Four simple steps to lose weight, backed by science
The web is inundated with various stuff that tells you how to slim down. However, make sure to achieve a slow and steady weight loss of no more than 1/2 to 1 pound a week. Aggressive efforts to lose weight faster can damage your joints and reduce your muscle mass.
Here are four simple steps—which if followed religiously—can help you lose weight fast and at the same time help you achieve sustained weight loss too.
Cut back on sugar and carbohydrates: Sugars are present naturally in fruits. However, the added sugar in various food items causes sugar addiction. It makes your brain crave more sweets all day, making you overeat. If you want to lose weight, added sugars should not make up more than 10% of your daily diet. For example, if you eat 1800 calories a day, your sugar intake for the day should not exceed nine teaspoons. Added sugars are found in 75% of the packaged foods at the grocery store. Some of the various names that you can find written on the labels include:
- Corn syrup
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Raw sugar
- Cane sugar
- Evaporated cane juice
- Brown rice syrup
- Barley malt syrup
- Coconut palm sugar
Make it a habit to look for the nutrition section in the labels. If you know how much sugar is present in the packaged foods, you can limit your sugar intake accordingly. Sodas and some sports drinks contain a very high amount of sugar, so it is wise to substitute such sugary drinks with water to quench your thirst.
Eat a high-protein, low-carb, healthy-fat diet: This dietary pattern restricts the number of carbohydrates in your diet by substituting it with protein-rich food and limiting the intake of high-carb foods. The low-carb part can be followed in any of the two ways:
Very low carbohydrate (<10% carbohydrates) or 20-50 gm/day
Low carbohydrate (<26% carbohydrates) or less than <130 gm/day
You also have to limit your portion of refined carbohydrates:
- White bread
- White rice
- White pasta
Protein makes you feel full for a longer time and reduces your food cravings. Both of these factors promote weight loss. Additionally, include healthy sources of fat, such as nuts, nut butter (e.g. peanut butter), avocado, olive-oil-based dressings, canola oil, and trans-fat-free margarine for baking.
Eat vegetables and fruits: Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and are filling. You can reduce your calorie intake by substituting the high-calorie foods with fruits and vegetables. Additionally, some fruits and vegetables are also rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C (cantaloupe, orange, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, and cabbage) that play a role in weight loss.
Exercise: Exercises and diet are no separate issues when it comes to weight loss. You can aim for weight loss with any of the two kinds of exercises:
- Strength training: Gaining one pound of muscle through strength-training exercises will help you burn 5-10 extra calories a day.
- Cardio exercises: This can be in the form of fast walking, jogging, bicycling, or swimming. Any of these will do. When it comes to burning the most calories, go for cardiovascular exercises.
If you want to lose weight, aim for at least three hours of moderate-intensity exercise in a week. If you follow a calorie-restricted diet and exercise, you can get away with a minimum dose of 150 minutes (2.5 hours) a week. High-intensity workouts make you lose weight fast.
Remember, fad diets and high-intensity exercises may not be suitable for everyone. Some fad diets may damage the heart or kidneys in the long run, whereas high-intensity exercises without adequate nutrition may make you emaciated and fatigued. Hence, it is advisable to discuss with your doctor and gym trainer regarding the most appropriate diet and workouts for you, particularly if you suffer from diabetes, heart disease, or kidney problem.