Pick any diet book and it’ll claim to hold all of the answers to successfully losing all of 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 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 locate the method of weight loss that’s right for you will probably take time and require patience, dedication, and some experimentation with different foods and diets.
Being free to simply 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 does not 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 suitable for you if it’s one you can stick with over time.
Remember: while there is no simple fix to losing weight, there are plenty 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 consume fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight. Sounds simple, right? Then why is losing weight so hard?
Losing weight isn’t a linear event over time. When you cut calories, you may shed weight for the first couple of weeks, by way of example, and then something changes. You eat the same amount of calories but you lose less weight or no weight in any way. That’s because once 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, so as to keep on dropping weight each 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, 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 calories but don’t make you feel complete (like candy) and replace them with foods that fill you up without being loaded with carbs (such as vegetables).
A lot of us 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 plan.
2. Cut carbs A different means 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–specifically the use of the hormone insulin. When you eat a meal, carbohydrates in the food enter your bloodstream as sugar. So as to keep your glucose levels in check, your body always burns off this sugar before it burns off 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 into your blood. As well as regulating blood glucose levels, insulin does two things: It prevents your fat cells from releasing fat for the body to burn as fuel (because 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 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 carbohydrates with protein and fat, which could have some negative long-term effects on your health. If you do try a low-carb diet, you can reduce 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 loads 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, 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. So, why haven’t low-fat diets worked for more of us?
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.
A lot of us make the mistake of swapping fat for the empty calories of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Instead of eating whole-fat yoghurt, by way of instance, we consume 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 which leads to rapid spikes in blood sugar.
4. Follow the Mediterranean diet The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating good fats and good carbs together with large amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, and olive oil–and only small 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 elements.
Whatever weight loss plan you try, it is important to remain motivated and prevent common dieting drawbacks, such as emotional eating.
Control emotional eating
We do not always eat simply 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’re worried, bored, or lonely? Do you bite in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day? Recognizing your emotional eating triggers can make all the difference in your weight-loss efforts. If you eat when you’re:
Stressed — find healthier ways to calm yourself.
Low on energy — find other mid-afternoon pick-me-ups. Consider walking around the block, listening to energizing music, or taking a brief nap.
Lonely or bored — reach out to others rather than reaching for the refrigerator. 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.
Avoid distractions while eating. It’s 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 the way 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 are full. It takes time 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. To stay motivated:
Find a cheering section. 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 get 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 sluggish, drained, and sick. Aim to lose one to two pounds a week so that you’re losing fat rather than muscle and water.
Establish goals to keep you motivated. Short-term objectives, like wanting to fit into a bikini for the summer, usually do not 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’ll reap from being healthier.
Use tools to track your progress. Smartphone apps, fitness trackers, or just 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 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 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 just because diets that are too restrictive are very hard to maintain over time. However, that doesn’t 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 monitored 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 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 helps 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 typical American diet.
Regularly check the scale. Weighing yourself weekly may help you to detect any little 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 can be a key part of embracing a more active lifestyle and preventing weight gain.