Over 40% of Americans are overweight or obese and that number has grown fast over the past few decades. Dieting isn’t easy but there are some simple tips that you can follow to make it easier on yourself. Remember, simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. Everyone wants to take the shortcuts when it comes to dieting and that it why over 95% of diets fail. In this article I will give you 5 tips that will help you build healthy eating habits to promote weight loss!
1. Starting Slow
There is a phrase known as “yo-yo dieting” that describes the process of using a crash diet to lose weight, only to put it back on again and have to start over. As I said before, over 95% of diets fail with people gaining most of the weight back within 1 year and all of it within 3 years. This is why my first weight loss tip is to start slow. You have to get out of the mindset of going “on” a diet because that implies that you are getting off one. Instead try to SLOWLY develop healthy eating habits that you can maintain the majority of the time.
For example, maybe you’ve recently gained a lot of weight and you’ve tried every possible diet. Instead of completely cutting out a food group or only eating 500 calories a day, start with something small. Try eating 1 fruit along with each meal. This should be fairly reasonable as you can add in something like an apple or orange slices without sacrificing your favorite foods. Plus, fruits have natural sugar(fructose) that can still be a healthy treat. Once you can maintain this habit for a few weeks, try adding another small, easy habit. Maybe this is carrying almonds with you to eat as a snack or limiting your soda intake to x amount/week. Whatever it is, start small and make sure it is something you can maintain.
2. Calories In vs. Calories Out
In regard to weight loss, the most important factor is calories in vs. calories out. In order to lose weight, you must be in a caloric deficit(burning more calories than you consume). You body naturally burns calories throughout the day on top of your daily activity. This is referred to as resting metabolic rate(RMR). While you could track every calorie you consume, all day – every day, it is not very realistic or even healthy to view food in this way. Instead, I suggest you track your calories through an app(MyFitnessPal) for 2-3 days. This will give you an average of how many calories you are consuming on a typical day. This app will also give you a fairly accurate estimate of your RMR. Furthermore, it has a database of countless foods and you can even scan barcodes that will automatically track the exact calories and macronutrients of the food.
Once you have your average number of calories, I would suggest trying to slowly decrease that number by 150-250 calories. For example, if you currently eat 3,500 calories, I would suggest aiming for 3,250-3,350 calories. try to maintain this for a few weeks and once that is consistent, decrease by another 150-250 calories. For reference, there is 3,500 calories in a pound. So, once you are in a deficit of 500 calories/day, you will be on track to lose one pound per week(500 cal. x 7 days = 3,500 cal/week). I suggest aiming to lose .5 – 1lb per week.
Underlying all of these tips is consistency. None of these tips are very effective if you cannot consistently perform them. You do not have to be a robot and eat the same 500 calories of chicken and rice every single day, but you should have a healthy routine that you follow while allowing yourself to enjoy your favorite foods. If eating a bowl of ice cream on the weekend means you will be more consistent with your diet during the week then go for it!
I like to look at calories from a weekly perspective. So, even if you are in a caloric surplus on 1 or 2 days of the week, if you are consistently in a deficit the rest of the week – you should be fine. Remember, start slow so that you can develop those consistent eating habits. If you don’t have consistency then you will be fighting an uphill battle.
I believe having balance really helps with your consistency which will, in turn, give you results. Obviously, you should still be eating healthy food the majority of the time. But, who said healthy food couldn’t taste good? It is important that you find a variety of foods that you enjoy eating and that are satiating(make you feel full). On the other hand, you still want to be able to indulge in your favorite foods(even if they aren’t healthy) as previously mentioned. The question is, “How do I balance this?”.
This is the hard part about dieting. I think this is all very individual but I have a few suggestions that have worked for me. Find 3-4 different meals you can have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eat these meals consistently and when you get tired of one, rotate to the other. This way, you are giving yourself variety while still eating consistently. When you feel as if you are craving a certain food, eat it. Don’t be militant with yourself and make it complicated. Just make sure this fits into your overall weekly amount of calories. If there is no way you can fit it in but you still feel like you need it, allow yourself to indulge and increase your activity level that week. However, you will need to be honest with yourself and make sure that you practice self-control. You can’t give yourself treats for every meal of every day. Obviously, this is all easier said than done but if you adhere to the previous tips, you will be alright.
A person’s activity level is a huge contributor to calorie balance and metabolism. When it comes to physical activity, the previous tips apply as well. If you haven’t recently been active, START SLOW. Even something as simple as walking 15 minutes per day will help. A big part of controlling calories is being able to burn them off at the time of a workout and throughout the day(metabolism). Just like we talked about with dieting, being consistent with your physical activity is extremely important.
One way to look at physical activity as a tool for caloric maintenance is through evaluating your energy levels. If you are dieting and progress is starting to stall, ask yourself this question. “Would I rather cut out another 200-250 calories or increase my activity level to burn more calories?” This will help you balance your activity level with your eating habits to give you the most energy and assist with long-term adherence. Remember, only ask yourself this if your progress is stalling. Otherwise, keep doing what you are doing!
Hopefully you could take something from this article. I know these weight loss tips may not be the usual shortcuts that you are used to seeing online but the truth is that dieting isn’t easy. You have to be disciplined and consistent. Unfortunately, most people don’t want to hear this so they will continue to look for a quick fix. However, I promise you that if you can stick to these habits, you will see progress.