Every day, we’re bombarded with tips and advice on how to lose weight. We’re constantly being led to believe that there’s a new “secret” to dropping body fat, and keeping it off forever. We’re surrounded by different diets that promise to get you the body you’ve always dreamt of, but haven’t managed to achieve. And, whilst the claims of many of these diets have little to no evidence base, there’s one factor that they usually completely forget to mention that will help you to succeed.
What is it? Is it a certain food, or supplement? Is it a certain number of meals per day, or should you be eating at specific times of the day? Or perhaps it’s to do with cutting certain foods out of your diet forever more? Well, it’s actually none of these!
The most important factor when it comes to losing weight, and keeping it off is in fact adherence. You can have the most optimal diet in the world, and the best exercise programme planned out, but if you’re not able to stick with them then they’re not worth the paper they’re written on.
And that’s why when it comes to helping somebody lose weight my focus is always on the individual, and meeting them where they’re at today. Generic, one-size-fits-all approaches might work for a short period but chances are that what works well for one person, won’t work well for you because you have a different lifestyle to the next person. You have different likes and dislikes, different work patterns, different sleep patterns, different motivations.
Let’s take the example of somebody who’s currently living on a diet of ready meals, takeaways, full sugar soft drinks, little to no fruit and vegetables and 30 units of alcohol per week. If I were to ask that person to start eating 10 portions of organic fruit and vegetables every day, cook all their meals from scratch with ingredients they’ve never heard of, never mind ever bought before, only drink water and become T-total they’d most likely feel incredibly overwhelmed. They’d feel as though they’d failed before they’d even started, and even if they gave it a go for a few days, the chances of “falling off the wagon” would be incredibly high.
There’s an absolute and unquestionable necessity when it comes to fat loss, and that’s the fact that to lose weight you must be in a calorie deficit. For the client above, a calorie deficit could be achieved in a range of ways but the key would be to find ways to do this that would help them to adhere to the changes. So, rather than only drinking water, they could switch to diet versions of their usual soft drinks. Instead of having to start cooking complicated recipes from scratch, they could choose lower calorie ready meals. Rather than drinking wine, they could switch to vodka, lime and soda.
By making changes that are relatively easy to make, you’re so much more likely to stick with them. Completely overhauling your dietary habits is a sure-fire way to fail, whilst taking small sustainable changes that still allow you to enjoy foods or drinks that you’re used to may well be the key to your long-term fat loss success.