Learning how to start losing weight for beginners can be overwhelming because there’s so much contradictory information out there about weight loss.
But, when you remove all the noise surrounding healthy weight loss, you will realize that all that there is to losing weight is getting 80% of nutrition right and balancing it up with 20% of exercise.
Confusion for beginners sets in when the steps to fixing your diet and exercise are unclear.
This article will teach you how to start losing weight at home in 8 easy steps.
How to lose weight fast
Some steps to healthy weight loss include planning and preparing meals in advance, counting calories, eating more leafy vegetables, and regular exercise.
One of the biggest myths about weight loss is that exercise is the hardest part.
This is not true because anybody can spend an hour on a treadmill if they want to. However, it takes much more than strength and endurance to control cravings for unhealthy food.
You might want to know the best way to lose weight for a beginner, but if you lack self-control with food, you will find yourself chasing diets forever.
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- How to stop eating junk food and start eating healthy
How to Start Losing Weight for Beginners
As you embark on your weight loss journey, remember to be kind and patient with yourself. Don’t overwhelm yourself by doing too much all at once.
1. Set goals for weight loss
A person who starts a journey without knowing where they are going will never reach their destination. Before going on any trip, you should know where you are going, how long it will take you, and what mode of transport you will use.
This same principle applies to losing weight for beginners. You must set out a destination which, in this case, might be the overall goal of losing 40 pounds, and break the goal into smaller realistic ones.
Next, you should be able to determine how long it would take to safely lose 40 pounds, bearing in mind that four to eight pounds is the ideal weight to lose in a month.
Once you have figured out how long it will take you to lose weight, you should map out how you will lose this weight, and this is where the next steps in how to start losing weight for beginners come in.
If you start a weight loss journey without a goal in mind, chances are that you will fail within the first month because you have no idea how much to lose or how you plan to lose weight.
2. Count calories
Calories are the amount of energy that you get from food. It does not matter if your cookies are free from sugar not or whether your chicken stew is low-calorie.
The amount of calories you consume versus the amount you expend determines whether you gain, maintain, or lose weight.
If you want to lose weight, you need to keep tabs on what you are eating, and one of the most effective ways to reach your weight loss goal as a beginner is calorie counting.
To do this, you should calculate or estimate how many calories you should eat daily to lose weight. For women, the number of calories you can eat to maintain weight is 2000 .
However, this number can change depending on your age, height, or how active you are if you want to lose weight.
For example, if your maintenance calories (the calories you need to maintain your body weight) are 2000, you should subtract 500 -750  calories to arrive at the number of calories you should be eating to lose weight.
To understand this better, free calorie counting tools such as MyFitnessPal are available to hold your hand while you learn how to track and calculate the calories that you burn and consume.
If counting calories gets too much for you in the long run, you will be able to estimate just how much food to eat based on the previously controlled portion sizes.
3. Plan & prepare your meals in advance
Meal planning/prepping involves planning/preparing your meals in advance.
It is easy to grab whatever is in front of you when you don’t know what you will eat at a particular time.
However, having healthy meals planned out for the day will save you from eating unhealthy food when hungry.
In addition to saving you time and money, planning your meals will help you control your portion sizes and reduce the urge to eat when you are not hungry.
Your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks will have been sorted out before the day even begins. And, of course, your life will be much simpler when you don’t have to think and worry about what you’ll eat when you get home from work.
Depending on your fridge/freezer’s capacity, you can prepare meals for 2, 3 days, or even a week in advance.
I prefer planning my meals a week in advance and batch cook on Sundays.
A week out is the perfect balance to maintain freshness, especially when it comes to chicken breast, which seems to dry up pretty fast.
Once you get the hang of meal prepping, you will figure out what works best for you in terms of how many days in advance you can cook your food.
4. Swap high-calorie foods for lower-calorie choices
Calories add up at the end of the day. Some foods might be considered healthy but considerably high in calories.
You must make smart decisions about food to maintain a calorie deficit without compromising nutrition.
High-calorie foods often have a high-calorie density, meaning they provide a significant number of calories for smaller portions.
High-calorie foods include nuts, nut butter, dried fruits, avocado, smoothies, steak, and salmon.
On the other hand, lower-calorie choices are typically less calorie-dense, allowing you to consume a larger volume of food for the same or fewer calories.
Swapping high-calorie foods for lower-calorie alternatives involves identifying healthier substitutes for your favorite dishes and ingredients.
For example, if you’re craving a sweet treat, you could replace a high-calorie, sugary dessert with a piece of fresh fruit or a small serving of frozen yogurt. Similarly, instead of calorie-laden fried foods, opt for baked or grilled alternatives.
Celery, lettuce, cucumber, pumpkin, carrot, apple, spinach, tuna, grapefruit, mushroom, and cottage cheese are some of the best choices for low-calorie foods.
List of foods to eat when trying to lose weight
- Canned tuna in water – a cheap source of protein
- Kidney beans – look for the option that is low in sugar and sodium
- Lentils – dry or canned
- Oats – stay away from instant oats- they are highly processed and contain too much sugar
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Fresh and frozen vegetables like green beans, cauliflower, broccoli and butternut squash etc.
- Chilli peppers to rev up your metabolism
- Greek yogurt or plain yogurt
- Frozen fruit
- Kale and spinach
- Chicken breasts
- Canned fruit in water and not syrup
- 10 surprisingly low-calorie snacks for weight loss that are filling
- 12 insanely delicious high-protein snacks for weight loss
5. Drink water
Many people avoid drinking water because they do not like how it tastes.
However, the health benefits of drinking water outweigh the bland taste. You really will be doing your body a huge favor if you drink enough water every day.
Unlike fruit juices, soda, and other sugary drinks, water has zero calories, making it easy to hydrate without adding extra calories to your diet.
Studies show that drinking water before and not after a meal can increase weight loss. This is because consuming water before a meal creates a feeling of fullness, which leads to you eating less food than you would have if you did not drink .
Another study found that drinking lots of water can increase metabolism by 30% . Water plays a significant role in regulating metabolism. When you are well hydrated, your body can burn calories efficiently.
Additionally, drinking water helps your body get rid of waste, toxins, and by-products of fat breakdown.
If you do not like the taste of plain water, you can enhance the flavor by adding fresh mint or slices of lemon, cucumber, oranges, and strawberries.
6. Burn extra calories with exercise
Eating fewer calories will indeed help you lose weight. It is also true that regular exercise increases the number of calories your body burns and fires up weight loss.
Combining portion control and exercise will help create a calorie deficit needed for healthy and sustainable weight loss.
As a beginner, you don’t have to sign up for a gym membership to exercise and lose weight.
There are many ways of exercising, and walking is one of the easiest ways to lose weight for beginners.
You can walk around your neighborhood or join free weekly timed fitness events such as Parkrun in your community. You can find a Parkrun in your area here.
Once your fitness level improves, you can add home workouts, and a great one to get you started is this 30-day fat-burning workout routine for beginners.
Most beginners are forced into running because everybody else is doing it or made to believe that running will help them lose weight faster.
My advice to you as a beginner is this- If you don’t want to run, don’t run. Forcing your body to run when it is not ready can result in injury. Worse still, you might get frustrated in the long run and give up on exercise.
Best at-home workouts to help you lose weight
- The Best 8-Week Weight Loss Exercise Plan (Full Body)
- Best Jillian Michaels workout videos
- 28-day workout challenge for beginners
How to tone flabby arms- ultimate arm toning exercises for females
7. Cook at home
Meal planning and prepping are great tools to help you start cooking at home, but you should be careful not to fall into the trap of buying ‘healthy’ ready-made meals or eating out often.
While ready-made meals and on-the-go healthy foods provide convenience, they can affect your weight loss progress.
Despite being labeled healthy, some of these ready-made meals may contain added sugar, excessive salt, and unhealthy fats.
One way to start losing weight as a beginner is to cook at home. You’ll have better control over ingredients and calories when you cook your healthy meals at home.
If you don’t know how to cook, this is the perfect time to learn basic cooking. You can start by searching online for quick and healthy recipes and take it from there.
8. Find an accountability buddy
As a beginner, one of the most challenging moments about weight loss is holding yourself accountable. Not everyone is strong enough to make better food choices or stay motivated all the time.
You don’t have to wait until you are on the verge of giving up before getting someone willing to provide support and motivation throughout your weight loss journey.
Having someone to talk to when you are discouraged will help you stay on track and make your journey feel less overwhelming.
An accountability buddy will be there to provide a healthy sense of competition and help push you toward your goals.
Once you have found a partner, arrange for regular check-in where you can share progress, celebrate wins and discuss challenges. Seek support from friends, family, or online communities (Facebook groups, Reddit) that share similar goals.
How to start losing weight for beginners – final thoughts
The best way to start losing weight for beginners is to incorporate healthy habits, such as exercising, meal prepping, and portion control, into your daily routine.
Weight loss will only happen when there is a caloric deficit. Therefore, adopting portion control will help you manage your calorie intake.
Pairing portion control with exercise will contribute to a calorie deficit. Regular physical activity such as brisk walking and strength training increases energy expenditure and will help you lose weight fast.
You should also remember that each person’s weight loss journey is unique. Focus only on your progress. Never compare your progress with another person’s, and always be kind and patient with yourself by appreciating your body throughout your weight loss journey.
You have no idea what goes on behind the closed doors of most fit people that you may be looking up to for motivation.
There are a lot of behind-the-scenes struggles between all the incredible weight loss success stories and the before and after photos that we often see on social media.
Be true to yourself and your short and long-term goals. Don’t chase diets. You are what will drive results at the end of the day.
Also, know that you may fail along the way, and that is okay!
The secret to successful weight loss is to get up and start again each time you fail. Don’t stay down for longer than five days.
Find inner strength because that will help you stay consistent and keep going no matter what!
Don’t give up on your weight loss goals. Yes, you will be discouraged now and then, especially when results are slow. Just never quit.
Feel free to email me on the email address listed here, if you need some encouragement here and there.
You might also like:
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 Ismail, Abdallah. (2018). How many calories should I eat a day?. 10.13140/RG.2.2.22313.70242.
 Kim J. Y. (2021). Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance. Journal of obesity & metabolic syndrome, 30(1), 20–31. https://doi.org/10.7570/jomes20065
 Jeong J. N. (2018). Effect of Pre-meal Water Consumption on Energy Intake and Satiety in Non-obese Young Adults. Clinical nutrition research, 7(4), 291–296. https://doi.org/10.7762/cnr.2018.7.4.291
 Michael Boschmann and others, Water-Induced Thermogenesis, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 88, Issue 12, 1 December 2003, Pages 6015–6019, https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2003-030780
Susan Chanda is a professional content writer/journalist with over 20 years’ experience. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing management from University of South Africa and a diploma in Journalism and Public relations.
Susan has been writing evidence based fitness and health articles since 2016 for Fitness Chat, and is a certified fitness trainer, and diet and nutrition coach.
Fitness Chat is one of the several other websites that Susan owns, or co-owns with her children.
You can read more about Susan here.