The best way to lose weight is to make small, healthy changes that you can stick with long term. Avoid fad diets that restrict different foods or cut out entire food groups.
Start by keeping a seven-day food diary to identify your current eating habits. People who log everything they eat are more likely to succeed in their weight loss goals.
1. Reduce your calorie intake
If you want to lose weight, reducing the number of calories you consume is key. Calories are a measure of energy and our bodies use calories for everything from metabolism to maintaining vital functions. If you’re consuming more calories than you are burning, you will gain weight.
Changing your diet to include more low-calorie foods can help you reduce your daily intake. Try switching to fat-free milk, or eating a piece of fruit instead of a chocolate bar. Choosing to sit down and eat rather than snack while you watch TV can also decrease your calorie consumption.
To lose one pound of body weight, you need to cut 500 calories from your daily intake each week. However, if you are trying to lose weight quickly, this may be too much of a deficit and can result in you losing muscle as well as fat.
2. Increase your physical activity
In addition to burning calories, exercise boosts high-density lipoprotein (the “good” cholesterol) and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. It also helps you build lean muscle.
It’s a good idea to include both aerobic workouts and strength training in your fitness routine, as each has its own benefits. For example, aerobic workouts burn calories while you’re exercising and also help you lose belly fat, while strength training builds lean muscle and increases your metabolism.
The best way to lose weight is to make healthy eating and exercise habits a permanent part of your lifestyle. Start by making small changes and work your way up to the bigger ones. It’s more likely you’ll stick with the smaller changes than big, sudden changes. You can even find ways to increase your activity level without going to the gym, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up household chores.
4. Avoid sugary drinks
Added sugars (from soda, candy and some juice) are the number one source of calories in the American diet.
One 12-ounce can of soda has 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar. Adding extra sugars to your diet can lead to weight gain and increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other health problems.
Instead of a sugary drink, choose water or unsweetened tea or coffee. If you want something sweet, try a small amount of fruit juice. Make sure to check the label on juice and look for ones that are 100% fruit. Try to eat a variety of foods and avoid avoiding any food groups or labeling them as “bad”. Avoid fad diets, and focus on eating well 80% of the time.
5. Eat a healthy breakfast
Having a healthy breakfast is one of the best ways to lose weight because it can help you control your appetite. It also helps you feel full longer and may even prevent overeating later in the day.
Choose nutrient-dense breakfasts that combine protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Carbohydrates are important for energy, but avoiding refined or simple sugars (found in bagels, pancakes, pastries, and cereals) is essential to long-term health.
Add lean protein to your breakfast like eggs, a veggie scramble or hash, and make sure to pack in the veggies by incorporating leafy greens into smoothies or adding them on top of oatmeal, toast, and other breakfast foods. Don’t forget the healthy fats like nut butters, seeds, chia seeds and olive oil; they promote heart, brain and gut health.