Try these seven tips for weight loss that are backed by science:
1. Weight Loss Tip #1: Cutting unhealthy calories is more efficient than exercise alone
When comparing diet vs. exercise for weight loss, it’s a lot easier to avoid eating high calorie foods than it is to burn off the same number of calories during a workout. This is why a combination of diet and exercise is important. Exercise will not be as effective if you come home from a work out and eat foods with empty calories like potato chips or cake. Exercise can also boost your appetite, so it’s important to consume healthy foods that will aid your body in shedding pounds stored from empty calories.
On the other hand, exercise is key for speeding up your metabolism. When you combine healthy foods with exercise, you increase your chances of keeping off those pounds.
2. Weight Loss Tip #2: Exercise boosts your metabolism
The effects of exercise outlast your workout. If you make exercise a part of your regular habits, then you will see lasting benefits even when you are not working out. Muscle needs lots of calories to work efficiently. This means that the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn, even while resting.
Exercise also boosts your mood. You may find that you are less interested in eating comfort foods when exercise is a regular part of your day. If you’re feeling happier then, you won’t be as drawn to eating sweets or other ‘treats’ to boost your mood. In her article “The Exercise Effect”, published by the American Psychological Association, Kirsten Weir discusses how exercise can help alleviate long-term depression and anxiety among other benefits. Our bodies are a whole-body system. If you eat healthy food and get regular exercise, then you will feel happier too. Feeling happy helps keep us healthy, because we are more likely to stick with healthy habits.
3. Weight Loss Tip #3: Try intermittent fasting
Try intermittent fasting instead of cutting back on calories or other diets. Intermittent fasting helps boost your metabolism while making it easier to plan meals. When you fast intermittently, you are dividing your day into two periods of eating. One period is reserved for eating meals and snacks and the other is your designated fasting time. For more information on intermittent fasting and how to break down your day into periods of eating and fasting see this article on intermittent fasting.
You can also read more about intermittent fasting in Scientific American in their article “How Intermittent Fasting Might Help You Live a Longer and Healthier Life.”
4. Weight Loss Tip #4: Listen to your body
Each of our bodies is a little bit different. Your body may respond faster to exercise than your neighbor’s. There are a variety of factors that are related to how our bodies respond to certain foods or exercise like genetics, lifestyle, and environment. For more information on genetic variants and exercise see this article originally published in the Biology of Sport.
Pay attention to what sorts of foods make you feel energized and how long this feeling lasts in your body. Certain foods, like foods high in sugar, may give you a quick boost of energy only to leave you feeling drained an hour later. You may also notice that a certain exercise routine suits you very well by leaving you feeling happy and energized. Pay attention to these signs from your body. Doing so will help you develop a body awareness that will help you make healthy choices in the future.
Learn from your body. It has a lot to offer.
5. Weight Loss Tip #5: Eat whole grains over refined grains
Some examples of whole grain foods are oatmeal, brown rice, and popcorn. Whole grains take longer for your body to digest than refined grains, because they are higher in nutrients and fiber. Refined grains are found in foods like white breads, sweets, cereals, and crackers. Your body converts refined grains into sugar and burns these off quickly or stores them as fat. Here’s an added bonus: Many of the whole grains, like oatmeal, are mood-boosting foods as well. See article:
For more information on choosing whole grains and recognizing refined grains see this article “Whole grains: Hearty options for a healthy diet” on the Mayo Clinic website.
6. Weight Loss Tip #6: Drink unsweetened drinks instead of sodas or sweet teas
If you drink a lot of sweetened beverages, like sweet tea or sodas that are high in sugar, then exchanging these drinks for unsweetened beverages can have a huge impact on your health and help you lose weight.
Instead of sweet tea, try unsweetened teas. If you are used to drinking beverages with a lot of sugar, then it may take some time before you are used to the unsweetened versions. Sugar, like salt, is one of those flavors that our bodies get acclimated to. The more of it you have the less you taste. This means that if you are eating a lot of sugar then you need more sugar to get the same flavor experience as someone who is not acclimated to that flavor.
Give your body time to adjust to the flavors of foods without added sugar, and you may discover a whole new flavor profile that is also healthy. For more on this topic see the article “Can We Be Trained To Like Healthy Foods?” in Scientific American.
7. Weight Loss Tip #7: Eat healthy fats
Your body needs healthy fats. They help support brain functioning, like the fats found in foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids for example. Healthy fats also help your body synthesize vitamins so that your body can put more of those vitamins to use. When you eat enough healthy fat then you may even lose weight, because you are helping to support your body’s natural processes.
Without enough healthy fat in your diet, your body may go into starvation mode and store excess pounds as a result. This is probably the response you were trying to avoid if you were eating a low-fat diet.
Not all fats are equal. Stay away from trans fats like those found in beef or pork fat. For more information on choosing healthy fats see the article “Dietary fats: Know which types to choose” from MayoClinic.org.