If you’re reading this I know you’re itching to learn how to lose weight easily eating anything you want, but before I dive into the nitty gritty details on how to do that, I thought I would make a quick comment about my general heart health first.
Unlike in year’s past (2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014), I didn’t publish a “year in review” post for 2018. The reason for this is simple. My heart was as calm as could be last year so there wasn’t much to write about. I didn’t even battle PVCs or PACs. I was in complete NSR the entire year. I’m praying to God that 2019 is as good to me as 2018 was.
This is a loooong blog post, the longest I’ve ever written, clocking in at over 6,300 words! I put together this handy table of contents so you can easily jump to any section.
Jump Ahead To:
The Importance of Weight Loss for Patients with Atrial Fibrillation
It’s January 2019 and I suspect many of you have the same New Year’s resolution: lose weight and get in shape! If you’re overweight or obese and have atrial fibrillation, then it should definitely be one of your resolutions as there is a lot of evidence suggesting that losing weight can significantly decrease your afib burden. Here are just a few articles on the topic:
If that’s not enough to convince you that losing weight is important if you have afib, consider the sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation connection. It’s estimated that around 40% of patients with atrial fibrillation have sleep apnea.
What does this have to do with weight loss, you ask. Everything! It is generally accepted that losing significant weight can help reduce, and sometimes eliminate, sleep apnea. If you can reduce the severity of your sleep apnea or eliminate it, then you may also be able to reduce or eliminate your afib burden! Here are a few articles that talk about how losing weight can improve sleep apnea:
If you are overweight or obese and can lose significant weight, you may be able to dramatically improve your sleep apnea, which in turn may reduce your afib burden!
My Personal Battles with Weight Loss
For the past couple decades, I have had my fair share of battles with weight loss. I’ve been overweight, skinny, and everything in between multiple times. My “yo-yoing” over the years has been so bad that I have a set of clothes for every size I fluctuate between. This is an actual picture of one of our storage closets:
See those numbers on the bins? Those represent the waist size of my pants and shorts. They range from 32 to 38. As I gain more weight, I pull out a new bin of clothes. The 38 bin is the “red flag” bin. When I get to that bin I know I’m really overweight (aka obese) and will need to diet soon. I never allow myself to go beyond a 38 pant so when they no longer fit, I go on a diet. As I lose weight, I go from the 38 bin to the 36 bin and so on until I get down to the 34 or 32 bin.
This yo-yoing drives my wife crazy. Every time she cleans out the closet she begs me to stick with one size so she can free up some room in the closet for her stuff. If only it were that easy. The bins stay, I always tell her. This yo-yoing is also very expensive as I often buy new clothes to replace some of the old clothes as these bins have been around for many years.
Side Note: Yes, I know. Yo-yoing is really unhealthy for you, blah, blah, blah. Look, I’m human. Like I said, weight loss has always been a battle for me. I don’t purposely try to yo-yo. It just happens. I’m hoping this time around I’m able to maintain my weight loss for good! But I will say this, my numbers have always been perfect through the years despite the yo-yoing so I’m not convinced it’s as bad as the “experts” say it is.
Remember the no-fat, low-fat diet craze back in the day? It was my go-to method to lose weight because it always worked for me. The problem was, I could only maintain eating like that for about three months before I’d go crazy and give it up.
That’s the thing about diets. They all work. You can follow any diet and you will lose weight guaranteed. The challenge is maintaining a diet over the long-term. Eventually, all diets fail because they are too restrictive and unrealistic.
What if I told you there was a way to lose weight easily eating anything you want? It wouldn’t require you to diet at all. Love chocolate and sweets? No problem. You can eat them. Do you enjoy breads and pasta? Great, all are allowed. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not!
I lost over 40 pounds in 2015 after my catheter ablation. I maintained that weight loss all the way through the end of 2016. In fact, 2016 was the first time I didn’t have to take multiple trips to the storage closet to fetch a bin of bigger clothes. It was the first time in many years I got to use the 32 bin. I got down to 165 pounds at one point, a weight I hadn’t seen since college!
I got lazy with my eating habits in 2017 and I found myself taking a few trips to the storage closet again. By the middle of 2018 I was in the 38 bin, the red flag bin. Sadly, I had grown comfortable being overweight and had zero motivation to change. I was only forced to change and lose weight given my recent elevated liver enzyme scare.
Where am I today?
I’m down 26 pounds and back in the 34 bin! This weight loss “secret” works every time it’s tried, and I can eat and drink anything I want.
The Secret to Easy Weight Loss
Drum roll please…the secret to losing weight easily eating anything you want is…are you ready…
Now before you roll your eyes and click away, stick with me. I’m going to show you how easy this really is to do. I’m also going to show you how eventually you won’t have to count calories.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian. Everything I’m going to discuss in this post is about me and my experience counting calories. This weight loss method may not be right for you! I am simply stating my opinions on what I believe works for losing weight based on my own experience. I have no idea if it’s healthy or detrimental for you and your specific health situation so do your own research and talk to your doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian before proceeding!
Counting calories is exactly what it says – you count (or track) how many calories you consume daily. You have a daily “calorie budget” that you aim to hit. The goal is to not go over the budget. If you do go over your budget from time-to-time, that’s o.k. The main thing is you consistently hit or stay under your budget more times than you go over it.
With this weight loss method, you can literally eat anything you want as long as you hit or stay under your daily calorie budget (the majority of the time). When I lost over 40 pounds back in 2015 and when I lost 26 pounds just recently, some of my daily foods and snacks included:
- Fried cheese sticks
- Fried chicken
- Fried fish sticks (noticing a pattern here…yes, I LOVE fried food)
- White rice
- Grilled chicken
- Lindor milk chocolate truffles
- Peanut butter M&M’s
- Chocolate dipped macaroons
- Buttered popcorn
- Vodka (with 7up of course)
And when I say those were some of my daily foods and snacks I mean literally these were foods and snacks I consumed on a regular basis. They weren’t occasional indulgences.
It’s important to point out, however, I didn’t consume ALL those foods every day and I did eat some healthy foods as well. The foods listed, however, were my favorites and the ones I rotated through the most.
Second, I ate everything in moderation! Take cheese sticks, for example. When I ate them I’d only have two or three and I’d only eat them once in a day. If I ate three, that was 190 calories. I typically aimed for around 500 calories for each meal – breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Given my target, if I ate three cheese sticks for lunch I had 310 calories left to spare for other foods. I would have grilled chicken, a hamburger patty (no bun), or whatever to get close to my 500 calorie target.
How Many Calories Can I Eat to Lose Weight?
The daily calorie budget to lose weight will vary from person to person, but on average during the weight loss phase an adult will be allowed to consume 1,500 – 2,200 calories per day. It depends on your sex, current weight, and desired weight loss goals. Here is a calorie calculator to get you started.
If you use an app like the LoseIt! app I talk about later in this article, it will automatically calculate your daily calorie budget after you enter your weight loss goals.
Does Counting Calories Really Work?
YES! It works every time it’s tried, and you can eat or drink anything you want. I’m living proof. As I’ve mentioned, I lost over 40 pounds in 2015 and I just lost 26 pounds counting calories. My family always gets a chuckle when I tell them I’m losing weight again as I’m eating a couple of cheese sticks. They can’t believe you can lose weight eating foods you actually enjoy.
I’m not the only one that has proven this weight loss method works.
Does the Twinkie Diet ring a bell? Back in 2010 it got a lot of media coverage. What happened was a nutrition professor put the calorie counting method to the test.
For 10 weeks, he ate mostly Hostess and Little Debbie snacks. Doritos, sugary cereals, and Oreos were also in the mix of his daily foods. He limited himself to 1,800 calories per day during the experiment. Guess what happened? He lost 27 pounds!
You absolutely need to read this article on his experiment as it will surely be an eye opener for you.
Of course, with any weight loss method there are detractors. You’ll find numerous articles and studies from doctors to “experts” that say it’s a ridiculous way to lose weight. Here’s one and here’s another one.
I just love how these supposed experts and gurus think only they know the “real” way to lose weight and any other method, especially counting calories, is stupid.
I believe weight loss is a personal choice and I don’t have anything bad to say about any weight loss method. Some will have success following the Paleo Diet. Others will find it easier to stick to a low-carb diet. Whatever works for you, works for you. For me, counting calories works and it’s easy to do.
At the end of the day, you have to decide for yourself what weight loss method works best. Counting calories may not work for you, but it might.
I’ve tried so many diets and weight loss methods over the years and nothing worked. For me, counting calories is the magic bullet. It holds me accountable to what I put in my mouth. I simply can’t moderate my eating without tracking everything that goes into my mouth! And I don’t have the desire to restrict myself to a certain type of food or diet either. I want to eat what I enjoy eating. Counting calories allows me to do that.
All I can say is that if you’ve tried other diets and weight loss methods and you haven’t had success, counting calories might be worth trying!
Is Counting Calories Healthy?
There is nothing inherently healthy or unhealthy about counting calories. After all, counting calories is simply the practice of tracking and recording the calories in the food you eat. The real question is, is eating whatever you want while counting calories healthy? That is the million-dollar question.
If you chose to follow a healthy diet such as any of the afib diets listed here and you counted calories while you were on the diet, I think you’d agree it would be healthy. What if you counted calories following the Twinkie Diet or eating like I eat? You’d still lose a lot of weight, but would you be healthy?
If you read the article about the Twinkie Diet experiment, the professor that conducted the experiment was really torn on the issue because all the data suggested he was perfectly healthy after his experiment.
His bad cholesterol, or LDL, dropped 20 percent and his good cholesterol, or HDL, increased by 20 percent. His triglycerides, which are a form of fat, decreased by a whopping 39 percent!
How could he be healthy eating mostly junk food? He didn’t have an answer.
What about my numbers, you ask? Well, like everything I do on this blog, I document and share everything. Here were my numbers from September 11, 2018 when I weighed 196 pounds:
(The numbers in parenthesis are the standard range for each component.)
Weight: 196 lbs
Resting Heart Rate: 62 (60 – 100)
Blood Pressure: 110/80 (90 – 120/60 – 80)
Sodium: 140 mmol/L (135 – 145 mmol/L)
Potassium: 4.2 mmol/L (3.5 – 5.0 mmol/L)
Calcium: 9.8 m/dL (8.5 – 10.5 mg/dL)
Glucose: 95 mg/dL (65 – 100 mg/dL)
Total Cholesterol: 202 mg/dL (100 – 199 mg/dL)
Triglycerides: 65 mg/dL (<150 mg/dL)
HDL Cholesterol: 70 mg/dL (>40 mg/dL)
Non-HDL Cholesterol: 132 mg/dl (<145 mg/dl)
LDL Cholesterol: 119 mg/dL (<=130 mg/dL)
ALT (SGPT): 116 IU/L (8 – 45 IU/L) – Note the elevated liver enzyme!
AST (SGOT): 64 IU/L (2 -40 IU/L) – Note the elevated liver enzyme!
Here are my numbers from January 9, 2019, almost exactly four months later after losing 26 pounds counting calories:
Weight: 169.4 lbs
Resting Heart Rate: 54 (60 – 100) – resting heart rate went down!
Blood Pressure: 109/62 (90 – 120/60 – 80) – blood pressure went down!
Sodium: 136 mmol/L (135 – 145 mmol/L)
Potassium: 4.1 mmol/L (3.5 – 5.0 mmol/L)
Calcium: 9.8 m/dL (8.5 – 10.5 mg/dL)
Glucose: 89 mg/dL (65 – 100 mg/dL) – blood sugar levels improved!
Total Cholesterol: 182 mg/dL (100 – 199 mg/dL) – total cholesterol improved!
Triglycerides: 43 mg/dL (<150 mg/dL) – significant improvement in triglycerides!
HDL Cholesterol: 61 mg/dL (>40 mg/dL)
Non-HDL Cholesterol: 121 mg/dl (<145 mg/dl) – a key cholesterol indicator improved!
LDL Cholesterol: 112 mg/dL (<=130 mg/dL) – “bad cholesterol” went down!
ALT (SGPT): 18 IU/L (8 – 45 IU/L) – significant improvement!
AST (SGOT): 21 IU/L (2 – 40 IU/L) – significant improvement!
As you can see, almost every health indicator improved after losing 26 pounds eating anything I wanted to and simply counting calories. The only exception was the HDL, or the “good” cholesterol. My good cholesterol actually went down. I did some cursory research on this and it seems that for some people their HDL levels will go down when they lose weight so I’m not concerned about the drop.
So, I ask you, am I healthy? My doctor thinks so and based on how I feel and what these numbers show me, I think I am healthy!
The only thing I would add is that I’m a vitamin freak so it’s possible the vitamins play a role in my health. It’s also possible I’ve been blessed with “lucky genes” so I can stay healthy eating mostly crappy foods.
The Pros and Cons of Calorie Counting
There are pros and cons to every weight loss plan. I’d like to outline, in detail, what I believe are the pros and cons of counting calories.
The Pros, or Benefits, of Counting Calories:
- You can eat anything you want
- You have a greater chance of weight loss success
- You learn about the foods you’re eating (and will eat better because of it)
- You learn how to eat in moderation
- Your craving to eat will disappear
- You’ll find yourself naturally eating healthier foods
- You’ll lose weight slowly and naturally
- It’s cheap to do
- It’s easy to start
Allow me to briefly expand on each of these benefits.
You can eat anything you want
I’ve already covered this point extensively but it’s worth repeating. With this weight loss plan you don’t have to restrict yourself to a certain type of food. You don’t have to avoid fats, carbs, etc. You can continue to eat all the foods you love to eat.
You have a greater chance of weight loss success
Because you have the freedom to eat what you want, you have a far greater chance of sticking with the weight loss plan. You won’t feel deprived and you won’t crave your favorite foods because you’ll be eating them! Which weight loss plan do you think you would stick with longer – one that says you can’t have any carbs or one that says you can eat whatever you want so long as you don’t go over your daily calorie budget?
You learn about the foods you’re eating (and will eat better because of it)
Before I started counting calories I had no idea how many calories were in anything. After tracking my food, if I didn’t know the exact calorie count in a given food I could guess and be very close. By knowing how many calories are in foods without having to look them up, I was able to make wise food choices “on the fly.”
You learn how to eat in moderation
After counting calories for an extended period of time, you’ll learn how to eat in moderation. You’ll realize you can’t have a piece of chicken, a helping of potatoes and gravy, a biscuit, and a glass of milk for dinner! You’ll learn that if you want to enjoy all these foods you’ll have to eat small portions of each, or you’ll have to cut something out – maybe the potatoes & gravy. Once you are aware of how many calories are in food, you will consciously or unconsciously make better food decisions and eat in moderation.
Your craving to eat will disappear
You would think you’d be hungry all the time if you restricted your calories. After a short adjustment period, for me it was about a week, I was rarely hungry. In fact, I could even do intermittent fasts from time-to-time and I didn’t get hungry at all when I did them. For those of you unfamiliar with intermittent fasting, that’s when you go an extended period of time, usually less than 24-hours, without eating. When I did these I would have my last meal at 6:30 pm and then not eat again until noon or 1 pm the next day.
I don’t know the science behind what happens when you restrict calories, but I suspect your body gets used to functioning on fewer calories and adjusts accordingly. It adapts. I drank a fair amount of water every day so I’m sure that helped too. Either way, I rarely got hungry. When I did, it was always at night and I would just eat something light like an apple or some cottage cheese.
You’ll find yourself naturally eating healthier foods
While my daily diet today still consists of what people call junk food (i.e. fried cheese sticks, fried chicken, etc.), I have dramatically improved my diet for the better – and not just because I’m eating less. In my desire to stay under my daily calorie budget, I found foods that I could eat more of and still stay within my budget.
For example, I started eating these delicious sea salt pita chips vs. eating Doritos as a snack. I started eating almonds, cashews, and dark chocolate as a snack instead of candy bars.
You’ll find that as you start losing weight and feeling better, coupled with your desire to stay within your daily calorie budget, you’ll naturally seek out healthier foods.
You’ll lose weight slowly and naturally
As long as you don’t cut your daily calories to the point where you lose weight too fast, which would be losing more than 1 1/2 pounds per week, you will slowly and naturally lose weight. Calorie counting is NOT a quick weight loss plan! It is a totally slow and natural way to lose weight.
It took me four months to lose 26 pounds. That’s just a little over 1 1/2 pounds per week. You don’t have to be that aggressive to make this plan work for you. In fact, if you’re o.k. just losing one pound per week, you’ll be able to eat a lot more food every day which will make it even easier to stick to the plan!
It’s cheap to do
Counting calories doesn’t require you to join some fancy weight loss program. It also doesn’t require you to buy special meal plans or weight loss supplements. It doesn’t even require you to go out and buy expensive organic foods or load up on fruits and vegetables. These would be great foods to include in your diet if you like them but by no means are they necessary.
It’s easy to start
Because you don’t have to join a weight loss program or buy special foods, you can start right now with the foods you currently have in your refrigerator or pantry! It doesn’t get any easier than that.
The Cons, or Negatives, to Counting Calories
There are a few negatives about counting calories. They include:
- Counting calories can be a pain
- The first 7-10 days can be challenging
- May be unrealistic for some people to follow
Allow me to expand on each of these points.
Counting calories can be a pain
I’m not going to sugar coat this, but recording everything you eat, every time you eat, is going to be a chore at first especially if you’re doing this the “old school way” by using pen and paper! Even if you use an app like, LoseIt!, it can be a chore to do. And while it gets really easy to do after the first couple weeks, not a lot of people can do it long-term.
The first 7-10 days can be challenging
The first 7-10 days of restricting your daily calories and counting them is going to be tough. With any weight loss method, there is an adjustment period and it’s never fun. If you love food like I do, restricting your calories and forcing yourself to make better food choices is very hard to do at first. The good news is, if you hang in there it gets easier. After about ten days, you’ll be in the clear and you’ll find staying within your daily budget is pretty easy to do!
May be unrealistic for some people to follow
The primary negative to counting calories is that it can be an unrealistic weight loss method for some people to follow. Some people, no matter how hard they try, will not have the discipline or desire to track everything they eat. If that’s you, then counting calories probably isn’t going to work.
Will I Have to Count Calories Forever?
The short answer is no. Most people after a time of counting calories will be able to “eyeball” what they’re eating and adjust accordingly. They may even be able to calculate the exact number of calories they are consuming in a given meal in their head without looking anything up.
Most people are creatures of habit, so we tend to eat the same foods. It only makes sense that after time you’re going to know instinctively how many calories are in a given meal.
Also keep in mind that once you reach our weight loss goals you’ll be able to increase your daily calorie budget.
During my 26-pound weight loss my daily calorie budget was around 1,700 calories. Once I met my weight loss goals my daily budget jumped to 2,400 calories! That was the number of calories the LoseIt! app estimated I would need to eat to maintain my new weight. Of course you can (and should) adjust that up or down based on what happens with your weight moving forward.
Because your daily calories will increase after you lose weight, you’ll have more leeway in “eyeballing” or “guesstimating” how many calories you’re consuming at each meal. If you choose not to count calories after you’ve achieved your weight loss goals, you will still need to be mindful of how many calories you’re consuming every day so you don’t gain all your weight back.
It’s very easy to get lazy about tracking your calories after you’ve reached your weight loss goals. The tendency is to eat more than you should. To maintain your weight loss without counting calories per se, I recommend the shortcut to counting calories.
Shortcut to Counting Calories
If you try counting calories to lose weight but you find it’s just too difficult to stick with, there is a shortcut you can take and still get great weight loss results. This method is also great for maintaining your weight loss. Here’s how it works…
Calculate your daily calorie budget using a calorie calculator. Divide that number by three and subtract 300. This will give you the number of calories to target for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Three hundred is the number of calories you can have for snacks. Here’s what it would look like if your daily calorie budget was 1,800 calories:
Breakfast: 500 calories
Mid-Morning Snack: 150 calories
Lunch: 500 calories
Mid-Afternoon Snack:150 calories
Dinner: 500 calories
You’ll still need to count your calories but you won’t necessarily have to track everything “officially” on paper or in an app. Using the example above, you can calculate how many calories your breakfast is and as long as it’s close to 500 calories you’re good to go. There is no need to record anything. You do the same for your other meals and snacks. You just make sure your total calories for each meal and snack are close to your targets.
The other thing you can do is create your own schedule. Maybe you don’t need two snacks. That’s fine. Then you’ll be able to have 300 calories for the one snack. And maybe you don’t like to snack at all. That works too. Just divvy up the 300 calories however you want among the other meals (i.e. maybe add 100 calories to each meal).
LoseIt! App Review – The Tool of Choice for Counting Calories
The LoseIt! App has been my go-to tool in counting calories since day one. I couldn’t count calories and have successful weight loss without it! There are lots of other apps available, but the LoseIt! app has always been my favorite.
It allows you to easily enter all the foods you eat and has calorie counts on just about every food imaginable – including foods from chain restaurants. If the app doesn’t have the calories for a food or drink you can easily add them.
The other advantage of using an app is that there is a good chance you always have your phone nearby so it makes it really easy to enter your calories right after a meal or snack. The other nice thing about using an app is you can enter your calories without anyone knowing. They’ll think you’re just checking your Facebook or email!
The LoseIt! app will also automatically calculate what your daily calorie budget should be based on your weight loss goals. And then as you enter your weekly weight, it will adjust the budget accordingly. For example, it might adjust your daily budget up or down if you haven’t lost any weight or if you’ve lost too much weight.
The app will also allow you to track much more than calories. You can track macronutrients such as fat, carbs, and protein, and you can track your sodium, sugar, fiber, and cholesterol intake. I’ve never used these features, but they are all there if you need them.
The LoseIt! app also provides motivation by giving you badges for meeting various milestones and provides a cool graph so you can visually “see” your weight loss from week-to-week. Here is a snapshot of my graph that shows my recent weight loss between September 11, 2018 and January 9, 2019 (and you can see my yo-yoing weight over the past couple years too):
When you see that graph going down, it really motivates you to keep going!
The LoseIt! app is totally free to use but it also has a premium version which gives you a lot more features and tools. I used the free version up until recently when they offered a year-end special for the premium version. I bought it mainly because I was curious what you got with the premium version. I have to be honest, for 90% of the people reading this the free version will be enough. I rarely use the Premium features.
Bonus Tips on How to Super Charge Your Weight Loss When Counting Calories
If you stick to your daily calorie budget, you’re going to lose weight no matter what you’re eating. There are a few things you can do, however, to super charge your weight loss.
Bonus Tip #1: Avoid High Sugar Foods and Drinks
While you can eat and drink anything you want, you will have faster and better results if you avoid certain foods and drinks – primarily pop. Pop is basically sugar. Consuming lots of sugar really messes with your weight loss efforts because it ultimately gets stored as fat if you consume more than your body needs.
If you absolutely must have a daily Coke, go for it, but your calories will add up quickly, limiting your ability to enjoy other foods and drinks that you love because there are only so many calories you’re going to be able to enjoy in a day. I gave up my daily Coke, which was incredibly hard to do at first. My calorie budget just didn’t allow for it.
The other issue with eating a lot of sugar is that it leads to sugar cravings, causing you to eat even more sugar. I also had another problem with my daily Coke habit. I always had to have a candy bar with it (sugar begets more sugar). I could never just drink a Coke. I always had to have chocolate with it.
As much as I love pop and candy bars, I knew I didn’t have the calorie budget for them unless I wanted to skip having any other snack or skip a meal all together. It was more important to me to enjoy more of the other foods I liked so I gave up my daily pop and candy bar fix.
Bonus Tip #2: Look for “Healthier” Substitutes Sooner Than Later
When I embarked on this journey I immediately started looking for “healthier” substitutes. I’m using the term, healthier, loosely here.
I love chocolate. My favorite is Lindor’s milk chocolate truffle balls. I could eat those by the bag full. In fact, I used too…lol. Each ball has 70 calories but there is no way to easily split them in half. I discovered Lindor milk chocolate sticks where I could break off a square and only consume 40 calories. That was perfect! I could still get my hit of milk chocolate without breaking the calorie bank!
I love Doritos, but they have a lot of calories. I tried all kinds of different chips and found these sea salt pita chips that I really liked. I could consume more of those in a serving and they were 20 calories less to boot! Plus, I think they genuinely were a little healthier than Doritos.
When I gave up Coke, I really missed the caffeine. I discovered coffee for the first time in my life. I found a type of coffee I really enjoyed. I was able to get my daily hit of caffeine with very little sugar and calories (only what was in the 2 tablespoons of cream I used). Over time I realized I didn’t need the caffeine, so I stopped drinking coffee all together. It was a bridge, however, to get over my daily Coke habit.
The more “healthier” substitutes you can find the more success you’ll have!
Bonus Tip #3: Include “Some” Protein with Every Meal
Protein is great when you’re trying to lose weight. It serves two important purposes. It reduces hunger and boosts your metabolism while preserving calorie-burning muscle. When you lose weight, you lose fat and muscle. You want to prevent muscle loss, however, so getting protein in your diet will help prevent that from happening.
You still have a calorie budget to meet so don’t go crazy on the protein. Simply aim to include a serving of protein with every meal. Any protein will do – a glass of milk, cottage cheese, hamburger, steak, chicken, pork, or whatever protein source you enjoy.
Bonus Tip #4: Include Healthy Fats in Your Diet
Find ways to include healthy fats in your diet such as olive oil, virgin coconut oil, avocados, and nuts. Remember, healthy fats have a lot of calories so make sure you’re accounting for them. I cooked all of my food in olive oil or coconut oil and I tried to include avocados and nuts in my diet from time-to-time.
Bonus Tip #5: Drink Plenty of Water
If you sip on water throughout the day it will make you feel full, so you’ll be more inclined to eat less. Plus, your well-hydrated body will thank you for it too!
And no, you don’t need to drink eight glasses of water a day, nor do you have to drink half your weight in ounces as many gurus will tell you. All you need to do is drink enough water so that your pee is a pale-yellow color. If your pee is totally clear or nearly clear, you’re probably getting too much water and can cut back.
Depending on what I’m eating and drinking besides water on a given day, I usually only need to drink about 50-60 ounces of water to pass the “pee test.”
Bonus Tip #6: Exercise
If you really want to super charge your weight loss efforts while counting calories, aim to get 30 minutes of exercise at least three times per week. It doesn’t need to be anything rigorous. I “power walked” (4.3 mph) on a slightly elevated treadmill (1% incline) for 30-40 minutes, seven days a week. I gave myself the flexibility to take Sunday off if I wanted. You don’t have to exercise this much, however. Literally 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise, three times per week will speed up your weight loss efforts and you’ll feel so much better too.
The other added benefit to exercise is you get to eat more if you want! When you use the LoseIt! app, you enter your daily exercise and the time spent doing the exercise. It calculates approximately how many calories you burned. Whatever you burned creates a net increase in the number of calories you can consume that day.
Let’s say you power walk for 30 minutes. You’re going to burn approximately 200 calories. Now let’s say your daily calorie budget is 1,800 calories. Because you burned 200 of the 1,800 calories (bringing you down to 1,600 calories), you can consume 200 extra calories that day if you want and you’ll still net your 1,800 calories for the day.
Bonus Tip #7: Plan Ahead for Blow Up Meals
When I knew I was going to be going out to eat or having a couple cocktails, I’d prepare well in advance. What I’d do first thing in the morning was fire up my LoseIt! app and enter the amount of calories I knew I was going to be consuming later that day.
For example, if I knew I was going to be going out for lunch, I’d estimate I was going to consume about 1,000 calories so I’d enter 1,000 calories for lunch first thing in the morning. When you enter your calories, The LoseIt! app automatically calculates how many calories you have left to spare for the rest of your meals and snacks.
With a 1,000-calorie meal, there wasn’t a lot left over to spare for the other meals but that was fine. I’d either skip the other meals or have something really light like an apple, a protein bar, or whatever. By planning your calories ahead like this, you can still have that blow up meal and stay under your daily calorie budget!
In the past, if I had a blow up meal I would skip counting calories all together for that day. The problem with doing that is you’ll be inclined to go way over your budget on those days. Your attitude will be, what the heck, I’ve already consumed so many calories in one meal I might as well just have a blow up day and eat as much as I want. This is a slippery slope you want to avoid!
By taking a modified approach by planning ahead for your blow up meals, you’ll be able to have your cake and eat it too. You’ll be able to overindulge a little for that meal but still stay within your daily calorie budget! This time around I could count on one hand how many blow up days I had (two), yet I had my fair share of blow up meals and I still lost a lot of weight!
Side Note: If you do decide to go with blow up days vs. blow up meals, you can still have weight loss success counting calories, but you have to be very careful. Make sure you limit your blow up days to no more than one per week. When I lost over 40 pounds back in 2015, I gave myself one day per week to eat whatever I wanted and as much as I wanted. I was so thrilled with all the weight I was losing, however, I rarely took advantage of those days but I gave myself the flexibility nonetheless.
A Word of Caution on Counting Calories
I sincerely hope you find this blog post helpful. I am very passionate about this topic, as you can tell! I truly believe that counting calories is the best way to lose weight easily because you can eat anything you want! I lost 40 pounds before and just recently lost 26 pounds following this weight loss method.
Having said that, it’s important to note I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian, nor do I play any of these online. In fact, I’m not technically qualified to give any weight loss advice as I’m just a regular guy that has struggled with the ups and downs of weight loss over the years. What inspired me to write this post was my family doctor. He was impressed at how easily I lost so much weight. He jokingly suggested I write a book. This isn’t quite a book but darn near close;)
Everything I’ve outlined in this post is about me and my experience counting calories. This weight loss method may not be right for you. I have simply outlined my opinions on what I believe works for losing weight based on my own experience. I have no idea if it’s healthy or detrimental for you and your specific health situation.
If you choose to follow the weight loss ideas outlined in this post, you do so at your own risk. I highly advise you do your own research and/or seek the advice of a doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian before implementing this plan (or any weight loss plan) just to be safe!
Finally, I doubt anyone in my audience reading this is a teenager but if you are, you have to be very careful restricting your calories to lose weight! It can be very dangerous if you’re not. You are growing so your body needs calories for fuel. In general, unless you are an overweight or obese teenager, I wouldn’t recommend you even consider restricting or counting calories. Determining the daily calories for weight loss for a teenager is tricky so it should only be done under the supervision of a doctor or the very least your parents!