Focus on physical activity and nutritious foods to help you lose weight
Losing weight and staying in shape is a long-term struggle for many people. Most people find lasting change to come from making conscious and sustainable changes to their lifestyle and eating habits.
Losing weight and keeping it off isn’t just about what and how much you’re eating. It’s about creating a balance between healthy eating habits, exercise, and a lifestyle that keeps you energized and in good health.
How many calories do you need to lose weight?
Current dietary guidelines recommend that adults consume between 1,600 and 3,000 calories (energy from food) per day.
Active people, especially athletes, need more calories than inactive people. And if you’re young, you need more calories than an older person whose metabolism slows down with age.
To lose about 1kg per week, you need to burn more calories than you consume 500 calories per day. You can do this by limiting your intake of high-calorie foods and burning extra calories with physical activity. You can use a heart rate monitor, smartwatch or app or activity tracker to track the calories you burn.
Losing weight and maintaining it can be easier than you think when you focus on developing positive eating and lifestyle habits.
Here are a few to try:
1. Find nutritional balance
To maximize your health while losing weight, cut calories by replacing foods that don’t have much nutritional value with foods that have a greater nutritional effect.
For example, choose fewer high-carbohydrate snacks like cookies or canned fruit, and choose an extra serving of vegetables at each meal.
For lunch and dinner, try to plan meals that have 50% vegetables, 25% carbohydrates or starches, and 25% lean protein.
The best foods for weight loss typically include a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats, and plenty of water. The body uses protein to build muscle, so protein-rich foods can help you maintain muscle mass while losing weight.
Even if you’re trying to cut calories, it’s important to meet your nutrient needs. Your recommended diet includes:
- 45% to 65% carbohydrates.
- 20% to 35% fat.
- 10% to 35% protein.
Fat contains 9 calories per gram, while carbohydrates and protein give you 4 calories per gram. So if you follow a 2,000-calorie diet, you’ll want to:
- 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates.
- 44 to 78 grams of fat.
- 50 to 175 grams of protein.
2. Control your appetite
Hunger can often get in the way of the best weight loss plan, and that’s normal. When you cut calories, your body will “scream” more.
To better satisfy your cravings, replace processed carbohydrates that your body burns quickly with foods that provide longer-lasting energy.
Instead of muffins or sugary cereal, try eggs or Greek yogurt so you don’t go hungry right after breakfast.
3. Don’t judge foods
Many of us grow up being told some foods are “good” and others are “bad.” But this thinking is not helpful.
When you tell yourself you can’t have certain foods, it often makes you crave them more – making it even harder to lose weight. It also makes you feel guilty when you have a human moment and eat some dessert.
You can replace that outdated “diet” mindset by focusing on eating mostly healthy foods and adopting other positive lifestyle habits. Instead of feeling guilty about the occasional indulgence, you can feel good about the positive steps you’re taking – while still enjoying the food.
4. Plan your meals in advance
It’s hard to lose weight when you are constantly overwhelmed by hunger and you consume food for convenience instead of nutritious food.
Planning and eating regular meals helps you make healthier choices and control your appetite. A healthcare provider, dietitian, or registered dietitian can help you get personalized nutrition recommendations and assist with your meal planning.
With expert assistance, you can also come up with an eating plan that includes the foods you want to eat and an exercise plan based on your preferences.
5. Drink lots of water
Sometimes you may think you’re hungry and need more calories when you’re really just thirsty. While more research is needed, water can be a great ally when it comes to weight loss.
Water helps the body get rid of unnecessary things, such as waste or toxins, which add to unwanted weight. It can also help you feel fuller.
How much water should you drink? At least 8 glasses of water throughout the day.
6. Exercise regularly
You don’t have to do triathlons to lose weight. But effective weight loss requires you to find ways to burn more calories than you consume. Eating is one part, exercising is another.
The minimum goal to aim for is 150 minutes per week (or 30 minutes, five days per week). You can start by walking. Add in stretching exercises to build flexibility and strength training to boost your metabolism and continue to build muscle.
7. Set achievable goals
Start with small, specific and realistic goals, then build on them.
Focus on the choices you make relative to the weight you lose. Allow yourself to feel good about every positive step you take or small goal you achieve.
8. Seeking Support
You don’t have to go on your weight loss journey alone. Ask family members and friends for support, especially when you’re feeling down. If you have a friend with similar goals, try to work together to keep them motivated and on track.
Why is it important to lose weight safely?
Healthy weight loss means you lose about half or 1kg per week. It sounds like a small number at first, but consider this: If you weigh 80kg and lose 1kg per week, in 10 weeks, you’ve lost 10kg.
Rapid weight loss can also affect your metabolism. This slows down your calorie burn rate and can actually make it harder for you to lose weight.
It’s important to remember that a healthy and balanced diet is only one part of a successful weight loss process. It is essential to maintain the active lifestyle habits you have established to lose weight.