5 Healthy Ways to Lose Weight
Interested in shedding a few pounds, or maybe more than a few? You aren’t alone. According to the CDC, over 70 percent of U.S. adults are overweight, and more than 40 percent of adults are obese. These aren’t just chilling statistics on a page. The obesity epidemic in our country is leading to a massive increase in lifestyle diseases, as well as weight-related death, and a poorer quality of life for many people struggling with their weight. Fortunately, healthy weight loss is possible, though there is no magic pill—healthy ways to lose weight require long-term lifestyle changes.
You can do this! Here’s what you need to know.
1. Cut Excess Calories for Your Diet
The first and simplest answer to the question of how to lose weight in a healthy way is to eat fewer unnecessary calories.
Yes, the types of calories you consume DO matter. Eating a low-calorie diet of cookies and soda each day is not a good long-term dieting strategy. However, the number of calories you consume does impact your weight. The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) was founded in 1994 to track people who were able to lose weight and keep the weight off in the long term. After following over 10,000 study participants, the registry has found that 98 percent of study participants were able to lose weight by modifying their diet in some way.
Action Item: Track your calories. According to federal guidelines, the average man requires 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day, while the average woman requires 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day. (View the government’s chart to get a more accurate number for yourself.) Keep a food journal with calorie counts. If you are above your recommended calorie count, start looking for excess calories to cut.
2. Reduce Sugars and Starches
After looking at your daily calorie consumption, it’s time to start building a new and healthy eating lifestyle. One of the easiest ways to cut excess calories from your diet is to reduce foods high in sugar and starches. Foods filled with sugar, like cookies, ice cream, and sodas, tend to be packed with calories without offering much nutrition.
Eating high-sugar foods will spike your blood sugar, which can cause inflammation and, eventually, insulin resistance. According to Healthline.com, eating sugary foods is known to lead to weight gain and chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. It may even increase levels of a hormone called ghrelin, which can actually make you feel hungrier.
What sugar and starch-filled foods should you try and cut from your diet? Everyone has their guilty pleasures, but some of the more popular offenders include:
- Sodas and soft drinks
- Cookies, brownies, ice creams, and desserts
- Children’s cereal
- Fruit juices
- Chips and other manufactured snacks
- French fries
Action Item: Look at the foods you eat regularly and highlight high-sugar and starchy foods. Rather than transform your diet overnight, try to remove sugary foods from your diet slowly. For example, cut back from three cans of soda to two and then to one. Replace that bag of chips you always eat at lunch with a handful of nuts.
Changing your diet should NOT feel like deprivation; otherwise, you won’t stick to it. Instead, work toward gradual change and seek substitutions rather than cutting entire snacks and meals out of your diet.
3. Add Protein to Your Diet
As you begin slowly removing high-sugar and high-starch foods from your diet, what should you replace them with? A great answer is lean proteins and healthy fats. Both protein and healthy omega-3 fats are known to help you feel full. That’s because, according to Healthline.com, protein helps keep your blood sugar steady, slows your digestion, and helps regulate your hormones. In other words, protein acts pretty much the opposite way of sugary foods.
What kinds of proteins should you add to your diet, and does it have to be meat? Not necessarily. Lean meats are a great source of protein, but they aren’t your only option. Here are some great foods that can deliver a big serving protein:
- Dark, leafy vegetables
Want to add more healthy fats to your diet? Try eating more:
- Chia seeds
- Fatty fish (like salmon, herring, and fresh tuna)
- Olive oil
Action Item: Make more meals at home with a focus on eating protein, healthy fats, and lots of yummy vegetables. Cooking with natural ingredients, instead of picking up something at a fast restaurant, will help you keep your calorie count lower and will allow you to control what you put into your body.
4. Add Regular Exercise to Your Schedule
When it comes to healthy ways to lose weight, your nutrition will play the biggest role in your results, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore exercise. In fact, the National Weight Control Registry found that 94 percent of the people who were able to lose weight and successfully keep it off increased their physical activity. If you haven’t worked out in a while, it may be reassuring to know that the most popular activity for NWCR subjects was walking.
Again and again, exercise has been shown to offer numerous benefits. Not only does exercise help you burn calories, but it can also help prevent major lifestyle diseases and make you feel better. After all, exercise releases endorphins, your brain’s happy chemical.
The key to sticking to an exercise plan is to find a fitness system that works for you. Maybe that means walking three times a week, joining a gym, participating in fitness classes, or signing up for a team sport. Just find something that gets you moving. Ideally, you’ll want to mix aerobic activity with resistance training or strength training, which will help you build muscle and burn more calories while you’re at rest.
Action Item: Try to meet the federal exercise guidelines that suggest adults try to get at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise per week or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. To meet the standards, you could perform 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week or 15 minutes of high-intensity exercise five times a week. (Take at these 10 at-home bodyweight workouts to get started.)
If you can’t meet the federal guidelines just yet, don’t worry. Do what you can. Walking for ten minutes a day is still better than not moving at all. Over time, as your body gets stronger, increase your exercise time.
5. Embrace the Lifestyle Change
The secret weapon on how to lose weight in a healthy way is to embrace the mentality of lifestyle change. If you are unhappy with your weight and fitness level, you’ve got to change your habits and change them permanently. The overarching lesson from The National Weight Control Registry is that there is no one single diet, no single magic prescription that leads to guaranteed weight loss. Instead, Alexandra Sifferlin, writing for Time Magazine, summed up current research by writing, “… the best diet for you is very likely not the best diet for your next-door neighbor. Individual responses to different diets—from low fat and vegan to low carb and paleo-vary enormously.”
That’s good news. It means that you can find a system that works for you rather than following some fad diet. But it also means you’ll need to experiment with different systems and find not only a lifestyle that gives you results but one that you can maintain.
Weight loss is a marathon. It is something that you will need to manage for the rest of your life. Once you hit your goal weight, then focus on maintaining by keeping up the same good habits that helped you lose the weight.
Action Item: Set your expectations. Healthy weight loss doesn’t happen overnight (just like those extra pounds didn’t creep on overnight). Start slowly changing your eating habits, exercise habits, and thought patterns. The goal is to implement changes that will stick. Remember that it’s okay to go slow and to drop any habit that isn’t working. Make sure you are playing the long game, and you’ll see your results add up as the numbers on your scale go down!
You Are Not Alone
Losing weight and keeping it off is a long journey, and it’s rarely a smooth one, but you aren’t alone. At EōS Fitness, we want to give you the information, encouragement, and advice you need to choose healthy ways to lose weight. If you can’t make it to the gym, take a look at our growing collection of at-home workouts. Also, keep reading our blog to discover yummy and healthy recipes that are sure to become your new favorites.