Any one who has ever tried to drop some unwanted weight over the years has probably tried and heard of countless tips and strange weight loss advice from drinking celery juice to replacing meals with so-called weight loss cookies, and most often these pointers are promoted by those without any actual health expertise.
It is true that there are pages and pages full of misguided weight loss advice out there that one really should avoid, but there are also a ton of legitimate tips that are science backed and expert approved suggestions such as picking a time to exercise and sticking with it as a study published in the journal Obesity found that exercising at a certain time every day consistently may help successful weight loss.
Another helpful tip is to choose nuts over heavily processed snacks as a report published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health found that eating up to one ounce of nuts each day is linked with less weight gain and lower odds of obesity.
JAMA Internal Medicine published a report suggesting that a weight loss counselor may be helpful in helping to trim waistlines, showing that those with type 2 diabetes utilizing such counseling sessions with group medical visits helped them to lose weight and lower their blood sugar levels.
Losing weight can be challenging and even though it may be daunting every effort made is worth the benefits when it comes to improving health. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a study showing that overweight women who lost weight after turning 50 years old lowered their risks of developing breast cancer.
Diabetic Medicine published a report suggesting that it may be possible to potentially put type 2 diabetes into remission, finding that among those with type 2 diabetes losing 10% or more of their body weight within the first 5 years of diagnosis was associated with better odds of putting the disease into remission. Additionally, according to the American Heart Association carrying extra weight increases the odds of heart disease and stroke.
Whether you only have a few pounds to drop or a lot to lose experts can offer science backed tips and pointers to effectively help you on your weight loss journey such as eating slowly, portion control, keeping a food diary, totally body movement, keeping a gratitude journal, meal prep, getting enough sleep, not skipping meals, staying hydrated, cutting calories, eating more whole foods, avoiding sweetened beverages, removing unhealthy food from your home, and eating breakfast among others.
Janet Zinn, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist says: “I have my clients learn how to choose foods they like, really taste each morsel going into their mouths, and chew deliberately. I advise them to chew slowly, swallow only when the food is all chewed up, and repeat. It takes time to know we’re full. Eating slowly allows us to not only enjoy our food more, but gives us better cues of satiety.”
Christine King, the founder and CEO of the health and wellness company YourBestFit suggests that if “You bite it, you write it! That’s my rule, and numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of food journaling for weight loss. One of my clients went out of town for one week. She stopped journaling and gained 13 pounds. I promise that keeping a food journal helps!”
“Exercise anything that moves.That’s my mantra — and I started this after I broke my back and was paralyzed from the waist down. Do it in bed, while seated, standing, or walking. Just move. People have a misconception that five minutes doesn’t make a difference, but every minute makes a difference.” (And research published in January 2014 in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases showed that physical activity is critical when it comes to actually keeping lost weight off.) — King
Lauren Manganiello, RD, a nutrition counselor and fitness coach suggests that “Our eating habits are usually connected to our emotions — whether we realize it or not. When we’re stressed, we tend to reach for sweets. I tell clients that by keeping a daily journal of things you’re grateful for, you’re better able to cope with the stress by acknowledging it rather than reaching for dessert.”
According to Angela Lemond, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist: “A lack of sleep increases your hunger hormone — ghrelin — and decreases your ‘satisfaction’ hormone, leptin, which can contribute to weight gain. When we are sleep deprived, we crave more salty and sweet foods. Why? Because anytime you feel more intense hunger, your cravings for higher energy — aka higher calorie — foods intensify. We also know that the way we think and process our emotions is affected by inadequate sleep, so it’s easy to connect this with an impaired ability to make sound choices in many areas of life, including with food. If we flip the coin, we can safely assume that when we are well rested, we will make better choices. When it comes to eating, that would mean that we would eat when we are truly hungry, and eat just until satisfied. Our hormones are also going to be better balanced because our bodies got the time needed to sleep, repair, and refresh.”
Don’t skip meals. You may think that this is helping you to burn calories, but you may be damaging your metabolism. The proper way to skip a meal is to begin an intermittent fasting schedule, but skipping a meal and intermittent fasting are not the same thing. In general forgoing eating can have negative consequences for the body, while intermittent fasting helps to get cravings under control and is a scheduled mindful eating practice. Intermittent fasting may not be best for everyone. When a person skips a meal they tend to overeat at some point to make up for it. When you split up your meals to be consumed throughout the day, the body will use the nutrients from the food more efficiently. Most experts agree that you should be eating three balanced meals a day and a healthy snack.
Megan Casper, RDN, a nutrition counselor and the founder and CEO of Nourished Bite points out that: “Research has found that people who drank two glasses of water before a meal lost more weight than people who didn’t drink water before meals — and they kept it off. This simple tip works in two ways. Thirst can mask itself as hunger, causing you to eat more. And water makes you feel fuller, causing you to eat less during a meal.”
According to the USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov half of your plate at any given meal should be nutrient dense fruits/veggies. Perhaps aim to make a balanced plate consisting of half vegetables, a quarter whole grains, and a quarter lean protein. Additionally, the Cleveland Clinic suggests not to eat until you are full rather to the 80% point to help tame overeating. There is no need to be part of the finish the plate club, instead pack any extra food away. This is good advice for over eaters who are just learning how to fill their stomach without going overboard, aiming for 80% is a good gauge to help with this as it instructs you to stop eating when you are beginning to feel slightly full. Slowing down helps with overeating because it takes around 20 minutes for the stomach to digest food.
“There’s a strong relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain in adults. If you regularly have a sip of something sweet, consider this: Research has shown that reducing intake of sugar-sweetened beverages can result in meaningful weight loss, even if it’s the only change you make. Replacing a 20-ounce soda with sparkling water every day would save more than 20,000 calories over a few months, which could translate into more than five pounds of weight loss!” — Brittany Markides, RDN, the founder of Choose Food in Austin, Texas.
Meals consumed away from home tend to be higher in calories and lower in nutrients. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that the average restaurant entrée contains over 1,000 calories, and an entire day’s worth of sodium and fat. When dining out to save on those calories, try splitting the entrée or asking to substitute extra green veggies or a salad for the starchy potato or rice.
When looking for a snack and in doubt, reach for a low calorie, fiber rich and nutrient dense vegetable or fruit. You can even make fruits/veggies the star of your meal, for example rather than a main dish of pasta, lessen the pasta amount and add in some broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini, with some small amount of chicken, garlic and lemon zest. Try considering a few squares of organic dark chocolate with an orange for a sweet dessert. This way you can still enjoy a small amount of pasta and a sweet treat while still being satisfied without depriving yourself.
Most people eat with their eyes and like to see that full plate; using smaller plates, bowls, and cups will reduce the amount of food you consume, while at the same time allowing yourself to fill your dish up and keep you from feeling deprived. For example, an observational study showed that people who used a 9-inch plate versus a 10- or 12-inch plate ate up to 22 percent less. Size matters, research consistently shows that people will consume more food when they are offered larger portions, according to the Mayo Clinic. There are many apps that offer visual cues that can help you to gauge what a portion size is to help you get a better handle on what you are eating.
“Don’t feel like you need to overhaul your entire life starting immediately. Assess where you are currently and then figure out where you’d like to be in the future. A great starting point for mostly sedentary people is to get a step counter and see how much you walk on a normal day. Then set a step goal slightly higher than the norm and strive for that, working your way up slowly to a goal of 10,000 steps per day.” — Esther Avant, an ACE-certified personal trainer in Kapolei, Hawaii.
Try to avoid if not eliminate highly processed foods from your diet. That does not mean your meals will now be bland, healthy whole food options are far from being boring. There are many exciting colours from the rainbow and flavours to experiment with that come in a variety of textures and tastes ranging from naturally sweet to savory which can easily be enhanced with a wide selection of herbs and spices.
At some point in your weight loss journey you may experience some setbacks, but please keep in mind that this is not failure. Rather think of these minor speed bumps as an opportunity to learn and grow from. Pick yourself up and start over. The only true failure is if you give up.
So you say that you can’t exercise for very long. That will change, your endurance, coordination and flexibility will gradually improve. You say it’s taking too long. Well unfortunately, there is no magic pill, you will need to work for it, and it may take some time. Stick to the healthy lifestyle path to achieve your goals. Most importantly remember that you are well worth every effort and the benefits that you will experience with improved health. You CAN do it!