Pick any diet book and it’ll claim to hold all of the answers to successfully losing all the weight you need –and keeping it off. Some claim the key 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 that there is no”one size fits all” solution to permanent healthier weight loss. What works for one person might not work for you, since our bodies react differently to different foods, depending on genetics and other health factors. To find the method of weight loss that’s right 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 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 don’t beat yourself up if a diet proves too restrictive for you to stick 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 loads of steps you can take to develop a healthier 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 eat fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight. Sounds simple, right? 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 when you lose weight you’re losing water and lean tissue as well as fat, your metabolism slows, and your body changes in other ways. So, so as to continue dropping weight every week, you need to keep on cutting calories.
A calorie is not always a calorie. Eating 100 calories of high fructose corn syrup, as an instance, may 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 folks don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. We also turn to food for comfort or to relieve stress–that can quickly derail any weight loss program.
2. Cut carbs A different way of viewing weight loss identifies the problem as none of consuming too many calories, but rather the way in which the body accumulates fat after consuming carbs –specifically the role of the hormone insulin. When you eat a meal, carbohydrates in the meals enter your bloodstream as sugar. In order to keep your blood sugar levels in check, your body burns off this glucose before it burns off 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 assist with the influx of all 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 (since its priority is to burn off the glucose) and it creates more fat cells for keeping everything that your body can’t burn off. Since insulin only burns carbohydrates, you crave carbs and thus begins a vicious cycle of consuming carbohydrates and gaining weight. To lose weight, the reasoning goes, you need to break this cycle by reducing carbs.
Most low-carb diets advocate replacing carbs with fat and protein, which could have some negative long-term effects on your health. Should you attempt 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 loads of leafy green and non-starchy vegetables.
3. Cut fat It is 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-fat options have exploded, so have obesity prices. So, why haven’t low-fat diets worked for more people?
Not all fat is bad. 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 small 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.
We often make the wrong trade-offs. Many people make the mistake of swapping fat to the empty calories of sugar and refined 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 flavor. We swap our fatty breakfast bacon for 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, nuts, fish, 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 components.
Whatever weight loss strategy you try, it is important to remain motivated and prevent common dieting pitfalls, such as emotional eating.
Control emotional eating
We do not always eat only to satisfy hunger. Frequently, we turn to food when we’re anxious or stressed, which can mess any diet and pack on the pounds. Do you eat when you are 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:
Stressed — find healthier ways to calm yourself.
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 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’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 the way it tastes.
Mix things up to concentrate on the experience of eating. Consider 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 achieve your brain that you’ve had enough. Do not feel obligated to always clean your plate.
Permanent weight loss requires making healthy changes to your lifestyle and food choices. To stay motivated:
Find a cheering section. Social support means a lot. Programs such as Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers use group support to affect weight loss and lifelong healthy eating. Look for support–whether in the form of family, friends, or a support group–to get the encouragement you need.
Losing weight too quickly can take a toll on your mind and body, making you feel lethargic, drained, and ill. Aim to lose one or two pounds a 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, focus on the benefits you’ll reap from being fitter.
Use tools to monitor your progress. Smartphone apps, fitness trackers, or simply 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 will help keep you motivated.
Get plenty of sleep. Deficiency of sleep stimulates your appetite so you would like more food than normal; at precisely the same time, it stops you feeling satisfied, making you want to keep eating. Sleep deprivation may 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 people who lose weight on a diet will regain it in just a couple of years–or even months. While there isn’t much hard evidence to support that claim, it is a fact that many weight-loss programs fail in the long term. Often that’s just because diets that are too restrictive are very tough to maintain over time. However, that does not mean your weight loss attempts 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 periods of time. The study has found that participants who’ve 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 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 motivated and accountable.
Eat breakfast every day. Most commonly in the analysis, it’s cereal and fruit. Eating breakfast boosts metabolism and staves off hunger later in the day.
Eat more fiber and less unhealthy fat compared to the standard 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.
Cutting back on the time spent sitting in front of a display may be a key part of embracing a more active lifestyle and preventing weight gain.