combat hormonal changes that happen when you diet. “During weight loss, we have lower levels of the hormones the small intestine releases to help us feel satisfied, including GLP-1 and cholecystokinin, and higher levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin,” says Ethan Lazarus, M.D., a board member of the Obesity Medicine Association.
Lazarus recommends eating protein and/or healthy fats first in each meal, since they trigger the release of these satiety hormones, and help prevent overeating. However, protein/healthy fats take about 20-minutes to reach the small intestine and stimulate the hormone release, so eat slowly and mindfully (no multitasking or watching TV during meals!) to make sure you’ll notice signs of fullness — and stop eating before you get stuffed.
5. Build muscle
Your greatest ally in your battle against the bulge is muscle, Matheny explains. That’s because muscle is a major determinate, and the largest single modifiable factor in setting your metabolic rate.
However, when people lose weight, especially large amounts of weight, it’s natural to lose some weight from muscle. Luckily, it is possible to avoid these losses, and build muscle while losing fat, Matheny explains.
The keys are performing regular resistance training and consuming adequate protein. OpenFit recommends consuming about .5 to .9 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day to lose weight while still building metabolically active tissue (AKA “muscle”).
If you have a body-fat scale, weigh yourself regularly. Make sure that as your overall weight decreases so too does your body-fat percentage; this will help ensure that your weight loss is from fat loss.
6. Stay accountable
“More accountability means more weight lost — and kept off,” says Debra Nessel, R.D., C.D.E., with Torrance Memorial Medical Center in California. Luckily, there are plenty of research-backed ways to boost accountability and results.
For instance, results from the National Weight Control Registry — an ongoing study of more than 10,000 people who have maintained weight losses of at least 30 pounds — show that 75 percent of successful losers weigh themselves at least once a week.
Similarly, keeping a food and workout diary can increase your accountability to yourself and your goals. You can also try reaching out to others, either in person or online, who are in similar places on their weight-loss journeys.
7. Switch up your workouts regularly
The body is excellent at adapting to handle your workouts. Over time, the strength, stamina, and movement-mastery you build will help you perform the same exercises more efficiently and with less effort, meaning that you’ll burn fewer calories running a mile or lifting a given load during week 10 of your workout program than you did during week 1.
“If you get to a point in your exercise plan where your body isn’t changing, that means your body has adapted to the exercise stress that you are putting on it,” Matheny says. “You need to introduce a new stress to elicit further adaptations, AKA results.”
To beat your body to the punch, change key variables in your workouts every month or two, including:
- rest periods.
- Load (i.e., the amount of weight you’re lifting).
- Lifting tempo, stance, or grip.
- Exercises (i.e., rotate in new ones or progress to more difficult variations of current ones).
The goal is to challenge your body continually.
Why does weight loss get harder?
As you lose weight, your metabolism down, because, well, less energy is required to move and sustain your lighter body. That’s why you have to continually adjust your caloric intake as you become slimmer.
But the problem is compounded for people who lose large amounts of weight — say, by dropping from 250 to 150 pounds — because their metabolisms drop below the average level for their new weight.
“When a person loses [a lot of] weight, the body senses the new weight as abnormally low or weight-reduced,” says Ethan Lazarus, M.D., a board member of the Obesity Medicine Association. “The body will activate survival mechanisms to restore the lost weight by dropping metabolism.”
Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that this metabolic adaptation, also called a metabolic penalty, is largely due to hormonal changes that occur during weight loss. The tips above will help minimize that penalty. You can also take heart in knowing that, according to 2016 research published in Cell Metabolism, the first five percent of weight lost offers the greatest health benefit in people with obesity (score!).
The Bottom Line
Losing a lot of weight takes work—there’s no getting around that. But, armed with the right tips, you can do it. Just remember that you and your health are well worth the work!