Keep a weight loss diary
Keeping a food diary and tracking your calories is an important part of a healthy weight loss plan, says Francis Fessler, a certified personal trainer, conditioning coach, and founder of the national wellness company F2 Wellness, based in Nashville, Tenn. Keep track of what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat specific foods, he suggests. Once you have a relative idea of the calories in your favorite foods, you can tailor your diet to your daily and weekly calorie goals, adds Dr. Dibba.
Create a calorie deficit
Calculating the number of calories you need to reach your goal weight based on your gender, age, height, and physical activity level using a calorie calculator or calorie counting app can help you maintain a moderate calorie deficit. (500 to 1,000 calories) to help you lose weight safely. This type of calorie deficit (as opposed to a drastic calorie deficit) allows you to consume just about any food in moderation, says Pelc Graca.
Choose water over sugary drinks
Staying hydrated can help you feel full, says Fessler. In addition, cutting back on sugar-sweetened drinks like soda and fruit juices is an easy way to reduce overall calorie intake, adds Dr. Lie to it. Some research also suggests that water intake may have a positive effect on hormone levels and increased metabolism, although additional studies are needed.
Limit processed foods
Research suggests that diets high in ultra-processed foods (such as doughnuts, processed meats, and packaged snacks) are associated with an increased risk of obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Dr. Dibba recommends limiting these foods to 15% to 20% of your total weekly consumption to stay balanced.
Eat more protein
Instead of following an overly restrictive fad diet like keto, paleo, and Whole30, go for a balanced diet that allows you to enjoy all foods in moderation, says Eric Ascher, DO, a family physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
More specifically, focus on including protein — lean meats, poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts, and soy products — in all snacks and meals, says Pelc Graca. Protein helps reduce ghrelin (the hunger hormone), which reduces your appetite and keeps you feeling full for a longer period of time, she says. Increasing your protein intake can also help maintain muscle mass while in a calorie deficit, so you lose body fat, not lean muscle.
Eat more vegetables
Vegetables are low-calorie, high-density foods that are excellent for weight loss, says Pelc Graca. They also contain a lot of fiber, which makes you feel full. To create a calorie deficit and support weight loss, Pelc Graca suggests filling a quarter to half of your plate with veggies at each meal.
Slow down while eating
Slowing down while eating and practicing mindfulness while eating can help reduce your food intake, Dr. Li says. As soon as you feel full, stop eating, Pelc Graca adds. “If you stop when you’re about 80% full, chances are you’ll feel completely full in about 20 minutes,” she says.
Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation affects hormones that affect appetite regulation, so sleep-deprived people tend to eat more, says Carpenter. To help combat this hormone and appetite fluctuation, Dr. Li recommends seeking seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
If you can safely participate in physical activity, any amount of exercise can aid weight loss and improve your cardiovascular health, Dr. Dibba says. In addition, Fessler recommends choosing an activity that fits your lifestyle and skill level.
The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity per week, or a combination of the two. However, if exercise is already part of your wellness routine, additional exercise time may be needed to see weight loss results.
“Challenge yourself to walk more by making small changes throughout the day, such as parking your car in the furthest available parking space or taking the stairs instead of the elevator,” suggests Pelc Graca.
Don’t get discouraged if the weight doesn’t come off as quickly as you’d like, Dr. Ascher adds. If you stick to small changes that will help you lead a healthier lifestyle overall, weight loss will follow, he says.
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