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According to the World Health Organization, worldwide obesity levels have tripled since 1975 (1). Being overweight can have a significant effect on your health, happiness, and longevity and, subsequently, more people than ever are dieting and exercising to lose weight.
Losing weight should be a simple process. All you need to do is expend more calories than you consume to create what dietary experts call a calorie deficit. Your body will then have to use body fat to make up this energy shortfall. Almost any diet can help you lose weight, so long as it provides you with fewer calories and creates that all-important deficit.
Exercise also has a part to play because it increases your caloric expenditure. Combining exercise with an appropriate diet means you won’t need to starve yourself to create the deficit required for weight loss.
But, while the theory of weight loss is relatively simple, the reality is often much harder.
We have put together an amazing FREE ebook where we give you 10 science-based hacks for weight loss you can get it by subscribing to our mailing list or if you prefer you can read the summary in this post.
10 Best Science-based Hacks to Lose Weight
10 Science-based Hacks For Losing Weight
Hack 1: Cut Back/Avoid Sugar
All foods contain calories. Those calories come from one of three macronutrient or food groups: fat, protein, and carbohydrate. The calorie values for these food groups are:
- Fat – nine calories per gram
- Protein – four calories per gram
- Carbohydrate – four calories per gram
It’s also worth mentioning that alcohol contains seven calories per gram. Still, it’s not classed as a macronutrient as it doesn’t provide your body with any vitamins or minerals.
If all you did was count calories, you might be tempted to cut your fat intake and eat more protein and carbs. After all, fat has the most calories per gram, so it’s the most fattening food group, right?
Unfortunately, there is more to the food you eat than the number of calories it contains. How that food affects your body is just as important.
When it comes to weight gain, of the three food groups, carbs, or, more specifically, sugars, are the most problematic. Sugar is part of the carb group, so it only contains four calories per gram, but it is far and away the worse food for weight loss dieters.
Hack 2: Drink Water, Especially Before Meals
Some weight loss tips sound too good to be true, and, in a lot of cases, they are nothing short of scams.
However, one that really lives up to the hype is drinking more water. Good old H2O can help you lose weight and keep it off. Best of all, this tip is all-but free to implement and is also backed by research.
Your body is made up of over 60% water, which it uses for a vast number of processes and functions, not least keeping you cool, lubricating your gastrointestinal tract, transporting oxygen and nutrients, and flushing out toxins.
And yet, despite the apparent importance of water, a lot of people are chronically dehydrated. There is a strong link between dehydration and weight gain.
You can live for several weeks without food, but only a matter of days without water. And while a lot of people fail to drink enough, they consume sufficient amounts to keep themselves alive, but their health suffers as a result.
Not drinking enough water can have an impact on many bodily processes, and that includes fat burning. Still, it turns out that purposely drinking more water can help speed up fat loss.
Water itself is calorie-free, but processing it uses energy. In studies, drinking 500 ml/17 fl. oz. was shown to increase calorie expenditure by 24-30% for about 60 minutes (2). The studies also revealed that drinking a little over a pint of water burns an extra 23 calories.
That means if you just add one tall glass of water a day to your diet, you’ll burn an additional 8,395 calories per year – which is equal to about two pounds of fat. The more water you drink, the more weight you’ll lose.
In addition, water can help reduce your appetite. All diets limit the amount of food you can eat. After all, that’s how they work. Unfortunately, while necessary and unavoidable, eating less can lead to increased hunger.
Most people can resist hunger for a few hours or even a day, but eventually, it will wear down your willpower, and you’ll give in. After all, hunger is a built-in survival mechanism. When you give in to hunger, there is a real risk that you’ll eat more calories than you’ve saved, undoing the benefits of your diet.
Drinking water before a meal can make you feel fuller, faster, and for longer (3). This will prevent you from eating too much and also stop you from snacking between meals. Your stomach is basically a large bag, and it’s covered in stretch receptors that send messages to your brain to tell you it’s full. Water has a lot of volume, so it stretches your stomach. But because it’s calorie-free, it “tricks” your brain into thinking you have eaten your fill of food.
Hack 3: Try Intermittent Fasting
Fad diets come and go, and most of them are nothing short of rubbish! They are too strict for long-term use, and some are unhealthy and even dangerous. You might lose weight for a week or even a month, but then you’ll quit and regain whatever weight you have lost. Nutrition experts often talk about people failing their diets, but the reality is, it’s diets that fail people!
One of the few diets that actually live up to the hype is intermittent fasting, also known as IF. With IF, you eat fewer meals to reduce your calorie intake. The more meals you miss, the faster you’ll lose weight. There are several interpretations of intermittent fasting.
- Spontaneous meal skipping – miss a few meals per week any time you don’t feel hungry. For example, you might miss breakfast on Monday, skip lunch on Wednesday, and miss dinner on Friday and Sunday.
- The 16-8 method – push breakfast back to around midday and eat your last meal of the day at around 8 pm to create a 16-hour fasting period and an 8-hour eating window.
- The 5:2 diet – normally eat five days a week, and then limit your food intake to about 500 calories per day on two non-consecutive days per week.
- Eat/stop/eat – normally eat five days a week, and then fast for two 24-hour periods twice a week on non-consecutive days.
- Alternate day fasting – normally eat for a day, fast for a day, and repeat for as long as required.
- The Warrior diet – eat very little all day and then break your fast with one large, balanced meal at night, shortly before going to bed.
Hack 4: Take a Weight Loss Supplement
While there is no such thing as a magic bullet for weight loss, there are several substances and supplements that may help you lose weight and burn fat more efficiently.
Some will help increase your metabolic rate, so you burn more calories per day. In contrast, others help control cravings and reduce hunger. While their effects are best described as mild, multi-ingredient fat burners and thermogenics do work and are safe for most people.
There are lots of products on the market, and the best ones contain ingredients that are proven to work. Ingredients to look for include:
- Caffeine – known as an energy booster, caffeine also speeds up your metabolism. It increases fat cell mobility, making them easier to burn as fuel. The energy-boosting effect will also help boost exercise performance.
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine – this amino acid increases fat oxidation. It can also help preserve muscle during a prolonged low-calorie diet.
- Yohimbine – derived from a South American plant, Yohimbine is a lipolytic agent which makes fat cells easier to transport to mitochondria and burn for energy.
- Synephrine – a stimulant that increases metabolism and makes fat cells easier to burn.
- Capsaicin – extracted from peppers, this substance stimulates the metabolism, increasing daily calorie expenditure.
- Green tea extract – enhances your mood and helps reduce hunger and cravings while increasing fat burning.
- Forskolin – increases blood flow for increased energy and better circulation and more energy. It also increases fat burning.
- Garcinia Cambogia – a herb that can reduce hunger and prevent cravings.
- White kidney bean extract – a form of fiber that swells in your stomach and helps you feel fuller for longer.
- Chromium picolinate – a naturally-occurring mineral that can help stabilize blood glucose levels and reduce cravings.
- Cinnamon – for increased insulin sensitivity, lower blood glucose, and reduced conversion of carbs to fat.
- Black pepper extract – increases the bioavailability of other active ingredients.
To get the most from fat burning supplements, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
However, they are especially useful first thing in the morning to kick start your metabolism, 30 minutes before exercise to increase energy and training intensity, and at midday to help ward off an afternoon energy slump. Some are also designed specifically for nighttime use and contain no caffeine or other stimulants.
Hack 5: Go Low Carb
Low-carb and no-carb diets have been popular for decades. The most popular low-carb diet is the Atkins Diet, but cutting carbs has been used for weight loss and improving health for well over a century.
When it comes to cutting carbs, you can reduce your intake to around 100-150 grams per day – a low-carb diet, or limit your intake to 50 grams or less per day and all but eliminate them entirely – a ketogenic diet. Both approaches can work, but going keto is probably the best way to lose weight fast.
Your body uses fat and carbs for energy but, when carbs are present, fat becomes a secondary fuel. If you want your body to prioritize fat burning, cutting carbs can help. This eliminates any competition for fuel, and your body has no choice but to use more fat for energy.
Cutting carbs also reduces your production of the hormone insulin. When you eat carbs, your body breaks them down into glucose, and your body produces insulin to transport that glucose into your cells.
Elevated insulin levels prevent fat burning, and so eating fewer carbs helps create a better environment weight loss.
Very low-carb ketogenic diets help you lose fat another way, too. When you eliminate all carbs from your diet, your body is 100% reliant on fat for energy. However, it cannot use fat for some metabolic processes and needs an alternative source of fuel.
To remedy this problem, it converts fat into ketones – a type of energy it can make use of. Turning fat into ketones takes a lot of effort, and that means you burn more calories and lose weight faster as a result.
Low-carb and keto diets are often viewed as fad diets but, contrary to what a lot of people think, they are very useful for fat loss and offer a range of additional benefits. Those benefits include:
Hack 6: Keep Healthy Food Around You
Losing weight means you have to eat less than usual. Apart from exercise, this is the only way to create a calorie deficit that will force your body to burn more fat for fuel. You can eat smaller meals, reduce the number of meals you eat per day, or reduce your intake of high-calorie foods or ingredients – all of these methods work.
However, eating less than usual can have an unwanted side-effect – hunger.
When humankind were hunter/gathers, hunger was vital. It motivated us to get up, leave the safety of our caves, and search for food. Without hunger, our ancestors would probably have died from starvation.
Fast forward to the 21st century and hunger is still a force to be reckoned with, even though food is available in abundance. And, to make matters worse, your body doesn’t know you are voluntarily eating less to lose weight. It mistakenly assumes you need to go out and hunt and gather.
Most people can ignore hunger for a few hours and even a day or two, but eventually, it’ll grind your willpower down, and you’ll give in. Invariably, when hunger takes hold, common sense, and restraint, take a back seat, and you’ll end up grabbing any type of food that will satisfy your current cravings. In most cases, this will be high-calorie junk food.
You can avoid hunger by eating satiating high fiber, high fat, and high protein foods (5), drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, and keeping yourself busy as boredom is often linked to increased appetite.
Hack 7: Do Aerobic Exercises
Exercise is essential for weight loss and long-term weight management. Without exercise, the only way to create a calorie deficit is by eating less.
Adding exercise to your daily schedule means you don’t have to restrict your calorie intake so severely. Increasing your caloric expenditure will further speed up weight loss.
There are lots of different types of workouts you can do, but, generally speaking, all forms of exercise fall into one of two categories – anaerobic and aerobic. Anaerobic means without oxygen, whereas aerobic means with oxygen.
Anaerobic exercise involves working out so intensely that your body is unable to keep your muscles supplied with enough oxygen to continue working for more than a minute or two. Examples include lifting weights, sprinting, and interval training. Anaerobic exercise usually involves brief periods of work, alternated with short rest periods, repeated several times to make a workout.
In contrast, aerobic exercise is lower in intensity, so your lungs and heart are better able to keep your muscles supplied with oxygen. Because the intensity is lower, aerobic exercise tends to involve extended periods of non-stop activity.
While anaerobic and aerobic exercise can both help you lose weight and burn calories, some studies suggest that aerobic exercise is the best choice for many people (6) and may help you lose weight, even if you don’t change your diet or do any other types of exercise. Needless to say, you’ll get better weight loss results if you modify your diet too, but it’s good to know that aerobic exercise is so effective.
Hack 8: Lift Weights
When it comes to exercising for weight loss, most people gravitate toward cardio. That’s not really surprising as cardio, also known as aerobics, tends to use more calories per hour and burn more fat than other types of exercise, specifically anaerobic activities such as lifting weights.
But, lifting weights or, more properly, strength training, is also a useful tool in your fat-burning arsenal.
Lifting weights doesn’t burn as many calories or burn as much fat as aerobics but can help you lose weight in other ways. The weight loss benefits of strength training include:
Increased resting metabolic rate – strength training builds muscle, and muscle is metabolically active tissue. As such, it needs calories to maintain and sustain it. Also, the more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you’ll burn during everyday activities, and even while you sleep. In short, adding even a few pounds of muscle to your frame will increase your daily calorie expenditure, leading to faster fat loss (7).
Increased post-exercise calorie expenditure – strength training does not burn as many calories as aerobic exercise. Still, it has a much longer-lasting effect on your metabolic rate. Studies suggest that strength training can increase your metabolic rate for as long as 30 hours after your workout has finished (8). This means that lifting weights may actually burn more calories than cardio, albeit because of the prolonged afterburn effect.
Increased insulin sensitivity – high levels of blood glucose cause increased insulin levels, and elevated insulin can put the brakes on fat burning. Strength training has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which helps lower blood glucose. Lower blood glucose and less insulin make fat-burning much easier (9).
Hack 9: Get a Good Night’s Sleep
What if we told you that one of the best things you can do to lose weight requires no effort? You’d probably think we were lying or trying to sell you something! However, research agrees that not getting enough sleep can undermine your efforts to lose weight, and that getting more sleep will actually speed up fat loss (10).
Because of the demands of modern life, a lot of people are sleep deprived and fail to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep. Long hours at work, combined with busy home and social lives, mean that a lot of people get by on much less rest. However, just because you can get by on less sleep doesn’t mean you should.
Lack of sleep can undermine your efforts to lose weight in several ways:
Increased hunger – your body recharges its energy stores when you sleep. If you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, your body will need to find alternative sources of energy. That’s why sleep-deprived people often crave carbs and sugary snacks – they are running on empty and need a boost. In addition, too little sleep affects satiety and hunger hormone levels, all-but ensuring you are going to eat more food than you should. If you want to avoid gaining weight or lose weight more easily, getting more sleep will help (11).
Lack of motivation and willpower – too little sleep affects your frontal lobe, which is the part of your brain responsible for mental resolve and self-discipline. You know you should eat healthily and exercise, but you just can’t bring yourself to do either. Invariably, doing the right thing is much easier when your willpower and determination are iron-clad (12).
Increased cortisol levels – lack of sleep increases your body’s production of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone. It causes the breakdown of muscle, which lowers your metabolic rate, and also increases fat storage, especially around your abdomen. More sleep means less cortisol (13).
Decreased metabolic rate – not getting enough sleep can reduce the number of calories you burn the next day. That’s not a problem if you have the occasional night of disrupted sleep, but if you have chronic sleep deprivation, you’ll find it much harder to lose weight compared to if you were well-rested (14).
Decreased exercise intensity and duration – the longer and harder you work out, the more calories you’ll burn. Insufficient sleep can hurt workout performance and reduce the calorie-burning potential of your workouts (15). If you want to perform at your best in the gym, getting enough sleep is crucial.
Getting enough sleep is not always easy, but even the busiest person should be able to find the time to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. However, you may need to make some lifestyle changes, or even try a natural sleep supplement to get more sleep.
Hack 10: Increase or Supplement with Protein
When it comes to weight loss, most people are very focused on fat and carbs. Fat contains nine calories per gram, and so it makes sense that a small reduction in fat intake can have a significant impact on your daily calorie intake. The food industry supports this approach, and there are lots of low and reduced-fat foods available.
The increase in popularity of the low carb diet means a lot of people are also more carb-conscious than they used to be. Unused dietary carbohydrates are quickly and easily converted into body fat, and a high carb diet can make burning fat harder than it needs to be.
And, like fats, cutting carbs from your diet automatically reduces your calorie intake, especially if you eliminate calorie-dense foods like bread, rice, pasta, cereal, potatoes, and processed foods from your diet.
But what about protein?
Protein, like carbohydrates, provides four calories per gram but, of all the food groups, it’s arguably the most important for weight loss (16). Eating enough protein, and even eating a little more than usual, can help you lose weight in several different ways.
How much protein should you eat?
That’s up for debate. Recommendations include consuming one gram per pound of bodyweight and making sure that 30% of your daily calorie intake comes from protein.
Experiment to find your protein sweet spot by increasing your protein intake, either by using a protein supplement or eating more fish, eggs, chicken, dairy, nuts, and legumes. You should soon notice the effect of consuming more protein.
Knowledge is power, or so the saying goes. But, in reality, that’s not entirely true. Knowledge is only powerful if you put it into practice. Unused knowledge is nothing better than empty words!
This e-book is packed with science-backed weight loss advice. Each and every tip is the result of research and proven to work. But, none of them will do anything for you if you don’t put them into action.
Go back over the ten chapters and seek out tips you can start implementing right now. For example, you could go for a walk, drink a large glass of water, plan a high-protein meal, or even consider skipping dinner and giving intermittent fasting a try. Don’t procrastinate because, as that other famous saying goes, tomorrow never comes. If you put off acting until tomorrow, next week, or next month, there is a genuine risk that you’ll never start. The road to weight loss is paved with good intentions!
- WHO: Obesity and Overweight. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight
- PubMed: Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults.
- PubMed: Pre-meal water consumption reduces meal energy intake in older but not younger subjects.
- PubMed: Consuming a multi-ingredient thermogenic supplement for 28 days is apparently safe in healthy adults.
- PubMed: Consuming High-Protein Soy Snacks Affects Appetite Control, Satiety, and Diet Quality in Young People and Influences Select Aspects of Mood and Cognition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25995282
- PubMed: Aerobic exercise alone results in clinically significant weight loss for men and women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3630467/
- PubMed: Effect of strength training on resting metabolic rate and physical activity: age and gender comparisons. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11283427
- PubMed: Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11882927
- PubMed: Effect of dynamic strength training on insulin sensitivity in men with insulin resistance. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15628572
- PubMed: Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2951287/
- PubMed: Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/
- PubMed: Frontal lobe metabolic decreases with sleep deprivation not totally reversed by recovery sleep. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16880772
- PubMed: Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9415946
- PubMed: Resting metabolic rate varies by race and by sleep duration. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4701627/
- PubMed: The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21731144
- PubMed: Effect of protein overfeeding on energy expenditure measured in a metabolic chamber. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25733634