Losing weight and keeping it off is a science unto itself. So what does the science actually say about best approaches to dropping pounds and keeping it off? A great deal of research has been carried out in recent years looking into what you can do to shed pounds and prevent them from coming back.
Six tips For Losing Weight – and the Science Behind Them
- Exercise reduces the appetite. The National Academy of Sciences has published recommendations that we get one hour of exercise each day, with half of that being vigorous exercise. That being said, even a little exercise is good for you. So add a walk to your daily routine. Too much exercise can trigger hunger, but in moderation it seems to limit it, so moderate exercise is key.
- Breakfast. Your body needs fuel first thing in the day (after all, you have gone for at least eight hours without). Decades of research shows that having a healthy breakfast regularly helps in losing weight. Part of this is simply avoiding spikes in blood sugar. Too high or too low is a problem, so eating regularly helps (see #5 below). Breakfast is all about “break”ing your “fast” after a sleep period. The best choice? Protein. See #4 below. Oh, and eating breakfast helps you live longer.
- Calcium. Increasing the amount you take in daily can help with losing weight. According to research at the University of Tennessee, combining a high-calcium and high-dairy diet can cause you to shed up to 10 percent of your body weight through diet alone. If you weigh 200 pounds, that’s 20 pounds shed right there. Moreover, according to the research, increasing your calcium intake can target the trunk region specifically, causing you to lose belly fat.Of course, some people have an intolerance for dairy that actually causes them to hold onto weight, but if you tolerate it well, try for a serving of yogurt daily. That’s protein, calcium and probiotics, so triple-win for loosing weight.
- Protein. Taking protein with each meal causes your body to burn fat without breaking down muscle, thanks to an amino acid called leucine. This is important because simply reducing your calorie intake can cause your body use up muscle tissue rather than fat. Muscle burns calories much faster than fat, so losing muscle makes it harder to burn energy and drop pounds. So increase your protein – but don’t be excessive, as too much protein can strain your kidneys.
- Eat regularly. Research recommends no more than five hours without food. Being hungry doesn’t help you lose weight. In fact, it is more likely to cause you to binge-eat.
- Keep a diary. Write down everything you eat. According to research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, keeping a food journal may cause you to lose twice as much weight as you would otherwise. Remember: no cheating; this diet diary is only for your own use; no one will be grading you on it. Want a downloadable form you can use? Click here.
Keeping Weight Off
Don’t count on a temporary diet. After you lose weight, reverting to your old lifestyle will simply bring the pounds back, and often makes it harder to lose them again. Plan on incorporating the tips above into your life. Remember, your goal isn’t to simply shed a few pounds for the summer; it’s to keep that weight off permanently.
Modify your attitude. Don’t think of dieting in terms of a temporary solution to weight gain. Altering your lifestyle and making better decisions about what you eat and how much can have long-term and significant impacts on your weight – and overall health. The science of losing weight says you can take actions that make a difference.