Losing weight is not easy. Many have tried and went through great lengths, only to fail and gain even more weight. But despite the difficulty involved, weight loss is actually possible, as long as you’re familiar with how its basics work. Here’s what you need to know.
Dieting isn’t the way out
Want to lose weight? Don’t diet. You might lose some pounds now, but expect to gain it back in a year or three. The term dieting is defined as “restricting oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight”, which is mainly a temporary measure. Since the diet isn’t long term, don’t expect long-term results as well.
Furthermore, the “restricting” part of dieting can lead to binge-eating and your body will respond by slowing down your metabolism, which will make it more difficult to lose weight. There’s nothing wrong in wanting to reduce your portions, avoiding dessert, and wanting to lose weight. What’s wrong is skipping entire meals and starving yourself.
Have a balanced diet
The secret to losing weight isn’t about avoiding food but eating the right ones in the right amount. As detailed in The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, you need to eat plenty of plant foods (e.g. vegetables, cereal, grains, bread, fruit, and legumes), moderate quantities of animal foods (e.g. meat, milk, cheese, eggs, and fish), and small amounts of oils and margarines. To keep your diet healthy, stay away from processed foods, and those that are rich in saturated fat and sodium.
Eat in moderation
Again, the secret is to consume a balanced diet and to eat the right amount of food by practicing restraint. You don’t have to eat until you’re 100 per cent full and unable to take another bite. Aim for eating only until you’re 50 to 80 per cent full.
If you’re not sure how much food you should eat, divide your usual servings by half, then see how you feel about the quantity after about 20 minutes (that’s how long it takes for your brain to tell you that you’re full). If you feel that you need to add a bit more, do so. Once you’re no longer hungry, stop. Note the difference between “no longer hungry” and “full”.
Keep track of your calories
Want to know how much calories you burn and ensure that you’re really losing weight instead of gaining it? Then consider keeping track of your calories. It’s pretty simple: the recommended amount of calories (see sample table here) you should eat per day depends on several factors including your age, gender, and amount of physical activity. If you eat more than this recommended amount, you gain weight; eat less and you lose weight.
Get 30 minutes of exercise per day
Your body needs to engage in exercise for a total of at least 30 minutes every day. That’s the bare minimum for you to stay relatively healthy. Proper diet may play a large role in weight loss, but don’t discount the importance of exercise. Physical activity does burn calories, but regular exercise and being more fit also improves the way your body burns calories.
You don’t even have to go to the gym to perform 30 minutes of exercise every day. All you have to do is think of activities that you enjoy doing like playing pick-up basketball games with friends, walking your dog, or biking with your children.