Being overweight or obese can lead to a number of health problems. Although many “fad” diets are available, a balanced lifestyle and a nutritious diet are the keys to healthy living and better weight control.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 93.3 million adults in the United States had obesity in 2015-2016. This number is equivalent to 39.8% of the population.
Excessive body weight can increase the risk of serious health problems, including heart disease , hypertension and type 2 diabetes .
Hitting diets are not a sustainable solution, regardless of the benefits that its proponents may claim to have. In order to safely lose weight and sustain that weight loss over time, it is essential to make gradual, permanent and beneficial lifestyle changes.
In this article, we provide 10 tips for weight control.
10 tips for successful weight loss
People can lose weight and maintain that loss by taking several possible steps. These include the following:
1. Eat varied, colorful and nutritionally dense foods
Eat a varied and nutritious diet.
Healthy meals and snacks should form the basis of the human diet. A simple way to create a meal plan is to ensure that each meal consists of 50% fruits and vegetables, 25% whole grains and 25% protein. Total fiber consumption should be 25 to 30 grams (g) per day.
Eliminate trans fats from the diet and minimize the intake of saturated fats, which has a strong connection with the incidence of coronary heart disease.
Instead, people can consume monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) or polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which are types of unsaturated fat.
The following foods are healthy and often rich in nutrients:
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- whole grains, such as brown rice and oats
Foods to avoid eating include:
- foods with added oils, butter and sugar
- red or processed fatty meats
- baked goods
- White bread
- processed foods
In some cases, removing certain foods from the diet can lead to a person becoming deficient in some necessary vitamins and minerals. A nutritionist, nutritionist, or other health professional can advise a person to obtain sufficient nutrients while following a weight loss program.
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2. Keep a food and weight diary
Self-monitoring is a critical factor in successfully losing weight. People can use a paper diary, a mobile app or a dedicated website to record every item of food they consume every day. They can also measure your progress by recording your weight weekly.
Those who manage to track their success in small increments and identify physical changes are much more likely to maintain a weight loss regime.
People can also track their body mass index (BMI) using a BMI calculator.
3. Engage in regular physical activity and exercise
Regular physical activity can help a person lose weight.
Regular exercise is vital for physical and mental health. Increasing the frequency of physical activity in a disciplined and purposeful manner is often crucial for successful weight loss.
An hour of moderate intensity activity a day, such as brisk walking, is ideal. If an hour a day is not possible, the Mayo Clinic suggests that a person should look for at least 150 minutes a week.
People who are not normally physically active should slowly increase the amount of exercise they do and gradually increase their intensity. This approach is the most sustainable way to ensure that regular exercise becomes part of your lifestyle.
Just as recording meals can help weight loss psychologically, people can also benefit from maintaining their physical activity. Many free mobile apps are available to track a person’s calorie balance after recording their food and exercise intake.
If the thought of a complete workout seems intimidating to someone who is new to exercise, they can start by doing the following activities to increase their exercise levels:
- going up the stairs
- gathering the leaves
- walking a dog
- playing outdoor games
- parking furthest from the building entrance
Individuals at low risk for coronary heart disease are unlikely to need medical evaluation before starting an exercise regimen.
However, prior medical evaluation may be advisable for some people, including those with diabetes. Anyone who is unsure about safe levels of exercise should speak to a healthcare professional.
4. Eliminate net calories
It is possible to consume hundreds of calories a day by drinking soda sweetened with sugar, tea, juice or alcohol. These are known as “empty calories” because they provide extra energy content without offering any nutritional benefit.
Unless a person is consuming a smoothie to replace a meal, he should try to keep the water or tea and coffee unsweetened. Adding a little lemon or orange to the water can add flavor.
Avoid confusing dehydration with hunger. An individual can often satisfy feelings of hunger between scheduled meals with a glass of water.
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5. Measure portions and control portions
Eating too much of any food, even low-calorie vegetables, can result in weight gain.
Therefore, people should avoid estimating a portion size or eating food directly from the package. It is best to use measuring cups and serving size guides. Guessing leads to overestimating and the likelihood of eating a larger portion than necessary.
The following size comparisons can be useful for monitoring food intake when dining out:
- three quarters of a cup is a golf ball
- half a cup is a tennis ball
- 1 cup is a baseball
- 1 ounce (oz) of nuts is a loose handful
- 1 teaspoon is 1 playing die
- 1 tablespoon is a hint of thumb
- 3 ounces of meat is a deck of cards
- 1 slice is a DVD
These sizes are not accurate, but they can help a person to moderate food intake when the right tools are not available.
6. Eat carefully
Many people benefit from conscious eating, which involves being fully aware of why, how, when, where and what they eat.
Making healthier food choices is a direct result of becoming more attuned to the body.
People who practice conscious eating also try to eat more slowly and taste the food, focusing on the taste. Making a meal last 20 minutes allows the body to record all signs of satiety.
It is important to focus on being satisfied after a meal instead of being full and to keep in mind that many “all natural” or low fat foods are not necessarily a healthy choice.
People may also consider the following questions in relation to their meal choice:
- Is it good “value” for the cost of calories?
- Will this provide satiety?
- Are the ingredients healthy?
- If it has a label, how much fat and sodium does it contain?
7. Stimulus and signaling control
Many social and environmental suggestions can encourage unnecessary eating. For example, some people are more likely to overeat while watching television. Others find it difficult to pass a bowl of candy to someone else without picking up a piece.
By being aware of what can trigger the urge to snack on empty calories, people can think of ways to adjust their routine to limit these triggers.
8. Plan ahead
Stocking a kitchen with foods suitable for the diet and creating structured meal plans will result in more significant weight loss.
People who want to lose weight or keep it off should clean their kitchen of processed or junk foods and make sure they have the ingredients on hand to make simple, healthy meals. This can prevent fast, unplanned and careless eating.
Planning food choices before arriving at social events or restaurants can also facilitate the process.
9. Seek social support
Having social support is a great way to stay motivated.
Embracing the support of loved ones is an integral part of a successful weight loss journey.
Some people can invite friends or family to join them, while others prefer to use social media to share their progress.
Other forms of support may include:
- a positive social network
- group or individual counseling
- exercise clubs or partners
- employee assistance programs at work
10. Stay positive
Weight loss is a gradual process, and a person may feel discouraged if the pounds do not fall at a rate they anticipated.
Some days will be more difficult than others when joining a weight loss or maintenance program. A successful weight loss program requires the individual to persist and not give up when personal change seems very difficult.
Some people may need to redefine their goals, potentially adjusting the total number of calories they want to eat or changing their exercise patterns.
The important thing is to maintain a positive outlook and be persistent at work to overcome barriers to successful weight loss.
Successful weight loss does not require people to follow a specific diet plan, such as Slimming World or Atkins. Instead, they should focus on eating less calories and moving more to achieve a negative energy balance.
Weight loss depends mainly on reducing the total calorie intake, not adjusting the proportions of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the diet.
A reasonable weight loss goal to start seeing health benefits for is a 5% to 10% reduction in body weight over a six-month period.
Most people can achieve this goal by reducing their total calorie intake to between 1,000 and 1,600 calories per day.
A diet of less than 1,000 calories a day will not provide enough daily nutrition .
After 6 months of dieting, the rate of weight loss generally decreases, and body weight tends to stabilize because people use less energy with a lower body weight. Following a weight maintenance program of healthy eating habits and regular physical activity is the best way to avoid regaining lost weight.
People who have a BMI of 30 years or more without obesity-related health problems can benefit from taking prescription weight loss drugs. These may also be suitable for people with a BMI equal to or greater than 27 with obesity-related illnesses.