The terms “weight loss” and “dieting” often go hand in hand, and while getting a grip on your diet can help to promote weight loss, a diet alone is rarely the answer for long-term weight loss. In fact, if you’re not careful, abrupt dietary changes can actually do more harm than good and can actually contribute to weight gain if you’re not careful. That’s why we’re hesitant to ever recommend a specific diet when people ask us which diet is the best for losing weight.
Instead of diving head first into an overly restrictive diet, we’ve found that patients have a much higher likelihood of success if they make a combination of small lifestyle changes. Below, we take a closer look at these lifestyle changes and explain why they tend to have more staying power than a fad diet for weight loss.
Lifestyle Changes To Make For Long-Term Weight Loss
Fad diets can be overly restrictive and can be harmful to our health if we drastically change our nutrient intake patterns. They can also leave you feeling hungry, anxious and stressed, which can have a negative effect on your weight loss goals. Instead of a total overhaul of your diet, consider these small changes to help drive weight loss.
- Exercise More – The more you exercise, the more calories you’ll burn, and in turn the more weight you’ll lose. Similarly, for those who find that they are eating out of boredom, exercise will help keep you busy instead of wandering to the kitchen for a snack. Start with small exercise goals and build up from there. Don’t try to exercise for 90 minutes every day, because you’ll set too grueling a pace and won’t be working to develop a long-term habit. Start with a small exercise goal, like 30 minutes 3-4 times a week. Regularly hit that mark, then working on building it up from there.
- Small Dietary Changes – Instead of going gluten free or going all in on the keto diet, make a few sustainable changes to your diet to help cut back on calories. Swap out those potato chips for an apple, or give up carbohydrate-dense bagels for breakfast. Slowly work on making a few healthy changes to your diet so it isn’t as hard to get these new habits to stick. Experiment with new fruits and vegetables and try your hand at some healthy recipes. Finding new healthy foods that you like can be an enjoyable process!
- Meal Plan – One of the points we’ve made on weight loss blogs in the past is that we tend to fall into bad food habits when we don’t know where our next meal is coming from. If you have to stay late at the office, you may find it easier to hit up McDonald’s on the way home instead of cooking a healthy meal once you’re finally home. This can lead to empty and unhealthy calorie consumption. You don’t need to meal plan for the entire week on Monday, but before you leave for work in the morning, have a lunch and dinner plan in mind and take steps to prepare for these meals so that you have less work later in the day. Knowing what you’re planning on eating also helps you better track calories throughout the day.
- Drink More Water – Water is a wonderful zero-calorie drink that is readily available in most homes and offices. Take advantage of that! While the occasional morning coffee won’t kill your waistline, constantly reaching for sodas, juices or alcoholic beverages can do just that. Making sure you always have water handy can help you avoid falling into bad drink habits. Invest in a large mug or cup for the home and office, and challenge yourself to drink the whole glass multiple times throughout the day. Consuming water with meals can also help you feel full faster, preventing overeating.
- Find New Ways To Move – Humans have become more sedentary in recent years, and this is likely behind the obesity epidemic. We understand that between juggling work, family and a social life that it’s not always easy to carve out time for the gym, but you don’t always need to if you find other ways to be moving throughout the days. Doing little things, like walking around the house while you’re on the phone, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or investing in a sit-to-stand workstation can help you avoid extended sedentary periods and burn more calories.
- Improve Your Sleep – Improving your sleep quality can go a long way in helping you lose weight, and it’s a rather simple change to undertake. For starters, keep distractions like televisions, cell phones and e-readers out of the bedroom. Make the bedroom a place for getting restful sleep, not scrolling Facebook and watching a Netflix marathon. Head to bed at a reasonable hour around the same time each night if possible. Keep the room cool and dark so that it’s easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Healthy sleep helps aid in the digestive process, which can help you avoid weight gain.
These small changes are easy to stick with for the long-term, and that can help you lose weight and keep it off! And if you need more hands-on assistance losing weight, reach out to Dr. Bhatti’s office today.