There is no one single best way to lose weight for everyone, but there are strategies that can help most dieters become more successful. Here are seven things experts say people can do to lose those extra pounds for good:
1. See a doctor and discuss the best way to lose weight.
Always get your doctor’s approval before starting any diet or exercise program. Many times people go on fad diets to drop pounds; however, there could be medical reasons they’re not losing weight. People may also be taking medications or have other conditions that prevent them from dropping extra pounds. Most importantly, sometimes people may have a health condition that requires a specific type of diet.
2. Modify your diet some way.
Once you’ve talked over your concerns with your doctor and discussed your health, follow his or her advice. Your doctor may recommend a few diet programs for you like the DASH diet or the American Heart Association diet. The most important aspect of any diet is that you consume less energy than you’re using every day and you find some kind of plan you can live with forever. You may figure out something quickly or you may have to find a plan for eating through trail and error.
According to the National Weight Loss Registry (NWCR), 98 percent of people who are successful at losing weight permanently modify their diet in some way. Forty-five percent of the registry participants lost weight on their own; fifty-five percent lost extra pounds following some type of program.
The NWCR was established in 1994 and is the largest prospective investigation of people who achieve successful weight loss maintenance. The organization was developed to identify the characteristics of people who have lost extra pounds and have kept them off for the long-term–they’ve lost at least 30 pounds and kept them off for at least one year. The NWCR follows up with successful dieters annually with detailed questionnaires, and the organization also documents the strategies they use to stay slim.
3. Exercise at least one hour a day.
Ninety-four percent of successful NWCR participants report that they increased their activity levels; most reported walking as their main form of exercise.
Numerous studies consistently reveal that people who exercise regularly drop the most pounds, says Stuart Wolpert in the UCLA Magazine article “Dieting Doesn’t Work.”
Besides helping people keep pounds off permanently, regular exercise has several health benefits too. It helps people have more energy, and it helps fight depression, says Delia Cabe in the Prevention article “10 Reasons to Move.”
4. Write down everything you eat and what you’re feeling.
Writing down all the food you eat quite possibly doubles the number of pounds you can drop. A study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that dieters who documented their food intake each day lost double the number of pounds compared to other dieters in a control group (Australian).
Write about your feelings too. Many times people overeat because they’re feeling frustrated, angry, resentful, jealous and even happy. Keeping a food journal will help you see patterns in your eating habits. Once you realize why you’re eating when you’re not really hungry, you’ll be able to overcome the tendency to indulge. Research shows getting group support can also help overcome emotional eating.
5. Weigh yourself often.
Seventy-Five percent of successful participants, according to the NWCR, report weighing themselves at least once a week.
Weighing yourself often will help keep you accountable to your food choices.
According to a December 2006 Nutrition Action Health Letter article “The Weighing Game,” many people who keep the pounds from coming back check in with their scale daily. In an 18 month study, only 26 percent of the participants who weighed themselves every day regained five pounds compared to 58 percent of those who did not weigh themselves daily.
6. Eat more fat burning foods.
As long as it’s okay with your doctor, eat more low-fat and non-fat dairy and more protein like eggs. According to several studies, dairy and high-protein foods help fight fat.
Although many people avoid dairy products to drop pounds, experts say eating three daily servings of cheese, low-fat milk and yogurt can help you drop additional pounds and keep them off.
A study from the Curtin University of Technology strongly supports increasing dairy intake to five servings a day for weight control. Participants in the study who ate five servings of dairy every day for more than 12-weeks lost more fat, saw a greater drop of systolic blood pressure and saw a greater percentage of stomach fat loss than those in a control group (Dunn). Many experts believe it’s the calcium in dairy that fights fat.
Eggs are packed with protein and are believed to increase muscle mass and increase strength. People who eat eggs for breakfast, are more likely to consume fewer calories during the day and burn more fat, says Jim Stoppani in “50 Rules of Fat Burning” published in Joe Weider’s Muscle and Fitness.
7. Go Vegan
You can give up counting calories and carbohydrates by choosing a low-fat vegan diet. Going vegan is becoming more and more popular and mainstream. Many people are experiencing vegan weight loss by following a low-fat plant-based diet. Here are some tips to lose weight the low-fat vegan way:
- Avoid meat, poultry, fish and all dairy products.
- Avoid processed foods and refined grains.
- Avoid eating a lot of nuts and go easy on avocados.
- Watch out for prepackaged vegan products that contain a lot of fat and sugar.
Here’s what you can eat on a low-fat vegan diet:
- All varieties of vegetables
- All varieties of legumes
- All whole grain products including breads and pastas as long as they’re low in fats
- All fruits.
- Soy products as long as they’re not high in fat
Make sure to get necessary nutritional requirements by taking vitamin B12, calcium, omega-3 and vitamin D supplements.
Cabe, Delia. “10 Reasons to Move.” Prevention. February 2009, Vol. 61 Issue 2, p86-89.
Dunn, Josette. Weight Loss Expert Supports Diary in Diets. Nutridate. March 2010, Vol. 21 Issue 1, p8.
National Weight Control Registry.
Stoppani, Jim. “50 Rules of Fat Burning.” Joe Weider’s Muscle and Fitness. September 2009, Vol. 70 Issue 9, p100.
“The Weighing Game.” Nutrition Action Health Letter. December 2006, Vol. 33 Issue 10, p10-10.
Wolpert, Stuart. “Dieting Doesn’t Work” UCLA Magazine. April 4, 2007.
“Writing Down Every Morsel Doubles Weight Loss When Dieting.” The Australian. July 12, 2008.