We are overrun with fad diets, each proclaiming to be the answer to all our problems, the key to weight loss success.
Now, while many of them contain positive elements, they often take things to extremes and they just aren’t sustainable.
Take the Atkins Diet, one of the first big celebrity endorsed diets; sure you’ll lose weight but you’ll also have zero energy and as soon as you start eating carbohydrates again you’ll put the weight right back on again. This sounds pretty limited and not very appealing.
There are however numerous tried and tested things you can do to aid weight loss.
These might not produce the immediate responses that extreme diets can but the weight loss will be sustainable and you’ll remain healthy in the process.
Because let’s remember that although the goal is to lose weight, it’s not worth making ourselves unwell.
The #1 Way to Lose Weight – Don’t Skip Breakfast
Let’s start with breakfast, not labelled ‘the most important meal of the day’ for nothing.
However, many of us choose to skip breakfast, either because we’re too busy or we think it’s an easy way to lower calorie intake, and therefore lose weight.
While that seems plausible the reverse is actually true! The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people missing breakfast are often heavier than those who make time to eat a healthy meal in the morning (no fry-ups, sorry).
The reason being that breakfast keeps our hormone and blood sugar levels stable while also boosting our metabolism, allowing us to burn more calories.
Breakfast also gives us energy, allowing us to be more active later, and can help prevent overeating by controlling hunger.
Eating to lose weight is worth making time for in the morning!
#2 – Maintain Balanced Blood Sugar Levels
This feeds into the next proven weight loss tip: don’t go long periods without eating.
Again, many people feel like if they practically starve themselves, perhaps missing lunch, they’ll lose weight.
Although it is true that if you lower your calorie intake below the recommended daily amount you will lose weight it’s not as straightforward as you might think.
First of all, you’ll probably feel awful and tired and who wants that?!
Second, if our bodies believe they are starving they are more likely to cling on to whatever calories they can get when they eventually get them and store them as fat in case of future starvation periods. This harks back to our ancestors who would have not known when their next meal of sabre tooth tiger was coming! (or maybe they were going to be his meal)
It is the body’s insulin response, triggered by lengthy periods without food, that makes the signal to the body to begin storing fat.
If you eat three meals a day, with healthy snacks in-between, you’re much more likely to lose weight as your metabolism ticks along nicely at a high level, and your body isn’t making a concerted effort to store fat. (heavy emphasis on healthy snacks)
Another danger with protracted periods of not eating is that no one can keep it up forever, eventually you’ll crack and when that happens you’re more likely to binge eat, potentially on unhealthy food.
That’s no good for your body, or for your morale.
Of course another way of stopping our bodies from storing calories as fat is exercise, it works in two ways: burning calories and suppressing appetite.
In addition, muscle burns more calories than fat, so by increasing muscle and reducing fat through exercise you’re also enabling your body to more efficiently burn calories.
Rather than going to an exhausting exercise class once a week it’s much more beneficial to do regular exercise.
The National Academy of Sciences recommends 30 minutes of vigorous exercise per day, and 30 minutes of exercise that you should get from daily life.
If you find it hard to set aside 30 minutes for exercise at one point in the day don’t worry, the same benefit is reached from three 10 minute sessions, or perhaps try 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening.
Exercise, along with diet, needs to be sustained for weight loss to occur so make sure you’re realistic – deciding to run two hours a day is great but most people won’t be able to keep that up and are then more likely to feel disheartened and give up altogether.
#4 – Protein
Moving back to your diet, something that’s so important, particularly if you’re regularly exercising is: Protein.
Ensuring you eat quality protein at each meal, or snack on it between meals, can be a huge benefit to weight loss.
The Journal of Nutrition reports that protein can help reduce body fat while maintaining muscle as an individual loses weight.
As previously stated, muscle burns calories more effectively that fat which makes it extremely important for weight loss.
Before you go crazy on protein, be careful as too much can aggravate the kidneys. Just ensure it’s eaten as part of a balanced diet.
The National Academy of Sciences recommended keeping high-quality, lean protein to around 15-35% of overall food consumption.
In addition to ensuring your diet is balanced, it’s vital you pay attention to portion size.
As mentioned earlier, calorie intake plays a huge role in weight loss and while it’s not advisable to go to extremes, a lot of us eat meals that are larger than what we really need.
Although it’s great if you prepare a meal full of healthy things, if there is a huge pile of it, you won’t see any weight loss.
Our brains send signals letting us know when we are full, but if we’ve shovelled in our food at the speed of light, these signals arrive too late, and we end up feeling stuffed.
Eating more slowly gives our bodies time to let us know when we’re full so we don’t overeat.
*Bonus Tip – Don’t consume drinks loaded with fructose, aka Soda because they inhibit the delivery of these satiation signals from the brain.
Also, as well as the number of calories, it is important that we take note of the source of the calories we consume.
For instance, 100 calories of chocolate does not work the same way on our bodies as 100 calories from fruit.
#6 – Food and Drink Journal (yuck!)
Lastly, a practical consideration: Keeping a food and drink journal.
Seeing everything you eat on a daily basis written down, along with potential emotional triggers and daily exercise, can allow you a much more in-depth perspective on bad habits and patterns that might lead you to overeat or not exercise.
Give it a go for a week and see what you can discover about your eating patterns, and be honest!
So there we go, nothing revolutionary, just straightforward, proven ways to help you lose weight healthily, and keep the weight off.
So, before you psych yourself up to take on another extreme diet, see if following these simple steps instead can help you lose weight painlessly!