Once upon a time our ancestors may have wondered whether they’d have enough food to eat from day to day. Now with our more sedentary lifestyles and abundance of high fat, high sugar convenience foods, we have the opposite problem. The universal question we have now is: How can I lose weight? Which diet is best for me? How can I lose weight easily and achieve my ideal body shape without sacrificing my lifestyle, social life or health? What’s the fastest, easiest and most convenient weight loss method?
You may feel like you’ve tried every diet and weight loss plan, without seeing lasting results. Just the idea of losing weight may be synonymous with long gruelling workouts and day after day of starvation with seemingly little result. Unfortunately, if you’ve suspected the odds are against you, you may be right—even science has shown that women have a harder time losing weight and burning fat than men, at least in the short term. But that doesn’t mean you need to give up on your dream of losing weight and discovering a healthy, fit and toned body. Here we look at some women’s weight loss basics as well as the science behind how weight loss happens and how you can find the best diet for you.
Why Is Weight Loss Important?
Why should you lose weight? A high BMI (body mass index) or a high body fat percentage can not only impact your appearance and self-confidence, but also negatively affect your health and life span. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of many health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, blood pressure, certain cancers and pregnancy complications.
Losing weight can improve your mobility and health, while helping you feel more confident and better about how you look.
Do I Need To Lose Weight?
First, you might like to work out whether you need to lose weight, and how much weight you need to lose. This can help you create a goal that keeps you motivated towards successful weight loss.
The easiest way to determine if you need to lose weight is to calculate your Body Mass Index, or BMI. To determine your BMI, you can use a BMI calculator, or calculate it yourself by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by your height in metres squared.
A BMI over 25 is considered overweight, and a BMI over 30 is considered obese. Experts recommend that the best time to lose weight is when your BMI hits the 25-27 range - as soon as you enter the ‘overweight’ range.
You may also want to consider losing weight if you’ve recently noticed weight gain, or you have a chronic condition that can be improved by weight loss, such as diabetes, arthritis or heart disease.
What’s the Best Diet or Weight Loss Method?
If you’ve made the decision to lose weight, you’re probably wondering what the best diet or weight loss method is for you.
Unfortunately, science is beginning to back up what many dieters already know - that simply reducing calorie intake is not enough to achieve lasting, long-term weight loss.
So how do you choose the best weight loss method?
While it’s an individual choice, some points to help you choose a healthy and achievable weight loss method include –
- Find a weight loss plan that matches your personal needs and preferences. For example, it may be unrealistic to attempt the Paleo diet if you are vegetarian or vegan.
- Choose a diet that you believe you can follow and stick to. Avoid diets that you know are unrealistic, but that you only plan to follow for a short time.
- Choose a diet that’s convenient to you. By choosing a diet that fits your schedule and ability to commit to meal prep, you have a better chance of sticking to your diet and reaching your goals.
- Choose a diet that focuses on a balance of long-term health changes, along with good short-term results. A balance means you get to feel motivated when you see the weight loss begin quickly, but that your efforts also last into the long term.
How Does Weight Loss Work?
In its simplest form, weight loss is basically a numbers game – if you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight; if you eat less calories than you burn, you lose weight.
However, how weight loss works for every individual person—and with every individual diet—can be different. Research indicates that it’s not just the number of calories that’s important, but the quality of the food you eat (and the exercise you do) as well.
Diets that are low in calories, yet high in carbohydrates may trigger the release of insulin which causes fat storage. On the other hand, high protein or higher fat diets can trigger greater weight loss even without intentional calorie restriction, by creating greater feelings of satiety, activating thermogenesis, or putting the body into a state of ketosis.
Ultimately, the mechanics of weight loss is a complicated matter, but when it comes to healthy, consistent weight loss, your best bet is a high protein, calorie-controlled diet.
How Can I Lose Weight Faster?
Losing weight fast is generally never a good idea—good things take time, and the faster you lose weight, the faster you usually gain it back. Rapid weight loss is also associated with a number of health risks, including gallstones, dehydration, malnutrition, and electrolyte imbalances which can be life threatening.
And yet, when we decide to start a weight loss plan, we start with energy and enthusiasm and want to see results fast. The good news is that most people starting a weight loss plan will see great results in their first few weeks, especially if they are overweight or obese to start with. Some other things you can do to ensure you lose weight faster include –
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Cutting down carbohydrates, particularly at night.
- Choosing high protein meals and snacks.
- Performing at least 30 mins of aerobic activity per day.
- Ensure you get enough sleep to curb cravings.
- Replace up to 2 meals a day with a low-calorie meal replacement, like a protein shake, to temporarily shed weight fast.
What To Do In A Weight Loss Plateau?
Weight loss plateaus are one of the most frustrating things a dieter can go through, and yet they happen to everyone at some point in the weight loss journey. A weight loss plateau is when you stop losing weight even though you haven’t changed anything in your diet or exercise. You may have thought everything was going great, the weight was dropping away, but all of a sudden, you’re not losing weight anymore. It’s important not to get dismayed, frustrated or to give up at this point.
So how does a weight loss plateau happen? A weight loss plateau is often contrasted with the relatively rapid weight loss you might experience at the beginning of a diet. In the first few weeks of a weight loss plan, you may lose weight quickly as your body burns through your muscle glycogen stores. Muscle glycogen is partly made of water, which means that as you lose glycogen you also lose a lot of water weight, giving you great results on the scales in the first few weeks of a weight loss program.
You may also burn muscle protein in the first few weeks of your weight loss plan. Less muscle mass means a slower metabolism, so it’s important to try to preserve muscle in the first few weeks of weight loss by eating a high protein diet and exercising. With all these factors working together, it’s natural that your weight loss slows down a few weeks or months into your weight loss plan.
However, there are a few things you can do to reactivate your weight loss in a plateau –
- Take a closer look at what you’re doing from day to day. Are you perhaps not sticking to your exercise plan or are extra snacks sneaking into your diet? Paying closer attention to your daily habits and perhaps keeping a diary may start your weight loss again.
- Change things up. Are you only replacing one meal a day with meal replacements or shakes? Try replacing two meals a day. Usually take only a low protein cereal breakfast in the morning? Try upping your protein intake by adding eggs, low fat yoghurt or a protein shake.
- Add in more activity. Change your workout type or add more time to your workouts. If you can’t fit in more time at the gym, add more incidental exercise to your day by walking between close locations and taking the stairs where possible.
The most important thing to do if you hit a plateau is to not give up! If you continue to persist with your healthy diet and lifestyle changes, you will reap the results in a more toned, fit and healthy body.