It’s estimated that nearly half of American adults attempt to lose weight each year. While all of us want to lose weight very quickly, a gradual weight loss program of 1 to 2 pounds per week is typically much more successful in the long run. Healthy weight loss involves making ongoing lifestyle changes in daily eating and exercise habits.
Even a modest weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight is likely to produce health benefits, such as improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels.
To illustrate this, if an individual weighs 200 pounds, a 5-10 percent weight loss equals 10-20 pounds, bringing your weight down to 190-180 pounds. While this weight may still be in the “overweight” or “obese” category, this amount of weight loss can decrease risk factors for most chronic diseases related to obesity.
So even if the overall goal seems large, keep the short term goals small. Set short term goals for yourself that are realistic. You will feel an accomplishment when these goals are met and feel motivated to continue. Don’t get discouraged with occasional setbacks. There will always be a wedding or birthday party or the occasional vacation during which you fall off track. When this occurs, don’t beat yourself up, just get back on your program as quickly as possible.
Following is a list of several basic guidelines and suggestions that may help you with weight loss.
Drink a lot of water. Drinking water can boost metabolism by 24–30% over a period of a couple of hours, helping individuals burn off a few more calories. Studies have shown that drinking a half-liter or 17 ounces of water about half an hour before meals helps individuals eat fewer calories and lose more weight.
Eat More Protein. Protein can have all sorts of benefits, including helping you lose weight. Studies have shown that replacing a grain-based breakfast with protein, like eggs, can help you eat fewer calories over the next 36 hours as well as lose more weight and body fat. One study also showed that eating 25% of your daily calories as protein significantly reduced
food obsessions by 60% while cutting the desire to snack late at night by 50%. Evidence suggests that eating adequate protein may improve cardiometabolic risk factors, decrease appetite, body weight, and help preserve your muscle mass.
Healthy protein sources include:
meat: beef, chicken, pork, and lamb
fish and seafood: salmon, trout, and shrimp
eggs: whole eggs with the yolk or egg whites
plant-based proteins: beans, legumes, quinoa, tempeh, and tofu
Decrease Added Sugar. Sugar is one of the worst ingredients in the modern diet and the majority of individuals consume way too much. Studies have shown that the consumption of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup is strongly associated with an increased risk of obesity, type
2 diabetes and heart disease. When cutting back on sugar, make sure to read labels because even so-called health foods can be loaded with sugar.
Use caution with many artificial sweeteners. While these may be better than consuming sugar, they are not without their own concerns. Proper use of non-nutritive sweeteners could help you to reduce added sugars in your diet, therefore lowering the number of calories you eat. Ingestion of artificial sweeteners results in the release of insulin from the pancreas. The artificial sweetener can then be mistaken for glucose. The increased levels of insulin in the blood may eventually lead to decreased receptor activity resulting in insulin resistance. In a few studies, artificial sweeteners were associated with subsequent weight gain. Xylitol, is a good artificial
sweetener that has a very low glycemic index which does not appear to increase blood glucose or insulin levels.
Avoid Sugary Drinks, Soda and Fruit Juice
Sugar is bad, but liquid sugar is worse. Studies show that liquid sugar from sweetened beverages such as soft drinks and fruit juice are associated with a 60% increased risk of obesity in children. It is recommended to eat whole fruit and avoid fruit juice.
Decrease Refined Carbs. Refined carbohydrates consist of sugar and grains that are often heavily processed foods that no longer contain fiber and other nutrients such as white rice, bread, and pasta. Refined carbs can spike blood sugar rapidly, leading to hunger, cravings and increased food intake a few hours later. Eating refined carbs is strongly linked to obesity as they are quickly digested and converted to glucose. The excess glucose enters the blood and stimulates insulin production, which promotes fat storage in the adipose tissue. This contributes to weight gain.
Try replacing sugary foods with more healthful options, such as:
whole-grain rice, bread, or pasta instead of the white versions
fruit, nuts, and seeds instead of high-sugar snacks
herb teas and fruit-infused water instead of high-sugar sodas
smoothies with water or milk instead of fruit juice
Reducing refined carbs and replacing them with whole grains, will help to curb your appetite, lower your blood insulin levels, you will eat fewer calories which will help you to lose weight. When eating a diet lower in carbs, you will burn stored fat for energy instead of carbs. If you choose to eat more complex carbs like whole grains along with a lower calorie diet, you will benefit from the slower digestion of the higher fiber, which is more filling and will keep you more satiated as well. For those interested in a low carb diet, long-term effects are not yet known and a reduced calorie diet could be more sustainable.
Keep healthy food available. This can help prevent you from eating something unhealthy if you become excessively hungry. Snacks that are easily portable and simple to prepare include whole fruits, nuts, baby carrots, yogurt and hard-boiled eggs.
Don’t Diet, Eat Healthy Instead. One of the biggest problems with diets is that they rarely work in the long term. People lose the weight but then put it right back on. Instead of going on a diet, make lifestyle changes and
focus on supplying the body with healthy food.
Increasing Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables have several properties that make them effective for weight loss. They contain few calories but increased amounts of fiber. They have a high content of water which can make them very filling, they are nutritious and an important part of a healthy diet.
Vegetables to include for low carb or low calorie eating plans:
Not all fat is bad. Your body still requires healthy fats. Fat is a source of essential fatty acids, which the body cannot produce without some fat in the diet. Fat also helps the body absorb fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D and E. Olive oil and avocado oil are great choices for including in your eating plan. Fats, such as butter and coconut oil, should be used in moderation due to their higher saturated fat content.
Caffeine. Quality Coffee can be beneficial. Freshly ground coffee is loaded with antioxidants and can have numerous health benefits. Studies have demonstrated that the caffeine in a cup of coffee can boost metabolism by 3–11% and increase fat burning by up to 10–29%. Keep in mind that adding excess sugar or other high caloric supplements to you coffee can negate its’
Green tea has many benefits. It contains small amounts of caffeine and it is loaded with powerful antioxidants called catechins, which are believed to work synergistically with caffeine to enhance fat burning. Evidence is controversial, but some sources suggest that green tea may help you lose weight.
Consider chewing your food more thoroughly.
Increased chewing may reduce your caloric intake at a meal. The brain often takes longer to register that you are satiated, and chewing your food slowly will increase the production of certain hormones such as CCK which will decrease the appetite and help with weight loss. Chewing also decreases the hormone, Ghrelin, which is responsible for stimulating the appetite.
When eating using smaller plates. This has been shown to help some people automatically eat fewer calories.
Managing stress. Stress triggers the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which initially decrease the appetite as part of the body’s fight or flight response. When individuals have prolonged periods of stress, cortisol levels become increased. This can subsequently increase the appetite, leading to weight gain. Cortisol, a steroid hormone made in
the adrenal glands, signals the body to replenish it’s nutritional stores from it’s preferred source of fuel, carbohydrate. Insulin then transports sugar from carbohydrates in the blood to the muscles and brain. If the individual does not use this sugar in fight or flight, the body will store it as fat. Good methods to help manage stress include yoga, meditation, tai chi, walking or hiking, gardening and general breathing, stretching and relaxation exercises.
Sleep well. Sleep is often underrated but may be just as important as eating healthy and exercising. Studies indicate that poor sleep is a big risk factor for obesity. Disrupted sleep cycles are associated with increased oxidative stress, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance. Studies have indicated as much as an 89% increased risk of obesity in children with poor sleep and a 55% increase in adults.
Taking probiotic supplements containing bacteria of the Lactobacillus subfamily have been shown to reduce fat mass Probiotics help us to balance healthy gut bacteria. Ongoing research is focusing on the benefits of gut bacteria and weight management.
Food Trackers. Individuals should be aware of everything that they eat and drink each day. The most effective way to do this is to keep track of all of your food and beverage in a daily log or an online food tracker. Portion control — simply eating less — or counting calories can be very useful, for obvious reasons. Some studies show that keeping a food diary or taking pictures of your meals can help you lose weight. Try using an app such as MyFitnessPal or Noom to record food and caloric intake. Anything that increases your awareness of what you are eating is likely to be beneficial. Noom is an online app that helps you to adopt healthy habits so you
can lose weight and keep it off. The program is customized to each individuals goals and fitness needs.
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that involves regular short-term fasts and consuming meals within a shorter time period during the day. Short-term studies have suggested that intermittent fasting could be as effective for weight loss as continuous calorie restriction It may also reduce the loss of muscle mass typically associated with low-calorie diets. The 16/8 method which involves fasting for 16 hours and eating only during an 8-hour window has resulted in individuals consuming fewer calories and losing weight.
Beat Your Food Addiction. Individuals with food addictions lose control over their eating behavior and tend to obsess about food. Although there seems to be some controversy over the diagnosis of food addiction, this seems to be very similar to several other disorders such as binge eating and bulimia. These individuals may benefit most from a professional who deals
specifically with these disorders. A recent study found that almost 20% of individuals in North America and Europe fulfill the criteria for food addiction.
Exercise. Doing aerobic (cardio) exercise is an excellent way to burn calories and improve your physical and mental health. It appears to be particularly effective for losing belly fat, the unhealthy fat that tends to build up around your organs and cause metabolic disease One of the worst side effects of dieting is that it tends to cause muscle loss and metabolic
slowdown, this may be referred to as the starvation mode. The best way to prevent this is to do some sort of resistance exercise such as lifting weights . Resistance exercise is critical for toning muscle. Studies have shown that weight lifting can boost your metabolism and help to prevent muscle loss. It is important to not just loose fat but also build muscle.
Getting regular physical activity is also very important and has multiple health benefits. Exercise will improve your memory and brain function, lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, improve sleep quality, assist with weight loss, decrease fatigue, joint pain and stiffness and decrease our risks for many chronic diseases. There aren’t any medications that could do all of
that! The important thing to remember about exercise is everyone is different. What works for one individual may not work for another. Get involved in an exercise routine that you enjoy. Try different activities to find your interest such as walking, hiking, running, biking, swimming, tennis, pickle-ball, group exercise classes, boxing, kick boxing, tai-chi, yoga, cross-training or interval training.
The amount of physical activity should ideally be 60-90 minutes of intense physical activity 5-6 days per week. This activity can be dispersed over the day as wells throughout the week. Initially start with a 20 minute program and gradually increase your activity by a few minutes each day, as you tolerate. Some patients may need to consult with their Ultimate MD physician to determine if based on certain health conditions they are safe to participate in this level of activity or if they would benefit from a stress test prior to initiating this activity.
Some of these recommendations are dietary, others involve lifestyle changes, but hopefully this will give you a place to start. Unless your Ultimate MD physician suggests otherwise, losing 1–2 pounds per week is usually a safe weight loss.
If you are having difficulties getting started, consider joining a weight loss group, visiting your Ultimate MD physician or discussing with your physician a referral to a registered dietitian. Certain individuals may benefit from medications or even surgery to assist in controlling weight.
To determine the best way for you to lose weight, consult your Ultimate MD physician for further recommendations.