From diet to exercise and even your sleeping habits, weight loss is complex.
It’s common to have a lot of questions. Honest, expert answers to those questions? Yeah, those are a lot less common.
That’s because most “experts” closely guard their best tips to lose weight and will only share those tips with paying clients.
But as someone who’s helped thousands of people lose weight over the last 10 years and whose goal it is help thousands more lose weight, I’m all for answering your weight loss questions and giving you my top tips for weight loss.
I’ve put together a list of the top 10 most frequently asked weight loss questions I hear from my clients and the tips to solve them!
1. Is Diet or Exercise More Important for Weight Loss?
Answer: You can’t out exercise a bad diet. It’s as simple as that. I’m not saying exercise isn’t important, it definitely is. But what I am saying is that unless you have hours to spend at the gym — I know I don’t — you won’t see the number on the scale budge if you’re eating habits aren’t up to the same level.
Overall your weight is determined by how many calories you take in versus how many calories you burn. And while exercise helps you burn more calories, it doesn’t give us the green light to chow down on our fave foods 24/7. (Which means my favorite pork belly tacos will stay an occasional treat 🙁 )
So in order to balance the “weight loss equation” in our favor, we need to take in fewer calories. This is called a calorie deficit. In the end it’s this calorie deficit that will help you see the best results.
Tip: Eat fewer calories…. Yeah lamest tip ever right!? Everyone knows that you need to eat less to lose weight. But if it were that simple, you wouldn’t be here now would you?
So here’s how to eat fewer calories. Pick low-calorie foods that are filling and delicious. Low-calorie, filling, and delicious are the trifecta of weight loss foods!
- Low-calorie to maintain your calorie deficit.
- Filling so you don’t constantly feel hungry (otherwise you’ll eventually binge or overeat).
- Delicious because you should actually like the food you eat.
For delicious meal plans full of recipes that check all these boxes, you can find nutritionist-created diet plans from exante here.
2. How Often Should I Eat to Lose Weight?
Answer: I recommend eating five to six meals a day in order to maximize your weight loss. By eating five small meals a day you’re essentially spreading out your food into a bunch of smaller meals.
This strategy keeps you full throughout the day, keeps your blood sugar stable, keeps your energy levels stable, and gives you the willpower to stay on track with your goals.
Why is any of this important for weight loss? This all leads up to you eating fewer calories because you’re in control of your cravings and hunger. Low-energy, low blood sugar, and low willpower all mean more hunger and more cravings.
You can only fight hunger for so long until you eventually fall off the wagon. That’s why it’s so important to take control of your hunger and eating five meals a day helps you do just that.
Learn more about eating five meals a day here.
3. Can I Drink Alcohol/Soda/Sweet Tea/Juice and Still Lose Weight?
Answer: Don’t drink your calories!
When you eat the right amount of calories to lose weight but you drink alcohol/soda/sweet tea/juice/etc., those liquid calories still count even if they don’t fill you up. It’s those calories that are either preventing you from losing weight or even causing you to gain weight.
At the beginning of 2013 a client of mine, Natasha, decided to lose weight. She started doing the math on her Dr. Pepper calorie consumption and it was in the thousands… A DAY.
“People don’t realize how many calories are in a 44 ounce cup,” Natasha says. “When I found out I was drinking over 3,000 calories in soda every day I was disgusted.”
Even worse is that the calories you drink have no impact on your appetite. When you drink an extra 200 calories during your meal, you don’t even feel it. You don’t feel more full or satisfied than if you had just drank a glass of zero calorie water.
Learn more about the calories you might be drinking here.
Tip: Drink water instead. If you’re not a fan of just plain water, infuse your water with flavor by adding slices of citrus or other fruits.
4. How Many Calories Do I Need to Lose Weight?
Answer: It depends. How many calories you need depends on your weight, gender, activity level, etc. Here’s another question to ask yourself instead: Will counting calories help me reach my long-term weight loss goals? Or, is this a sustainable strategy?
In 10 years of experience, the answer is no.
No one wants to count calories for the rest of their life. Plus, it can be downright unrealistic. It’s impossible to always know exactly how many calories are in the food you’re eating all of the time. Dinner parties and get togethers are one huge example.
While counting calories might work for some people, I’ve found that using the right tools and strategies (and having a great meal plan) is much more effective for long-term weight loss and weight maintenance.
Tip: Get a meal plan that is proven to work. Ideally you want a weight loss meal plan that’s been put together by a certified nutritionist. Be sure it has lots of options to customize things to your tastes and preferences.
To learn more about a meal plan that works, go here: https://us.exantediet.com/diet-plans.list
(P.S. if you scroll to the bottom of this page you can download your own meal plan!)
5. What Type of Exercise is Best for Weight Loss?
Answer: The best exercise for weight loss is the exercise you like the best. That might sound cheesy, but it’s so true!
Yes, certain forms of exercise burn more calories than others but any exercise is better than none.
Tip: Find a form of exercise that you like and stick with it!
Personally, I’m not a fan of running. I injured my knee years ago, so running is something I avoid. Instead I’ve found other forms of exercise and cardio I enjoy!
If you’re just starting out and considering walking for exercise, be sure to check out this blog post: https://us.exantediet.com/blog/walking-weight-loss/ It outlines exactly how to make the most of your walking workouts and burn the most calories.
6. How Much Water Should I Drink to Maximize Weight Loss?
Answer: You should aim to drink at least half your bodyweight in ounces. For example if you weigh 160 pounds you should aim to drink about 80 ounces (10 cups) of water each day. Keep in mind that’s a minimum.
Tip: If you can, you should drink around a gallon to a gallon and a half of water each day. If you’re barely drinking two glasses a day a gallon can seem like a lot. Try to work your way up to a gallon slowly. First try to hit your minimum and then aim a little higher.
I’m not going to lie, you’ll probably pee a lot more than you’re used to when you first starting upping your water intake. But trust me, there are so many health and weight loss benefits that come with water intake.
Water acts as a natural hunger-blocker. If you think you’re hungry you might just be thirsty. Drinking more water will help cut down on these false hunger pangs.
Drinking water helps reduce drinking other high-calorie drinks. Remember when we talked about not drinking our calories? Yeah water is the best zero calorie drink around. Trust me when you drink a gallon of water a day there’s no room for other liquids.
Staying hydrated encourages proper metabolic function. Your body is up to 60 percent water and needs water to function properly. Being dehydrated prevents your metabolism from running at peak capacity. That’s definitely not good when you’re trying to lose weight.
7. Is Sleep Important for Weight Loss?
Answer: The short answer is yes. The long answer is also yes.
We all know that we should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night. And women actually need more sleep than men! But how important is sleep really? Well if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s super important.
Sleep loss has been linked to:
- High blood pressure.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Heart attacks.
Tip: Have a set bedtime that allows you to get enough sleep and stick to it! You can even set an alarm on your phone to remind you when to go to bed. The National Sleep Foundation also recommends:
- Practicing a relaxing bedtime ritual.
- Avoiding naps.
- Exercising daily (I agree!).
- Creating a relaxing sleep environment
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow.
8. What is the Best Way to Track Weight Loss Goals?
Answer: I know that it’s so easy to get sucked in by the number on the scale. But trust me, the scale is not the end all be all of your success. There are so many other ways to measure how far you’ve come.
Tip: I recommend taking measurements and photos as well as taking note of your non-scale victories (a.k.a. NSVs). This will give you a much better picture of how you’re improving.
The number on the scale can fluctuate, that’s totally normal. Isn’t it more exciting to notice your clothes getting loose or seeing the difference in your progress pics?
If you have other goals that you would like to track, like your activity, water intake, etc. you could get a fitness tracking app. They’ll help you see how your habits and lifestyle are changing and improving.
Here are 12 free apps to check out: https://us.exantediet.com/blog/12-best-free-health-fitness-apps-to-reach-your-weight-loss-goals/
9. Are There Certain Foods I Should Avoid to See the Best Results?
Answer: As a certified nutritionist, a mom of three little boys, and someone who has struggled with her relationship with food, I don’t like to say that any foods are “good” or “bad.” What I teach my boys is that there are “healthy” foods and “regular” foods.
Healthy foods support our goals, make us feel good, fuel our bodies, and give us the nutrition we need. Regular foods are the treats that we like to enjoy every once in a while.
It’s ok to have “regular” foods. Weight loss nutrition is about balance. I eat “healthy” foods most of the time but every Friday night you can be sure I’m eating pizza with my boys!
When you tell yourself certain foods are “off-limits” they become so much more tempting, making a meltdown even more likely. Plus, banning a food or food group just isn’t realistic. Long-term weight loss and maintenance is about creating a healthy lifestyle.
Do you really think you could live without your favorite foods for the rest of your life? Do you want to? I know I don’t!
Tip: Load up on “healthy” foods and have “regular” foods occasionally. If you’re doing it right your “healthy” foods should be just as yummy as the “regular” stuff.
10. How Do I Speed Up My Weight Loss?
Answer: The best way to see results faster is by doing these 5 things:
- Eating five small healthy meals each day.
- Not drinking your calories.
- Drinking enough water.
- Getting enough sleep.
By doing these things you’ll be right on track to getting results in a quick and healthy way. I know it’s not a fancy answer, but there’s no magic pill to weight loss. I know that with weight loss, fast is never fast enough. But if you’re doing these things, you will definitely see results!
Tip: To see the best weight loss results quickly do what you need to do, stay consistent, and be patient!