The Best Way To Lose Weight

Are you always struggling to lose weight, only to fail miserably or end up even heavier than before? Perhaps you are dieting for a special occasion, recently had a baby, or you’ve never had to worry about your weight until you reached middle age.

Or, like me, you’ve battled with your weight all your life. Over the years, I’ve probably lost over 200 pounds… the same stubborn 20 pounds, at least ten times!

We dieters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of us have a lot to lose, while for others it might be as little as 10 pounds. But the one thing we all have in common is we’re all desperately searching for the best way to lose weight.

The diet industry is rife with myths, quick fixes, latest fads and false promises that are sometimes conflicting or even unhealthy.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried everything under the sun to shed those unwanted pounds. But the endless debates on the best way to lose weight are enough to confuse any dieter. The diet industry is rife with myths, quick fixes, latest fads and false promises that are sometimes conflicting or even unhealthy. For years I searched in vain for the perfect diet. But is there really a “best” way to lose weight?

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Despite what all the experts tell us, there isn’t a single “one-size-fits-all” diet solution. We all have different reasons for why we gained weight in the first place. So it stands to reason that weight loss goals, motivations and strategies can’t possibly be the same for everyone. Every dieter’s odyssey will be as individual as each of us.

boy in over sized suitSo whether you wish to lose 10 or 100 pounds, it’s essential to choose a diet that suits your own wants, needs and lifestyle.

But changing those bad eating habits and adjusting your lifestyle is not easy. It requires a commitment you can adhere to. Any successful weight loss diet must therefore be one you can incorporate into your lifestyle and even learn to enjoy!

Let’s take a closer look at some of the various weight loss methods.

The “Simple” Theory Behind Weight Loss

There are a lot of ways to lose weight. But basically, any diet that creates a calorie deficit can work. So, in theory, all we have to do is eat less, exercise more, and all those extra pounds will disappear.

If only it was really that simple!

The truth is, losing weight is anything but simple. Obesity has become an epidemic. The increase of convenience foods and a more sedentary society means we’re all getting fatter.

But obesity is so recent a problem that statistics for it did not even exist 50 years ago. Think about how long it took to find a cure for diseases like smallpox. No wonder health-care professionals are constantly arguing about which diets do or don’t work!

Most experts do however agree on some things. In order to lose weight and keep it off, we need to permanently change:

  1.  What we eat
  2.  How we eat
  3. Our behaviour
  4. Our activity levels

While the best ways to make these all-important changes will be different for each and every one of us, there are tried-and-true healthy ways to lose weight that will work for any dieter.

In all my years of struggling with my weight, no matter what new weight loss bandwagon I jumped on, certain rules never changed. Reducing portions. Eliminating unhealthy snacks and second helpings. Substituting full-fat foods like cheese and butter for lower-fat versions. And, of course, counting calories.

Do Calories Really Count?

We all know there is a scientific formula for weight loss: calories in minus calories out equals weight change. Eating 300 to 500 calories less per day should lead to a loss of between one and two pounds per week. That’s a realistic and healthy target.

But, as usual in the world of dieting, counting calories is not quite that simple!

“A calorie is a calorie is a calorie,” we’re forever being told. The truth is, not all calories are created equal. Some count significantly more than others and this isn’t always obvious. For instance, some foods have a “healthy” association when they can be just as bad for you as “junk”. A trip to the salad bar can prove to be even more costly in calories than a Big Mac.

And we all know how easy it is to forget to “count” nibbles here and there.

For some of us, calorie counting is just too complicated and prone to human error (otherwise known as cheating!). Luckily, if you eat the right foods, you can forget all about counting calories.

The Right Foods for Weight Loss

Some say it’s what you eat, not how much, that makes the difference. I fantasize that one day nutritionists will discover that French fries are good for us. But, in the meantime, I’ve learned to retrain my taste buds and I now actually genuinely enjoy many of the “right” foods.healthy food

So-called “super foods” like oats, lentils, green vegetables, oily fish, berries, yoghurt, avocado and olive oil can help us drop pounds by curbing cravings and revving-up our metabolism.

Additionally, research has shown that there could be some advantages to higher protein foods for weight loss. Now I don’t believe that extreme low-carb diets are effective for the long term because they’re almost impossible to stick with. But a reduction of starchy carbs like bread and pasta while increasing fibre-rich carbs such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains is a sensible approach.

But many of us lack the knowledge and discipline to decide for ourselves what to eat when we’re trying to lose weight. We need the guesswork taken out of it. And that’s why most of use will at some point choose to go on a “diet”.

Fad Diets, Mad Diets, and Diets That Work

In 1820, the British poet Lord Byron invented the Vinegar Diet which consisted of dowsing all his food with vinegar. Byron reportedly lost sixty pounds, and the modern craze for fad diets was born.

How would I define diets that work? Those that can help people lose weight wisely and well with long-term results.

Dozens of fad diets like Cabbage Soup, Grapefruit, Zone and Acai Berry have come and gone in the years since. Some have been downright mad, like the Beer and Ice Cream Diet – which claimed that you could lose weight by consuming cold foods because your body had to work hard to warm up before you could digest them!

Other diets have endured for longer. The Stillman Diet – an early high-protein version of Atkins – has been around since 1967.

Most weight loss diets work by putting very strict limitations on what we can and can’t eat. A lot of them will back up their programs with medical claims, like the Glycemic Index diet which controls blood-sugar levels.

While all of these diets can and do work for some, most of them are way too strict. All it takes is one little slip – just that one piece of chocolate! – and we’re back to square one. This is so common that there’s even a Diets Don’t Work diet!

How would I define diets that work? Those that can help people lose weight wisely and well with long-term results. A lot of dieters need extra support to achieve those goals. And that’s where weight loss plans come in.

The Skinny on Weight Loss Plans

Weight Watchers – the granddaddy of all weight loss plans – has been around for nearly 50 years. Other commercial programs like Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem are also enduringly popular. What is the secret of their success?

Weight Watchers appeals to many because of its flexibility. Others systems, like the liquid-only Medifast, are extremely regimented. Some programs even offer home-delivered meals.

Diet PlanBut the one thing all of these systems offer is support. Whether this is one-to-one coaching or group meetings, dieters agree that support is very motivating. When you’re feeling weak, there’s someone there to encourage you.

Another important factor common to all of the established weight loss plans is that they are nutritionally balanced. They are therefore good options for healthy ways to lose weight. In our desire to slim at any cost, sometimes we will foolishly put our health  at risk.  Not only should health always be a priority in weight loss, but it might also even be the reason you gained weight.

Health Considerations and Medical Methods to Lose Weight

Weight gain can be a symptom of a number of medical disorders. In particular, weight gain that is sudden and rapid can be a sign of serious illness. Certain drugs including antidepressants and tranquilizers can also cause weight gain.

Medical conditions that can cause weight gain include diabetes and under-active thyroid. Weight gain is also a common symptom as your metabolism slows when you reach middle and older ages.

Whatever our age, we are all at danger of the dreaded belly fat. People with excess abdominal fat are more prone to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, high blood sugar, insulin resistance syndrome and heart disease.

To rid our bodies of belly fat, doctors recommend eating little and often and drinking a lot of water. In very extreme cases, the capacity of the stomach can be reduced with a gastric band operation so that only small meals can be eaten.

Most of us dieters however will continue to try and lose weight naturally. And many are increasingly seeking alternative methods.

Alternative Methods

A friend of mine actually lost weight by sticking needles in his ears. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds! According to traditional Chinese medicine, people gain weight because of a liver imbalance. Acupuncture therapy targets certain pressure points to restore that balance.

Another alternative method for weight loss is hypnosis. This age-old technique of altering behaviour through the subconscious re-programs our eating habits.

Holistic weight loss methods address both body and mind. Meditation, self-monitoring through food journals and cognitive behavioural therapy are used to help alter unhealthy patterns and replace them with positive messages about eating.

While all of these methods involve thought and effort, some of us are still hoping that weight loss can come in a bottle.

Weight Loss Products

Diet pills claim to do everything from suppressing the appetite to decreasing the absorption of fat. On the surface, this seems like a magical solution! And so the temptation is enormous to use over-the-counter weight-loss pills and supplements in order to lose weight effortlessly.

But are these products safe and effective? Numerous studies have revealed that most over-the-counter weight loss products don’t work. More seriously, there are several known harmful side effects of weight loss products including dependency and risk of heart attack. Never take anything without first discussing it with your doctor.

There is no magic pill to lose weight. But there is one thing guaranteed to help we dieters shift our excess pounds.

Exercise: The Biggest Loser

It’s no great secret. If you move it, you will lose it. Exercise is one of the most important factors in successful long-term weight loss.

But in order for exercise to work, you need to strive for a minimum of five 30-minute sessions per week. This can be anything that gets your heart pumping. The most important thing is to choose an activity you enjoy.

The Best Way to Lose Weight… And the Winner Is?

The best way to lose weight is any way that you can stick with! Because if you can’t stick with it, it won’t work. Nor will you be able to keep off any weight you do manage to lose.
Girl with scale
The good news for all of us dieters is we know that anyone can lose weight as long as there is a calorie deficit. And so in order to find the best way for YOU to lose weight, you need to ask yourself some tough questions: Why do you overeat? Are you lazy? Do you have poor willpower?

When you can honestly answer some of these questions, you’ll be well on your way to finding your own best way to lose weight.