Gaining weight is a natural part of life, and often factors including age, activity levels, loss of muscle mass, diet, metabolism, and even menstrual cycle (for women) can all cause you to gain a few extra pounds. Fortunately, making the right changes to your daily routine and eating habits can help you shed weight and keep it off long-term.
Below, the fitness experts at Total Shape share their 10 top tips for those wanting to lose weight sustainably:
1. Cut back on sugar and carbs
Sugar and carbs are a key part of a weight-loss journey and will prevent you from losing weight if too much is consumed. Spend time identifying the problematic food items in your life and reading labels on the foods you tend to consume. You’d surprised at how much sugar things like canned soup and tomato sauce have in them. Also, be mindful of the fact that many processed foods labeled low or non-fat often replace it with sugar. The easiest and best way to cut hidden calories out of your life is to buy fresh fruit and vegetables instead of canned ones. However, it is important to not cut sugar and carbs out altogether, as this can do more harm than good and deprive your body of a balanced nutritional intake.
2. Be smart about saturated fat
Saturated fats have a bad reputation these days, but low-fat items in the grocery store are the main culprits causing an explosion in obesity rates. Animal fats have been traded out for refined sugars and carbohydrates to make up for the lack of taste that occurs when the fat gets taken out. One thing is sure, cutting out fat from your diet is not the best solution to achieve weight loss. Therefore, try to keep a more balanced view towards fats by integrating them into your diet in healthy amounts and keep your fats non-artificial, as you will benefit from the advantages.
Experts top tip: Natural animal fats like butter are always better for you than heavily processed items like margarine.
3. Increase your intake of fruit and vegetables
Cutting excess calories doesn’t mean you have to eat less food, and there are many wonderful fruits and vegetables available to help keep you fuller for longer and boost your mood. High fiber fruits and vegetables like raspberries, mangos, and leafy greens keep you full longer because they take your body a long time to digest. Also note, any dark-colored vegetables are generally higher in fiber content.
The best way to alter your eating habits is to make fruits and vegetables convenient for snacking by storing them in easy access portions in your kitchen. Pack combinations like peanut butter and celery for your daily lunch to get a kick of protein with your fiber. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to double or triple your daily plant-based foods intake when you become intentional about it.
4. Try intermittent fasting
Regardless of the state of your weight-loss efforts most people can benefit from a process known as Intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting means that you schedule certain times during the week where you will not eat, no matter what. By doing this you force the body to make metabolic adjustments and burn through existing adipose tissue, particularly around the midsection, to meet your energy needs.
This might seem like a starvation diet at first glance, however, there is an important difference. Intermittent fasting is just that: intermittent. You fast for a pre-set length of time, and then you resume your normal healthy eating.
Experts top tip: Some people pick one day a week to fast. Others eat their normal healthy foods five days in a row and then restrict their calorie intake to 500 to 600 calories per day for two days. Others fast during the day, then eat one meal in the evening. Whatever works best for you.
5. Don’t Fall For “Healthy” Labeling
Don’t take the manufacturer’s word on a healthy product. Always read the label and get to know and understand the ingredients. Ideally, you want to look at the first three ingredients, look for whole foods, avoid labels that begin with refined grains, sugars, or hydrogenated oils, or have an ingredient list multiple lines long, as this suggests it is highly processed.
There are several terms on product labels manufacturers want you to believe are healthy:
- Low-fat: This may seem enticing; usually, something else is added, like sugar, and this also means healthy fats are not there either.
- Made with whole grains: The amount is minimal if these do not appear in the first three ingredients, and even these grains are still starchy, so this should factor in the diet equation, especially a low-carb one.
- A low-carb diet is excellent for weight loss; however, there are many highly processed or junk foods that say low-carb on the label so you should stick to whole fruits, vegetables, and grains.
- No-added sugar: Some foods are naturally high in sugar, so just because they contain no added sugar doesn’t make them healthy. You may also find added sugar substitutes in these products.
6. Increase your protein intake
Studies show a higher protein diet results in more significant weight loss, fat mass loss, and preservation of lean mass reductions. A high-protein breakfast can help you feel fuller longer, reducing the number of snacks you consume. Some great high-protein foods to include in your breakfast include:
– Turkey bacon
– Nut butter
– Black beans
– Greek yogurt
– Protein powder
7. Try to avoid drinking your calories
The calories in drinks add up quickly. Even fruit, when it’s turned into a juice and stripped of its fiber, can lead to blood sugar spikes and lead to weight gain. A specialty coffee beverage from your favorite shop on your way to work each morning can also be a culprit because of the many calorie-dense ingredients it can come with. Beer is also full of carbs and calories, and alcohol, in general, is no friend of weight loss as it can encourage junk-food overeating and lead to fatty liver and visceral fat build-up
8. Get rid of the diet mentality
Often when you have the mindset you are on a diet, it can make sticking to it more difficult.
While fad diets can be immediately satisfying because you may lose weight quickly, rarely does this last, and you are quickly back to square one. You will set yourself up for success when you understand that losing and maintaining a healthy weight is a complete lifestyle change and can take several months.
9. Stay moderately active
Incorporating an exercise routine on top of eating healthy foods and staying hydrated will ensure you keep a calorie deficit, resulting in weight loss. To keep it fun, try to mix it up, as exercise can be more enjoyable doing something you enjoy. Aside from a consistent exercise routine, you can also make minor changes that can make a great difference such as:
-Taking the stairs
-Parking further away
-Scheduling a 15-minute lunch time workout
10. Stay hydrated
Water is essential for many bodily functions, and drinking more water is one of the best commitments you can make in your weight-loss plan. There is a direct link between hydration and the body’s process of breaking down fat. Also, if you drink more water before a meal, you are likely to consume fewer calories, helping create a calorie deficit that encourages weight loss. The recommended daily intake is around 15.5 cups of fluids a day for men and about 11.5 cups of fluids a day for women.