People strive to lose weight for myriad reasons, and many fall into the fad diet trap promising real results fast. While there are certainly ways to accelerate your weight loss efforts, it’s important to understand that shedding pounds too quickly can actually backfire.
Like so many parts of life, safe, successful and sustainable weight loss is more about the journey and less about a scale-based destination and rapidly approaching deadline. Read on for expert advice on the best ways to lose weight—and keep it off.
15 Tips for Safe and Sustainable Weight Loss, According to Experts
1. Implement Long-Term Lifestyle and Behaviour Changes
When trying to lose weight, ban the word “diet,” suggests Albertson. Dieting can be unpleasant and make you hungry, so you constantly think about food, which is exactly what you don’t want when trying to lose weight. Instead, she recommends thinking of weight loss as a part of getting healthier and concentrating on taking care of your body first.
“Weight loss is complicated and you don’t have total control over the number on the scale, but you do have control over what you eat, how much you move and other factors that impact weight, such as stress and sleep,” says Albertson. She suggests setting SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-sensitive—goals and rewarding yourself when you hit them.
2. Focus on the First 5% to 10%
Instead of saying, “I need to lose 25 pounds,” and overwhelming yourself with what seems like an impossible goal, look toward the health benefits that can come from even modest weight loss.
“Set smaller, achievable targets,” suggests Bennett. “Losing only 5% to 10% of your total body weight (TBW) can greatly improve your health and lower your risk for illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.”
3. Reduce Your Intake of Ultra-Processed Carbs and Sweets
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals what you eat is most important for weight loss. The pounds will come off more quickly if you improve the quality of the foods you ingest.
“One of the healthiest ways to shed weight is to reduce your intake of sugar and rapidly metabolised carbohydrates,” says Bennett. “In particular, you want to cut out or drastically curtail your intake of high-glycemic-load foods, such as sugary snacks, processed carbs and soft drinks. When you avoid or cut back on French fries, chips, crackers and the like, you’ll speed up your weight loss.”
4. Eat More Plants
“Produce supports weight loss because it’s rich in fiber and water, which are both calorie-free yet take up space in your stomach so you feel full,” says Albertson. In fact, a Brazilian study found a direct correlation between increased fruit and vegetable consumption and enhanced weight loss.
Albertson suggests aiming to consume five daily servings of produce to start and working up to seven to nine servings a day. “Start your day with a green smoothie, have a salad or cut up vegetables with your lunch and eat fruit for snacks and desserts,” she says. “For supper, have more stir frys, incorporate veggies into your pasta dishes and stir them into soups.”