Need to lose 20 pounds? Below you will find a checklist of all the necessary things you will need to implement to get those results. Read them carefully and then act. If you do each and every one of them, I guarantee you will not only lose 20 pounds, but you will have created a new and sustainable healthy lifestyle.
Determine Your Calorie Intake
Determining how many calories you need to lose weight is one of the most confusing parts of the weight loss process. The simple way to determine this number is to eat 10-12 times your body weight in pounds. For example, a 200lb person would eat 2000-2400 calories.
- It is always best to start high and come down only if necessary. Your ultimate goal is to eat as many calories as possible that still enables you to lose weight.
- If you’re eating under 8 times your body weight with no weight loss over a period of 3 weeks, you likely have some metabolic damage or downregulation.
Track Your Calories
Is it necessary to track calories to lose weight? No, but it is highly recommended until you have a good understanding of portion sizes.
Lucky for us there are some great free tools available to help us track our calories. Apps have made the process very easy. A couple of the more popular ones are MyFitnessPal and LoseIt.
Everything you eat needs to be logged, and you need to make sure you’re coming to within 5% of your determined calorie intake each day. That means making sure you’re not eating too much and also not eating too little.
Plan Your Meals
Once you have your calorie intake determined and a way to track calories, it’s time to start planning your meals. I recommend planning all meals for the week ahead, as this helps you plan your grocery shopping and keeps you from reaching for convenience foods when you’re hungry and unsure what to eat next. A little planning goes a long way. A few notes to keep in mind:
- The number of meals you eat should be decided based on your own individual lifestyle. Studies have shown that meal frequency doesn’t really matter. It’s total calories that influence your body weight. Pick a frequency you can adhere to consistently for the long-haul.
- Most of your meals are going to be similar throughout the week. No one expects you to eat 30+ different meals. For the most part you’ll eat the same 3-4 meals/snacks each day while having 1-2 different ones for variety. Doing so means you really only have to plan out about 5-10 different meals.
- Try to get .6-.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day and eat some protein at each meal. The more active you are the more protein you’ll need.
- Fill the rest of your calories with healthy fats and carbohydrates. The numbers of each will be different for each person, but generally speaking, the more active you are the more carbs you will eat relative to fat.
- Aim to eat at least 10 grams of fiber for every 100 grams of carbohydrates you consume.
Moderate Your Restriction
This is one of the most important items on the checklist, so read carefully. You do not have to be perfect with your diet to get results. In fact, your chances of succeeding are greatly improved if you include some of the foods you enjoy.
Up to 20% of your calories can come from fun foods and still get results. As long as you are hitting your calorie intake and protein/fat/carb/fiber targets, you’d be surprised what you can get away with. Eating all foods in moderation is key to long-term adherence and happiness.
Implement Strength Training and Get Active
One of the most important parts of weight loss is keeping your lean body mass working for you. Your muscle is several times more metabolically active than fat tissue. It grazes on fat at all times of the day. If you lose weight too fast or you attempt weight loss without strength training, you will lose lean body mass. Once your lean body mass decreases, so does your metabolic rate and fat loss pace.
In addition to strength training, you need to make sure you’re getting active. Get up and move around. Don’t just work out and then be sedentary the rest of the day. Walk, take the stairs, clean, play, or do any number of other physical activities throughout your day.
Track Your Progress
Before you get started, you’re going to want to take some baseline measurements. These measurements are very important, as they will provide you with valuable information used to determine needed dietary and exercise adjustments.
I suggest you take several different measurements before starting your weight loss journey. They are:
- Weight – measure yourself each morning at the same time after using the bathroom. Then take these 7 measurements over the week and average them. Compare the averages week to week to ensure there’s a downtrend in place.
- Body Fat – this measurement will show you how much of the weight you’re losing is fat and how much is lean body mass. The most common ways to measure body fat are with calipers, hydrostatic weighing, DEXA, or some body fat scales.
- Tape Measure – measure the circumference of various body parts, such as: waist, hips, thighs, chest, and arms.
- Pictures – taking a before picture and progress pictures every 2-4 weeks can help show you differences in your body that you miss when you look in the mirror every day.
Losing 20 pounds is not a fast process. On average, it will take you anywhere from 10-20 weeks to accomplish. If you have a lot of weight to lose, you can expect to lose about 1% of your body mass a week at the beginning. If you only need to lose 20 pounds to be lean, your pace will be a bit slower. If this is you, expect to lose about .5% of your body mass each week.
Remember, this isn’t a race. You want to maintain a pace of weight loss that will enable you to hold onto as much lean body mass as possible. There’s no point in losing 20 pounds if 10 pounds of that is going to be muscle. Ultimately, you’d want to lose 20lbs of fat while maintaining or even putting on some lean body mass. To effectively do that, you need to maintain a small calorie deficit.
Adjust as Necessary
As you move closer to your goal you will likely need to make adjustments to either your diet or exercise or both. Compare your progress measurements each week and if your progress has slowed, it might be time to cut a few more calories or add in a little more exercise.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to cut an absurd amount of calories from your diet to get the weight loss moving again. Simply cutting 100-200 calories daily should be enough to see the scale and body fat measurements start ticking downward again.
Similarly, you can add in an additional 100 calories worth of exercise too, or a combination of fewer calories and more exercise. Just don’t overdo it! Small changes repeated day in and day out are the key to long-term success. Good luck!