Pick any diet book and it’ll claim to hold all of the answers to successfully losing all the weight you want–and keeping it off. Some claim the important thing is to eat less and exercise more, others that low fat is the only way to go, while others prescribe cutting out carbs. So, what should you believe?
The truth is that 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 respond differently to different foods, depending on genetics and other health factors. To find the system of weight loss that is right for you will probably take time and require patience, commitment, and some experimentation with various foods and diets.
Being free to just avoid fried foods or cut back on refined carbohydrates can set them up for success. Therefore, don’t get too discouraged if a diet that worked for somebody else does not work for you. And do not beat yourself up if a diet proves too restrictive for you to stay with. Ultimately, a diet is only suitable for you if it’s one you can stick with over time.
Remember: while there’s no simple fix to losing weight, there are plenty of steps you can take to develop a healthier relationship with food, curb psychological triggers to overeating, and achieve a healthy weight.
Four popular weight loss plans
1. Cut calories Some experts feel that successfully managing your weight comes down to a simple equation: If you consume fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight. Sounds simple, right? Why is losing weight so hard?
Weight loss isn’t a linear event over time. When you cut calories, you may shed weight for the first few weeks, by way of instance, and then something changes. You eat the same number of calories but you lose less weight or no weight at all. That’s because when you shed weight you’re losing water and lean tissue as well as fat, your metabolism slows, and your body changes in other ways. So, in order to keep on dropping weight every week, you want to continue cutting calories.
A calorie isn’t always a calorie. The trick for sustained weight loss is to ditch the foods that are packed with calories but do not make you feel full (like candy) and replace them with foods that fill you up without being loaded with carbs (such as vegetables).
Many folks don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. We also turn to food for comfort or to alleviate stress–which 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 in which the body accumulates fat after consuming carbs –in particular the use of the hormone insulin. When you eat a meal, carbohydrates in the meals enter your bloodstream as glucose. So as to keep your blood sugar levels in check, your body burns off this sugar before it burns fat from a meal.
If you eat a carbohydrate-rich meal (plenty of pasta, rice, bread, or French fries, for example), your body releases insulin to help with the influx of this glucose into 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 (since its priority is to burn the glucose) and it creates more fat cells for storing everything that your body can not burn off. Since insulin only burns carbohydrates, you crave carbohydrates and thus 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 carbohydrates with fat and protein, which could have some negative long-term effects on your health. If you do attempt a low-carb diet, you can reduce your risks and limit your consumption 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’s a mainstay of many diets: if you do not want to get fat, do not eat fat. Walk down any grocery store aisle and you will be bombarded with reduced-fat snacks, dairy, and packed meals. But while our low carb options have exploded, so have obesity prices.
Not all fat is bad. Healthy or”good” fats can actually help to control your weight, as well as manage your moods and fight 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 into a plate of vegetables, as an instance, can make it easier to eat healthy food and improve the overall quality of your diet.
We often make the wrong trade-offs. A lot people make the mistake of swapping fat to the empty calories of sugar and processed carbohydrates. Rather than eating whole-fat yoghurt, for instance, we consume low- or no-fat versions that are packed with sugar to compensate for the loss of flavor. We swap our fatty breakfast bacon for a muffin or donut that leads to rapid spikes in blood sugar.
4. Adhere to the Mediterranean diet The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating good fats and good carbs along with large amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, fish, and olive oil–and only modest amounts of meat and cheese. Regular physical activity and sharing meals with others will also be important components.
Whatever weight loss plan you try, it is important to stay motivated and avoid common dieting pitfalls, such as emotional eating.
Control emotional eating
We don’t always eat only to satisfy hunger. All too often, we turn to food when we’re anxious or stressed, which can wreck any diet and pack on the pounds. Do you eat when you’re tired, tired, or lonely? Recognizing your emotional eating triggers can make a big difference in your weight-loss attempts. If you eat when you are:
Low on energy — locate other mid-afternoon pick-me-ups.
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 go to the library, mall, or park–anywhere there is people.
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 focus on the experience of eating. Try using chopsticks rather than a fork, or use your utensils with your non-dominant hand.
Stop eating before you’re full. It takes time for the signal to reach your brain that you have had enough. Don’t feel obligated to always clean your plate.
To stay motivated:
Social support means a lot. Apps like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers use group support to affect weight loss and lifelong healthy eating. Seek out support–whether in the kind of family, friends, or a support group–to find the encouragement you need.
Slow and steady wins the race. Losing weight too fast can take a toll on your mind and body, making you feel lethargic, drained, and ill. Aim to lose one to two pounds per week so that you’re losing fat rather than water and muscle.
Set goals to keep you motivated. Short-term objectives, like wanting to fit into a bikini for the summer, usually don’t work in addition to wanting to feel more confident or become healthier for your children’s sakes. When temptation strikes, focus on the benefits you will reap from being fitter.
Use tools to track your progress. Smartphone programs, fitness trackers, or just keeping a journal can help you keep an eye on the food you consume, the calories you burn, and the weight you lose. Seeing the results in black and white can help keep you motivated.
Get a lot 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 per 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 within a few years–or even months. While there isn’t much hard evidence to support that claim, it is true that many weight-loss programs fail in the long run. Often that’s simply because diets that are too restrictive are very hard to maintain over time. However, that does not mean your weight loss attempts are doomed to failure.
Since it was established in 1994, The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) in america, has monitored over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for extended periods of time. The study has found that participants who have been successful in maintaining their weight loss share some common strategies. Whatever diet you use to lose weight in the first place, adopting these habits may help you to keep it off:
Successful dieters at the NWCR study exercise for about 60 minutes, typically walking.
Recording what you eat each day will help to keep you motivated and accountable.
Eat breakfast daily. Most commonly in the analysis, it’s fruit and cereal.
Eat more fiber and less unhealthy fat compared to the typical American diet.
Regularly check the scale. Weighing yourself weekly may help you to detect any small 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 an integral part of embracing a more active lifestyle and preventing weight gain.