Those who successfully lose weight and keep it off often make daily moderate to vigorous exercise a priority. Studies have found that people who maintain their weight loss have a higher proportion of their calories from protein, vegetables, and whole grains compared to fat.
Long-term weight loss is about making small habit changes that are sustainable over time. It is also helpful to get support, like a healthcare professional, therapist, and registered dietitian.
Exercise is an important part of a weight loss program. It has been shown to reduce body fat and increase muscle mass. In addition, it lowers blood sugar levels and boosts mood. Research has also indicated that exercise can help to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
At its most basic, losing weight requires a negative energy balance or burning more calories than you consume. To accomplish this, you need to incorporate regular activity and structured physical fitness into your life.
Generally, the most effective type of exercise for weight loss is aerobic, or cardiovascular. This includes activities such as jogging, swimming, cycling, dancing, or taking an aerobic class. Aerobic exercise increases your heart rate and gets your body into a “fat-burning zone” for an extended period of time. It may also be beneficial to have a goal in mind when choosing an exercise program, such as managing a health condition or being able to fit into certain clothes.
A healthy diet is important for many reasons, including preventing certain chronic (long-term) diseases and maintaining a healthy weight. It includes a balanced diet of protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy and fat-free or low-sodium (“low-salt”) beverages.
A healthy eating pattern is low in added sugars, salt and saturated fats and high in fibre and healthy fats (like those found in fish, olive oil and nuts). A good example of a healthy meal is a bowl of bran flakes with strawberries and walnuts, made with nonfat milk.
A healthy diet is also flexible and can include occasional treats. It doesn’t have to be expensive, though. Experiment with different foods to see what you like and what is affordable. Try making some of your own healthy snacks.
Stress isn’t just bad for your mood, it can also make losing weight more difficult. If you eat well and exercise regularly but are having trouble losing weight, it could be because you’re stressed.
Stress causes the body to create hormones that alter appetite and metabolism. It can cause you to crave high-calorie foods and to eat more often, especially when you are not hungry. It can also lead to increased storage of fat, particularly around the abdomen.
If you are struggling to lose weight because of stress, working with a therapist or counselor can help. They can teach you new coping mechanisms and help you create a stress management plan tailored to your needs. Then you can focus on exercising and eating healthy to reach your goal weight. This will help you avoid the pitfalls that can happen when you are trying to lose weight while feeling stressed, such as skipping meals or over-exercising.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, it can have a major effect on your body weight. Insufficient slumber can disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm, causing changes in hunger and satiety hormones like leptin and ghrelin. This can cause you to eat more and gain weight.
Research has shown that people who get less sleep tend to have higher levels of ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, and lower levels of the anti-hunger hormone leptin, which makes you feel full. Increasing the amount of time you spend sleeping may help to balance these hormones and improve your eating habits.
One study found that in real-life settings, people who were deprived of sleep ate more calories per day than those who got adequate rest, even when they controlled their diet and exercise. In addition, the food they ate was mostly high-calorie foods like sweets and fast food. In the long run, this can contribute to a slower metabolism and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight.