The diet and lifestyle section of any health and wellness website or bookstore is filled with diets that claim to be the best for losing weight and burning more calories. Unfortunately, there is not a single, simple answer to permanent, healthy weight loss.Our bodies each respond differently to food, and what works for you may not work for someone else. Patience, experimentation, and persistence will likely be your best tools when it comes to finding an eating plan and exercise routine that works best for you. There are, however, a few main strategies for calorie reduction that you can consider.
The simplest method for burning calories is to just eat fewer calories than you burn in a given day. This will force your body to use up stored energy in your fat cells, thereby helping you lose weight. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Part of the issue with this type of calorie-burning strategy is your body adapts to conditions.
When you deprive yourself of calories, you will start to burn fat, but you’ll also burn lean muscle and lose water your body has been storing. This slows your metabolism. Then you will need to eat even fewer calories to maintain the same effect, which can lead to feelings of deprivation.
This strategy also implies that all calories are equal. If you are only allowed, say, 1800 calories per day, but you fill those by eating sugary foods instead of fresh vegetables and lean proteins, you aren’t really doing your health any favors. So, cutting calories should be focused on eliminating the empty calories in your diet and focusing instead on eating more nutrient-dense foods.
Because eating is not just about satisfying hunger or getting the right micronutrients, deprivation of this kind can be psychologically hard, which can derail your dieting efforts, as well.
Another strategy for burning calories and losing weight is to reduce your consumption of carbohydrates, which have a significant effect on your insulin and hormone levels. Insulin influences how you store fat and how you metabolize food, among other functions.
When you eat lots of calories from carbohydrates, your body uses these first before burning any from fat or protein. This means you are not burning any of your excess, stored fat as energy and also are likely storing more fat for use later on. Reducing carbohydrate intake can help your body by lowering blood glucose levels, which requires you to produce less insulin. It also can force your body to start using stored energy from fat cells, which reduces your weight.
If you reduce your consumption of carbohydrates, you must replace those calories with some other form of food. The best options include lean sources of protein, including meat, fish, low-fat dairy products, and protein-rich plant sources. It is important to remember that you should still be eating plenty of dietary fiber on a low-carb eating plan.
Most people would agree that eating less fat will make you less fat. And while it is true that you should limit your intake of unhealthy fats like those found in fast and fried foods, not all fats are bad for you. In fact, your heart, brain, and other organs need some amount of unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids to function properly. Fats also make foods taste better and more palatable.
Reducing your fat consumption should not mean substituting those calories for ones from unhealthy sources like sugars and other refined carbohydrates. This trade-off is not going to help you burn more calories and reduce your weight. Instead, focus on eating the healthiest fats, limiting your intake to small amounts, and filling your diet with whole foods that are mainly plant- based.
Moderation Is Key
Finding the right balance on all these eating plans is key to successfully burning more calories and losing weight. A diet that is filled with fresh vegetables and fruits, plenty of plant-based sources of protein, small amounts of healthy oils, and minimally processed ingredients will give you the best chance of reducing your caloric intake. Pairing diet with exercise, though, will improve your opportunities for burning more calories and benefiting your overall health.