If your clothing is feeling tighter than it used to, these 10 safe and healthy weight loss tips will enable you to lose weight consistently without harming your health.
It’s tempting to crash diet to lose weight fast, but starvation diets are usually a recipe for failure. They’re difficult to stick to, and they can leave you feeling weak, light-headed, and on edge. Any weight lost through this type of diet is usually quickly regained. And, the longer you follow the diet, the greater the risk is that your health will suffer.
If you have a lot of weight to lose, these tips will not enable you to drop one or two clothing sizes in a week. They will, however, provide you with everything you need to come up with a sustainable, healthy weight loss plan that will enable you to shed your excess pounds consistently, over time. It will take you longer to reach your goal weight, but you will be able to keep the weight off without feeling starved or drained of energy.
Losing weight and maintaining weight loss is a lot easier if you exercise regularly. Physical activity speeds up the metabolism, enabling you to burn more calories. Done regularly, it can help you to maintain and increase your lean body mass, which in turn will boost the number of calories you burn. This being the case, we will also look at some exercise tips.
10 Safe and Healthy Weight Loss Tips That Work
1) Don’t rush weight loss
The first of these safe and healthy weight loss tips is one of the most important of all, that being not to rush weight loss. When dieting, it’s natural to want to shed your excess weight quickly. But losing weight quickly isn’t healthy. It can also make it harder to maintain your weight loss for the long-term. Some health problems associated with rapid weight loss include heart beat irregularities, anemia, gallstones, and constipation.
It’s common to lose more weight during the first few weeks of a diet. Much of this is due to water loss. Weight loss then tends to slow to around one to two pounds a week. This is a good rate to lose weight. It will lead to better health, which, along with wanting to improve our appearance, is the aim of dieting.
Rapid weight reduction results in a loss of lean muscle. The more lean muscle we have, the more efficient our metabolism is. When we crash diet, our metabolism slows to store calories (energy) needed for our bodies to function. When this happens, weight loss slows down. At this point, dieters often eat even less in an attempt to lose weight. This tactic usually backfires, starting an unhealthy eating pattern.
When crash dieting, along with a shortage of calories, your body doesn’t get sufficient nutrients. Additionally, drastic calorie restriction is not sustainable for very long. When your willpower to continue with the diet fails, overeating can result. With a slower metabolism, you will gain weight more readily than you did before starting the diet. This can lead to yo-yo dieting.
2) Set realistic goals
Safe and healthy weight loss is easier to achieve if your diet and exercise goals are realistic. For long-term success, set goals that you can live with and incorporate into your daily lifestyle and schedule.
If you pledge to eat only 1,000 calories a day for six months or to exercise for two hours every day when you have never exercised before, you will be setting yourself up for disappointment. People who set such goals can become overwhelmed at the enormity of the task ahead. When they slip up, they see themselves as failures and may give up on dieting and exercise, vowing to “start again next Monday.”
Be specific about what you want to achieve and keep a diet and exercise journal to record your progress. Set short-term, specific goals, you will be able to keep. Aim to eat 500 calories less per day than you do currently and to exercise for 20 to 30 minutes, four of five times a week. Every day and week that passes with you accomplishing this will encourage you to continue.
Aspiring to have the perfect body will also lead to disappointment that could sabotage your efforts. No matter how much we diet and exercise, very few of us will end up looking like a super model. If we are pear-shaped and we lose weight, we may still carry more weight on our hips and thighs than we would like to. Apple-shaped women may never get the tiny waist they aspire to. Accept this, and you will find it a lot easier to stick to a diet and exercise plan.
3) Think before you eat
Before reaching for a second serving, ask yourself if you truly are hungry. Sometimes, when we think we are hungry, we are in fact dehydrated, so be sure to drink at least 8 x 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
Many of us eat when we are stressed or bored. Numerous studies have found that when we are, we have a tendency not just to overeat, but to eat unhealthy, calorie-laden foods that are high in processed carbs, sugar and fat. Along with contributing to the development of heart disease and other medical problems, overeating won’t solve whatever it is that’s bothering you. When you realize how many calories you’ve consumed, you will feel worse.
The first step to eliminating this habit is to be aware that you are not hungry, then find an alternative to eating. There are plenty of things you can do other than eat that will be better for you. Go for a walk or a jog, do some work in the garden, or take up a craft. If your keep busy you will be less likely to think about food, and being active will help to lower your stress level.
4) Weigh yourself often
The bathroom scale is your friend, not your enemy. Numerous studies have shown that people who are successful at losing weight and keeping it off long-term weigh themselves regularly. If you rarely weigh yourself, you can gain weight and not be aware of it.
In one study, one-third of women who didn’t weigh themselves for six months had no idea they had gained five pounds. One-quarter of the women had unknowingly gained nine pounds.
A recent study of 40 dieters with a BMI of 25 and over analyzed 2,838 weigh-ins (up to 12 months worth). Published in Plos One, the study revealed that the participants who weighed themselves often lost the most weight. It also showed that those who weighed in less often than weekly gained weight.
It is not known if the reason for this is because less serious dieters weigh themselves less often, or if after losing weight dieters who plateau or reach their goal stop monitoring their weight.
5) Eat more fruit, vegetables, cereals, and whole grains
Fresh fruit and vegetables are healthy, and the latter are usually low in calories when eaten raw, boiled, baked, or steamed. Use herbs and spices to add flavor and variety. Select fruit and veggies that are in season. These will be cheaper, and they will taste better. Steer clear of canned fruit packed in syrup and deep fried vegetables. Stir-fries are fine if you use only a small amount of olive oil. Mashed vegetables are good, providing you don’t add butter.
Fresh fruit makes an excellent snack. Chopped or pureed it can be eaten with low-fat yogurt for breakfast or dessert. Some vegetables and most fresh or frozen fruit can be used in smoothies. Just be sure to use low-fat milk and yogurt, or coconut milk as a base. Canned fruit is okay providing it is packed in natural or unsweetened juice. Fruit can also be poached, stewed or baked, and served with a scoop of low-fat yogurt or fat-reduced custard for dessert.
6) Become acquainted with food labels
Many seemingly healthy packaged foods contain hidden fat, salt, and sugar. Foods labeled as being high in whole grains can contain more sugar than grains, and trans fat free food can contain partially hydrogenated oils, which are a source of trans fats.
Fresh food is always best whether you are trying to lose weight or you just want to stay healthy; however, there’s no denying the convenience of packaged foods. If you are going to include them in your diet, keep in mind that the percentage of the ingredients listed on the packet will be listed in descending order. The food will contain more of the first two or three ingredients, and often only trace amounts of those lower on the list.
When shopping for breakfast cereals, bread and the like, check to see that the word “whole” is in the first ingredient. For example, whole oats, rye, wheat, or some other grain. An easy way to know without reading the ingredients list is to check the nutritional facts panel and see how many grams of fiber the food contains. Look for foods with 3 grams or more of fiber per serving. These will keep you feeling full for longer.
Ingredients ending in “ose” – sucrose, fructose, dextrose – are a form of sugar, such as honey or corn sweetener. These have the same effect on the metabolism as regular sugar, and they can contribute to weight gain. Every 4 to 5 grams of sugar the product contains is equal to one level teaspoon.
Saccharin, Aspartame, Sucralose and Acesulfame are often used to sweeten low-calorie beverages and yogurt. While these artificial sweeteners can assist with weight loss, they can be harmful if often consumed in large quantities.
Partially hydrogenated oils are a primary source of trans fats. These are even more detrimental to our heart health than saturated fats. Foods labeled as “trans-fat free” can contain up to half a gram of trans fats per serving.
When buying margarine and vegetable oils, choose those with liquid vegetable oil listed as the first ingredient, and look for one with 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon or less.
Sodium Nitrites and Sodium Nitrates are used to preserve some meats. Research strongly indicates that they are linked to cancer, so limit your intake of preserved meats. If you choose to eat them, choose nitrite-free versions whenever possible.
Artificial colorings are added to some packaged food to improve its appearance. They provide no nutritional value, and though research is inconclusive, they may pose health dangers. For this reason, steer clear of foods containing color names such as Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40, Red 3, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, and Orange B.
The flavor enhancer Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is another food additive to avoid. No studies have proven without a doubt that it can be harmful. However, some people who eat foods containing MSG experience an unpleasant reaction that is known as MSG Symptom Complex, which causes headaches, sweating, flushing, shortness of breath, and a fluttering heartbeat.
7) Experiment with healthy food choices
When formulating a healthy weight loss plan, experiment with healthy choices.
If your diet comprises mainly highly processed foods with lots of sugar, salt and fat, you may think that healthy food is bland. However, healthy does not need to be plain.
When you use top quality produce, and you prepare and season it well, lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables don’t need unhealthy additives to taste great. And, when you become accustomed to their natural flavors, junk food will lose its appeal.
Following are some tips that will change your mind about healthy food being boring.
Fish, Poultry, and Tofu
- Marinating proteins before cooking them enhances their flavor and helps to keep them moist and tender. Adding acidic ingredients such as vinegar, citrus juice, or yogurt to the marinade will help to tenderize the protein.
- Rub dry seasoning powder onto the surface of the protein, or add the seasoning to a small amount of mustard or crushed garlic, and oil or yogurt. Refrigerate the food for between 30 minutes and three or for hours to enable it to penetrate the protein before cooking it.
- Squeeze lemon juice over the protein, then add finely chopped parsley, a light drizzling of olive oil, or a couple of dashes of soy sauce. Alternatively, top it with sliced avocado with a squirt of lime juice, a dollop of salsa or tomato sauce, or sautéed onions or mushrooms.
- Poach fish and poultry in vegetable, fish, chicken or mushroom stock to add flavor. If desired, add some sliced lemon, onion, garlic, fresh herbs, and peppercorns to the stock.
Whole Grains & legumes
- Toast whole grains in a small amount of olive oil over medium heat to bring out its nutty flavor.
- Season whole grains with spices such as cinnamon, ginger, dried orange peel, ground cumin, or curry powder.
- Add chopped onion, broccoli, tomato, diced pepper, grated carrot, or other vegetables, and some garlic and herbs such as parsley, basil, thyme or oregano.
- Cook grains or legumes in diluted tomato juice, vegetable, mushroom or chicken stock.
- Buy fresh vegetables whenever possible, otherwise snap frozen.
- Saute vegetables in broth, wine, or a small amount of flavorsome olive, sesame, or walnut oil.
- Roast vegetables to bring out their sweetness.
- Blanch, then stir-fry vegetables in a little oil with garlic and a drizzle of soy sauce.
- Add some sliced apple, pear or orange to a green salad, or toss some golden raisins into a broccoli stir-fry for sweetness.
- Mix several veggies together. They can taste better eaten this way, and they are more visually appealing.
- Use garlic, onions, soy sauce, vinegar, and citrus juice to season vegetables.
- Top cooked vegetables with seeds, nuts, or a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
- Purchase fresh fruit in season, or buy it frozen.
- Sprinkle fruit with a sweet spice such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves, citrus juice, or a few drops of balsamic vinegar.
- Use fresh or frozen fruits to make protein shakes.
- Use a range of fruits when making fruit salad. Add a dollop of plain nonfat yogurt sweetened with a drizzle of pure maple syrup.
NB If you don’t like low-fat dairy, eat a small serving of full-fat. Full-fat dairy products usually taste better, so you should be satisfied eating less.
8) Don’t drink your calories
When dieting, we tend to focus on the foods we should and shouldn’t eat, and we may forego sugary drinks, but neglect to take other liquid calories into account. Many so-called “healthy” drinks can be a source of hidden calories and carbs, and the difference between losing weight or not. Fruit juice is one of the biggest culprits. Even 100% juice with no added sugar is a bad choice while dieting. Dilute your juice with 50% water, and you will save around 50 calories per glass.
Fresh fruit is an even better option as it contains fiber, so you will be satisfied consuming less of it. When drinking a 330 ml small bottle of orange juice, you are drinking the sugar of 4 oranges, and for dieters, there is no such thing as “good” sugar.
Cappuccinos, mocha coffees, and lattes contain around 150 calories. Drink two or three a day, and the calories quickly add up.
An Americano or filter coffee, on the other hand, is calorie-free. Add a dash of soy, almond, or regular milk if you don’t like black coffee. If you must have all milk, make it skim milk and will be saving 65 calories per cup.
If you take sugar, substitute it with a natural sugar alternative such as stevia or xylitol. Steer clear of syrups, and opt for a sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg for flavoring instead.
Tea contains zero calories. If, however, you drink several cups of it a day with milk and sugar, you will be consuming a lot of calories and carbs. Try drinking your tea unsweetened, or as an alternative try a herbal tea.
Beer contains carbs and sugar. Drink light beer instead off dark, and you will save about 50 calories. Switch from regular beer to light beer. Make your wine a spritzer – half wine, half seltzer -, and you will be taking in 50% fewer calories.
Use club soda in place of tonic, and diet soda instead of regular soda. Order margaritas and similar drinks “on the rocks.” Alternate alcoholic beverages with seltzer or water and you will cut calories by 50%.
Water is a dieter’s best choice to quench thirst. Add some sliced fruit to a jug of chilled water for a refreshing, naturally sweetened beverage.
9) Exercise regularly
No safe and healthy weight loss program would be complete without exercise. Try to build more activity into your daily routine, and make time for your favorite aerobic activities. An obesity study involving 439 adult female participants found that those who cut calories and exercised regularly lowered their body fat percentage considerably more than the women who only dieted.
For the most benefit, exercise aerobically for a minimum of 20 minutes at a time, at least three times a week. To accelerate weight loss do longer and more frequent sessions. If you incorporate even 15 minutes of moderately paced exercise daily – such as walking for one mile – you will burn about 100 extra calories. Providing you don’t eat more than you currently do, this alone can equate to you losing 10 lbs over the course of a year.
10) Vary your workout
When we always do the same workout, our body adapts to its demands. The more efficient our bodies become, the less effective the workout is, and the fewer calories we burn. To ensure your body continues to burn as many calories as possible, follow the FIIT principle, this being Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type.
These are the four factors that determine the amount of stress placed on the body during workouts. Changing one or more of them will continually challenge your body in new ways, forcing it to adapt. By changing one or two of these factors at least every four to six weeks, you will avoid hitting a weight loss plateau.
To maximize weight loss, do regular HIIT workouts. A 2013 study at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse found that participants who did a 20-minute High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout burned 15 calories every minute. This is approximately twice the number of calories they burned during long running sessions. And, unlike steady-state cardio workouts, HIIT workouts enabled the exercisers to burn up to 40 percent more calories after the workout, and for up to 24 hours later.
A typical HIIT workout involves working at maximum intensity for 20 seconds, resting for 10 seconds, repeating this until you’ve logged four minutes. Rest for 60 seconds, then repeat the sequence, doing four rounds in total. Click here for more information on HIIT cardio workouts.
Do weight training. People with lean muscle burn more calories than those with a high percentage of body fat. A twelve year Harvard School of Public Health study involving 10,500 adults found that those who trained with weights for 20 minutes a day gained less abdominal fat than those who did daily cardio workouts.
10 Healthy Weight Loss Tips Summary
These healthy weight loss tips work and they’re really not that difficult to implement. Limit your intake of sugar and focus on eating lean proteins, healthy fats, fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Find an exercise you love and undertake it regularly. It’s that simple.
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