Weight loss is not the answer to every health problem, but if your doctor recommends it, there are tips to help you lose weight safely. A steady weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week is recommended for the most effective long-term weight management.
Many eating plans designed to help you lose weight leave you feeling hungry or unsatisfied, or they cut out major food groups and are not sustainable. These are major reasons why you might find it hard to stick to a healthier eating plan.
If you want to lose weight quickly, some of these tips may help, but quick weight loss is rarely sustainable. Focusing on long-term health and habits that you can stick with over time will help improve your health and are more likely to result in lasting weight loss.
How fast will you lose weight?
You may lose weight more quickly in the first week of a diet plan and then lose weight at a slower but more consistent rate after that. In the first week, you typically lose a mix of both body fat and water weight.
If this is the first time you are making changes to your diet and exercise habits, weight loss may happen more quickly.
Unless your doctor suggests otherwise, losing 1–2 pounds per week is usually a safe amount. If you’re trying to lose weight faster than that, speak to your doctor about a safe level of calorie reduction.
Aside from weight loss, a low-carb diet can improve your health in a few ways, though the long-term effects are not yet known:
- blood sugar levels tend to significantly decrease on low-carb diets
- triglycerides tend to go down
- LDL (bad) cholesterol goes down
- blood pressure improves significantly
You can reach your weight loss goals by incorporating a low-carb or low-calorie diet into your life, but the speed of weight loss depends on the individual.
General weight loss can sometimes improve certain markers of health, such as blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Tips for losing weight
Everyone has unique needs and different eating styles and tips may work better for you than someone else.
Here are some science-backed tips to help you lose weight that include healthy eating, choosing carbs carefully, and that aim to:
- reduce your appetite and hunger levels while keeping you satisfied
- produce consistent weight loss over time
- help improve your metabolic health at the same time
1. Cut back on refined Carbone
A way to help lose weight quickly is to cut back on sugars and starches, or carbohydrates. This could be with a low-carb eating plan or by reducing refined carbs and replacing them with whole grains.
When you do that, you may help curb your appetite, lower your insulin levels, and help you lose weight.
But the long-term effects of a low-carb diet are not yet known. A reduced-calorie diet could be more sustainable.
2. Eat protein, fat, and vegetables
Aim to include a variety of foods at each meal. To balance your plate and help you lose weight your meals should include:
- a protein sources
- fat source
- a small portion of complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains
Eating a recommended amount of protein is essential to help preserve your health and muscle mass while losing weight.
Evidence suggests that eating adequate protein may improve cardiometabolic risk factors, appetite, and body weight.
Generally, an average male needs about 56-91 grams per day, and the average female needs 46-75 grams per day, but many factors influence protein needs.
Healthy protein sources include:
- meat: beef, chicken, pork, and lamb
- fish and seafood: salmon, trout, sardines, and shrimp
- plant-based proteins: beans, legumes, quinoa, tempeh, and tofu
All vegetables are nutrient-rich and healthy foods to add to your diet, but some vegetables, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and corn, are higher in carbs.
These vegetables are considered complex carbs because they contain fiber, but you may want to be mindful of serving size when adding these vegetables to your plate.
Vegetables to include more of:
- Brussels sprouts
- Swiss chard
Your body still requires healthy fats no matter what eating plan you choose. Olive oil and avocado oil are great choices for including in your eating plan. Nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados are delicious and healthy additions, as well.
Other fats such as butter and coconut oil should be used only in moderation due to their higher saturated fat content.
3. Move your body
Exercise, while not required to lose weight, can help you lose weight more quickly. Lifting weights has particularly good benefits.
By lifting weights, you’ll burn calories and help prevent your metabolism from slowing down, which is a common side effect of losing weight.
Try strength training three to four times a week. If you’re new to lifting weights, a trainer may be able to help you get started. Make sure your doctor is also aware of any new exercise plans.
If lifting weights is not an option for you, doing some cardio workouts such as walking, jogging, running, cycling, or swimming is very beneficial for weight loss and general health.
4. Eat when hungry
Eating when hungry sounds simple: if you’re not hungry, you probably don’t need to eat yet. Feel free to eat as many — or as few — times per day as you feel is right for you.
Some people eat three times a day and occasionally snack in between (note that frequent snacking could mean that you’d benefit from adding protein, fibrous veggies, or extra fat calories to your meals, to increase satiety).
Some people only eat once or twice a day and never snack. Whatever works for you. Just eat when you’re hungry, and don’t eat when you aren’t.
5. Measure your progress wisely
Tracking successful weight loss is sometimes trickier than you’d think. Focusing primarily on weight and stepping on the scale every day might be misleading, cause unnecessary anxiety, and undermine your motivation for no good reason.
The scale is not necessarily your friend. You may want to lose fat – but the scale measures muscles, bone, and internal organs as well. Gaining muscle is a good thing. Thus, weight or BMI are imperfect ways to measure your progress. This is especially true if you’re just coming off a long period of semi-starvation (which may accompany calorie-counting), as your body may want to restore lost muscle. Starting weight training and gaining muscle can also hide your fat loss.
You can measure your waist circumference and weight before starting your weight loss journey and then perhaps once a week or once a month. Write the results down so that you can track your progress. If you want, you can measure more areas: around the buttocks, the chest, the arms, legs, etc.
Please note that your weight can fluctuate up and down several pounds from day to day, depending on fluid balance and digestive system contents. Don’t worry about short-term changes, follow the long-term trend instead.
6. Be persistent
It usually takes years or decades to gain a lot of weight. Trying to lose it all as quickly as possible by starving yourself does not necessarily work well in the long term; instead, it may be a recipe for “yo-yo dieting”.
In addition, you need to set realistic expectations for health and weight loss goals. It’s common to lose 2-6 pounds (1-3 kg) within the first week on a strict low-carb or high-satiety diet, and then on average about one pound (0.5 kg) per week as long as you have a lot of weight remaining to lose.
This translates into about 50 pounds (23 kilos) per year. However, weight loss doesn’t occur at this rate in everyone. Losing a lot of weight long-term and keeping it off will likely not happen unless you change your habits forever. If you lose weight and then return to living exactly the way you did when you gained weight, don’t be surprised when the excess weight returns. It normally will.
But that doesn’t mean that the diet you used to initially lose excess weight is the only diet that will work for you.
7. Avoid overeating fruit
This piece of advice is controversial, as fruit has an almost magical health aura today. While fruit does contain fiber, antioxidants, and important vitamins, it also contains a fair amount of sugar – around 10% by weight (the rest is mostly water)
Eating whole fruits in moderation – especially ones that are low in sugar, like berries – can be part of a healthy diet. The soluble fiber in fruit can help with short-term satiety; it also reacts with water in your gut to form a thick gel that helps delay and reduce the amount of sugar absorbed from that fruit. Up to 30% of the sugar from the fruit may not be absorbed.
Larger quantities of fruit, however, will deliver a significant sugar load to your intestines. Even if only 70% of that sugar is absorbed, 70% of a big number is still a big number.
8. Avoid drinking beer
Beer contains rapidly digested carbs that shut down fat burning. That may be why beer is sometimes referred to as “liquid bread.” There’s a good reason for the term “beer belly.”
Here are smarter (lower carb) alcoholic options when trying to lose weight:
- Wine (red or dry white)
- Dry champagne
- Hard liquor like whisky, cognac, and vodka (avoid sweetened cocktails – try vodka, soda water, or lime instead)
These drinks hardly contain any sugar or digestible carbohydrates so they’re better than beer. However, large amounts of alcohol might slow weight loss, so moderation is still a good idea.
9. Avoid non-caloric sweeteners
Many people replace sugar with non-caloric sweeteners in the belief that this will reduce their calorie intake and cause weight loss. It sounds plausible. Several studies, however, have failed to show an obvious positive effect on weight loss by consuming non-caloric sweeteners instead of plain sugar.
According to scientific studies, non-caloric sweeteners may increase appetite and maintain cravings for sweet food.
And one recent independent study showed that switching drinks with non-caloric sweeteners to water helped women lose weight.
10. Stress less, sleep more
Chronic stress and inadequate sleep may increase levels of stress hormones such as cortisol in your body. This can cause increased hunger, resulting in overeating and weight gain.
If you’re looking to lose weight, you should review possible ways to decrease or better handle excessive stress in your life. Although this often demands substantial changes, it may immediately affect your stress hormone levels and perhaps your weight.
11. Stay hydrated.
Drink water throughout the day and aim for half your body weight in ounces.
12. Eat slowly.
Eating quickly can lead to weight gain over time while eating slowly makes you feel fuller and boosts weight-reducing hormones.
To sum up, by reducing carbs or replacing refined carbs with complex carbs, you’ll likely experience reduced hunger levels. Feeling hungry is often why it’s difficult to maintain a weight loss plan, so it’s important to find a way of eating that leaves you feeling satisfied. Also, you can use the Habitomic app to help you add these habits for weight loss to your daily routine.