The idea of shedding pounds quickly is enticing, particularly when certain diets or social media posts make it seem more realistic than it actually is. In reality, jumping on overly restrictive diets usually causes people to regain the weight previously lost – plus additional pounds – when normal eating resumes.
So, what can help you steadily lose weight and keep it off in the long run? It's as simple as making small tweaks to your daily lifestyle. That’s right. The healthy, science-backed solutions are way more simple than diet culture would have you believe.
Instead of constantly switching between different diets, a more manageable and sustainable approach to weight loss can be achieved by making small healthy changes to your diet, lifestyle, and exercise routine.
Here are 10 nutritionist-approved tips to aid your weight loss efforts.
1. Eat on a regular schedule
When it comes to weight loss, eating on a consistent schedule can be a game-changer. Eat at regular intervals to keep your hunger in check. Your body will get used to the routine and be better able to burn calories.
You just need to find a routine that works for you. Set a schedule, like having breakfast at 7 am, lunch at noon, a snack at 3 pm and dinner at 7 pm. Once you get into the habit of eating at these times, your body will get used to it and you'll feel hunger at the right times.
It's also important to give your body time to digest before going to bed, so try to finish your last meal at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. This way, your body will be able to burn the fuel it needs, and you'll avoid eating during the times when you're least active.
2. Eat more veggies with your meals
Including vegetables with every meal is a simple strategy for weight loss. They help to crowd out more calorie-dense foods that often lead to overeating and increased hunger. Vegetables are low in calories, but high in fibre and nutrients, which means they can help you feel full with less food.
Start your day with a veggie-packed breakfast, add a side of vegetables to your lunch and dinner, or use vegetables as the main ingredient in your meals. Examples include a spinach and mushroom omelette, vegetable smoothie, roasted broccoli or cauliflower, sautéed spinach or bell peppers, zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, or a vegetable stir fry.
3. Keep a food diary
Keeping a food diary can help with weight loss in several ways. Not only does it act as an accountability buddy, but it allows you to track your food intake and identify any areas where you may be consuming more calories than you realise. This can help you make more mindful choices about what you eat and make adjustments as needed.
A food diary can also help you identify patterns in your eating habits, such as overeating at certain times of the day or reaching for certain foods in response to certain emotions. By being aware of these patterns, you can make changes to your routine to help you on your weight loss journey.
It doesn't have to be complicated, just take a minute or two at the end of each day and write down what you ate and drank. You could even use an app like MyFitnessPal or another mobile app that allows you to track your intake easily.
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4. Don't rely on low-fat products
We’re bombarded with messages about the dangers of fat. But low fat doesn't mean low calorie or nutrient-dense - it may actually be worse.
The trouble is that many food makers replace fats with sugar, flour, thickeners, and salt to make up for the loss of flavour. That can amount to a lot of calories. In fact, reduced-fat products often contain almost the same number of calories per serving as full-fat versions.
Instead of looking for products with health claims, such as "low fat," concentrate on eating fats that are healthy for you. Some examples of healthy fats include olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, and plant-based oils such as canola and sunflower oil.
5. Make the nutrition label your source of truth
Reading nutrition labels can feel overwhelming, but it's a great way to make informed decisions about food. To help you navigate nutrition labels for weight loss, make sure you check serving size, number of calories, fat content, added sugars, fibre content, and sodium. By taking the time to read nutrition labels, you'll be able to make better choices that can help you reach your weight loss goals.
6. Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages
Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda and sports drinks, are high in calories. While it's true that sugary drinks don't have any fat or protein to fill you up, they do contain lots of sugar. It might surprise you to learn that you shouldn’t be getting more than 5% of your daily calories from added sugar sources.
If you're drinking sodas every day or even once a week, try switching out your usual drink for water with lemon slices or other unsweetened beverages like seltzer water with stevia drops added instead.
7. Plan your meals and snacks in advance
Planning your meals and snacks in advance is a great way to stay on track. When you plan ahead, healthy options are readily available and there’s less temptation for unhealthy snacks or takeout.
Plus, it saves you time and energy in the long run, since you don't have to constantly think about what to make or eat on the spot. Try setting aside a few minutes each week to plan out your meals and snacks for the upcoming days. It's a simple step that can make a big difference in reaching your weight loss goals.
8. Balance is key
When it comes to weight loss, it's important to remember that restriction is not the key. Instead, try to focus on making healthy choices and listening to your body's hunger cues. Enjoy a variety of foods, including some of your favourites in moderation. It can help prevent feelings of deprivation and make your weight loss journey sustainable in the long run.
9. Avoid eating carbs before bedtime
Eating carbohydrates before bedtime can cause an increase in blood sugar levels, which can disrupt sleep and lead to weight gain. When our bodies are at rest, our metabolism slows down and doesn't require as many carbohydrates for energy. Instead, it's better to focus on eating lean protein and vegetables for dinner, which will keep you feeling full and satisfied without causing a spike in blood sugar levels.
10. Invest in a split-portion plate
Portion control plates can be a handy tool when it comes to weight management. They visually guide you on appropriate serving sizes for different food groups.
Use a plate with designated sections for different types of food, such as vegetables, protein, and grains, to make it easier to get the right balance of nutrients while keeping your portions in check. This can help prevent overeating and make it easier to monitor your calorie intake.
The numan take
Achieving your weight loss goals should not only improve your overall well-being but also be long-lasting. Focusing on lifestyle changes, rather than temporary fixes, will ensure that you’ll make it last.
Remember that a healthy weight is not just the number on the scale. It's about feeling good in your own body and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Be patient with yourself and make small changes that you can maintain in the long run.