When you’re trying to lose weight, taking off the pounds quickly can seem super appealing. But as it turns out, quick weight loss may not be the best approach.
In fact, research has shown that slow and steady weight loss may be the kind that sticks around for the long term. Why is that, though?
Let’s take a deeper dive into the topic.
What the Research Says About Weight Loss
You may have heard before that the “quick fix” isn’t the way to go when it comes to losing weight. That’s true—and it’s backed up by science.
While an immediate, noticeable weight loss might feel great and be motivational, it isn’t necessarily the best strategy, particularly if you are using unhealthy habits to lose those pounds.
Why? Because losing weight from a drastic diet or huge changes in your physical activity level is often followed by regaining weight when your habits change again.
That “yo-yo” effect is what’s dangerous—and harmful to your weight loss goals over all.
A study conducted by Drexel University researchers found that participants whose weight fluctuated up and down in the first weeks and months of a weight loss program ended up losing less weight in the long run. On the other hand, those who lost weight over time due to sustainable changes in lifestyle habits were more likely to lose weight and keep it off.
So, What Does It Mean for Your Weight Loss Goals?
Regardless of whether you’re trying to lose that stubborn last 10 pounds or a good deal of weight, the best strategy is one that starts slow and stays steady over time.
It’s all about building healthy lifestyle habits—not just for a short-term fix, but for a sustained period of time.
Over the years, researchers and health scientists have identified that a safe and healthy weight loss consists of losing no more than one to two pounds per week. Aim to hit that target by:
- Exercising regularly. Experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week for optimal health. But notice that’s for optimal health not for weight loss. To really reap the benefits of exercise and take off the weight, you’ll want to aim for around 60 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. It’s also a good idea to boost the intensity of your workouts, aiming for a pace and activity level where you’re able to squeeze out a few words but not able to sing.
- Eating more fruits and veggies. These healthy and delicious foods should be the centerpiece of your diet! You want to fill at least half your plate with them at meals and include them in your snacks, too. For best results, choose fruits and vegetables of all colors, since each hue offers distinct antioxidants and nutrients. These foods also offer a bonus when it comes to weight loss—they will help to keep you fuller longer.
- Choosing lean proteins. After you’ve filled one half of your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables, you also need to fill one-quarter of it with a healthy protein source. That can include lean cuts of poultry, fish and red meat, but it also may entail non-meat sources of protein, like those found in beans and nuts. Whatever you choose, cook it in a healthy manner, choosing to bake, broil, grill or saute foods instead of frying them.
- Drinking plenty of water. This is another one of those slow and steady weight loss tricks—sometimes when you think you’re hungry, you may actually only be thirsty. So, try drinking a full glass of water before each meal and wait a few minutes before you begin eating. You may find yourself eating less. Drink water continuously throughout the day, too, since you may actually be slightly dehydrated before you even feel thirsty.
- Getting enough quality sleep. Why’d we include this tip? Because, surprisingly, poor sleep can sabotage your weight loss efforts! Researchers aren’t entirely certain why that is, but honestly, not getting enough quality sleep has a ton of negative effects on the body. Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimal health, so set that as your baseline.
If you practice the healthy lifestyle habits listed above, you will be more likely to lose weight at a sustainable pace—slow and steady like the turtle who wins the race!
Please contact your primary care provider before starting any weight-loss program. Need a primary care provider? Find one here.