Strategies on how to lose weight

You lose weight by eating less than your body needs. Pretty simple, actually. In ‘technical’ terms, you need to consume fewer calories than your body needs to function. It will then switch over to burning the excess stored fat and, at some point, muscle tissue. The end result is that your body weight will go down if you do this long enough.

So now you know how to lose weight.

All jokes aside, the above is in layman’s terms, how you reduce your body weight. The logic is pretty straight-forward, but that is not the reason why achieving a lower body weight is a challenging goal for the majority of people.

The challenge lies in how you sustainably consume less than you need until you see your body weight go down. The next, maybe even bigger challenge is what you need to do to keep the weight off.

To be clear, we are talking about having a lower number on the scale. We are not (yet) talking about changing the composition of your body. So if you are now 200lbs at 40% body fat, we are addressing how you get that number of 200lbs lower. We are not touching on the 40% body fat just yet.

Changing the composition of your body means that you are changing the ratio of muscle to fat in your body. Someone might be in a healthy weight range but have an unfavorable muscle-to fat ratio (for example, 40% body fat).

So, going back to that elusive goal of losing weight, there are two main strategies to reach it; the first is to reduce the amount you are eating, below the level that is needed at your current activity level. The second is to increase your activity level to the point that it isn’t sustained by your current consumption level. Both methods result in you getting into a caloric deficit.

Of these two methods, most people opt for the one where you intentionally reduce your current consumption. Let’s call it the ‘going on a diet’ method. For most people, the intention is to do this temporarily until they are at their desired weight.

The other method is often very difficult for someone living in the modern world to pull off, as it takes surprisingly large amounts of effort to increase your activity level to such an extent that it impacts your weight. This is because you might be currently eating more than your body needs, so your new activity level might still be sustained by your consumption, creating no net caloric deficit in your metabolic system. Secondly, most of us lack the mental discipline to train hard enough for the extended period of time needed to see meaningful results.

This is not to say that the first method does not take mental discipline. It does. Millions have gone on a diet and failed due to a lack of the mental discipline to see it through. Nevertheless, this is the most effective method to succeed in losing a certain amount of weight. You ‘just’ need to add some important elements to the overall strategy.

Portion sizes vs. Caloric density

People trying to lose weight often get the advice to use smaller plates to help reduce the amount of food they consume. This isn’t bad advice, as by reducing the amount of food you present yourself with, you increase your chances of you self-consciously sticking to the new (smaller) amount of food. 

Psychologically and physically, it is a challenge though. If you are hungry enough, nothing is preventing you from filling your plate for a second, maybe even a third time. You could prepare less food to combat this. That brings us to the physical effects of this; the smaller amounts of food might keep you from being satiated. Given time, this often becomes a problem.

The solution to this conundrum is to eat enough to feel satiated, but still get in fewer calories than you currently need. You achieve this by lowering the calorie density of your food.

Whole foods

Lowering the caloric density of your food can be done by consuming whole foods or food that has been processed to a lower degree than what you were eating previously. To increase the shelf life of food items, producers process them. This is economically sound from the producer’s perspective, but it is not taking your health into account whatsoever.

Whole foods and foods that have been minimally processed have more bulk, a higher water and fiber content, and thus fill your stomach (keeping you satiated) more while containing fewer calories than processed versions of the same amount.

Of course, it is often the case that, depending on where you live, minimally processed food can be very expensive. It can also take more time and expertise to prepare. Completely overhauling your diet to consume only minimally processed food can negatively impact your finances and available time.

In vegetarian and vegan circles, there seems to be the idea that ‘the ingredients are the recipe’. This refers to the thought of keeping the preparation of food as simple as possible. It’s a great idea, but if you’re used to actual dishes, it might be a challenge for you to start this way.

When getting started with eating whole foods as much as possible, the gradual approach is often more sustainable. For example, just start by finding two whole-food-based dishes/combo’s you can eat at breakfast.

Try them and see if they work for you, in terms of how they taste, how satiated you get from them, how much time it takes to prepare them, and how much all the ingredients cost. If they work, keep them or experiment with others, until you find a match. Gradually use this process on all your meals.

In the end, you will have a basic list of healthy dishes that work for you. You can then expand on that from there.

Meal sequencing

Another strategy you could use to reduce the amount of calories you are consuming is meal sequencing. If you Google meal or food sequencing, you will end up with results talking about it in regard to diabetes and the effect it presumably has on blood sugar levels.

The benefits of the strategy to prevent overeating are mostly an afterthought. For us, it is the meat and potatoes. The most proposed sequence in meal sequencing is: first your (raw or cooked) vegetables, then your proteins and healthy fats, and lastly your carbohydrates.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to eat your potatoes without any gravy. You can, after you have eaten your fill of a vegetable soup or a salad (without an oily condiment, mind you). After that, you can eat towards satiety (fill the remaining space in your stomach) with the ‘meat and potatoes’.

Use the same approach for soup selection we mentioned above for whole foods. Find at least two you like and work from there.

Intermittent fasting

So you are keeping an eye on your portion sizes, eating whole foods as much as possible, and sequencing your meals, to front-load the vegetables and fruits before the rest of your ‘normal’ meal. What more could you do to aid your weight loss process?

You could intermittently fast. Yes, we are aware that there has been a lot of hype about intermittent fasting. The thing is, fasting has been something humanity has done unconsciously for probably thousands of years. You stop consuming calories after your dinner, until you eat again at breakfast. There. You have just intermittently fasted.

To be effective at fasting between diner and breakfast, it helps not to drink your calories and to stop snacking. A lot of calories slip in through what we drink: alcohol, juices, soft drinks, tea, coffee with sugar, etc. Avoid consuming those between dinner and breakfast. It is not a bad idea to avoid consuming them at all times. Especially if your goal is to lose weight.

The same goes for snacks. A lot of snacks are small caloric hand grenades, full of sugar (or other refined carbohydrates), salt and unhealthy fats.

The goal of intermittent fasting between diner and breakfast is to give your body the chance to switch from using carbohydrates to fat as an energy source. That includes fat you might have stored previously. Let’s say you eat dinner at 6 pm, and you break your fast at 7am, that is 13 hours of solid fasting.


So does the Bible have anything to say about losing weight? Well, there is no specific verse that says, ‘..and for all ye who struggle with keeping thy body battle ready. Heed the word of the Lord your God and ….’ No. It is not in there. Proverbs does have two interesting pieces of text concerning showing discipline in the consumption of food. Proverbs 23:2 and Proverbs 25:27.

The first mentions ‘putting a knife on your throat’, to make sure you do not overeat when sitting at the table of a ruler. The second just outright states that it is not healthy to eat a lot of honey.

None of those two verses can be directly tied to what to do when overweight. That doesn’t mean that there is no sound advice in the Bible for those who want to get their weight back to a healthy level. What is often not discussed when you find advice on losing weight is the important effect of the people who surround you. Your community.

Proverbs 14:7 speaks about avoiding the fool, as you won’t find wisdom there. This is true for all forms of wisdom. If you want to lose weight, make sure you are also part of a community of people who are all very experienced in maintaining a healthy weight.

They will positively influence you in ways neither they nor you are consciously aware of. You will pick up small but key habits they have, fortifying you in your weight loss journey. They will share knowledge with you without even knowing that they just taught you how to solve issues you have been struggling with.

The knowledge of how to lose weight is not some esoteric field of science. We all should be aware of the basic forces that influence our weight and our health in general. Keep an eye on how much you eat and the quality of what you eat. The more natural and whole the food source, the better.

Prioritize whole foods above processed foods, and eat in that order. Give your body time to process your food by fasting from dinner to breakfast. Enjoying food with like-minded people is an age-old tradition in the Christian faith. Let people who are disciplined in the art of maintaining a healthy weight inspire and guide you through your weight loss journey.

Remember, We can do all things through Christ, who gives us strength!