According to 2014 research, most people who search for tips on how to lose weight will come across false or misleading information on weight loss.
“Fad” diets and exercise regimens can sometimes be dangerous as they can prevent people from meeting their nutritional needs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the safest amount of weight to lose per week is between 1 and 2 pounds. Those who lose much more per week or try fad diets or programs are much more likely to regain weight later on.
A variety of research-backed methods exists to help a person achieve a healthy weight safely. These methods include:
1. Keeping healthful snacks at home and in the office
People often opt to eat foods that are convenient, so it is best to avoid keeping prepackaged snacks and candies on hand.
One study found that people who kept unhealthful food at home found it more difficult to maintain or lose weight.
Keeping healthful snacks at home and work can help a person meet their nutritional needs and avoid excess sugar and salt. Good snack options include:
- nuts with no added salt or sugar
- prechopped vegetables
- low-fat yogurts
- dried seaweed
2. Cutting out processed foods
Processed foods are high in sodium, fat, calories, and sugar. They often contain fewer nutrients than whole foods.
According to a preliminary research study, processed foods are much more likely than other foods to lead to addictive eating behaviors, which tend to result in people overeating.
3. Eating more protein
A diet high in protein can help a person lose weight. An overview of existing research on high-protein diets concluded that they are a successful strategy for preventing or treating obesity.
Collectively, the data showed that higher-protein diets of 25–30 grams of protein per meal provided improvements in appetite, body weight management, cardiometabolic risk factors, or all of these health outcomes.
A person should eat more eggs, chicken, fish, lean meats, and beans. These foods are all high in protein and relatively low in fat. Lean proteins include:
- beans, peas, and lentils
- white poultry
- low-fat cottage cheese
4. Quitting added sugar
Sugar is not always easy to avoid, but eliminating processed foods is a positive first step to take.
According to the National Cancer Institute, men aged 19 years and older consume an average of over 19 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Women in the same age group consume more than 14 teaspoons of added sugar a day.
Much of the sugar that people consume comes from fructose, which the liver breaks down and turns into fat. After the liver turns the sugar into fat, it releases these fat cells into the blood, which can lead to weight gain.
5. Drinking black coffee
Coffee may have some positive health effects if a person refrains from adding sugar and fat. The authors of a review article noted that coffee improved the body’s metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.
The same review highlighted an association between coffee consumption and a lower risk of diabetes and liver disease.
6. Staying hydrated
Water is the best fluid that a person can drink throughout the day. It contains no calories and provides a wealth of health benefits.
When a person drinks water throughout the day, the water helps increase their metabolism. Drinking water before a meal can also help reduce the amount that they eat.
Finally, if people replace sugary beverages with water, this will help reduce the total number of calories that they consume throughout the day.
Evidence in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that refined carbohydrates may be more damaging to the body’s metabolism than saturated fats.
In response to the influx of sugar from refined carbohydrates, the liver will create and release fat into the bloodstream.
To reduce weight and keep it off, a person can eat whole grains instead.
Refined or simple carbohydrates include the following foods:
- white rice
- white bread
- white flour
- many types of cereal
- added sugars
- many kinds of pasta
Rice, bread, and pasta are all available in whole-grain varieties, which can aid weight loss and help protect the body from disease.
9. Fasting in cycles
Fasting for short cycles may help a person lose weight. According to a 2015 study, intermittent fasting or alternate day fasting can help a person lose weight and maintain their weight loss.
However, not everyone should fast. Fasting can be dangerous for children, developing teenagers, pregnant women, older people, and people with underlying health conditions.
Using smaller plates can have a positive psychological effect. People tend to fill their plate, so reducing the size of the plate can help reduce the amount of food that a person eats in one sitting.
A 2015 systematic review concluded that reducing plate size could have an impact on portion control and energy consumption, but it was unclear whether this was applicable across the full range of portion sizes.
16. Consuming whey protein
People who use whey protein may increase their lean muscle mass while reducing body fat, which can help with weight loss.
Research from 2014 found that whey protein, in combination with exercise or a weight loss diet, may help reduce body weight and body fat.
17. Eating slowly
Eating slowly can help a person reduce the total number of calories that they consume in one sitting. The reason for this is that it can take the brain some time to realize that the stomach is full.
One study indicated that eating quickly correlates with obesity. While the study could not recommend interventions to help a person eat more slowly, the results do suggest that eating food at a slower pace can help reduce calorie intake.
Chewing food thoroughly and eating at a table with others may help a person slow down while eating.
18. Adding chili
Adding spice to foods may help a person lose weight. Capsaicin is a chemical that is commonly present in spices, such as chili powder, and may have positive effects.
For example, research indicates that capsaicin can help burn fat and increase metabolism, albeit at very low rates.
19. Getting more sleep
There is a link between obesity and a lack of quality sleep. Research suggests that getting sufficient sleep can contribute to weight loss.
The researchers found that women who described their sleep quality as poor or fair were less likely to successfully lose weight than those who reported their sleep quality as being very good.
20. Increasing regular cardiovascular and resistance training
Many people do not exercise regularly and may also have sedentary jobs. It is important to include both cardiovascular (cardio) exercise, such as running or walking, and resistance training in a regular exercise program.
Cardio helps the body burn calories quickly while resistance training builds lean muscle mass. Muscle mass can help people burn more calories at rest.
Additionally, research has found that people who participate in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can lose more weight and see greater improvements in their cardiovascular health than people who are using other popular methods of weight loss.
People looking to lose weight safely and naturally should focus on making permanent lifestyle changes rather than adopting temporary measures.
It is vital for people to focus on making changes that they can maintain. In some cases, a person may prefer to implement changes gradually or try introducing one at a time.
Anyone who finds it challenging to lose weight may benefit from speaking to a doctor or dietitian to find a plan that works for them.
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