What is the Most Effective Way to Lose Weight?
There are many diets out there, but the only truly successful method to maintaining a healthy body weight is perseverance, disciplined effort and lifestyle changes.
Everybody knows losing weight means cutting and burning calories, but here are 36 proven lifestyle changes to keep it off.
How Many People Are Affected by Obesity?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) worldwide obesity has tripled since 1975.
- In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 650 million were obese.
- 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese.
- Most of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
- 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2016.
- Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016.
According to the Center for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), in 2015–2016 about 39.8% of the population, or 93.3 million adults in the United States were clinically obese.
How Do We Measure Obesity?
Obesity is determined by body mass index (BMI), a formula of measurement of combining height and weight.
Doctors use body mass index (BMI) to assess if a person is at an appropriate weight for their age, sex, and height. The formula is BMI = kg/m2 where kg is a person’s weight in kilograms and m2 is their height in metres squared.
Adults are measured differently than children. For most adults age 18-65 years of age, a BMI of 25.0 or more indicates that a person is carrying excess weight or obesity. The healthy range for BMI is 18.5 to 24.9. Other considerations for excess weight is the body shape and the ratio of waist-to-hip size (WHR), waist-to-height ratio (WtHR), and the distribution of fat on the body. All of these factors are important considerations in determining how healthy a person’s weight and body shape is.
Children and young adults, are measured differently and placed in two different age groups: 1) 1-5 years of age and 2) 5-19 years of age. The WHO Growth Reference median is used as the standard median. For 1-5 years of age, overweight is weight-for-height greater than 2 standard deviations above the median; and obesity is weight-for-height greater than 3 standard deviations above the median. For ages 5-19, overweight is BMI-for-age greater than 1 standard deviation above the median; and obesity is greater than 2 standard deviations above the median.
What Are the Health Risks, Issues or Concerns?
If a person is chronically overweight, he or she is more at risk of developing serious health problems such as:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- type 2 diabetes
- cardiovascular (heart) disease
- coronary artery disease
- coronary vascular disease
- peripheral vascular disease
- sleep disorders/sleep apnea
- mental health issues
- metabolic syndrome
- fatty liver disease
Symptoms of Being Overweight
People who are overweight can experience a variety of chronic health symptoms. These symptoms are an indicator of a health risk and can include:
Diets – Which Ones Work?
There are many tips, special diets and weight loss programs out there. Google “diet list” and you’ll find a lot to choose from.
Some of the diets and weight loss programs include: Low-carb diet, Gluten-Free diet, Low-fat diet, vegan diet, vegetarian diet, Atkins, South Beach, Mediterranean, Paleolithic, Ketogenic, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, DASH, Raw Foods, MIND, Fruitarian, Whole30, Beverly Hills Diet, Pritikin, Kimkins, Sugar-Busters, BRAT diet, Morning Banana Diet, and even the Cotton Ball Diet (an extremely dangerous practice, that involves dipping cotton balls in juice and swallowing them). There are many more diets, and I cannot recommend ANY of these diets. Each person has individual and unique needs when it comes to nutrition and meal planning. I strongly recommend ta holistic approach to dieting, considering the health of the whole body, mind and spirit, in partnership planning with a trust doctor or health practitioner, life coach, nutritionist, or dietitian. This approach will assure you of the best outcome and greatly help you in determining the best meal plan and diet for you.
36 Tips for Losing Weight Naturally
Special diets and programs are most effective when combined with lifestyle changes and supported by a team, tribe, group, or special buddy who will hold you accountable and keep you on track.
As mentioned early, its’ vitally important to check with your trusted physician, nutritionist, or health care practitioner before changing your diet or engaging in a weight loss program. Keep in mind that special diets and programs are most effective when combined with lifestyle changes. A great team, group, tribe or special buddy can be a great asset to you. They can hold you accountable and keep you on track. ALL of the following 36 suggested tips may or may not be a good fit for you, but ALL have been proven to be effective in various research studies. Choose wisely with the help of trusted health professionals.
- Exercise 30 to 60 minutes every day, or if you are on a tight schedule or if you have physical limitations, you can exercise several times during the day — for example, three 10-minute exercise workout sessions. Always check with your coach, trusted physician or health practitioner before beginning a new physical exercise regimen.
- Eat small meals often. Rather than eating one large meal and skipping meals, eat three healthy meals during the day, especially breakfast. Studies show that skipping meals causes can lead to overeating or snacking unhealthy foods later in the day.
- Eat fruits and vegetables. If your main entree is grilled, skinless chicken, and make the fruits and vegetables the largest portions on your plate and cut down on other foods.
- Weigh yourself every day. If you are conscious of your weight and the progress you are making, you are more likely to be successful. Keep track of what you eat and how much exercise you are doing and soon you will be aware of the cause of weight loss or weight gain.
- Keep a journal, or food diary with you at all times. Purchase a small notebook that is easy to carry in a suit pocket or purse. Practice being conscious of what you eat and recognizing particular situations or times of day when you are more likely to eat unhealthy foods. A food diary can help you make life changes.
- Remove unhealthy snacks from the house. This would include all foods high in food additives, high sugar content, high cholesterol and trans fats, such as: fried foods, packaged snack items such as chips, pretzels, greasy pizza, buttery popcorn, etc, and sugary treats such as sugary sodas, candy bars, snack cakes, caramel corn, cookies, and ice creams or frozen treats. These foods are high in trans fats and have been found to trigger and increase the risk of many health problems and diseases.
- Store healthy snacks. After removing all unhealthy snacks from your home, be sure to fill your cupboard and refrigerator with healthy snacks. The best snacks are organic fruits, vegetables, whole grain crackers, 100% juices, low-fat dairy products such as low-fat yogurt.
- Keep active with friends or family members, and plan physical activities together. Have a physical fitness buddy to go bike riding with, play soccer, tennis, go to the gym, go dancing, etc. Choose activities several days a week that keep you moving rather than video-games or or movies.
- Eat at home often rather than eating out at restaurants or fast food chains. When you eat at home you can control what food is available and eliminate unhealthy choices. Cooking food at home is fun, helps to burn calories (rather than sitting around at a restaurant) and lessens the chance of making unwise choices. Be sure to have healthy foods in your refrigerator and eliminate packaged, high-fat or trans fat foods.
- Box extra food before eating. Many restaurants typically provide more food than needed. If you need to eat at a restaurant, decide how much food you will eat and ask for a take-home box before eating. Box up the extra portions of food before eating your portion.
- Don’t use serving bowls. When preparing your food, put it on the plate instead of putting serving bowls on the table. Always serve yourself a little bit less than what you expect to eat. Bring the prepared plate to the table. Put away extra food that is left in the pot or pan before sitting down at the table.
- Fill up healthy. Always fill up on healthy foods throughout the day that are low in calories, such as celery, or fruit, so that when you are invited to eat a dessert or snack you won’t be as tempted or hungry.
- Make active choices to accomplish everyday chores. Instead of going through a drive-through pharmacy to pick up your prescriptions, walk inside the store. Use a bike to visit a friend, instead of a car. Get down on your hands and knees and pull the weeds or scrub the floor, instead of using garden extension tools or a long-handled easy-clean mop. Walk the dog regularly.
- Never eat in front of TV. Television viewing strongly affects how much and what people eat. People tend to continue to eat while watching.
- Vary your activities regularly in order to avoid exercise burnout. Walk, swim, dance, and engage in sports.
- Never eat from containers such as an ice cream carton, a Tupperware container, a package of cookies, or a bag of chips. Instead, put the portion on your plate, and then put the container of food away. When you can see how much you’ve eaten on your plate you are less likely to eat more.
- De-stress before eating. Engage in relaxation techniques before eating because stress causes people to eat more. Praying or saying grace before eating is not unwise. It helps to relax, surrender and let go of worries and eliminate stress. Other options are deep breathing exercises, meditation, stretching exercises, reading something amusing or humorous, listening to relaxing music, and even chatting with friends and family about uplifting or inspirational thoughts or experiences.
- Start with high-fiber or bran foods, such as oatmeal or high-fiber breads or bran cereals. Studies show that people that start the morning with a high-fiber diet are less likely to gain weight. What is high fiber? Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as oatmeal.
- Buy a pedometer or Fitbit, to track your success. First create a baseline or beginning level. Then create an achievable goal based on your level. For example, you might choose to add an extra 500 – 2,000 steps a day. If you area couch potato, set alarms on your phone to get up and moving every hour or two hours, even it if is just to stretch and walk around the house or yard. Then return to your work. Use your pedometer to determine progress. Set a goal that is designed specifically to your health and fitness level. If you are temporarily injured or chronically health and cannot easily walk, work with a physical therapist to design an exercise program that keeps your muscles moving, and measure your success. There are a wide variety of pedometers out there. Find the one that fits your budget and keeps you moving.
- Walk or move more. On average, sedentary people take only 2,000 to 3,000 steps a day. Find ways to walk more. You might have a goal of 30 minutes more per day, or a goal of walking a few steps every hour. Walk to the store, walk down the street and give a basket of fruit to a neighbor, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk the dog. Studies show that those who regularly engage in walking are more healthy and physically fit. If you are not able to walk and have a more sedentary life-style, then lift your legs while in a seated position. Set your alarms on your phone or computer, and be disciplined about walking or moving more.
- Plan a week’s groceries. To prevent impulse buying, always plan a week ahead and make a detailed grocery list. Never go grocery shopping when you are hungry and have skipped a meal. Last-minute trips to the grocery store can result in buying snack foods or tempting foods on display in the bakery, snack aisle, or deli section, that are not on your healthy foods list.
- Have a craving plan. If you feel hungry and are feeling a craving for an unhealthy food, then do something active. Drink a full glass of water, call a friend, write in your journal, paint a picture, clean the house, engage in sports, read a book, or do something that does not trigger thoughts of eating. Keeping your mind and body active will help to eliminate cravings.
- Reward yourself. If you have lost weight, reward yourself with nonfood rewards, such as going on that vacation you’ve dreamed of, buying new clothes, getting a new haircut or purchasing something for your home. Spend time listening to your heart and finding out how to truly love yourself.
- Find an on-line buddy.Studies show that online weight-loss partnering results in more successfully achieving weight-loss goals.
- Use small plates. Get rid of large dinner plates and buy small plates. You are more likely to pile on the food if your plates are over-sized.
- Choose blue. Wear the color blue more often and decorate your home with it. Eat your food on blue plates. The color blue is an appetite suppressant, whereas the colors red, yellow, and orange have been found to increase the appetite.
- Throw out large clothes. When you have lost weight, give away or throw out clothes that are too large for you. Keep only the clothes that fit or are “snug” on you. If you always keep large, over-sized clothes you will be less likely to lose weight.
- Use a mirror. If you eat in a dining room area, keep a mirror hanging on the wall opposite where you sit. If you watch yourself in the mirror while eating, you are less likely to overeat.
- Read labels. When buying foods in the grocery store, read the labels. Do not buy foods that are high in trans fats or are high in cholesterol, salt, or sugar. Do not buy foods that have added corn syrup, food coloring, or food additives.
- Season smartly. Use salsa to season foods or spices such as curry, turmeric, pepper, basil, etc., instead of heavy, high-fat sauces such as gravy or butter.
- Increase calcium. Calcium in low-fat dairy foods triggers a hormonal response that inhibits the body’s production of fat cells and breaks down fat.
- Use vanilla fragrance – A research study showed that Vanilla Bean essential oil, can be helpful in curbing your appetite. You might try vanilla-scented candles, oils, or perfumes.
- Eat heaviest meal for breakfast. – Studies have found that eating a large breakfast followed by lighter meals for lunch and dinner can be helpful in losing weight. If you are planning a heavy meal, (such as when planning a large event with family or friends), why not make it a breakfast celebration? This is much more effective than eating heavier meals later in the day. A 2012 study from Tel Aviv University found that those who had desserts early in the morning were able to naturally burn off more of those extra calories throughout the day and to stop late day cravings.
- Take Vitamin D – VItamin D might be helpful in shedding pounds. In a 2009 study out of The Endocrine Society, researchers found that adding vitamin D to a reduced-calorie diet might others lose more weight. Another study in the another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found similar results. As always, check with your physician or trusted heath care provider.
- Dim the lights and get quiet – A study in 2012, Psychological Reports, found that those who ate in darker environments, with soft music, ate less calories than those with brightly lit, noisy rooms.
- Drink water before meals– Several studies suggest that drinking water before meals helps reduce cravings and cut calories. One study showed that drinking a half liter (17 ounces) of water about half an hour before meals helped dieters eat fewer calories and lose 44% more weight, compared to those who didn’t drink the water.
- American Friends of Tel Aviv University. New diet: Top off breakfast with — chocolate cake? Science Daily, 2/7/2012. Accessed 5/25/2019.
- Basics of Weight Control, Department of Veterans Affairs– PDF Accessed 5/28/2019
- Bond DS, Phelan S, Leahey TM, Hill JO, Wing RR. (2009). Weight-loss maintenance in successful weight losers: surgical vs non-surgical methods. International Journal of Obesity, 33, 173-180, Accessed 5/28/2019
- Butryn ML, Phelan S, Hill JO, Wing RR. (2007). ” Consistent Self-monitoring of Weight: A Key Component of Successful Weight Loss Maintenance. Obesity, 15, 3091-3096, Accessed 5/28/2019
- Dennis EA, Dengo AL, Comber DL, Flack KD, Savla J, Davy KP, Davy BM. Water consumption increases weight loss during a New diet: Top off breakfast with — chocolate cake? diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults.Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Feb;18(2):300-7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.235. Epub 2009 Aug 6, Accessed 5/28/2019
- Endocrine Society, The. Successful Weight Loss With Dieting Is Linked To Vitamin D Levels. ScienceDaily. 12 June 2009, Accessed 5/28/2019
- Firman, Tehrene. 20 Surprising Weight-Loss Tips That Anyone Can Do: Unlock Hidden Knowledge and Move Beyond the Basics. BestLife Online, May 4, 2018, Accessed 5/28/2019
- Girdwain, Jessica. 16 Ways to Lose Weight Fast, Health Magazine, Accessed 5/28/2019
- Gunnars, Kris. 26 Weight Loss Tips That Are Actually Evidence-Based. Healthline. 8/22/2018. Accessed 5/25/2019.
- Kahleova H, Lloren J, Mashchak A, Hill M, Fraser GE. Meal Frequency and Timing Are Associated with Changes in Body Mass Index in Adventist Health Study 2. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 147, Issue 9, September 2017, Pages 1722–1728, Published: 12 July 2017, Accessed 5/25/2019
- Klem ML, Wing RR, McGuire MT, Seagle HM & Hill JO (1997). A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 66, 239-246, Accessed 5/28/2019
- Major GC, Alarie FP, Doré J, Tremblay A. Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation and fat mass loss in female very low-calcium consumers: potential link with a calcium-specific appetite control. Br J Nutr.2009 Mar;101(5):659-63.McGuire MT, Wing RR, Hill JO. (1999). The prevalence of weight loss maintenance among American adults. International Journal of Obesity, 23, 1314-1319, Accessed 5/28/2019
- McGuire MT, Wing RR, Klem ML, Seagle HM & Hill JO (1998). Long-term maintenance of weight loss: “Do people who lose weight through various weight loss methods use different behaviors to maintain their weight?, International Journal of Obesity, 22, 572-577, Accessed 5/28/2019
- Obesity and Overweight. World Health Organization. 16 February 2018, Accessed 5/28/2019
- Quirk J, Krystle C., Herrick J, Fechheimer B and 495 others, How to Lose Weight Fast, WikiHow, Accessed 5/28/2019
- Ruderman, Zoe. Drop 5 Pounds in a Week, Cosmopolitan, Accessed 5/28/2019
- Shick SM, Wing RR, Klem ML, McGuire MT, Hill JO & Seagle HM (1998). “Persons successful at long-term weight loss and maintenance continue to consume a low calorie, low fat diet.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 98, 408-413, Accessed 5/28/2019
- Time to Talk: 7 Things to Know about Complementary Health Practices for Weight Loss, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Accessed 5/28/2019
- Weight Control, National Library of Medicine, National Health Institute, Medline Plus
- Weight-Control Information Network, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Accessed 5/28/2019
- Zelman, Kathleen M. Lose Weight Fast: How to Do It Safely.WebMD Accessed 5/28/2019
Jean Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University, is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She s a life coach, a Registered Music Therapist (RMT), Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder, and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, a 501(c)3 health education nonprofit organization. To find out more about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance visit www.montereybayholistic.com
Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.