If you are like millions of other Americans, your goal is to lose weight. But when you try to put those goals into action you may be quickly overwhelmed by the information available in the oversaturated weight-loss industry — or suspicious of some of the promises that sound just a little too good to be true. Here are a few myths that you can debunk and hacks for losing weight the healthy way.
Facts: Starving yourself is a big mistake when it comes to losing weight. Healthy nutrition is important for energy, fat loss, and maintaining muscle. If you starve yourself, your body will burn muscle, not fat. Eating tons of healthy foods will not make you fat, especially if you are engaging in a regular exercise routine.
Facts: The market is flooded with all sorts of fad diets and schemes that are rarely helpful. As diets go, yes you can lose weight but about 95% of people will gain the weight back. Creating a restrictive, controlling relationship with food can worsen a weight problem. Ditch the dieting for a more mindful eating approach that does not deprive you of all the things you enjoy. Lasting results depend on incorporating healthy habits into your daily lifestyle. It truly needs to become a way of life!
Facts: It helps to limit the number of meals you consume out of the home, especially fast-food options that can challenge you with large portions. But it doesn’t have to deter you from enjoying a few meals out with no cleanup! Planning is key. Using some simple tips like checking menus ahead of time to ensure the restaurant has a healthy option available is helpful. Having a meal choice ready to go can reduce impulse choices when you are looking at the menu or the table next to you. Try ordering from the appetizer menu, requesting a half portion, or packing up half before you start eating. Even sharing your meal with someone can all help cut down on the portions consumed.
Facts: We have all done it – eaten something with plans to ‘work it off later.’ While both nutrition and exercise are crucial, there's no single component that reigns as king for weight loss. You can't outrun the effect of a poor diet by simply exercising more. Regular physical activity and good dietary habits go hand in hand when it comes to your long-term health and longevity. You can work hard & build muscle, but if you eat junk food all day, you won’t lose weight.
Facts: While a 100-calorie bag of chips and a 100-calorie piece of fruit contain the same amount of energy, the source of those calories changes how your body uses them. Our bodies work harder to process whole foods like vegetables, legumes, and whole grains than it does processed foods like chips, candy, and sugary cereals. When you eat unprocessed foods or whole foods your body uses more energy breaking it down and you gain more nutrients.
Now if you are looking to still shed some weight, you will need the right set of tools and a positive attitude. It can be a lot to take on but with some planning, you can get on your way. Skip the ‘fad diet’ tricks and aim for a healthy and effective weight loss journey. Check out these simple hacks to get you started:
We tend to set ourselves with filling our fridge or pantry with tempting foods. Take time to clean out your kitchen and stock it with healthier alternatives. Keep healthy snacks accessible so you have quick go-to options. Think cut-up veggies, hummus, Greek yogurt, whole grain crackers, and nuts. Also, consider using the smaller plates you have in the cabinet. We tend to eat everything on our plate, so using a smaller plate can lead to smaller portions and lower caloric intake.
Don’t starve yourself throughout the day and go into starvation mode as nighttime hits. You are likely setting yourself up for bad nighttime habits. Not eating enough during the day can cause you to eat excess calories at night, often high-calorie and sugary snacks. Take some time to make a healthy meal and snack plan, purchase the items and get to work prepping. Having things ready to go improves your chance of sticking to a consistent eating routine. Consume those calories earlier in the day when you can move around and burn them off!
Consuming empty calories from drinks like soda, juice, and alcohol can add extra calories. On average, Americans consume 400 calories from drinks each day. That can add up and pack on the pounds. Focusing on making better choices when it comes to your drinks is important for staying on track and ensuring you get the best ‘bang for your buck’. Our bodies are most efficient when we consume plenty of water, but if you are in the mood for something other than water try unsweetened green tea. It is packed with antioxidant compounds and some studies have linked it to greater body fat and body weight reduction.
Sleep seems simple enough but prioritizing it will help you have greater success with losing weight. Lack of sleep can cause you to feel hungrier and crave carb-rich foods because our bodies are craving quick energy. Research has also shown that lack of sleep can contribute to obesity. It is best to set up a healthy sleep routine that includes going to bed and waking up simultaneously, turning off electronics, avoiding caffeine and alcohol at night, and setting up a comfortable environment. Get zzzs for optimal health!
Protein foods like lean meats, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, avocado, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish such as salmon are all great choices. Protein keeps us fuller longer, is satisfying, and can ramp up our metabolism. Consuming the appropriate amount of protein will help you cut down on food cravings and help reduce late-night munching. Stick to protein throughout the day and you will lose weight the right way.
No ’fad diet’ tricks here – losing pounds quickly and gaining them back again is not a healthy option. Overcoming our bodies’ resistance to weight loss requires a patient and gradual approach. When we slowly lose weight through manageable changes, they will more likely to become long-term habits we can sustain. And weight lost slowly is more likely to stay lost! Check out these other tips for losing weight and keeping it off:
Even 10 minutes of activity each day has been linked to improved weight loss and successful maintenance. Setting time aside to move your body not only helps with weight loss but puts you in a healthy eating mindset and helps reduce overall stress levels. Go for a walk, take a yoga class, do chair exercises or just get up and dance!
Keeping a log can help keep you accountable and track trends. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming either. Record the times of day, the contents of what you eat, and how you are feeling. It can help make you more aware of your habits and help you lose weight successfully.
For most, exercise is not a replacement for a healthy diet. And we should not rely solely on working out to lose weight. Focus on balancing consistent activity and a healthy diet to see results. With improved strength and endurance, we can add more resistance, reach for heavier weights or go on longer walks. And our bodies will naturally start burning more calories.
Let others around you know that you are trying to make good health choices. Try to encourage them to help keep you accountable and possibly join in. Invite them to go on a walk or come over to try a new recipe. The more the merrier and the better chance of staying on track!
There are no shortcuts to losing weight. Try incorporating these healthy tips to form good habits for a healthier lifestyle. And remember, comparison can be the thief of joy. If we compare ourselves to others, we may be left with the feeling of failure, and does not create a healthy environment. Choose goals that are sustainable for you and your lifestyle.