I’ve been writing about weight loss for years. But I have also counseled real people for decades, and here’s what I know: What makes headlines, generates buzz, or becomes trendy doesn’t always pan out in everyday life. I’ve talked to countless clients whose attempts with cleanses, extreme diets, and popular weight-loss tactics completely backfired, leaving them right back where they started (or worse).
While I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to losing weight, the reality is that there are a few truths that apply to nearly everyone. For one, if your weight-loss method leaves you feeling hungry, cranky, run-down, or socially isolated, it’s probably not healthy or sustainable. Losing weight should enhance your health, not come at the expense of your health. Also, if your weight loss approach doesn’t become a lifestyle, you’ll likely slip back into old habits, and the weight will creep back on.
So, what does work? Here are a dozen strategies that truly hold up in my experience working in the trenches. Each has the power to support healthy weight loss, while simultaneously enhancing health (the ultimate win-win), and they all have an essential criterion: stick-with-it-ness.
Eat real food
A calorie isn’t a calorie. Three hundred calories worth of cooked oats topped with blueberries, cinnamon, and nuts isn’t going to have the same effect on your body as a 300-calorie blueberry muffin made with refined carbs, sugar, and artificial additives. Find out the best supplement reviews at sfweekly.
In addition to offering more overall nutrition, whole foods are more filling, satiating, and energizing, and they create a different impact on blood sugar and insulin regulation, digestion, and metabolism. I have seen numerous clients break a weight-loss plateau or start losing weight simply by switching from processed foods to whole foods—even without eating fewer calories. The effect is backed by research, but it also just makes sense. If you do nothing else, upgrade the quality of what you eat, and make this goal the foundation of your weight loss (and ultimately weight-maintenance) plan.
Eat more veggies
According to the CDC, just 9% of adults eat the minimum recommended intake of two to three cups of veggies per day. In my practice, I see that even health-conscious people often miss the mark. But for both weight loss and optimal health, consistently eating more veggies is one of the most important habits you can foster.
Non-starchy vegetables—like leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, and onions—are incredibly filling and nutrient rich, yet they provide just 25 calories or less per cup. Their fiber, prebiotics, and antioxidants have been shown to reduce inflammation, a known obesity trigger, and alter the makeup of gut bacteria in ways that enhance immunity and improve mental health.
I advise my clients to build meals around veggies, so they’re never an afterthought. Aim for one cup (about the size of a tennis ball) at breakfast, two cups and lunch, and two cups at dinner, with the portions measured out before cooking if cooked (such as spinach, which shrinks way down). At breakfast, whip greens into a smoothie, fold shredded zucchini into oats, add veggies to an egg or chickpea scramble, or simply eat them on the side, like sliced cucumber or red bell pepper. Go for salads or bowls at lunch, instead of sandwiches or wraps, with a large base of greens and veggies. At dinner, sauté, oven roast, grill, or stir-fry veggies, and make them the largest component of the meal. Improve your dietary results with https://thehealthmania.com/Resurge+Review+.
There is no downside to this goal, and it has a healthy domino effect on nearly every other aspect of wellness, from healthy sleep to beauty benefits—in addition to truly working for sustainable weight loss.
Drink more water
You’ve probably heard this one a million times, and it helps. But in my practice, I find that most people don’t follow through. Water is needed for every process in the body, including healthy circulation, digestion, and waste elimination. Studies show that water does indeed help rev metabolism, and while the effect may be slight, it can snowball to create a greater impact over time.
Drinking water before meals has also been shown to naturally reduce meal portions, which may help prevent slight overeating, which inhibits weight loss. According to the Institute of Medicine, women 19 and older need 2.7 liters of total fluid per day (over 11 cups) and men need 3.7 liters (over 15 cups). About 20% of your fluids come from food, but that still leaves 8-12 cups based on the IOM guidelines, not including additional needs due to exercise.
As a minimum I recommend eight cups a day. Think of your day in four blocks: 1) from the time you get up to mid-morning; 2) mid-morning to lunchtime; 3) lunchtime to mid-afternoon; and 4) mid-afternoon to dinnertime. Aim for two cups (16 ounces) of water during each of these blocks. Set your cell phone alarm as a reminder if you need to. And if you’re not a fan of plain water, spruce it up with healthful add-ins, like lemon or lime, fresh mint, sliced cucumber, fresh ginger, or slightly mashed bits of seasonal fruit.
Eat on a regular schedule
This is a biggie. In my experience, a consistent eating schedule helps to regulate appetite and better support metabolism, energy, and digestive health. My clients who eat at erratic times tend to be more prone to over or undereating. Both are problematic, as undereating can stall metabolism and lead to rebound overeating.
For most of my clients, a good rule of thumb is to eat within about an hour of waking up, and not let more than four to five hours go by without eating. This may mean something like breakfast at 7 a.m., lunch at noon, a snack at 3 p.m., and dinner at 7 p.m. Once you get into a groove with meal timing, your body tends to respond with hunger cues at expected meal/snack times and crave balance, meaning a drive to stop eating when full. I also recommend allowing at least two to three hours between the last meal and bedtime. This provides time for digestion, and averts eating during your least active hours, when your body is preparing for sleep and unable to burn an unneeded surplus of fuel.
Be strategic about meal balance
The bulk of my last weight loss book, Slim Down Now, was based on the idea of building your meals like you build your outfits. When you get dressed, you need a top, bottom, and footwear. You can get away without wearing socks, but you wouldn’t wear two pairs of pants and no top, and you can’t wear two pairs of shoes at the same time.
In the same way, there are three core pieces that make up the foundation of a healthy meal: non-starchy veggies (think top); lean protein (think bottom); and good fat (think shoes). These foundation foods provide the building blacks that support metabolism, and the ongoing maintenance and repair of cells in your body—from immune cells to hormones, red blood cells, enzymes that digest food, hair, skin, and organs.
To this core trio, add what I refer to as an “energy accessory” (aka healthy carb), which you can think of as an add-on to a meal, like putting on a jacket over your top, carrying a bag, or wearing a hat or scarf. These good carb foods, which include whole grains, starchy vegetables, pulses (the umbrella term for beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas), and fruit, provide energy to fuel the activity of your cells and help them perform their roles. Cutting them out completely can lead to fatigue, and rob your body of important nutrients, including fiber, prebiotics, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But overdoing it on carbs can result in overfueling (over accessorizing), which interferes with weight loss.