There are various reasons why people want to lose weight, and many of them fall victim to fad diets that promise quick and effective results. While it’s possible to speed up your weight loss efforts, it’s crucial to realize that doing so too rapidly can really backfire.
Safe, effective, and sustainable weight loss is more about the process than it is about a finish line based on a scale with an impending deadline, just like so many other aspects of life. For tips from professionals on how to lose weight and keep it off, continue reading.
Why Quick Weight Loss Isn’t the Best Objective
Although the “drop 5 pounds in a week” diet myth has a lot of appeal, there are several reasons why rapid weight loss may actually be counterproductive to your best weight reduction attempts.
First off, people who lose weight quickly, especially on fad or crash diets, are frequently unable to keep it off since their weight loss is typically made up of more water and muscle mass than fat mass.
According to Connie Bennett, certified health coach and author of Sugar Shock and Beyond Sugar Shock, “maintaining lean muscle is vital in weight loss since it plays a key role in metabolism.” “Muscle increases calorie expenditure. However, when you lose weight too quickly, your body starts to burn calories more slowly and you start to lose muscle. Even permanent slowdown of the metabolism can result from rapid weight reduction.
The dreaded yo-yo weight cycling that many chronic dieters suffer is frequently brought on by rapid weight loss. In fact, a study of previous participants on NBC’s weight reduction television program “The Biggest Loser” revealed that the participant’s metabolism slowed the more fast they lost weight. The candidates significantly gained back the weight they had lost in the six years after the competition, according to the study.
While dieters in the trial lost the same amount of weight, another Australian study of 200 individuals in The Lancet found that the group that dropped weight gradually lost 10% more body fat and 50% less lean muscle than the group that lost weight quickly.
Rapid weight loss makes it even harder to maintain weight loss because it frequently results in increased appetite and slowed metabolism. According to a research in the journal Obesity, for every pound we lose, our body tell us to eat 100 more calories each day.
Popular fad diets sometimes lead to vitamin deficits as well. According to registered dietitian Ellen Albertson, Ph.D., author of Rock Your Midlife, “And quick weight loss—especially when you limit carbs—is often entirely water.” Furthermore, because muscle mass is metabolically active, the body may use it as fuel if daily caloric intake is minimal, which would lower metabolism even further.
The bottom line: The best course of action is to lose weight responsibly. Experts often advise losing between half a pound and two pounds each week as a safe rate. Here are some tried-and-true strategies to lose weight and keep it off permanently with that objective in mind.
15 Guidelines Backed by Experts for Safe and Long-Term Weight Loss
Make Long-Term Changes to Your Lifestyle and Behavior
Albertson advises against using the word “diet” when attempting to lose weight. When you’re attempting to lose weight, you don’t want to be continuously thinking about food because dieting can be unpleasant and make you hungry. Instead, she advises prioritizing taking care of your body and viewing weight loss as a component of becoming healthier.
According to Albertson, “Weight loss is difficult, and you don’t completely control the number on the scale, but you do have control over what you eat, how much you walk, and other things that affect weight, including stress and sleep.” She advises creating SMART objectives for oneself, which are defined as being specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-sensitive.
Pay Attention to the First 5 to 10%
Consider the health advantages that can result from even modest weight loss rather than telling yourself that you need to lose 25 pounds and overwhelming yourself with what seems like an impossible goal.
Set more manageable goals, Bennett advises. Only losing 5% to 10% of your body weight (TBW) can have a significant positive impact on your health and reduce your chance of developing conditions including type 2 diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer.
Consume Fewer Highly Processed Carbs and Sweets
What you consume is the most crucial factor in weight loss, according to a research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. If you up your food quality intake, the pounds will come off more quickly.
Getting less sugar and quickly digested carbohydrates into your diet is one of the best methods to lose weight, according to Bennett. You should avoid or significantly reduce your consumption of items with a high glycemic index, such as sugary snacks, processed carbohydrates, and soft drinks. You’ll lose weight more quickly if you avoid or consume less of foods like French fries, chips, and crackers.
Consume More Plants
According to research, a plant-based diet not only encourages weight loss but also is simpler to follow than a low-calorie one. Additionally, it is nutrient-rich and offers a host of health advantages.
According to Albertson, produce aids with weight loss because it is high in fiber and water, both of which have no calories but fill up your stomach and make you feel full. In actuality, a Brazilian study discovered a link between greater fruit and vegetable consumption and improved weight loss.
Albertson advises beginning with five daily portions of produce and working your way up to seven to nine daily servings. Start your day with a green smoothie, eat fruit for snacks and desserts, and have a salad with shaved vegetables for lunch, she advises. Have extra stir-fries for dinner, add vegetables to your pasta recipes, and stir them into soups.
Increase Your Protein
Increasing your protein intake can decrease appetite and aid stop muscle mass loss.
According to Dr. Albertson, eating 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal—two scoops of protein powder or 4 ounces of chicken breast—can help you better regulate your hunger and maintain a healthy weight. The ideal strategy is to make sure each meal includes one serving of high-quality protein.
Additionally, Albertson claims that compared to men and younger women, women over the age of 50 require much more protein (1 to 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight daily) (who require .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily). Women need extra protein after the age of 50, especially as menopause approaches since lower estrogen levels cause skeletal muscle growth, strength, and regenerative capacity to decline.
Sip a Lot More Water
According to research, weight loss is linked to increased water consumption regardless of diet or exercise. Drinking plenty of water will help reduce sugar cravings and boost satiety. Water is also required for the body’s process of burning fat for energy, known as lipolysis.
Jordan Morello, a Florida-based celebrity trainer who works for the fitness platform Sweat Factor, recommends drinking 8 ounces of water eight times a day as a minimum water consumption. When they implement this into their daily routines, “my clients are frequently astonished by how much this simple thing can suppress cravings and leave you feeling more satisfied throughout the day.”
Added water trick again? Consider consuming two glasses of water prior to every meal. According to studies, this straightforward action can also speed up weight loss.
Consume a Balanced Breakfast
Listen up, skippers of breakfast. Avoid cutting back on your morning fuel if you’re attempting to lose weight. In reality, studies repeatedly demonstrate that skipping breakfast is linked to becoming overweight and obese.
Additionally, a study published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society discovered that persons who skip breakfast generally have diets of worse quality and consume less minerals like vitamin D, calcium, and iron.
However, any breakfast won’t do. “You want a well-rounded, blood-sugar-balanced first meal of the day with adequate protein, healthy fats, and what I call quality carbs like fresh berries,” advises Bennett. “This will help you think more clearly, perform more effectively, and be in better moods.”
Get Up and Move Around More
Increasing your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)—the energy used for everything you do that is not eating, sleeping, or exercising—is one of the simplest methods to lose weight. Small adjustments like pushing a cart instead of carrying your goods, parking further from the mall entrance, using the stairs instead of the elevator, or even tapping your toe can result in hundreds of more calories being burnt.
Or try to stand more often than you sit. According to studies, switching from sitting to standing alone increases daily energy expenditure, which in turn increases the number of calories and ultimately pounds burned.
For instance, if you weigh 160 pounds and alternate between sitting and standing, you can burn an extra 35 calories every hour, or an additional 280 calories per day, 1,400 calories per week, and almost 70,000 calories annually.
Albertson advises setting a timer on your computer, Fitbit, or phone to remind you to get up and move about every hour. You’ll burn more calories and maybe reduce your chances of heart disease and blood sugar problems.
Perform the Lifts
Compared to fat, muscle burns more calories. So, how can you increase your muscular mass? exercising your muscles.
In addition to the calories you’ll burn while exercising, resistance training is a wise addition to any weight loss program because of the “afterburn effect.”
Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC, is a measure of how long oxygen intake is raised following exercise to aid in muscle recovery. The metabolism is boosted both during and following strength training sessions by this rise.
And your resting metabolic rate increases as you add muscle to your frame (RMR). The number of calories your body requires to function at rest is determined by your RMR. The more you can consume without gaining weight, the higher your RMR must be.
Although it’s frequently stressed, strength training is essential for losing weight and keeping it off, especially beyond age 50 when muscle mass, which burns calories, falls at a rate of 1% to 2% year. Strength training helps halt the loss of muscle mass.
Working out nonstop or significantly reducing calories can actually have the opposite effect on weight loss. The majority of individuals believe that drastic steps must be taken to lose weight, but giving oneself enough time to recover is more beneficial.
According to certified personal trainer Rob Darnbrough, CEO and co-founder of The Smart Fit Method in California, “Many people will double down on the stressor (i.e. catabolic phase) that they are performing when they feel angry that they haven’t lost weight.” For instance, they might increase the number of miles they run, the amount of time they spend working out, or the amount of food they consume. However, the preceding actions only produce the desired outcomes while the anabolic recovery period is in full swing.
According to Darnbrough, the body gains muscle mass and sheds fat mass during the anabolic phase as it recovers from the stressor. Put as much effort into rest and nutrition as you do into workouts to avoid overtraining and mediocre outcomes, which result from pushing yourself too far. Try to balance your stress to recuperation ratio in order to produce outcomes that are long-lasting, advises Darnbrough.
Check In With a Partner for Accountability
Although losing weight can occasionally feel lonely, you don’t have to go it alone.
Accountability has been shown to be effective. In one study, compared to only a quarter of those who attended on their own, individuals who entered a weight loss program with friends maintained their weight loss for six months after the meetings finished. Naturally, many organizations advise having a sponsor or champion along your weight-loss journey.
Checking in daily with an accountability partner is one of the best ways to regularly eat better and lose weight gradually, Bennett advises. Your best friend, favorite coworker, or romantic partner do not have to be your accountability partner. Find someone who shares your objectives for losing weight. You are not need to converse daily. Just let each other know via text that you’re maintaining your diet of nutritious foods. You can rely on your partner if you find yourself enticed by unhealthy foods. You might wish to give them a call at that time.
Reduce your TV Viewing
The more television someone watches, the more weight they gain, therefore couch surfers who want to reduce weight should turn it off.
One study that gathered information from more than 50,000 middle-aged women over the course of six years discovered that the participants’ risk of obesity and diabetes increased by 23% and 14%, respectively, for every two hours they watched television per day.
The main reason why excessive television viewing is linked to extra weight is that it’s a sedentary pastime that frequently also results in mindless eating. So, shut it off or perhaps switch to an exercise program on the television.
Regain Awareness of Your Satiety Cues
Speaking of mindless eating, by reconnecting with your body’s natural “I’m hungry” and “I’m full” cues, you can rewire your brain to lose weight.
“Dieting coupled with eating while multitasking—driving, watching TV, using your phone—can actually separate you from your natural cues of hunger and satiety,” claims Albertson. Additionally, we were taught to finish our meals rather than stop eating when we were full as kids. Consistent overeating is the result of the size of portions having increased significantly—by as much as 60% for things like snack foods.
Instead, Albertson advises that you try to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full rather than stuffed. To reconnect with these cues, try tracking your hunger before, during, and after meals rather than your food intake.
One of the finest things you can do to keep your weight in check and your general health is to get a good night’s sleep. According to studies, getting too little sleep can lead to weight growth and other health problems. Researchers discovered that those who slept little more than five hours per night had a 15% higher risk of obesity than those who slept seven hours per night after examining 16 years’ worth of data on 68,183 middle-aged American women.
The hormones ghrelin and leptin, which control hunger, may be affected by insufficient sleep, making people feel more ravenous throughout the day. Additionally, lack of sleep makes cortisol rise, which makes it more difficult to eliminate body and belly fat.
“Counting back seven to nine hours from the time you have to wake up is a terrific advice,” says Darnbrough. “Most of us can’t control what time we have to get up, but we can manage when we go to bed.” In order to optimize your deep sleep and REM, “I also advise the 3-2-1 rule, which means stop working three hours before night, stop eating two hours before bed, and stop using digital stimulation one hour before bed.”
Discover Non-edible Alternatives for Self-Motivation
It is referred to as “comfort food” for a reason. However, emotional eating has the potential to completely wreck any weight loss plans.
“Raise levels of oxytocin, the love hormone, either by soothing touch, playing with a pet or receiving a hug,” advises Albertson. “When you feel stressed, which raises cortisol levels, instead of reaching for food to feel better—since eating triggers the release of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine—oxytocin, the love hormone.”
Oxytocin has been shown in animal experiments to lower calorie intake and improve metabolism. In a tiny human trial, it was also discovered that administering men oxytocin for eight weeks aided in weight loss.