Are you overwhelmed and confused by all the weight loss advice bombarding you? Whether you’re just beginning a weight-loss journey or you’ve been on one without success, read through these expert tips that will effectively help you reach your goals.
Eat These Three at Every Meal
Focus on eating all three macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) at every meal to ensure you’re getting enough of each daily. Carbs give you energy, protein builds muscles and satiates hunger, and healthy fats keep you feeling fuller longer. You can experiment with your daily macro ratio, but for weight loss, registered dietitian and personal trainer Jim White, RDN, ACSM, recommends starting with a breakdown of 40:30:30 — 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat.
Eat Foods With 1 Ingredient
The bulk of what you eat should be made of healthy, whole foods made from one ingredient or a combination of one-ingredient foods (like Ezekiel bread). Limit the processed carbs, excess sugar and salt, and packaged foods made with artificial ingredients. Registered dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD, of Whole Health Nutrition recommends choosing whole grains such as oats; fruits like berries; veggies like courgette and leafy greens; healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and seeds; and lean proteins like beans and eggs.
Allow For Treats
It’s also important to allow for some treats. Fitness trainer Autumn Calabrese, creator of the 21 Day Fix and 80 Day Obsession, said, “You also need to be consistent with your healthy eating. That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect all the time, but you do have to be on top of it. I like the 90/10 rule. I know a lot of people say 80/20, but if you’re really trying to lose weight, then 90 percent of the time, you need to be eating healthy, clean food in the proper portions.” That leaves 10 percent for the foods you crave that may not be so healthy.
Dieting usually leads to extreme calorie restriction, which often includes swearing off certain foods. Registered dietitian Leslie Langevin says “cutting out too much” isn’t sustainable. Avoiding foods like sugar, alcohol, and carbs can make you feel so deprived that you won’t be able to control those natural cravings, forcing you to overindulge. You’ll end up consuming way more calories than you would normally, which can make the scale numbers go up.
Diets don’t work, and research shows that 95 percent of people who lose weight on diets will gain it back within one to five years. That’s because they are impossible to maintain long-term. What you need to do is find a nourishing, sustainable way of eating that offers you enough calories, nutrients, and energy to live a healthy, happy life, whether that’s by eating a plant-based diet, going Mediterranean, or following another nutritious eating plan.
Veggies Are Key
Registered dietitian and cocreator of Beachbody’s 2B Mindset nutrition program Ilana Muhlstein, MS, RDN, said vegetables are the food group you want to be filling up on the most. “They are high in volume and weight and fill up our stomachs, which helps us register the feeling of fullness,” Ilana said. When you’re hungry and sit down to eat a meal, get at least five to six bites of veggies in first.
Leslie also says to include veggies in every single meal and snack. They’re low in calories, which means you can eat tons without gaining weight. Registered dietitians Stephanie Clarke, RD, and Willow Jarosh, RD, of C&J Nutrition agree and say that veggies are also high in fibre, so they’ll satiate your hunger longer, which helps you consume fewer daily calories.
Eat These Carbs to Target Belly Fat
Speaking of fibre, dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, MS, RD, recommends eating soluble fibre to burn more belly fat. Up your intake of soluble fibre, including foods such as oat bran, barley, lentils, beans, and some fruits and veggies like cauliflower, apples, and citrus fruits.
Try Intermittent Fasting
If you’ve tried losing weight through healthy eating and exercise without success, many experts recommend trying intermittent fasting (IF). It’s defined as having a period of time when you eat (called your eating window) and a period of time when you don’t eat (called your fasting window). It allows you to eat larger meals and eat the foods you want, which is why people love it so much — it doesn’t feel restrictive.
There are many different forms of IF, so do your research and find one that makes the most sense for your life and your schedule. One common method is called 16:8, where you fast for 16 hours and eat for eight (such as 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). If that seems too extreme, do 12:12, where you eat from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Aside from this being a sustainable lifestyle, fasting expert Jason Fung, MD, a nephrologist (kidney specialist) and the author of The Complete Guide to Fasting, says the reason IF is so effective is because it keeps insulin levels low, which is necessary for weight loss. It can help people lose weight and help diminish stubborn belly fat.
Abs Really Are Made in the Kitchen
People tend to think that the first step in trying to lose weight is to start exercising more. Fitness guru Bob Harper says that people think they can solely hit the gym and get the body they want, but “you have got to focus on what you’re eating every single day and at every single meal,” he said. “You’re going to get the body you want by working out in the kitchen.”
Bob also said that some people see exercise, especially cardio, as a means to burn off the food they ate or as an excuse to indulge later. While eating the foods you love in moderation is important, putting such an emphasis on cardio could backfire because “that high-intensity cardio will actually make you hungrier.” So if weight loss is your goal, focus more on diet and less on exercise.
Focus on These Types of Workouts
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise, because it can absolutely speed up your results and make you stronger and more confident. Many people turn to steady-state cardio like running for a straight 30 minutes. Although it will burn calories, it’s not the most effective workout for losing weight.
ACE-certified fitness instructor John Kersbergen said, “The most efficient way to get results is to do some form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for a total-body workout and to focus on strength training certain body parts (upper body, lower body, core) on different days of the week.”
For strength training, bodyweight exercises could be enough — like squats, for example — but adding weights will get results faster. Also, focus on “total-body compound movements that recruit more muscles and burn more calories,” such as dumbbell thrusters. You only need to do 45-minute workouts three to four times a week to get results, so try this 45-minute HIIT workout.
Drink Enough Water
Ilana said, “Rather than food right away, I recommend that each meal start with drinking water first.” Aim to drink 16 ounces of water before reaching for your first bite of food. To help you remember, when you sit down to eat, make sure you have a big water bottle or two eight-ounce glasses. Ilana said you may find yourself feeling fuller, so you eat less.
Drinking tons of water throughout the day is also important not only to fill you up, but also because staying hydrated can give you energy so you’re less tempted to reach for sugary pick-me-ups. No need to chug down a gallon of water a day, but aim for at least 60 to 80 ounces a day. If plain water bores you, add lemon or grapefruit slices.
Get Enough Sleep and Take Time to Chill
Sriram Machineni, MD, director of the Medical Weight Clinic at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and assistant professor at UNC’s School of Medicine, said that “sleep deprivation is linked to higher levels of stress, both of which are closely associated with weight gain.” If you haven’t slept well, you’re more likely to crave sugar for energy. On the other hand, when we get enough good quality sleep (seven to nine hours a night), we feel more energized and inspired to focus on weight-loss strategies.
High cortisol levels from stress can also affect your weight. Charlie Seltzer, MD, a physician board-certified in obesity medicine, said that cortisol is an appetite stimulant, which explains why when you’re stressed, you want to eat. And you can have a harder time saying no to carb-heavy, fatty junk foods. So take time each day to relax, whether it’s with yoga, meditation, reading on the couch, or listening to calming music.