The Top 10 Tips for Weight Loss
By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD
Losing weight if you are overweight or obese can decrease your risk for chronic diseases, improve mood, increase mobility, decrease joint pain, and provide several other health benefits. In fact, weight loss can be life-changing for some people and significantly improve their quality of daily living.
But even though most people are aware of the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight, it can still be challenging to shed unwanted pounds. Weight is influenced by several different factors, including diet, physical activity levels, sleep quality, and more. Therefore, knowing how and where to start can be difficult for those who are trying to lose weight.
One of the keys to successful weight loss is focusing on areas that you feel most strongly about improving. For example, if you really want to make changes to your diet and improve your sleep, make a plan to achieve those specific goals instead of trying to accomplish too many things at once.
If you are just getting started or going through a slump on your weight loss journey, here are 10 of the best tips to help you lose weight and keep it off!
Eat a variety of mostly whole, minimally processed foods from all food groups.
The basis of any healthy diet is whole, real foods that do not contain highly refined ingredients or unnecessary added salts and sugar.
In other words, a nutritious plate should include whole fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, healthy fats like nuts and seeds, and complex carbohydrates such as legumes and whole grains.
Eating a variety of these foods ensures that you get the optimal balance of macronutrients, as well as adequate amounts of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This style of eating also promotes weight loss and can help you get to your healthy weight.
2. Swap sugary beverages for water.
Beverage choices are often overlooked when it comes to weight loss, but they can make a huge impact on progress.
Did you know that just one 12-ounce cola has roughly 150 calories? To put it in perspective, if you drink two of those a day (~300 calories) and are following a 1200 calorie meal plan, 25% of your daily calorie goal is coming from soda! Even more, sugary beverages have a ton of calories but do not keep you full, provide no nutrition, and may even make you crave more sweets.
Swapping sugary drinks for water, or other healthier drink options, can significantly improve your diet and help you reach your weight loss goals.
3. Include veggies or fruit with every meal.
Plant foods provide a ton of benefits. They are naturally low in calories, rich in fiber, and loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other plant compounds that can help fight disease and promote optimal health.
Incorporating vegetables or fruits at every meal is an excellent way to enjoy delicious foods that provide you with necessary nutrients and help fill you up so that you do not crave or overeat foods.
Not to mention, the fiber in plant foods can help stabilize blood sugars, lower cholesterol levels, improve gut health, and decrease the risk for some cancers.
4. Practice mindful eating techniques.
Watching TV, checking emails, or multitasking while you eat can distract you from your meal and lead to mindless overeating.
Eliminating distractions during meals can help you be more mindful while you eat. You can also incorporate other mindful eating techniques, such as setting a timer for 20 minutes and taking the entire time to eat your meal. Even more, you can think about the flavors of your food as you eat and make a point to savor the different tastes.
Eating mindfully can improve digestion and reduce stress associated with meals, which in turn can help you feel more satisfied and lose weight in the process.
5. Engage in regular exercise.
In addition to changing your diet, increasing physical activity is important for weight loss.
You can engage in more exercise by hitting the gym or attending a workout class, or just by adding more movement into your daily routine. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking your car farther away from the store when you run errands. If you struggle with movement during a long day at the office, grab a coworker or friend to take a short walk with you at lunch.
These activities can help you lose weight, change your body composition, and reap the other numerous benefits associated with exercise.
6. Plan ahead for meals and snacks.
Having a plan is one of the most important aspects of successful weight loss. When you do not have a plan for meals and snacks or go too long without eating, you may be more likely to indulge in less healthy foods and succumb to eating your favorite desserts and snack foods.
Setting aside some time every week to plan out your meals and snacks can help you stay on top of your goals and prevent rash decisions that lead to unhealthy food choices or overeating.
To get started, try planning one meal a day and then work your way up to planning several meals a week. If you are going out to eat, check the restaurant menu to identify a few healthy options so that you do not have to make a spur of the moment decision.
7. Make sleep a priority.
Not getting enough quality sleep can prevent weight loss and make it more challenging for you to stay on track.
When you are sleep deprived, you may crave less healthy foods with refined carbohydrates and sugars that can give you a quick energy boost. You may also find that you feel overall less motivated to stick to your diet and exercise goals.
To improve your sleep, try powering down electronics an hour before bed, setting your room to a comfortable temperature, and limiting caffeine and alcohol intake to several hours before sleeping.
8. Set both short- and long-term goals.
For many people, weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint. Losing weight does not happen overnight and can take some time.
Therefore, successful weight loss often results from setting both short- and long-term goals. If your long-term goal is to cut out all soda to help you lose weight, perhaps you should start with a short-term goal of limiting soda consumption to one can three days a week. Once you accomplish that goal, you can set another small, achievable one.
Achieving your short-term goals can leave you feeling satisfied and successful, which in turn can motivate you to continue with your weight loss journey.
9. Eat foods that are exciting, not boring.
Some people have misconceptions when it comes to eating for weight loss. Making changes to your diet to lose weight does not mean that you have to eat boiled chicken breasts with steamed broccoli every night!
In reality, nutritious food does not need to be anywhere close to boring. You can prepare healthy foods in a variety of ways with a myriad of herbs, spices, and flavorings.
If you get sick of eating chicken, try baking it with lemon slices and oregano for a different taste. If you can no longer stand your afternoon snack of carrots and hummus, opt for baked veggie chips and guacamole instead. Switching up your staples from time to time can keep your food exciting and inspire you to keep making healthy changes to your diet.
10. rack your progress and be kind to yourself.
Losing weight is a journey that will inevitably have ups and downs.
If you slip into unhealthy habits or fall off track for a few days or weeks, try not to give up completely and discredit all of the progress that you made up until that point. As with many things in life, it may take several weeks or months to see the weight loss results that you want.
Therefore, it can be helpful to track your overall progress instead of focusing on day-to-day changes (or lack thereof). To assess your progress, you can use before and after pictures, food journals, or weight loss and healthy eating apps on your phone or computer. You can even use a piece of clothing as a marker of your success, and see how close you get to fitting into it over time.
Looking back on your achievements will remind you of your successes and encourage you to keep going!
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