Every month seems to usher in a new stable of diets each carrying promises of rapid calorie burn or the instant cinching of your waistline. Whether it’s juicing or meal replacements, all these diets have one thing in common: they probably won’t work for you.
Turns out what we’ve been preaching here at MH—i.e., make small, positive changes to your lifestyle—is the most reliable way to make weight loss stick. In a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers found that switching to a healthier meal plan and increasing your physical activity could result in significant weight loss (around 5% or more of your body weight).
But what about the trending diets, pills and supps? Researchers found that opting for these rarely resulted in weight loss and, in many cases, even caused participants to gain weight. Rough.
Losing Weight is a Simple Equation
In the study, researchers looked at several different methods of losing weight. They pooled data from a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, looking at the metrics of around 20,000 different people. These digits included stats such as physical activity levels, weight history, weight-loss strategy and sleeping patterns. Participants were also assessed as part of health exams and lab tests to gauge additional metrics such as BMI, LDL cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.
Ultimately, those who managed to lose weight—and keep it off—seemed to have achieved this feat by maintaining a balanced diet and engaging in physical activity regularly. Those who were unsuccessful, or gained weight despite attempting to shed the pounds, shared many common habits such as using “diet pills”, tackling fad diets or skipping meals.
What Changes Should I Make?
While weight loss might be a simple equation, implementing this formula in your everyday life is when things get tricky. Don’t worry; we’re here to arm you with simple changes you can make right now that could put you on the road to shedding kilos with ease.
1. Count Your Bites
If you’re struggling to cut back on the amount of fare you’re wolfing down, taking time to really savour every mouthful could help you put away less. One study found that those who chomped on their bites around 40 times or more tended to eat 12% less than those who were only chewing 15 times.
2. Track Your Calories
A British study found that those who tracked their calories on an app lost more weight than those still rocking the old-school, pen-and-paper setup. We like MyFitnessPal (available on Android & iOS).
3. Keep Your Expectations in Check
Don’t shoot for a massive shedding session, chances are these lofty ambitions will hinder your weight loss journey. A study published in the journal Eating Behaviors found that these great expectations can lead to dramatic weight fluctuations. The lesson: small steps, massive strides.
4. Get Up
According to research published in the American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology, sitting or lying down might ramp up your body’s production of fat. Thankfully, there’s a quick fix for that: get up and get moving. Some research suggests taking regular walking breaks—even if it’s just a short stroll around your flat—as breaking up your chair time could do wonders for your waistline, heart health and even your focus.
5. Skip the Sugary Drinks
Whether it’s a glass of Coke or sweetened iced coffee, nixing these calorie payloads from your daily menu is one of the most effective ways to lose weight fast. Amongst many of our readers—like this guy right here—who managed to engineer life-changing transformations, scrapping the sugary drinks was one of the first moves they made on their weight loss journeys.