Weight loss promises often focus on speed and ease. The trouble is, fast and easy weight loss can be dangerous. Even worse, speed and ease often feed the behaviors that led to weight gain in the first place, leaving you at risk to put the weight right back on!
The top priorities of those who enjoy successful short and long-term weight loss are safety and permanence. After all, you’re not going through the effort so it can come back, right?! And while the extra weight may not be good for your health, weight loss that makes you sick isn’t good for your health either!
If you’re looking for a good weight loss strategy, then this article is for you. It will provide an overview of how to safely lose weight and keep it off, so you can feel better, enjoy life and, yes, look great too!
Why Fast and Easy Weight Loss Can be Unpleasant or Even Dangerous
Feeling hungry by significantly reducing your daily calories is awful. Losing weight only to see it return once you’re done with the diet is demoralizing.
Other factors that making skipping on the idea of fast and easy weight loss are[i]:
- Increased chances of nutritional deficiencies that lead to conditions like hair loss and a weakened immune system.
- Your metabolism may slow down.
- Higher risk of developing gallstones
3 Big Challenges to Weight Loss
Losing weight can be difficult, which is why the fast and easy approach is so appealing. Get it done so you can move on, right? Well, the potential consequences are certainly not worth it, but that doesn’t change the fact that losing weight is challenging.
To eliminate the challenge, it’s important to consider three big challenges that make weight loss feel like a monumental task. Whether you struggle with only one or all three, knowing these challenges seek to derail your effort can help you strengthen your resolve to achieve the results you seek.
What are these 3 big challenges?
- A desire for immediate results. Let’s face it, it’s an on-demand world. You want to know something, you tap your mobile device. Need to talk to someone, you text. We’ve become programmed to expect immediate results. The reality with weight is that you didn’t put on the extra weight overnight, so why expect to lose it that way? Even if you plan to be patient, slow results are often hard to observe and make sustaining the enthusiasm for the effort more difficult.
- Sugar. Research published several years ago reported sugar stimulates the same areas of the mind as other addictive drugs.[ii],[iii] This study led to exaggerated headlines like “Sugar has a similar effect on the brain as cocaine.”[iv] As this Healthline article noted, the brain prefers feelings of pleasure to pain and sugar does stimulate the pleasure centers in the brain.
About 13% of the average American diet consists of added sugar, a known factor in weight gain and obesity.[v] This means that whether you’re addicted to sugar or not, unless you’re monitoring your diet closely, you’re likely getting a lot more sugar than you want, especially if you’re looking to lose weight.
- Habits. A sweet tooth, stress eating, or a lack of exercise are only a few habits that can encourage weight gain. Lifestyle choices also fit into this category, as how we live often becomes a pattern of behavior, aka a habit.
Fortunately, all three of these big challenges are completely within your control.
The Safest Way to Lose Weight
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) observes that people who lose weight gradually by making different lifestyle choices find it easier to keep it off.[i] You can find a lot of recommendations, tips and tricks to lose weight, but a very important factor in weight loss is:
You need to spend more calories than you consume, in order to lose weight.
Here’s how a summary of how weight loss works when you adopt this simple approach:
- First, you burn free and available blood sugar (glucose) to fuel your muscles, your brain and really every metabolic process. The more activity you do, the more glucose you burn.
- When you use up glucose, your body starts burning glycogen, or a form of glucose stored in the liver and muscle tissue.
- Eventually, you burn through your glycogen stores. If you’re trying to lose weight, this is what you want.
- In the absence of glycogen, your body turns to fat for energy. There’s a lot of energy stored in fat, so burning body fat takes time.
- If you continue to spend more calories than you consume, your body will burn up the sugar quickly (natural sugars if you’re avoiding foods with added sugars) and you won’t be producing as much glycogen, so you’ll start burning fat faster.
Everyone’s different, so the results from one person to another will vary. With that said, there are several simple lifestyle choices you can make to embrace this fact and lose weight safely.
- Eliminate processed foods from your diet. Processed foods often contain added sugars and other additives to make them tastier. As a result, a serving supplies a lot of carbs in the form of sugars.
- Eat quality proteins and fatty acids. Proteins and healthy fats have a lot of health benefits. They also make you feel full longer, so when you’re dieting, you won’t feel as hungry.
- Eat lots of vegetables, and fruits too. Antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in veggies and fruits provide important nutrients your body needs to burn fat efficiently.
- Moderate exercise can do wonders for the metabolism. It only takes about 20 minutes a day, or roughly one brisk walk, to get the metabolism going. Exercising first thing in the morning is a good way to jumpstart your metabolism by burning up glycogen and getting the fat burning started.
- Establish a discipline. Some people benefit from a health coach or nutritional guide. Others track their daily eating and exercise with a food diary. Some others fast, or practice intermittent fasting [link to article], using this to build their discipline and self-control around food. It lets you eat a normal healthy diet most of the week, taking only two days (or three for the ambitious) where you only eat 25% of your normal daily calories.
One question many people have about dieting is, how many calories do you need? Average daily intake for men is generally around 1,800 – 2,000 calories. The average for women is 1,500-1,800 calories.
These, however, are averages; your needs may vary. For example, if you do a lot of physical labor, your caloric needs may be higher. If you sit behind a desk, they may be lower. Working with a health coach can help if you’re not sure what’s best for you.
3 Ways to Improve Your Weight Loss Results
Although gradual weight loss may be the best approach, it doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can improve your results naturally. In addition to being more active and eating natural, healthy foods you can also:
- Cleanse. Doing a colon cleanse removes waste build-up that can interfere with metabolism. This helps promote healthier digestion, better water balance in the body, and eliminates toxins that could interfere with metabolism and immune health. One of the gentlest cleanses you can get is from oxygenated magnesium.
- Improve Digestion. You eat for nutrients, those vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids that your metabolism needs for energy, to repair cells and keep your immune system strong enough to resist infection. If you have difficulty digesting food or do not digest it completely, you’re not getting all the nutrients you need. You can improve digestion by taking digestive enzymes, especially as you get older and symptoms of poor digestion like gas and bloating become more frequent.
- Add High-Quality Protein to Your Diet. Getting enough quality protein can be a challenge. Protein shakes and protein powders are popular with many dieters for the reasons mentioned – to get essential amino acids and feel less hungry.
How to Keep Weight Off
Once you achieve your weight goals, how can you keep it off? If you’ve made lifestyle changes, you may find it comes naturally. Many people who try intermittent fasting like it and choose to keep doing it to maintain their weight.
Some choose to embrace only one indulgence a day. For example, if they have a beer or a glass of wine with dinner, they pass on dessert. If they want dessert, they skip the alcohol.
What works for you? Share your story with us!