If you want to lose weight, start with small changes and build better habits that last. Rather than banning foods, try to cut down on empty calories and limit treats to occasional meals or snacks.
Aim to lose about a pound a week. Avoid fad diets that promise quick weight loss. Losing too much weight too quickly can lead to muscle, water and bone loss.
1. Eat a Balanced Diet
A healthy eating plan is an essential part of a weight loss strategy. Eating a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains is important for losing weight. However, the best way to lose weight is to make small changes you can stick with over time. Yo-yo dieting often backfires and can cause your body to store fat.
Eating too few calories can also harm your health. It can cause your body to break down muscle and organ tissues for energy, and slows your metabolic rate.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a balanced diet should include fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains and protein. It should also be low in added sugars, sodium and saturated and trans fats. People with specific nutrient deficiencies might require dietary supplements, but that should be discussed with your doctor.
2. Exercise Regularly
The best way to lose weight is a combination of eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly. The goal is to create a negative energy balance (burning more calories than you are consuming) over time.
Getting plenty of exercise is essential for maintaining good health, but many people overdo it in the gym. Excessive exercise can cause your body to store more fat, making it harder to shed unwanted pounds.
To help you burn more calories, try high-intensity interval training or HIIT workouts. This type of exercise involves short bursts of intense activity followed by a period of rest, which helps your body burn more calories in the long run. It also helps build muscle. Find other ways to incorporate more physical activity into your day.
3. Reduce Stress
Stress is a major contributor to obesity. Whether it’s from unhealthy stress-induced habits like anxiety and rumination or from high levels of the hormone cortisol, stress can cause weight gain and impede weight loss efforts.
When you’re stressed, your body is programmed to eat for comfort and energy. This results in the accumulation of fat and slows metabolism, which creates a vicious cycle that makes it hard to lose weight.
Eating regular, healthy meals can help you manage your stress levels. Eliminating junk foods from your home may also be helpful. Instead, keep your pantry and fridge filled with healthy, nutrient-rich foods. You can also try stress-relief strategies like deep breathing, meditation, or exercise that works a large muscle group. These activities can increase your energy while decreasing cortisol levels, which can lead to weight loss.
4. Get Enough Sleep
When trying to lose weight, sleep is as important as diet and exercise. Insufficient zzz’s can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones that control hunger and metabolism. Poor sleep can cause your body to secrete cortisol, a stress hormone that can increase your appetite and lead you to crave high-calorie junk foods.
Studies have shown that getting adequate amounts of sleep helps with weight loss. One study found that people who get a full night of sleep eat about 270 fewer calories per day than those who are chronically sleep deprived. Over three years, that can add up to a whopping 26 pounds. Getting enough sleep also makes it easier to stick with a healthy diet and exercise.
5. Stay Hydrated
Water is an important component of a healthy diet. It suppresses the appetite, boosts metabolism and burns fat. In addition, it helps remove waste from the body and improves exercise performance on a cellular level. Drinking water can also help you avoid drinking high-calorie beverages like juice, soda, alcohol and sweetened tea and coffee.
Studies have found that people who drink a glass of water before a meal consume less calories. This is because thirst often gets confused with hunger and can lead to overeating. Try to stick with water as your main beverage and avoid sugary beverages. Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and some teas, can count toward your fluid intake, but be careful not to drink too much, since they make you urinate more and dehydrate the body.