How to Lose Weight - The Healthy Way
How Lose Weight the Healthy Way
If you carry excess weight or suffer with obesity, reducing your body fat levels, increasing your metabolic rate and improving your nutritional status will be an integral part of getting and staying healthy for the long-term. In particular, slimming down will be an essential step in doing your best to avoid unpleasant and potentially serious illnesses, such as diabetes, digestive disorders and heart conditions.
You need to ensure that your weight management programme is sensible, effective and sustainable.
The often overly complex steps involved in some slimming plans can feel daunting, but losing weight really isn't that complicated. Forget about "diets" and instead focus on a holistic weight loss regime that involves all aspects of your life, including everything from a well-balanced diet and a regular exercise regime, to healthy digestion, a strong immune system and good hydration.
This natural approach to weight loss, along with a commitment to wholesale lifestyle change, should have you shedding pounds in no time and, what's more, they are more likely to stay off for the long-term. It is also important to note that you won't be losing weight at the expense of your general health and well-being; on the contrary, you will be heading towards optimal nutrition.
In stark contrast, "fad diets" involving drastically-reduced food choice and/or calorie intake can damage your health, lead to nutrient deficiencies, cravings and bingeing - which in turn also eventually lead to weight gain and low morale. They also set you up to fail, because they usually impose unrealistic restrictions that no one can manage for a lifetime.
While weight loss does, of course, require some effort, the steps that will help you to achieve your weight loss goals are actually quite easy to integrate into your everyday life - once you know what they are! And then, once they form part of your daily routine, you will be able to sustain them.
Step 1: Reduce your intake of sugar, simple carbohydrates and unhealthy fats
The first thing you need to do when you are trying to lose weight healthily is to reduce your intake of "empty" calories from bad fats and simple carbohydrates (including sugar), often found in processed and refined foods.
High-sugar drinks (like soda and concentrated fruit juices) and sugar-filled and salty foods (like chocolate, cakes, cookies and crisps) are great as occasional treats, but consuming them too often will obviously impact your weight loss efforts. What's more, regular intake of these foods can be damaging to your health by affecting your blood sugar levels, body fat levels, digestion, heart health, toxic load and more.
But a word of caution - do not eliminate all fats from your diet! You need to ensure that you have a good supply of healthy unsaturated fats every day. The fats to avoid are saturated fats, which are found in (for example) ready-meals, meat and dairy products.
Failing to recognise this important distinction is a common mistake amongst slimmers and can actually hamper your weight loss efforts, as fatty acids play a crucial role in healthy weight loss, along with a wide range of other vital functions in the body affecting your general health and well-being (including healthy hormone levels). Examples of these beneficial fats and essential fatty acids include Omega 3, 6 and 9 oils. They can be found in a variety of natural fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholegrains, such as flaxseed, oily fish, hemp and kelp.
Step 2: Increase your intake of nutritious whole foods
If one side of the coin is to reduce your intake of unhealthy foods, the other side is of course to increase your intake of healthy foods. Many people mistakenly think that, to lose weight, they have to starve themselves. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, starvation diets actually tend to promote weight retention, as the body's natural instinct is to hang on to fat in these circumstances as a defence mechanism.
So, eat little and often. And make sure that you are packing your diet with plenty of natural whole foods, such as seasonal and organic vegetables, sprouts (rich in enzymes) and fruit. Although, when it comes to fruit, eat it in moderation - although the sugars it contains are natural, they are still sugars and can hamper weight loss if eaten in large quantities.
By eating a well-balanced diet of natural whole foods, you will not only be reducing your calorie intake in a natural and healthy way, you will also be upping your intake of nutrients that are essential for weight loss and a stronger, healthier you. For example, antioxidants, Omega oils, dietary fibre, digestive enzymes, phyto-chemicals, lean plant protein, complex carbohydrates vitamins and minerals.
A broad spectrum of such nutrients will support a faster metabolism, a lower toxic load, a healthy digestive system and stable blood sugar levels (the best appetite suppressant!). What's more, in the absence of nutrient deficiencies, you are far less likely to experience the cravings usually experienced while dieting - at least, they should be far more manageable.
Step 3: Increase your dietary fibre intake
Just as not all fats are equal, the same goes for sources of fibre. While breads containing processed flour, and cereals containing bran, for example, can often cause intestinal irritation while providing little by way of nutrients, proper whole grains are packed with nutrients and should be sought out as part of a healthy weight loss regime. If you are going gluten-free, try millet, quinoa, teff and amaranth as healthy alternatives!
Beneficial dietary fibre from whole grains helps to support the efficient digestion of foods, the full absorption of nutrients, natural cleanse and detox, the elimination of waste and toxins from the body and - particularly helpful for slimmers - a full tummy for longer (helping to reduce snacking and over-eating) and stable blood sugar levels (to stave off cravings)!
Step 4: Plan for healthy snacks
Speaking of snacking, having a selection of healthy snack options to hand is an essential component of successful weight loss, especially in the early stages when you might still be tempted to reach for high-sugar foods and slip back into old bad habits.
As mentioned above, healthy eating does not mean starving yourself. In fact, you will most likely see a greater level of success if you try to eat more often - providing of course that you are eating the right kinds of foods and and sensible portion sizes.
So, when you fancy a snack in-between meals, make it a healthy one - try a nutrients-fortified meal replacement shake, a tasty protein powder, naturally dried fruits, fresh fruit and/or raw vegetables.
Step 5: Don't forget to get moving!
When trying to slim down, it is often a temptation to ignore exercise and simply focus on losing pounds and seeing improvements in body measurements. However, healthy weight loss has to be about more than just the numbers. Your inner health (including everything from digestive efficiency and immune system strength, to heart function, lymphatic drainage, metabolism speed and even your mood and energy supply) is directly affected by your level of activity.
While changing your eating habits for the better is clearly essential for weight loss, long-term success will usually evade you if you don't also increase your level of physical activity (taking into account your health status and any pre-existing conditions, of course - always consult your doctor).
If this doesn't come naturally to you, try to find activities that you enjoy, like riding a bike, swimming or playing in the park with your kids, and make them a part of your daily routine. It's never going to work if you dread the activity as "exercise".
Also try making some smaller changes, like parking your car further from the supermarket or taking the stairs instead of the lift. These will all burn additional calories and help to cleanse and detox your body, by getting your lymphatic system going!