Losing weight is no small feat—it often requires a complete lifestyle overhaul, and with so much information out there, it can be tough to know what strategy might work for you. And to top it all off, all the weight loss myths that just will not die threaten to throw you off track. That's why it's helpful to know what has worked for real people—in their own words. Here, we've gathered advice from 28 women who have lost between 26 and 174 pounds—and kept that weight off for good.
Basic Principles Simply put, we lose weight if we consume less energy than we use. Energy comes from the food and drink that we eat and is measured in calories (Cals, cals or kcals). Energy is burnt constantly by our bodies, the amount of energy burnt doing a particular activity varies by its intensity. Assuming that your weight is currently stable, your energy-in and energy-out are equal. To lose weight, this equation needs to be unbalanced, so energy-out is greater than energy-in. Naturally, we can achieve this in two ways. We can burn more energy, by doing exercise, or we can consume less energy, by eating fewer calories (note, this need not mean less food by weight or volume). For most people losing weight is roughly a 80:20 diet:exercise split, simply because it's a lot easier to deny yourself a ~300kcal slice of cake than walking 2-3 miles to burn it off. You can lose weight without any exercise whatsoever if you wish, but exercise in itself is very good for you either way. Be Realistic Besides the very basics, you have to be realistic and accept that, if you want to lose weight, you’re going to have to change a few things. Possibly the most important realization is that you need to make a lifestyle change. The majority of people need to change their diet, as opposed to go on a diet; reverting to old habits will see you reverting to old body-weights, too.
Given that all participants in the study were overweight and “healthy”, what was not studied, and could have been very useful, was what was the impact of the two diets on participants’ blood sugars (HbA1c), insulin levels, and on some measure of inflammation. It is possible that there could have been little difference in weight loss between the two diets but big differences in the impact on risk factors related to diabetes.
Don’t forget, non-animal sources of protein including lentils, leafy-green veggies, legumes, tofu, nuts, beans and grains are all excellent sources of protein, too. Finally, if you’re struggling to meet your daily protein quota, a quality protein powder, whey or plant-based (checkout our review of PlantFusion protein) can make it easy when you’re stretched for time.
Most people who want to lose weight have more than 12 pounds to lose. That’s why even the best weight loss drug in the world can only be an optional complement to other treatment. That’s why this piece of advice is number 18 out of 18. It may be a helpful addition for some people, but the advice higher on the list is what can make the biggest difference, by far.
Fibrous foods are as close to a “miracle belly flattening pill” as we have. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, particularly those high in soluble fiber, have been proven to reduce fat around your midsection. In addition, these foods fill you up so you eat less, flattening your stomach over time. Try one of these 5 easy ways to turn off your fat genes and keep the weight off for good.
You’ve heard it before and I’ll say it again, drinks like energy drinks, fruit juices, and that beloved soda are loaded with sugars and unnecessary calories that only add to the weight you’re trying to lose. Sugary drinks are simply empty calories. They lack any nutritional benefits and don’t fill you up but still add to your daily calorie count. Thanks to the added sugars, such drinks also make you more prone to storing body fat–especially around your midsection.
I acknowledge that you may want to lose weight for any number of reasons. It’s not my job to tell you what your motivation for weight loss should be. It is my job to help guide you in that journey to greater health, energy, and love. My goal is to teach women how to love themselves above all else, and then let weight loss follow gently in its path.
In addition to improving your health, maintaining a weight loss is likely to improve your life in other ways. For example, a study of participants in the National Weight Control RegistryExternal* found that those who had maintained a significant weight loss reported improvements in not only their physical health, but also their energy levels, physical mobility, general mood, and self-confidence.
Many women fall short in their protein intake, according to Precision Nutrition, but getting enough protein can actually help you shed pounds. Protein takes more energy to digest than carbs or fats, so including more of it in your diet actually boosts your metabolism. And protein also provides nutritional support for your workouts, so you can build sleek, lean muscle tissue to get a toned appearance.
"About a year ago, I went to the doctor for my annual exam. I had just turned 30, and the number on the scale was the highest it had ever been, and my cholesterol was high," says Lauren Zarzour, 31. "I joined Weight Watchers and ClassPass. I'm now 30 pounds lighter and have developed a better understanding of nutrition and a passion for the gym. I've learned how much more you value food when every day isn't an indulgence, and how amazing it is to be strong. I wish I would have known how easy it could be, but I don't think it would have been easy if I hadn't had that epiphany." (Related: How to Rekindle Your Weight-Loss Motivation)
With this eating style, you’re looking at a lot of menu planning and preparation. A review published in August 2017 in Nutrients suggests the diet could lead to weight loss, but the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics warns the plan could also cause certain nutrient deficiencies, such as in calcium and vitamin D. (3,4) And, therefore, according to an article published in the January–February 2016 issue of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, anyone at risk for osteoporosis should avoid it. (5)
Noom helps you find and hold onto your Why while learning about other, smaller concepts that contribute to success. Self-awareness is big with Noom. The app offers short daily lessons that help you see and confront your own typical actions through introducing things like behavioral chains and triggers. If you can get past all the incessantly cheeky language (#noomerslovehashtags), it’s truly impressive how Noom deploys behavioral psychology to influence how you approach wellness.
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Not only did I struggle to lose weight for more than a decade then discover how to happily and heatlhfully achieve permanent weight sustainability ffor myself, but I ahve also mastered the science of it and had excellent resutls with clients on six continents. As a result of my insights and success, I have become somewhat of an internationally-celebrated expert on women’s hormones and health.
Practicing mindful eating can be really helpful if you’re an emotional eater. Check in with yourself to see if you’re actually hungry or just avoiding that assignment that’s hanging over your head. If you’re going to eat, sit down and give your food your full attention. No eating out of the bag, either. If you’re going to snack on some chips, but them in a bowl so you can see how much you’re eating. That might help curb your cravings.
Simply take a good hard look at your diet, make a few modifications you can stick with and get your body moving. Not sure where you stand on diet? Write down everything you eat this week, then compare it to the list above and see where you could have made better choices. Don’t beat yourself up though, learning how to lose stomach fat fast is a process. Simply find areas to improve and work on them next week.