The best way to lose weight is with a healthy eating plan and regular exercise. Ultimately, your energy in (diet) must match your energy out (movement).
It’s also important to understand that healthy habits can help you maintain permanent weight loss. To get started, try keeping a food and beverage diary to help you see where your current habits stand.
1. Change Your Diet
Many people start dieting in an attempt to lose weight. They may choose a particular diet because of its promise of miracle weight loss or because they want to improve their health by reducing the amount of fat in their bodies. Unfortunately, most diets fail in the long run because they are too restrictive.
To lose weight, you must cut down on the number of calories you eat each day. This means replacing some foods with healthier alternatives. Eating a lot of vegetables and fruit is important, as are choosing lean meats instead of full-fat dairy products. Try to avoid processed sugar and opt for whole grains.
To get a clear idea of what you eat each day, consider keeping a food diary for a few days. This will help you see where your biggest calorie reductions can be made. For example, swapping full-fat milk for skimmed could save you 160kcal a week. Similarly, switching to ‘no added sugar’ cereals could help you reduce the amount of refined sugar you consume each week.
2. Change Your Activity Level
In order to lose weight, it’s important that you increase your daily activity level. This will help you burn more calories, which in turn will result in weight loss. You should also reduce your intake of fatty foods, sugary drinks and salt. Instead, try to make these treats ‘extras’ that you only consume on occasion.
Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week. This could be as simple as brisk walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. However, you can also get more physical activity by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from your destination when shopping or even pacing around while on the phone at work.
Most importantly, find activities that you enjoy. This will make it easier to stick with your new routine. Also, it’s helpful to have an accountability partner – such as a friend or a personal trainer – in order to stay motivated.
3. Change Your Sleep Habits
You’ve probably heard that exercise is important, but you may not realize that good sleep is just as crucial. Insufficient sleep can alter hormones that regulate hunger, and can also slow metabolism.
If you’re struggling to lose weight, getting more sleep could help you reach your goal. It is recommended to get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. If you’re able to do this, it can help your body burn more fat during the day.
The best way to do this is to go to bed earlier each night and try to stick with a routine each evening. This will help your body adjust to a new schedule. You should also avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol right before you go to bed.
Lastly, make sure your room is dark and free of electronics. This will help your melatonin production. It is also recommended to try a winding down routine, like listening to music or reading.
4. Change Your Stress Level
Stress is a normal part of life, but chronic stress can take a toll on your body. It can cause stomach problems, sleep issues, headaches and muscle tension. It can also increase cravings and lower metabolism, which can lead to unwanted weight gain.
During stressful times, the hormone cortisol is released in order to give you the energy that your brain believes you will need to react to the stressor. As a result, people tend to crave comfort foods that are high in sugar, fat, and salt. These comfort foods are often the culprits of poor diet and unachieved weight loss goals.
Finding ways to decrease your stress levels is important for healthy living. Try incorporating stress-relief techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing into your daily routine. These techniques can help to reduce cortisol levels, which will support your efforts to lose weight. You can also try talking to a therapist, which can help you learn healthier coping skills.