Many people want to lose weight, but have a difficult time successfully doing so. Those few that do reach their goal have a hard time keeping the weight off. Although there is not a “one size fits all” weight loss plan that is right for every person, there are a few strategies that are well established as being effective for most people:
- Eat breakfast and don’t skip meals. Prepare and consume a larger breakfast, a medium-sized lunch and a smaller dinner. Control portion size and try not to eat within 3 hours of bedtime.
- Stay hydrated with water and no or low-calorie beverages. Avoid or limit soda, juice and alcohol. These are considered “empty calories.”
- Give up fast foods, which are also typically loaded with calories. Pick foods that are low in fat and sugar, and high in protein (lean meats, low fat diary, legumes) and fiber (whole grains, fruit, vegetables).
- Keep a food diary to help determine what you eat and how much.
- When you get hungry, your body slows down how efficiently it burns calories; in essence, it goes into “starvation mode.” Eat enough food at regular intervals to keep you from feeling hunger. This may involve smaller, more frequent meals than the typical 3 per day.
- Avoid fad diets. These tend to cause the “yo yo effect”, which is rapid weight loss for a short period of time, followed by gaining all the weight back and then some. Most people should not lose more than 2 pounds per week.
- Try not to stress eat. Pick another activity such as a hobby or exercise when tempted to snack. Mild to moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk totaling 2 1/2 hours or more a week, helps with weight loss and keep the pounds off.
There are a number of medical conditions, including thyroid disease, depression, diabetes, sleep apnea, adrenal gland disorders and hormonal imbalance, that can make weight loss difficult. Certain medications likewise can be a problem. For more, read about when to see a doctor for help with weight loss. A visit to your physician can help rule out medical reasons why you may have a difficult time being successful with a weight loss program.
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