Are you struggling to shed those stubborn pounds that seem to cling to your body no matter what you try? Or, are you tired of the endless cycle of crash diets and extreme workouts only to regain your lost weight, leaving you feeling defeated and frustrated? You’re not alone.
In this article, we unveil the top 10 practical strategies for sustainable weight loss that will help you shed those unwanted pounds and transform your lifestyle for good. But before that, let’s consider why losing weight rapidly is unhealthy.
Why Losing Weight Fast is Not Healthy
Rapid weight loss tends to be associated with extreme measures such as fad diets, crash diets, severe calorie restrictions, or excessive exercise regimens. These methods can lead to many detrimental consequences, both physically and mentally. The consequences include:
When you try to lose weight quickly by severely restricting calories, you deprive your body of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients for optimal functioning.
Nutrient deficiencies can decrease energy levels and weaken your immune system and overall health, leaving you drained and more susceptible to illness.
Muscle mass is crucial for weight loss as it helps burn calories and boost metabolism. Rapid weight loss involves extreme weight loss methods or crash diets with a caloric deficit or lack of adequate protein and fat.
Due to the lack of adequate protein and fewer calories, the body often resorts to breaking down muscle tissue for energy instead of fat, leading to significant muscle loss.
When significantly restricting your calorie intake, your body may adapt by slowing down its metabolic rate to conserve energy. This metabolic slowdown slows calorie conversion, making it harder to continue losing weight.
It may even become difficult to maintain sustainable weight loss once you return to your regular eating pattern because your body will become more efficient at storing calories, contributing to weight regain.
Also, since lean muscle mass regularly plays a vital role in metabolism, when it decreases, it ultimately slows down your metabolism, making it harder to maintain weight loss in the long term.
Regaining Weight in the Long Run
Rapid weight loss can often lead to a yo-yo weight cycle which most dieters experience. A yo-yo weight cycling is a pattern of losing and regaining weight repetitively. The process usually occurs when you engage in rapid or extreme weight loss methods followed by a return to previous eating habits or lifestyle choices.
When you lose weight rapidly, mainly through restrictive methods, your body responds by breaking down muscles and slowing your metabolism. It can even slow the metabolism permanently, making it easier to regain weight once you return to your everyday eating habits.
The body’s natural response to rapid weight loss is to compensate for calories by increasing hunger and cravings and reducing metabolism. This heightened appetite can lead to overeating and difficulty choosing healthy foods, making it challenging to maintain a calorie deficit for sustained long-term weight loss.
Furthermore, lower metabolism can reduce the burning of calories, leading to increased body fat. This can lead to weight gain, hindering your progress toward sustainable weight loss and overall fitness goals.
Tips and Ways for Sustainable Weight Loss
Most people prefer fad diets and quick weight loss programs to achieve immediate results that do not stay for longer. However, the healthy way to lose weight sustainably is by focusing on long-term health habits. These habits include:
1. Being Mentally Prepared
Weight loss is a long-term commitment that requires time and effort. Before embarking on the journey of sustainable weight loss, take the time to assess your mental and physical readiness and dedication to making sustainable lifestyle changes.
Be mentally ready to recognize that sustainable weight loss is a gradual process that requires patience, consistency, and self-compassion. This will help you push on when you don’t see results as early as expected. It sets the foundation for success.
Physical and emotional readiness involves changing your eating and physical habits. Be prepared to create time for workouts and adopt a balanced and nutritious diet that may need you to cut out some of your favorite meals, especially calories.
Some questions to ask yourself to know if you are ready include:
- Why do you want to lose weight, and what are your motivations?
- Are you ready to change your eating habits, especially if you are using food as a stress reliever?
- Do you have time to work out? If not, are you ready to create time?
- Are you ready to change your activity habits?
- Do you need help from a professional or gym buddy to achieve your goal?
It is recommended to talk to a professional before undertaking the journey if you have any hindrances, such as using food to cope with stress or emotional issues.
2. Set Realistic Weight Loss Goals
Avoid setting overly ambitious targets that may be difficult to achieve and maintain when setting weight loss goals. Instead, focus on creating small, realistic goals that can be accomplished in a reasonable timeframe. For instance, losing 1–2 pounds of weight weekly is a recommended sustainable weight loss goal you can achieve.
However, before looking at the outcome goal, consider factors such as the process of achieving the outcome goal, your current weight, lifestyle, and personal circumstances when setting your goals.
An example of a realistic goal with a process is walking for an hour daily to burn 500 –1000 calories more than what you consume to lose 2 pounds or running for two hours to burn 1000 calories more than what you consume daily for you to lose 5% of your body weight. Aim for a weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week, as this is the recommended amount to lose weekly.
If you have a challenge setting healthy diet and fitness goals, consider consulting with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian who can guide you in setting appropriate goals tailored to your needs.
3. Create Carb Deficit
To promote sustainable weight loss, consume fewer calories than you burn. However, you should not create a calorie deficit that does compromise your overall well-being.
You can create a carb deficit by reducing the number of starches, sugar, and carbohydrates you take daily by adopting a low-carb diet eating plan or cutting back on refined carbs and replacing them with whole-grain food.
Refined carbs are often calorie-dense with little satiety. Reducing and replacing these foods with plant-based or whole grains can decrease your overall calorie intake, creating a calorie deficit that promotes weight loss.
Adopting a low-carb eating plan means consuming fewer carbs than your body burns, which makes your body turn to burn stored fat as an alternative energy source. This process, known as ketosis, enhances fat burning and supports sustainable weight loss goals. Even research on the older population shows that consuming reduced carbohydrates supports weight loss.
A low-carb diet also reduces appetite, leading to low-carb consumption and preventing overeating.
4. Consume Whole Foods
Whole foods, mainly fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, are excellent sources of dietary fiber. Fiber adds bulk to your diet and slows digestion, promoting feelings of fullness for longer. The increased satiety reduces overeating and supports weight loss by reducing overall calorie intake.
Whole foods also include protein foods. Lean protein is highly satiating. Adding it to your diet curbs your appetite, keeps you feeling full for extended periods, reduces the likelihood of overeating, and maintains a calorie deficit necessary for weight loss.
Furthermore, adequate protein helps preserve lean muscle mass during weight loss, necessary for maintaining a healthy metabolism and body composition.
Although numerous factors alter protein requirements, according to The Food Drug and Administration, an average male requires 56-91 grams daily, and an average female needs 46-75 grams daily.
Healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon, also play a crucial role in sustainable weight loss. When you consume fats, they take longer to digest, which helps slow the emptying of the stomach and promotes sustained energy. This can prevent snacking between meals, leading to sustainable weight loss and overall fitness.
The table below shows some foods you should consume when losing weight.
|Plain Greek yogurt
5. Engage in Regular Physical Activity
While you can achieve sustainable weight loss without working out, engaging in regular physical activity with a calorie deficit can help you achieve your sustainable weight loss goal. Exercise helps burn calories you can’t lose through dieting alone. It also strengthens your heart system, improves mood and blood pressure, and boosts metabolism, resulting in sustainable weight loss.
Find aerobic exercises you enjoy, such as walking, jogging, dancing, or cycling, and incorporate them into your workout routine. You can also do strength training exercises at least twice weekly to support weight loss and improve overall fitness.
6. Practice Portion Control
When striving to lose weight, don’t consume more food to compensate for the time you will not eat. Instead, be mindful of portion sizes and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
If you can’t control the portion you serve, use smaller plates and bowls to visually control portion sizes, and avoid eating directly from large packages, which can lead to overeating. Also, chew your food slowly and savor each bite. This will allow your brain to register feelings of satisfaction.
7. Drink A lot of Water
Drinking adequate water is essential for weight loss and overall health. Research shows that drinking more water supports weight loss regardless of exercise and diet.
Adequate water intake helps to boost metabolism and combat hunger by suppressing appetite and sugar cravings. Your body also needs water to burn calories.
For sustainable weight loss, aim to drink at least 8 cups (64 ounces) of water daily or more if you engage in intense physical activity or live in a hot climate.
8. Manage Stress
Stress can have a significant impact on your overall health and weight management. Identify your stressors or factors contributing to your stress and find a way to control them.
One of the effective ways to manage stress is by engaging in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Regular exercise can also help relieve stress by releasing endorphins, natural mood boosters.
9. Seek Support
Working out alone can sometimes be boring. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support whenever you feel like giving up. Consider joining a weight loss support group, working with a registered dietitian or a personal trainer, or enlisting the help of friends and family members with similar goals. A support system can provide encouragement, accountability, and guidance throughout your weight loss journey.
10. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is directly connected to hormonal regulation, particularly the hormones that control appetite and satiety. When you have inadequate sleep, the ghrelin ‘’hunger hormone’’ increases, while the leptin hormone —responsible for signaling fullness, reduces.
These effects increase appetite and cravings, particularly for high-calorie and carbohydrate-rich foods, causing overeating or making it more challenging to make healthy food choices and stick to a weight loss plan.
But a good night’s sleep contains the hormones and gives you the necessary energy to engage in physical activity, which is crucial for weight loss.
Sustainable weight loss is not about quick fixes or temporary solutions. It’s a journey that requires dedication, consistency, and the implementation of effective strategies. By incorporating these ten strategies into your lifestyle, you can achieve lasting results and transform your body and health.
Choose some strategies from this list and commit to implementing them into your daily routine today.