The most common question I ever get asked is, "How do I lose weight?". Let's make that a better question and ask "How do I lose fat weight and how do I retain muscle weight?". Here are 3 of the most practical methods to do just that.
1. Have less on your plate. This is pretty straight forward. Calories in versus calories out is the difference between a calorie surplus and a calorie deficit. To lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit. If you are not losing weight with your current eating habits, chances are that you are simply eating too many calories, not burning enough or a combination of the two. Let's reduce how much we eat by starting with smaller portions. An extremely easy way to ensure you are eating smaller portions is by using smaller plates. Eat less, but don't reduce the amount too dramatically, the body doesn't work well like that. Small reductions between 250-500 calories to begin with. If no difference is seen/felt in 2 weeks, then reduce by a further 100-250 calories and gauge again in the next 2 weeks. Slow and steady wins the race here.
2. Drink lots of water. Water is essential to life (I hope you already knew that!). It is essential for metabolic pathways to function correctly. Basically, it will aid you in helping to burn fat. Without enough water, many functions within the body will not be able to work very well. Initially you may find you visit the toilet a lot, but you should find that after 2 weeks of drinking more water your body adapts and doesn't require you to go to the toilet as frequently. Keep a big bottle of water near you at all times and sip away. Finish the bottle before the end of the day.
3. Be hungry. You will be hungry in a calorie deficit. That's just the case, unfortunately. You'll have to deal with it. Just make sure you aren't starving yourself.
How do I look to retain muscle? Ensure you are eating protein and enough of it. Protein comes in all forms, not just in meat. So don't think you have to eat a tonne of chicken. All sources of protein start as plants. All sources of protein start as plants. I wrote that twice for you to absorb that information. You can get all the amino acids and quality protein from eating a vegan/vegetarian diet.
Generally speaking, consuming 2g of protein per kg of bodyweight should be sufficient for the average person. For example, an 80kg person would look to take on 160g of protein.
Protein shakes are a convenient way of getting protein into the body quickly, but I always suggest whole foods over powders where possible. If you find you are lacking in the amount of protein you get from your regular diet, then supplementing with these is a good idea. A good protein powder should contain a minimum of 75% protein. Work this out by the amount of protein per serving, divided by the serving size. A serving size of 30g containing 25g of protein would be 25 divided by 30, which equals 83.3% making this example a good protein powder.
Resistance exercise. Resistance workouts to retain muscle are essential. Make sure you work every muscle, whether you do that over a split routine, or a whole body routine. You may find on a calorie deficit that you get a little weaker, but don't worry about that, focus on one goal at a time. However, If you are a strength competitor, you may want to look into more specific nutritional advice to ensure you don't lose strength whilst losing fat.
Good luck and thanks for reading!