Seven Proven Tips for Weight Loss Success
Diet and weight loss strategies based on the latest scientific research
Posted September 13, 2012
If you're looking for tips to lose weight, it is not difficult to find them. The weight loss industry is a 60 billion dollar business, involving a plethora of experts, coaches, and companies advocating every diet and remedy under the sun. Unfortunately, much of the advice out there consists of empty promises. Two-thirds to 90 per cent of dieters regain the lost weight within a year or two. The best weight loss experts know that it's not the specific diet you choose, but how you individualize it to your lifestyle, and what types of behavioral strategies you have in your toolbox to help you stick with it, that makes the most difference to success. Read about seven proven weight loss strategies based on large-sample clinical trials conducted by researchers at well-known Universities.
(1) Count The Number of Bites You Eat
In one research study, obese participants were divided into two groups. Both groups ate the same amount of daily calories , but one group was asked to count the number of bites they took, using a simple pitch counter, while the other ate normally. The group counting bites lost more weight and reported feeling satisfied more quickly. Deliberately paying mindful attention to what you’re eating makes you more tuned in to the body’s natural satiety cues.
(2) Eat Like a King at Breakfast
There is a lot of truth to the old saying, "Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, sup like a pauper." When two groups of obese dieters were compared,those assigned to eat a protein-rich 600 calorie breakfast, including a slice of cake, cookie, or small doughnut lost more weight than those eating a 300 calorie breakfast. Both groups ate the same number of restricted total daily calories. Those eating the bigger breakfast were more able to stick to the daily calorie regimen and less tempted to eat junk food during the day.
(3) Exercise, But Only for 30 Minutes
In a European study of previously sedentary obese men, those assigned to high-impact exercise for 30 minutes each day lost more weight than those assigned to a 60-minute, high-impact exercise regimen. Researchers speculated that those exercising for 60 minutes were more likely to compensate by eating non-prescribed foods. The longer period of exercise may have used up the dieter's willpower, giving them less to use for dieting. Also, recent research suggests that exercise does not necessarily stop our metabolism from slowing down when we restrict calories, as was previously thought.
(4) Eat Your Vegetables
Israeli researchers compared over 300 dieters on the Atkins diet (low-carb), the Mediterranean diet (which prescribes healthy fats and legumes), or a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. While those on the low-carb diet lost the most weight and were most successful at keeping it off over two years, the amount of meat, fish, and dairy consumed was not the most important factor. When the diets were divided into 12 food groups (vegetables, fruit, liquid, dairy etc.), the amount of vegetables consumed was the most important factor predicting weight loss. Vegetables contain important nutrients and fibre and therefore seem to have a bigger “bang for the calorie buck.” Other studies have shown low fat diets can increase risk of heart disease, as the body needs some healthy fats.
(5) Get Your Beauty Sleep
In another study, participants were either allowed to sleep up to 9 hours a night, for several days, or had their sleep restricted to only four hours a night. Besides probable grumpiness, it was found that those with more sleep restriction were more likely to eat junk food and less compliant with a weight loss regimen. When we are sleep-deprived, high-fat and sugary foods seem much more attractive, probably because they give us a quick burst of energy. Alternatively, lack of sleep may lessen our brain's ability to inhibit unhealthy, yet tempting behaviors.
(6) Choose a Diet You Can Stick to for the Long Haul
Most people on diets do lose some weight and improve cholesterol and insulin sensitivity within a few months. Unfortunately, few dieters maintain the weight loss over the long haul. Most gain the bulk of weight back within a year or two. Therefore, instead of trying to lose the weight more quickly, rather choose an eating plan with foods you enjoy, that you will be most likely to stick to. Meeting with a nutritionist to design an individual plan based on your personal and cultural preferences and lifestyle can increase your chances of success. Cognitive-Behavioral psychologists can help you structure your life to decrease temptation and combat the type of thinking that leads to giving up. National guidelines recommend ongoing weight loss counseling for obese people who want to lose weight and keep it off.
(7) Get a Weight Loss Buddy
In research published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 2005, researchers at Brown Medical School and Dartmouth University found that people were more successful at losing weight when they had an exercise buddy who successfully lost weight at the same time. Friends keep us honest and accountable, may offer helpful advice to address barriers, and encourage us to keep going when we feel like throwing in the towel.
Armed with these proven strategies and a healthy dose of self-acceptance and sef-compassion, you can begin to revitalize your weight loss and fitness program.
Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. is a Practising Psychologist in Mill Valley and San Francisco, California, and an expert on mindfulness, emotions, relationships, and leadership. She has published more than 50 articles, abstracts and book chapters, appeated on radio shows and acted as a source for national media, incuding CNN.com, Men's health, Cosmopolitan, BBC 4 in the U.K., and O, the Oprah Magazine (South African edition). Previously a Professor at a training institution for clinical psychologists, she is now a practicing psychologist, speaker, and consultant. Dr Greenberg provides workshops, consulting, and keynotes for organizations, weight loss. life, and career coaching and psychotherapy for individuals and couples.
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Read my Marin Health Psychologist blog for an article on why it's so difficult to lose weight and what helps.