How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off
What’s the best diet for healthy weight loss?
Pick up any diet book and it will claim to hold all the answers to successfully losing all the weight you need –and keeping it off. Some claim the important thing is to eat less and exercise more, others that low fat is the only thing to do, but others prescribe cutting out carbs. So, what should you think?
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 system of weight loss that’s ideal for you will likely take time and require patience, dedication, and some experimentation with different foods and diets.
Getting free to simply 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 someone else does not work for you. And do not beat yourself up if a diet proves too restrictive for you to stay with. In the end, 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, curb psychological triggers to overeating, and achieve a healthy weight.
Four popular weight loss strategies
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? Then why is losing weight so hard?
Weight loss isn’t a linear event with time. When you cut calories, you may shed weight for the first few weeks, by way of example, and then something changes. You eat the same amount of calories but you lose weight or no weight at all. That’s because once you lose weight you’re losing water and lean tissue in addition to fat, your metabolism slows, and your body changes in other ways. So, in order to keep on dropping weight every week, you need to keep on cutting calories.
A calorie isn’t always a calorie. Eating 100 calories of high fructose corn syrup, as an 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 (like vegetables).
Many folks 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 means of viewing weight loss identifies the problem as not one of consuming too many calories, but instead the way the body accumulates fat after consuming carbs –in particular the role of the hormone insulin. When you eat a meal, carbohydrates in the food enter your bloodstream as sugar. In order to keep your glucose levels in check, your body burns off this sugar before it burns off fat from a meal.
If you consume a carbohydrate-rich meal (plenty of pasta, rice, bread, or French fries, for instance ), your body releases insulin to assist with the influx of all this glucose in your blood. In addition to regulating blood glucose levels, insulin does two things: It prevents your fat cells from releasing fat for the body to burn as fuel (since its priority is to burn the glucose) and it generates more fat cells for keeping everything that your body can’t burn off. 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 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. Should you try a low-carb diet, you can lower 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, don’t eat fat. Walk down any grocery store aisle and you will be bombarded with reduced-fat snacks, dairy, and packaged meals. But while our low-fat options have exploded, so have obesity rates. So, why haven’t low-fat diets worked for more of us?
Healthy or”good” fats can actually help to control your weight, in addition to 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 into 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 for the empty calories of sugar and processed carbohydrates. Rather than eating whole-fat yoghurt, for example, 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 for a muffin or donut that causes rapid spikes in blood sugar.
4. Adhere to the Mediterranean diet The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating good fats and good carbs along with large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish, and olive oil–and only modest amounts of meat and cheese. The Mediterranean diet is more than just about food, however. 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 prevent common dieting drawbacks, such as emotional eating.
Control emotional eating
We do not 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 worried, bored, or lonely? Recognizing your emotional eating triggers can make a big difference in your weight-loss efforts. If you eat when you are:
Stressed — find healthier ways to calm yourself. Try yoga, meditation, or soaking in a hot bath.
Low on energy — find other mid-afternoon pick-me-ups.
Lonely or bored — reach out to others instead of reaching for the fridge. Call a friend who makes you laugh, take your dog for a walk, or go to the library, mall, or playground –anywhere there’s people.
Practice mindful eating instead
It’s too easy to mindlessly overeat.
Pay attention. Eat slowly, savoring the scents 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 rather than a fork, or use your utensils with your non-dominant hand.
Stop eating before you are full. It takes time for the signal to reach your brain that you’ve had enough.
To stay motivated:
Social support means a lot. Programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers use group support to impact weight loss and lifelong healthy eating. Seek out support–whether in the kind of family, friends, or a support group–to get the encouragement you require.
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 you’re losing fat rather than water and muscle.
Short-term objectives, like wanting to fit into a bikini for the summer, usually do not work as well as 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 monitor your progress. Smartphone apps, fitness trackers, or just keeping a journal can help you keep track of the food you eat, the calories you burn, and the weight you lose. Seeing the results in black and white will help you stay motivated.
Get a lot of sleep. Lack of sleep stimulates your appetite so you want more food than normal; at precisely the exact 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 might 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. Even though there isn’t much hard evidence to support that claim, it is a fact that many weight-loss plans fail in the long term. Often that’s just because diets that are too restrictive are extremely hard to keep over time. However, that doesn’t mean your weight loss attempts are doomed to failure.
Since it was created in 1994, The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) in the United States, has tracked over 10,000 people who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for extended intervals. The study has found that participants who’ve been successful in maintaining their weight loss share some common strategies.
Successful dieters in the NWCR study exercise for around 60 minutes, typically walking.
Keep a food log. Recording what you eat every day will help to keep you accountable and motivated.
Eat breakfast daily. Most commonly in the study, it’s cereal and fruit. Eating breakfast boosts metabolism and staves off hunger later in the day.
Eat more fiber and less unhealthy fat than the standard American diet.
Regularly assess the scale. Weighing yourself weekly may help you to detect any small gains in weight, enabling you to immediately take corrective action before the problem escalates.
Watch less television. Cutting back on the time spent sitting in front of a screen may be an integral part of embracing a more active lifestyle and preventing weight gain.