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When it comes to weight loss, dieting is the first thing that comes to mind. There’s the high-protein, low-carb meal plan such as Atkins, South Beach, and Protein Power diet schemes, as well as the high-carb, low-fat food plan such as Pritikin diet.
The market is saturated with varied dieting techniques that weight loss has now grown to become a billion-dollar industry. But many of the fad or crash diets rarely lead to long-term and healthy weight loss results. They are hard to sustain because their weight loss tips are short-term and mainly involve drastic and extreme calorie restrictions.
Often, you only end up regaining the pounds you lost— or sometimes more— once you resume your normal eating habits. The reason behind this is that your hunger hormone ghrelin kicks in as your body works to regain the lost weight and make up for your low-calorie and nutrient consumption. With an increased appetite, you will likely crave high-carb and sugary snacks such as doughnuts, french fries and pizza.
This also forces you to go on the same diet routine again only to gain the lost pounds back. Before you know it, you’re stuck in what is known as weight cycling. This is also called yo-yo dieting that has been found to increase the risk of diseases such as diabetes.
Extreme dieting for weight loss never works and can even have negative effects on your health. With that said, it begs to be asked: should you stop dieting altogether?
Maintaining weight loss requires a healthy diet plan
Obesity specialist Dr. Louis J. Aronne of New York-based Weill Cornell Medicine explained that, during your calorie-deficit weight loss plan, your body first burns a form of carbohydrate called glycogen. You lose weight fast but the lost pounds “likely come from water rather than fat” as every gram of carbohydrate contains 3 grams of water.
But dieting per se is not bad. The term “diet” generally means the food and drink that you normally consume each day for nutrition or specific requirements such as weight loss.
However, for your weight loss to be done in the right way, what you need is to follow an effective and sustainable weight loss tactic, which should involve a healthy meal plan that goes hand-in-hand with regular exercise, be it endurance or strength training or low-intensity workouts such as walking or jogging. For a healthy weight loss, the recommended target is not more than one-half or 1 kilogram per week.
What’s on your plate?
The rule of thumb is to come up with a long-term, balanced food plan based on your nutritional and weight control needs. At first glance, it can be a daunting task but is very doable if done in the right way and with commitment. To help you stay motivated and ensure that you stick to your diet for the long haul, Dr. Robert Shmerling of Harvard Medical School has this advice: create a meal plan that comprises foods that you like.
Ideally, you should add this to your everyday meals when aiming to shed the excess pounds and guarantee that you’re consuming the right nutrients for your health and fitness:
• Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts and cauliflower
• Fruits such as apples, grapefruit and passion fruit
• Lean meats such as chicken, cod, halibut, salmon and tuna
Your daily calorie intake should be lowered by 500 to 750 calories. For individuals who work out regularly, a diet plan with 1,500–1,800 calories per day is ideal.
Long-term proper diets let you enjoy the benefits of getting the right nutrients over time.
Sticking to a long-term diet plan
It’s admittedly hard to keep the excess weight off. Commitment is essential for your healthy meal plan to work. Here are some tips to help you stick to your strategy and achieve your health goals.
• Know your why: When you feel discouraged, especially if you went back to your old eating patterns, remind yourself of why you’ve started eating healthy in the first place. It’s also normal to commit mistakes or miss your targets. You can always resume where you left off.
• Surround yourself with people who share your fitness goals: Staying healthy takes a lot of work. It pays to have someone who is not only cheering you on but is also on the same fitness journey as you are. This makes the entire process easier and more fun. It also makes you feel that you’re not alone in your struggle to eat healthy.
• Don’t starve yourself - Starving yourself is counterproductive and never works. It will eventually lead to you eating more, thereby resulting in weight gain.
Why consistency is key
Permanent weight management is important to staying healthy. It’s a life-long commitment that entails consistency.
A 2017 study maintained that consistency is vital to achieving long-term weight loss. One of the study’s researchers, Emily Feig, who was a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital when the paper was published, explained that consistent healthy eating prevents impulsive decisions. To remain consistent, it pays to plan and prepare your food ahead and avoid eating out regularly.
Challenging as it may be, all your efforts are going to be worth it as you start feeling healthy and experiencing the benefits of your weight control efforts.
There is no easy route to losing and keeping the excess weight at bay. Dieting works if you aim for and commit to a balanced meal plan in the long term. Eating healthy gives your body the right amount of nutrients it needs so you can enjoy a more fulfilling, healthier life. There is no better time to start or sustain your proper diet than now.
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