Chances are you know someone whose following keto, doing intermittent fasting, or onto cabbage soup and grapefruit to shed some pounds. While a quick fix might seem like the best option to reach your weight loss goals, the reality is these diets can be hard to follow over the long-term and some can do more harm than good. The secret to weight loss is finding something you can stick with while keeping the weight off for good. Here are 8 science based tips you can start now that will help you reach your goals without landing you back where you started.
- Eat Protein: Crash diets that don’t contain adequate protein won't work even if they might produce some initial changes on the scale. Not only will they make you hungry and fatigued, but you end up losing muscle mass which makes it harder lose weight in the future. If you want to cut back on calories, don’t do it at the expense of protein. Make sure that every meal and snack has adequate protein about 25 grams for meals and 7 grams for snacks. This will keep hunger in check while ensuring you don’t lose your muscle mass at the same time. One more fun fact is that studies have shown that starting your meal with your protein choice first dramatically reduces hunger levels.
- Calories Do Count: Our overestimation of how much we are eating can make all the difference when it comes time to weigh in. Calorie restriction has been shown to activate AMPK, an enzyme important in energy metabolism. Higher levels of AMPK have been associated with numerous health outcomes, one of which is reduced abdominal fat.
- Curb Hunger with Fermentable Fiber: You can still cut back on calories without having to feel deprived. Processed carbohydrates (breads, pastries, cereals, starchy snacks and sweets) are easy to over consume and quickly add up. Instead, replace these foods with those rich in fermentable fiber like vegetables and fruit. Fermentable fiber improves the release of hormones in the gut tied to satiety. This hormones send signals to our brain that we're full. Just remember as your bump up your fiber intake to increase your water consumption too. This will ensure better digestion and keep everything moving as it should.
- Keep Insulin in Check: We often blame carbs as the reason for our weight gain, but in actuality it is constantly elevated insulin levels that makes us gain weight, and keep the weight on. Inflammation is at the root of high insulin levels, also known as insulin resistance. The best way to keep insulin levels in check is to lower inflammation by ensuring you have the right balance of protein, carbohydrate, and fat at every meal and snack.
- Stay Hydrated: Having a broth based soup as an appetizer or 16 ounces of water may help to curb how much food you consume during your meal. Try and keep a water bottle on your desk, in your bag, or when dining out finish your glass before your appetizer or entrée arrives.
- Keep Healthy Foods on Hand and in Sight: Having a supply of healthy snacks on hand allows us to make better decisions throughout the day. Small frequent meals every 3-4 hours that are balanced in protein, carbohydrate and fat help maintain stable blood sugars throughout the day making us less inclined to indulge should the opportunity come our way.
- Log it: There are so many apps for tracking what you eat and some of the features from scanning barcodes, syncing with your Fitbit, to online communities for support are great for accountability. That said it doesn’t matter whether you use a pen or paper or an app of your choosing. The data is clear that if you log it you’re less likely to overeat and that’s a good thing. Try the Zone Food Journal.
- Rev Up Your Workouts: High intensity interval training (HIIT) helps to burn more body fat as its been shown to increase AMPK activity. HIIT is based on doing intense bursts of exercise followed by an active recovery to keep your heart rate up and burn fat quicker. Not in your wheelhouse? It doesn’t take cutting edge fitness trends to make it work for you. Find an activity you enjoy doing and stick with it. Consider incorporating both strength training and cardio so you can maintain and build muscle while you torch calories too.
Making simple changes based in science is the most successful way to lose weight and keep it off. Just make sure your changes are simple, sustainable and fun. That’s the formula for success.