Regardless of the diets and programs you try, weight loss comes down to reducing your energy intake from food. This forces your body to derive the necessary energy from fat and muscle tissue.
The key to losing and keeping it off is a long-term mindset with small habit changes over time. It’s also important to get support from family, friends and/or a healthcare professional for accountability.
1. Eat Healthy
It’s important to eat healthy for many reasons, including building strong bones, protecting the heart, preventing disease, and boosting mood. A healthy eating pattern includes nutrient-dense foods from all the major food groups and is low in added sugars, salt, and saturated fats.
Choosing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein sources, and healthy fats is key. Limiting unhealthy processed foods is also crucial.
Eating healthy does not have to be expensive. Often, a healthier option costs less than an item from the snack aisle.
When it comes to carbohydrate foods, choose those that are lower on the glycemic index and contain fiber (such as berries, quinoa, and beans) and that provide protein (such as nuts, seeds, and soy). Limit sugary drinks, which contain extra calories. Replace them with water, unsweetened tea or coffee, seltzer, low-calorie iced green tea, or a smoothie. Limit the amount of sodium you eat by choosing lower-sodium options, reading labels, and adding fresh herbs and spices to your meals.
Exercise is a key part of any weight loss plan, because it helps to burn calories. It can also boost metabolism and reduce belly fat, increase sex drive and libido, and improve overall mood.
Unfortunately, many people don’t get enough physical activity. Globally, one in three adults gets little or no physical activity. This decline in activity is contributing to the global obesity crisis and driving rates of chronic disease around the world.
While some studies have shown that increased activity can help people lose weight, most of the evidence supports a smaller role for exercise alone. Most researchers believe that exercise has to be combined with diet to achieve a negative energy balance, or caloric deficit, over time.
Having a consistent exercise routine is still important for maintaining health, and can help prevent any weight lost from being regained. Ideally, the total amount of time spent exercising should be 225-420 minutes per week and should include aerobic and resistance exercises.
3. Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water is one of the easiest ways to promote health and help with weight loss. It also reduces bloating, helps regulate appetite and digestion, aids in burning calories during exercise, and may even increase metabolism.
While most experts agree that drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is optimal, the exact amount you need to consume depends on your age, health, activity level and tendency to sweat. In addition to drinking water, try adding more soups, smoothies and other liquid-rich foods into your diet.
If you’re struggling to meet your daily water intake goals, try setting reminders, using apps that track your water consumption or making it part of your regular routine. You can also make it easier to drink more water by choosing water over high-calorie beverages, like soda or sweetened coffee and tea. Keeping track of the color of your urine can help gauge your hydration status as well; dark yellow is a sign you need to drink more water.
4. Stay Motivated
If you’re starting a new diet and exercise routine, it can be easy to lose motivation. But by establishing joyful habits that reduce stress, you can improve your self-discipline to stick with healthy goals.
For example, rather than thinking about how much doughnuts and burgers you’ll miss, think about the benefits of losing weight: fitting into your favourite summer clothes, being less at risk of health problems like type 2 diabetes, arthritic pain, strokes and cancer (NHS). Write down the reasons why you want to lose weight on post-it notes or somewhere else visible so that you can remind yourself.
Don’t weigh yourself every day as this can derail your motivation. Instead, use a scale to track your progress – average weight loss is around 2 pounds per week. Aim to re-evaluate your goal each month and set new ones. These should be time-based, so that you have a deadline and something to work towards.