My 3 simple steps, Based on Science:
I hear/read everyday about easy and effective ways of losing weight. However, most of them will make you hungry and unsatisfied and above of all, it will starve your body, affecting your most important vital functions. If you don’t have iron willpower, then hunger will cause you to give up on these plans quickly.
The plan outlined here will:
Reduce your appetite significantly.
Nourish your brain and boost your cognitive functions
Make you lose weight quickly, without hunger.
Improve your metabolic health at the same time.
1. Cut Back on Sugars and Starches
The most important part is to cut back on sugars and starches (carbs). These are the foods that stimulate secretion of insulin the most. If you didn’t know already, insulin is the main fat storage hormone in the body. When insulin goes down, fat has an easier time getting out of the fat stores and the body starts burning fats instead of carbs.
Another benefit of lowering insulin is that your kidneys shed excess sodium and water out of your body, which reduces bloat and unnecessary water weight (1, 2).
It is not uncommon to lose up to 10 pounds (sometimes more) in the first week of eating this way, both body fat and water weight. This is a graph from a study comparing low-carb and low-fat diets in overweight/obese women (3).
The low-carb group is eating until fullness, while the low-fat group is calorie restricted and hungry. Cut the carbs, lower your insulin and you will start to eat less calories automatically and without hunger (4).
Put simply, lowering your insulin puts fat loss on "autopilot."
CONCLUSION: Removing sugars and starches (carbs) from your diet will lower your insulin levels, kill your appetite and make you lose weight without hunger.
2. Eat Protein, Fat and Vegetables
Each one of your meals should include a protein source, a fat source and low-carb vegetables. Constructing your meals in this way will automatically bring your carb intake into the recommended range of 20-50 grams per day.
Meat - Beef, chicken, pork, lamb, bacon, etc.
Fish and Seafood - Salmon, trout, shrimps, lobsters, etc.
Eggs - Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs are best.
Plant based protein sources: Nuts, soya products such as tofu and tempeh and some seeds such as hemp and chia seed.
The importance of eating plenty of protein can not be overstated. This has been shown to boost metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day (5, 6, 7).
High protein diets can also reduce obsessive thoughts about food by 60%, reduce desire for late-night snacking by half, and make you so full that you automatically eat 441 fewer calories per day... just by adding protein to your diet (8, 9).
When it comes to losing weight, protein is the king of nutrients. Period.
Don’t be afraid to load your plate with these low-carb vegetables. You can eat massive amounts of them without going over 20-50 net carbs per day. A diet based on meat and vegetables contains all the fiber, vitamins and minerals you need to be healthy. There is no physiological need for grains in the diet.
Nuts and seeds
Eat 2-3 meals per day. If you find yourself hungry in the afternoon, add a 4th meal. Don’t be afraid of eating fat, trying to do both low-carb AND low-fat at the same time is a recipe for failure. It will make you feel miserable and abandon the plan.
The best cooking fat to use is coconut oil. It is rich in fats called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These fats are more fulfilling than others and can boost metabolism slightly (10, 11).
There is no reason to fear these natural fats, new studies show that saturated fat doesn’t raise your heart disease risk at all (12, 13)
Conclusion: Assemble each meal out of a protein source, a fat source and a low-carb vegetable. This will put you into the 20-50 gram carb range and drastically lower your insulin levels.
3. Lift Weights 3 Times Per Week
You don't need to exercise to lose weight on this plan, but it is recommended. The best option is to go to the gym 3-4 times a week. Do a warm up, lift weights, then stretch. If you're new to the gym, ask a trainer for some advice.
By lifting weights, you will burn a few calories and prevent your metabolism from slowing down, which is a common side effect of losing weight (14, 15).
Studies on low-carb diets show that you can even gain a bit of muscle while losing significant amounts of body fat (16).
If lifting weights is not an option for you, then doing some easier cardio workouts like running, jogging, swimming or walking will suffice.
Conclusion: It is best to do some sort of resistance training like weight lifting. If that is not an option, cardio workouts work too.
Optional - Do a "Carb Re-feed" Once Per Week
You can take one day "off" per week where you eat more carbs. Many people prefer Saturday. It is important to try to stick to healthier carb sources like oats, rice, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, fruits, etc. But only this one higher carb day, if you start doing it more often than once per week then you're not going to see much success on this plan.
If you must have a cheat meal and eat something unhealthy, then do it on this day. Be aware that cheat meals or carb refeeds are NOT necessary, but they can up-regulate some fat burning hormones like leptin and thyroid hormones (17, 18).
You will gain some weight during your re-feed day, but most of it will be water weight and you will lose it again in the next 1-2 days.
Conclusion: Having one day of the week where you eat more carbs is perfectly acceptable, although not necessary.
What About Calories and Portion Control?
It is NOT necessary to count calories as long as you keep the carbs very low and stick to protein, fat and low-carb vegetables.
The main goal is to keep carbs under 20-50 grams per day and get the rest of your calories from protein and fat.
Conclusion: It is not necessary to count calories to lose weight on this plan. It is most important to strictly keep your carbs in the 20-50 gram range.