After a lifetime of trying, losing weight can be seen as the Holy Grail. You hear about it often, you see other people losing weight but it seems almost impossible to lose weight and keep the weight off yourself.
A simple Google search of the phrase ‘weight loss’ yields millions of results and the weight loss and fitness industry is saturated with hundreds of products promising results.
The truth is it does not need to be so complicated and your weight loss journey can start today with simple, easy to follow steps.
5 Ways to lose weight naturally, without any extreme measures or pills and potions:
1) Stop Drinking Your Calories
If we were stuck in the desert without food we would last for a few weeks, however, without water we would probably only last a few days.
One of the fastest easiest ways to lose weight is to take a serious look at what you are drinking on a daily basis. By cutting out fruit juices, sports drinks, sugary sodas, sweetened coffees, and milk you are also cutting your daily calorie consumption drastically (1).
In a nutshell, drinking should be seen as a functional survival tool to stay hydrated and we should not be choosing the hundreds of sugary, sweet options available to us (2).
2) Cut Out Added Sugar
Unfortunately, a great deal of food products like sauces, soups, and ready-made foods have a great deal of sugar added to them. Take low fat or fat-free fruit yoghurt for instance, the yoghurt may have almost no fat in it and it is perceived as healthy. When you take a closer look at the label, however, one of the first added ingredients is sugar.
Start cutting out added sugars by learning to read the packaging on the products you buy. The ingredients list on all packaged products list ingredients in order of the quantity in the product. So for instance when you read the label of your favourite muesli or granola, many of them have sugar as one of the first listed ingredients. This immediately tells you that there is a very high percentage of sugar added to the product and it is not healthy for you.
If you currently add sugar to your coffee and tea, slowly reduce your intake by half until you hardly need to add the sugar at all.
3) Increase Your Protein
Have a look at your first three meals in your day. For many people it looks something like this:
Breakfast: Cereal with milk or a cereal bar
Snack: Apple or banana
Lunch: Toast with cheese
While this may not seem like an unhealthy dietary intake, there is in fact, an entire food group missing. Protein. What about the cheese? Well, when we refer to protein we are talking about whole, unprocessed protein.
A dietary intake like the one above is completely unbalanced and loaded with carbohydrates. The problem with this is that your hunger levels are not controlled and this may lead to overeating later in the day or at your evening meal.
A key component of successful weight loss is increasing the amount of lean, whole proteins in your diet (4). Whole proteins like egg, chicken, beef, cottage cheese and fish are extremely effective in keeping you fuller for longer. In addition, when they are eaten as part of a meal, the whole proteins actively slow down the rate of digestion of the meal and your blood sugar levels are better controlled.
This means fewer cravings and improved energy levels.
4) Water, Water, Water
Aside from your coffees and teas, are you drinking enough liquid? Our bodies are in fact made up of 50-60% water and when we are even slightly dehydrated a whole range of our bodily systems are affected.
Firstly, our hunger levels are increased, as our bodies do not always know the difference between hunger and thirst. The end result that is that not drinking enough water can lead to overeating, as we still feel hungry (6).
Secondly, being well-hydrated means that our metabolisms are working at full capacity. When we are dehydrated our metabolism grinds to a halt, which means that even if we are putting in the work to lose weight our efforts may be reduced by a lack of fluid intake.
There are many apps available for your smartphone to assist you in remembering to drink water. Alternatively keep a jug or bottle on your desk and have a daily goal to finish a certain amount. Around 8-10 glasses per day as an average.
5) Fill up on Fibrous Fruit and Vegetables
Your mother was right when she told you to eat your vegetables. Besides the countless vitamins and other nutrients which vegetables provide they are also an incredible source of fibre.
When you are actively focusing on losing weight by cutting down on your portion sizes it is important that you do not feel that you are going hungry. By piling your plate full of fibrous vegetables you will ensure that you feel fuller and more satisfied at every meal. In addition, simply seeing your plate visibly full with loads of (low calorie) vegetables will help you to cope with the mental aspect of keeping your portions smaller (7).
It turns out that there is actual scientific evidence regarding the link between certain vegetables and weight loss (8). Cruciferous vegetables contain an important oestrogen reducing phytochemical known as Indole-3-Carbinol. Unfortunately, the female hormone oestrogen is responsible for weight gain in both males and females. By helping to reduce this hormone you can, in effect help to lower blood oestrogen levels (9).
The cruciferous family of vegetables consists of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. They are all low in calories and also extremely healthy for our gut bacteria as they are high in fibre (10).
Remember that losing weight should always be approached with a view to lose the weight as slowly and safely as possible. Instead of looking for a quick fix, start today with these simple steps to make the lifestyle change a permanent one.