How To Lose Weight Naturally And Keep It Off

Losing weight can be a difficult battle for many people, and keeping it off can be even harder. Fad diets, weight loss "pills," and supplements abound, all promising to help you shed the pounds and keep them off for good.

Many of these products, however, do not work, or at least they do not work for everyone. Although the weight-loss equation is simple in theory (burn more calories than you consume), it is trickier to put into practice.

If you are looking to lose weight and maintain a healthy size, there are a variety of science-backed weight-loss strategies you can implement.

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Drink plenty of water

Staying hydrated benefits your overall health, but drinking more water can also have a major impact on your ability to lose weight¹. There are several reasons for this:

  • We often mistake thirst for hunger as the same part of our brain interprets both signals. If you are hungry, especially outside of mealtimes, try drinking a glass of water first. Eat only if you are still hungry afterward.

  • Drinking a glass of water before a meal can fool your brain into thinking you are more full than you are, which can lead you to eat less.

  • Staying hydrated promotes optimal functioning of your metabolism which in turn helps your body to expend more energy throughout the day. Drinking water instead of juice, soda, or sweetened tea or coffee reduces your liquid calorie intake and boosts hydration.

  • Drinking water instead of diet beverages have been found to assist with weight loss, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2015². However, if you are craving an occasional Coke, the diet version is better than regular as it contains less sugar unless you have issues with artificial sweeteners.

  • Staying hydrated is essential for exercise and recovery.

In addition to promoting weight loss, drinking more water has many overall health benefits. If you find plain water boring, opting for flavored water may help to increase your intake, but watch out for added sugars.

Sparkling water, water with fruit slices or a squeeze of citrus added, kombucha (depending on the brand), and soda water are also great low-sugar beverage alternatives.

Eat more protein

Increasing the ratio of protein to carbs and fats in your diet can help you lose weight. The National Academy of Sports Medicine³ recommends 1.6 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of your current body weight.

Protein assists with weight loss by:

  • Keeping you feeling fuller for longer, allowing you to go between meals feeling satiated and without the urge to snack. This reduces the risk of overconsuming calories both during and between meals. 

  • Helping to preserve your muscle mass, reducing the likelihood of your body burning muscle instead of fat.

Many people don’t include enough protein at breakfast. A high-protein breakfast is a great way to combat hunger cravings throughout the day. Consider eggs on toast, high protein yogurt, or mixing protein powder into a smoothie.

Drink unsweetened caffeinated beverages

If you drink coffee or tea, make sure not to add sugar. Black coffee and unsweetened tea are rich in antioxidants and caffeine, which both have health and metabolic benefits.

As these beverages contain no calories, by drinking them instead of soda, you reduce the number of liquid calories you consume. Liquid calories do not promote fullness so they can cause you to eat more calories.

Just remember to limit caffeine consumption after lunchtime so that by the time you go to sleep, you do not have any caffeine circulating in your system which could compromise your ability to get a restful night’s sleep.

If you want to add creamer, opt for a low-fat alternative, such as skim milk, and avoid heavy cream.

Reduce added sugars

You don’t have to give up sweet treats. Overly restricting your favorite foods often leads to cravings and eating more of them, so it’s just about eating them in moderation and reducing sugars. 

While you should limit sweets and desserts, the real added sugars to watch for are hiding in other products, often disguised under other names.

Check the ingredients list for added sugars which could have any of the following names:

  • Corn syrup

  • High fructose corn syrup

  • Sucrose

  • Molasses

  • Caramel

  • Brown rice syrup

  • Dextrin

  • Dextrose

  • Glucose

  • Malt syrup

  • Rice syrup

  • Maltose

  • Maltodextrin

  • Crystalline fructose

  • Galactose

  • D-ribose

Moderate alcohol consumption

Most alcoholic drinks are full of sugar and liquid calories with minimal nutritional value.  Drinking too much alcohol has damaging effects on your liver and brain.

Limiting your intake to no more than the recommended two drinks⁴ on any occasion can reduce your calorie intake as well as help to avoid other negative health consequences associated with heavy drinking.

Beer tends to have the most calories of any alcoholic drink, especially dark beer, so save it for an occasional treat. Swapping high sugar mixers for diet alternatives or soda water can also help lower your calorie intake.

Other issues with drinking alcohol are that it increases hunger and decreases feelings of fullness, lowers the amount your body burns fat, and increases the likelihood of poor food choices, such as that late-night burger run after a night out.

Eat more fruits and vegetables

People who eat more fruits and vegetables tend to weigh less, due to the high volume and low energy of these foods, which helps you feel fuller for longer.

Fresh fruit and vegetables can also keep you hydrated due to their high water content, especially fruits like watermelon. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are all very beneficial for your overall health.

Aim for the recommended five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit a day. You can also bulk out your favorite meals with extra vegetables for added nutrition and volume so you eat fewer calories overall but don’t feel deprived.

For example, add extra black beans, tomatoes, and lettuce on taco night, or carrots and mushrooms to your favorite spaghetti recipe.

Use smaller plates

Using a smaller plate at mealtimes can trick your brain into eating less by thinking you are eating more, as a smaller plate looks fuller than a larger plate with the same amount of food on it. This can be effective for many people wanting to lose weight.

Get enough sleep

Practicing good sleep hygiene⁵ and ensuring you sleep enough each night assists with weight loss, productivity, and overall health. If you have sleep issues, it is important to address them by seeking help from a health professional.

Obesity can increase the likelihood and symptoms of sleep apnea which can then lead to poorer sleep quality, among other risks associated with obesity.

Increase exercise

Exercise is an important component of healthy weight loss. It is important to do both cardio and strength workouts for overall health and weight loss benefits.

Cardio exercises, such as walking, running, cycling, or swimming, burn calories and boost cardiovascular health. Strength training 2-3 times a week helps you to build muscle which improves your metabolism as your body requires more calories to maintain muscle mass.

However, the best kind of exercise to do is the exercise you want to do and can commit to as part of a sustainable, long-term routine. Choose one or more activities you find fun and be consistent with them.

Don’t make your workouts a chore that you drag yourself to. If you don’t like going to the gym, fun ways to stay physically active could be tennis, kayaking, hiking, social sports leagues, dancing, and more.

Having an exercise buddy could also help you to stay motivated and accountable. If you’re a dog owner, take them for daily walks. If you’re a dog lover but don’t own a dog yourself, you could walk other peoples’ dogs.

You could also set exercise goals for yourself, such as completing a local fun run.

There are many ways you can incorporate incidental exercise into your daily activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking one more stop before getting on the bus, or parking further away from a store to increase your walking distance.

If you work in an office, suggest walking meetings to reduce time spent sitting at your desk, or walk while taking your calls. Some people find a pedometer or a fitness app motivates them to increase their incidental steps.

Eat slowly

Many of us quickly eat breakfast while rushing out the door, or we work through our lunch break. Eating mindfully and slowly without distraction can help you to listen to your body and what it needs, eat adequate portions, and avoid overconsuming. Try to allow enough time to eat in a relaxed, leisurely way.

You can take things one step further and practice mindful eating⁶. This means sitting at the table, concentrating on eating, and avoiding distractions such as watching television.

Reduce refined carbs

Eating too many refined carbs can make it more difficult for you to lose weight as they are quickly absorbed by the body and do not make you feel full.

It is recommended that you switch from white bread to whole grain, rye, or sourdough bread, or white rice to brown rice. These alternatives are digested more slowly, giving you sustained energy throughout the day.

You can also switch out refined carbs for the following healthier options:

  • Pasta – Opt for whole-wheat pasta, spaghetti squash, or pulse-based pasta.

  • Instant oatmeal – Opt for rolled or steel-cut oats.

  • Cornflakes – Opt for wholegrain cereals such as bran flakes or wholegrain muesli.

  • Corn or potato chips – Try vegetable sticks dipped into hummus or nuts for snacking.

Any time you can modify your meals to include unrefined, wholefood carbohydrates, it is a good idea to do so. However, be wary of cutting foods out of your diet that you enjoy, as this can increase the likelihood of you feeling deprived and bingeing on them later.

Reduce fat intake

Reducing fat doesn’t just mean switching to lower fat alternatives, as many are high in added sugar. Instead, opt for healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds.

Switching to low-fat alternatives, such as low-fat dairy or leaner cuts of meat, can assist in weight loss. However, always check the sugar levels.

The lowdown

Losing weight doesn’t have to be a struggle. The key to losing weight naturally and maintaining it is to make your lifestyle sustainable.

Don't "diet" or overly restrict as this can lead you to feel deprived and binge on unhealthy foods or excess calories later.

Think about your long-term goal. Making small lifestyle changes one step at a time, over time, helps you to lose weight for good and improve your health.

Have you considered clinical trials for Weight management?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Weight management, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64

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