The Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off
What is the best diet for healthy weight loss?
Pick up any diet book and it will claim to hold all of the answers to successfully losing all the weight you want–and keeping it off. Some claim the key is to eat less and exercise more, others that low fat is the only way to go, while others prescribe cutting carbs out. So, what should you believe?
The truth is there is no”one size fits all” solution to permanent healthier weight loss. What works for one person may not work for you, since our bodies react differently to different foods, depending on genetics and other health factors. To locate the method of weight loss that is ideal for you will likely take time and require patience, commitment, and some experimentation with different foods and diets.
While some people respond well to counting calories or similar restrictive procedures, others respond better to having more freedom in planning their weight-loss programs. Getting free to just avoid fried foods or cut back on refined carbs can set them up for success. Therefore, don’t get too discouraged if a diet that worked for someone else doesn’t work for you. And do not beat yourself up if a diet proves too restrictive for you to stick with. Ultimately, a diet is simply right for you if it’s one you can stick with over time.
Remember: while there’s no easy fix to losing weight, there are plenty of steps you can take to develop a healthy relationship with food, suppress psychological triggers to overeating, and achieve a healthy weight.
Four popular weight loss strategies
1. Cut calories Some experts believe that successfully managing your weight comes down to a simple equation: If you consume fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight. Sounds easy, right? Then why is losing weight so hard?
Weight loss isn’t a linear event over time. When you cut calories, you might shed weight for the first couple of weeks, by way of example, and then something changes. You eat the same number of calories but you lose weight or no weight at all. That’s because when you lose weight you’re losing water and lean tissue as well as fat, your metabolism slows, and your body changes in different ways. So, in order to keep on dropping weight every week, you want to keep on cutting calories.
A calorie is not always a calorie. Eating 100 calories of high fructose corn syrup, for example, can have a different effect on your body than eating 100 calories of broccoli. The trick for sustained weight loss is to ditch the foods that are packed with carbs but do not make you feel full (like candy) and replace them with foods that fill you up without being loaded with calories (such as vegetables).
Many of us don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. We also turn to food for comfort or to alleviate stress–that can quickly derail any weight loss program.
2. Cut carbs A different way of viewing weight loss identifies the problem as not one of consuming too many calories, but rather the way the body accumulates fat after consuming carbohydrates–in particular the use of the hormone insulin. When you eat a meal, carbohydrates from the food enter your bloodstream as glucose. In order to keep your blood sugar levels in check, your body always burns off this sugar before it burns fat from a meal.
If you eat a carbohydrate-rich meal (lots of rice, pasta, bread, or French fries, for instance ), your body releases insulin to assist with the influx of this glucose in your blood. In addition to regulating blood sugar levels, insulin does two things: It prevents your fat cells from releasing fat to the body to burn as fuel (because its priority is to burn off the glucose) and it creates more fat cells for storing everything that your body can’t burn off. The result is that you gain weight and your body now requires more fuel to burn, so you eat more. Since insulin only burns carbohydrates, you crave carbohydrates and so begins a vicious cycle of consuming carbohydrates and gaining weight. To lose weight, the reasoning goes, you will need to break this cycle by reducing carbohydrates.
Most low-carb diets advocate replacing carbs with fat and protein, which may have some negative long-term effects on your health. If you do try a low-carb diet, you can lower your risks and limit your intake of saturated and trans fats by choosing lean meats, fish and vegetarian sources of protein, low-fat dairy products, and eating plenty of leafy green and non-starchy vegetables.
3. Cut fat It is a mainstay of many diets: if you don’t want to get fat, don’t eat fat. Walk down any grocery store aisle and you’ll be bombarded with reduced-fat snacks, dairy, and packaged meals. But while our low-fat options have exploded, so have obesity prices.
Healthy or”good” fats can actually help to control your weight, as well as manage your moods and combat fatigue. Unsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts, seeds, soy milk, tofu, and fatty fish can help fill you up, while adding a little tasty olive oil to a plate of vegetables, as an example, can make it easier to eat healthy food and improve the overall quality of your diet.
Many people make the mistake of substituting fat to the empty calories of sugar and processed carbohydrates. Rather than eating whole-fat yoghurt, by way of instance, we eat low- or no-fat versions that are packed with sugar to make up for the loss of taste. Or we swap our fatty breakfast bacon to get a muffin or donut that causes rapid spikes in blood sugar.
4. Follow the Mediterranean diet The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating good fats and good carbs along with large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, and olive oil–and only modest amounts of meat and cheese. The Mediterranean diet is more than just about food, though. Regular physical activity and sharing meals with others will also be major elements.
Whatever weight loss strategy you try, it is important to stay motivated and avoid common dieting drawbacks, such as emotional eating.
Control emotional eating
We don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. Frequently, we turn to food when we’re stressed or anxious, which can wreck any diet and pack on the pounds. Do you eat when you are tired, tired, or lonely? Recognizing your emotional eating triggers can make all the difference in your weight-loss attempts. If you eat when you’re:
Low on energy — locate other mid-afternoon pick-me-ups. Try walking around the block, listening to energizing music, or taking a short nap.
Lonely or bored — reach out to others rather than reaching for the fridge. Call a friend who makes you laugh, take your dog for a walk, or visit the library, mall, or playground –anywhere there’s people.
Practice mindful eating instead
Avoid distractions while eating. Try not to eat while working, watching TV, or driving. It is too easy to mindlessly overeat.
Pay attention. Eat slowly, savoring the smells and textures of your food. If your mind wanders, gently return your attention to your food and how it tastes.
Mix things up to concentrate on the experience of eating. Try using chopsticks as opposed to a fork, or use your utensils with your non-dominant hand.
Stop eating before you’re full. It takes a while for the signal to achieve your brain that you’ve had enough.
Permanent weight loss requires making healthy changes to your lifestyle and food choices.
Find a cheering section. Apps like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers use group support to impact weight loss and lifelong healthy eating. Look for support–whether in the kind of family, friends, or a support group–to find the encouragement you require.
Slow and steady wins the race. Losing weight too fast can take a toll on your body and mind, making you feel lethargic, drained, and ill. Aim to lose one to two pounds per week so that you’re losing fat rather than muscle and water.
Short-term goals, like needing to fit into a bikini for the summer, usually do not work as well as needing to feel more confident or become healthier for your children’s sakes. When temptation strikes, concentrate on the benefits you will reap from being healthier.
Use tools to monitor your progress. Smartphone programs, fitness trackers, or simply keeping a journal can help you keep an eye on the food you eat, the calories you burn, and the weight you lose. Seeing the results in black and white will help keep you motivated.
Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep stimulates your appetite so you want more food than normal; at precisely the same time, it stops you feeling satisfied, making you want to keep eating. Sleep deprivation can also affect your motivation, so aim for eight hours of quality sleep a night.
Keeping the weight off
You may have heard the widely quoted statistic that 95% of individuals who lose weight on a diet will regain it in just a couple of years–or even months. Even though there isn’t much hard evidence to support that claim, it is true that many weight-loss programs fail in the long term. Often that’s just because diets that are too restrictive are very hard to keep over time. However, that does not mean your weight loss efforts are doomed to failure. Far from it.
Since it was created in 1994, The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) in the United States, has tracked over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long intervals. The study has found that participants who’ve been successful in keeping their weight loss share some common strategies.
Stay physically active. Successful dieters in the NWCR study exercise for about 60 minutes, typically walking.
Recording what you eat every day will help to keep you accountable and motivated.
Eat breakfast every day. Most commonly in the study, it’s fruit and cereal.
Eat more fiber and less unhealthy fat compared to the standard American diet.
Regularly check the scale. Weighing yourself weekly may enable you to detect any little gains in weight, enabling you to promptly take corrective action before the problem escalates.
Watch less television. Cutting back on the time spent sitting in front of a screen can be a key part of embracing a more active lifestyle and preventing weight gain.