Excess body weight is one of the biggest health problems in the world. The number of people who are obese continues to rise, along with a growing prevalence of related health problems. Poor lifestyle choices, unhealthy diets, excessive drinking, lack of physical activity, lack of sleep, excessive stress and other similar habits contribute to weight gain. Genetic factors and hormonal problems also can be factors.
While both men and women worry about how they look when carrying extra weight, the health dangers are actually more worrisome than the image in the mirror. Being overweight puts you at a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, Type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, infertility, and osteoarthritis.
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the United Kingdom, most people who are overweight can get health benefits from losing even a small amount of weight.
The desire to lose weight should come from within, but making it happen takes more than desire. It takes commitment and a well-thought-out plan.
Here are the top 10 tips for weight loss.
1. Set a Reasonable Goal
Before you start mapping your course to lose weight, you need to set a reasonable and realistic goal. You simply cannot expect to lose 20 pounds in a week without compromising your health and fitness level. Losing 20 pounds can be your long-term goal, but not a short-term goal. Setting unrealistic goals can leave you feeling defeated and frustrated. Moreover, trying to lose a significant amount of weight in a short time can lead to health complications.
When setting your goal, bear in mind that everyone is different. What works for someone else might not be right for you.
Remember, small changes every day can lead to big results and help keep you motivated.
2. Consult a Doctor and Nutritionist
Before starting any weight loss program, consult your doctor and a nutritionist. Your doctor knows your medical history and can help you determine your ideal weight and set weight loss goals.
After getting the green light from your doctor, consult a registered nutritionist. Your doctor may recommend one. A nutritionist will suggest a sensible diet plan that will help you easily adopt changes in your day-to-day lifestyle. He will take into account your current health and fitness level and put together a program that will be safe and effective. In addition, he will never suggest any quick-fix weight loss program that can affect your health adversely.
Before visiting a nutritionist, maintain a food journal for a few days. Be honest in writing down all the details regarding what you ate and drank. This will be of immense help for any nutritionist.
Follow all the suggestions given by your nutritionist diligently and be patient, as healthy weight loss comes slow but steadily.
3. Watch Your Diet
Eat for the body you want, not for the body you currently have. In order to lose weight safely and permanently, you need to choose your foods wisely, carefully avoiding high-calorie, fried and fatty foods. Your diet plan should consist of all the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals required for a healthy body.
- Each meal should have a good protein source. You can get protein from eggs, chicken, fish, beans, pulses, and low-fat milk, cheese or yogurt.
- Introduce more whole grains into your diet. They are high in fiber that helps keep you feeling fuller for longer.
- Instead of unhealthy junk food, include more fruit and vegetables in your diet, as they are loaded with vitamins and minerals.
- Cut down on your use of butter and mayonnaise.
- Cut back on pastries, cakes, biscuits and ice cream. You can treat yourself to these delicacies once a week.
- Say ‘no’ to fast foods as well as deep-fried foods.
4. Start Cooking
Instead of ordering your meals delivered or going out for lunch or dinner, prepare your own food. Healthy cooking at home is one of the best things you can do to lose weight. You’ll have full control over the nutritional content and the healthfulness of the foods you eat. Moreover, it will help you save money.
Follow these healthy cooking methods when preparing your meals:
- Avoid deep-frying or pan-frying your food.
- Opt to oven-bake and boil your foods. Stir-frying, roasting, grilling, broiling and poaching are also healthy cooking techniques.
- Serve your fruits and vegetables raw.
- Use less oil, butter, fat, sauces and dressings.
- Use and prepare foods that contain little or no salt.
- Use less sugar and artificial sweeteners.
5. Shop Wisely
To prepare your own food, you need to shop wisely for the ingredients. Before going to the market, check your pantry and refrigerator and prepare a list of things you need. Stick to your list to resist impulse buys. Moreover, get in the habit of reading food labels before purchasing anything to help you make the healthiest choices.
- Stock your refrigerator with seasonal fruits and vegetables.
- Whenever possible, buy organic and whole-grain products.
- Buy herbs for seasoning.
- Buy low-fat dairy products like skim milk and low-fat yogurts and cheese.
- Buy whole-wheat cereals and oats to fix a quick breakfast.
- Buy healthy cooking oil like extra-virgin olive oil.
You can always consult a nutritionist to help develop your diet plan for cooking at home.
6. Adopt Healthy Eating Habits
Along with eating healthy foods, you must adopt healthy eating habits. This will help you reach your weight loss goal faster.
- Eat only when you are hungry, not just because “it’s time” to eat.
- Eat slowly and chew your food properly. This will help you feel full, and the very act of chewing will leave you feeling more satisfied.
- Always eat breakfast. A healthy breakfast should consist of carbohydrates and protein with some fat. This will help keep your blood-sugar levels steady and hunger pangs at bay.
- Instead of 2 large meals, have smaller and more frequent meals. Keep track of the portion size.
- Eat a healthy snack every 3 hours to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
- Never skip any of your meals as it leads to increased hunger, which will result in binge eating.
- Do not eat meals in front of the TV as it can lead to overeating. Always be conscious of what you are eating and how much you are eating.
- Do not eat your dinner too late and avoid going to sleep immediately after dinner.
7. Watch Your Drinks
Drinking plenty of water and other healthy fluids helps your body maintain proper fluid balance, stops water retention, aids detoxification, and even makes you eat less.
In fact, any diet plan for weight loss will be incomplete without water. Drink an ample amount of water throughout the day to help manage your weight. You may even be mistaking your thirst for hunger as the signals for thirst and hunger are controlled by the same area of the brain.
- Sip plain water at regular intervals throughout the day.
- If you do not like plain water, spruce it up with fresh herbs, citrus fruits and other flavor enhancers.
- Drink low-fat milk, green tea and herbal teas more often.
- Also, eat water-rich fruits and vegetables like watermelon, cucumbers and more.
- Avoid fizzy drinks and sodas as they are high in sugar and calories.
- Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.
8. Start Exercising
Start exercising beginning today if you are serious about losing weight. Without any type of physical exercise in your daily routine, it will be much harder to reach your target goal. Exercise helps burns calories and build muscle, which is essential for increasing your metabolism so that you can burn even more calories and lose more weight.
Here are some of the best exercises for weight loss.
- Walking is a low-impact exercise that you should do daily. Walking 45 minutes a day is a good option.
- Jogging and running are high-impact exercises that you can do 5 times a week for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Swimming is another highly effective exercise for weight loss and toning. Enjoy swimming a few times a week.
- Bicycling is another low-impact and highly effective exercise for losing weight.
- Jumping rope also helps to lose weight. Just 10 minutes of rope jumping daily is beneficial.
If you are just starting to exercise, incorporate them slowly in your daily routine and gradually increase the time. You can also consult an expert or join a gym.
9. Sleep Well
If you want to lose weight, you have to be sure to sleep well during the night. Experts agree that getting enough sleep is as important as diet and exercise when it comes to losing weight.
A 2008 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people lack sleep, late night snacking increases, and they are more likely to choose high-carbohydrate snacks. Moreover, less sleep prompts people to eat bigger portions of all foods, which in turn causes weight gain.
So, enjoy quality sleep of 7 to 9 hours per night. It will also help boost fat loss and keep your brain focused.
Follow these tips to enjoy sound sleep:
- Shut down all your gadgets at least one hour before your bedtime.
- Save your bedroom for sleep and sex.
- Create a bedtime ritual. Take a warm bath, meditate or read a light book.
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
- Avoid eating heavy meals and drinking alcohol close to bedtime.
- Turn off the lights before you tuck in for the night.
10. Manage Stress
Stress is one of the most common causes contributing to weight gain. The release of the cortisol hormone during stress increases appetite, making people eat more. Moreover, during stress people often make poor food choices that cause weight gain.
According to a 2008 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, different types of psychosocial stress are associated with even more weight gain. Psychosocial stress can be due to financial stress, work-related stress, and strain in relationships with family or a life partner.
So, manage your stress level to help lose weight. Follow these tips to combat stress-related weight gain:
- Recognize the warning signs of stress, such as anxiety, irritability and muscle tension.
- Whenever you are under stress, use deep breathing exercises for relaxaton.
- Meditation and yoga also help manage stress.
- Engage in regular physical activity or exercise.
- Get support from friends and family.
If required, consider seeking professional help through psychotherapy or counseling.
Consistency and regularity is the key to successful weight loss. Hence, you need to follow all of these tips daily without fail.