The best way to lose weight is to make small changes that you can stick with over the long term. Avoid fad diets and focus on eating healthy, filling meals, staying hydrated with water and not skipping any meals.
Eat a variety of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains. Food philosophies may differ, but all approaches should include limiting sugary drinks and processed foods.
In addition to burning calories, exercise helps boost mood, reduce stress and improve sleep quality. It also helps reduce belly fat by lowering insulin levels and encouraging the liver to use fatty acids.
When starting a new exercise routine, it is important to talk to your doctor to make sure it is safe for you. Also, don’t overdo it, as too much exercise can lead to fatigue, dizziness or shortness of breath, which may be signs of a serious medical condition and require emergency treatment.
Start with a small step, such as walking briskly for 10 minutes every day, and gradually increase the amount of time you spend exercising. The best exercises for weight loss include both aerobic and strength training. Cardio burns calories and strengthens your heart, while strength training builds muscles that burn calories even when you are at rest. Aim for a combination of daily walking, strength training 2-3 times per week and high-intensity interval training 1 to 2 times per week.
Eating right is important to maintain a healthy weight. This means eating the right amount of calories for your size and activity level. It also means consuming the right types of foods.
Start your day with a meal that includes a source of lean protein, filling fiber and unsaturated fat (think eggs, low-fat yogurt, fruit or whole grains). This combination will stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you satisfied throughout the day.
Choose a variety of vegetables (3 to 6 servings a day) and fruit (2 to 4 servings a day). Consume low-fat or fat-free milk and other dairy products and limit intake of solid fats and added sugars.
Make changes to your diet over time. You can start by making one or two small changes at a time, then adding more as your habits become healthier. You can also ask friends, family and neighbors for tips on how to cook healthier meals or try out recipes in magazines and on the Internet.
Watch Your Calories
A calorie is a unit of energy, and when you cut back on calories to create an energy deficit, you lose weight. However, you must be careful not to blow your calorie budget on empty foods and beverages, which tend to lack nutrients. Consider making smart swaps such as skipping sugary drinks (like soda and fruit-flavored juices) for water or reducing the amount of bread in your meals.
Another way to watch your calories is by eating from plates, rather than out of bags or bowls, which helps you pay attention to portions. And be sure to check the nutritional facts on food labels — serving sizes can be deceiving, and twice as much of some foods may mean double the calories. Then use an online or smartphone calorie counter to help you track your progress throughout the day. Keeping tabs on what you consume helps to keep your diet in check and motivates you to keep moving.
When you set goals for yourself, consider intrinsic motivators as well as extrinsic ones. Having intrinsic motivators means doing things for the sake of doing them and not just for the outcome, like losing weight or looking a certain way. Intrinsic motivations are more long-lasting and can help you maintain healthy habits for the rest of your life. Examples of these are doing activities you love, getting more energy, feeling good about yourself or improving your sex life.
Write down the reasons why you want to lose weight and post them somewhere that you can see them daily. This will serve as a reminder of why you are making these changes and help keep your motivation strong, even when it gets tough.
Accept that there may be times when the scale isn’t moving and that’s normal. Try to focus on other ways to measure your progress, such as fitting into clothes you used to be able to and measuring biometric markers (like blood pressure and cholesterol). Celebrating small victories can also boost your confidence.