The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health recently sponsored a task force of leading experts to find out what really works for weight loss.
With nearly 70 percent of Americans overweight or obese, knowing how to lose weight and keep it off could prevent an increasing epidemic of weight-related conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Nehal Mehta, M.D., M.S.C.E, F.A.H.A., chief of the section of inflammation and cardiometabolic diseases at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, weighed in with her suggestions for maintaining a healthy weight, which comprise the basics of weight loss that everyone should know.
1. Know Your Ideal Weight
It’s easier to lose weight if you have an end goal in mind, but the only way you can have that is if you know what your ideal body weight should be. You can use body mass index (BMI) for this, although some believe measuring your waist-to-hip ratio may provide a better gauge for heart health risks.
There’s no getting around it: exercise works for weight loss. Dr. Mehta recommends exercising for 30 minutes, five days a week, or staying as active as possible. In addition to cardio, make sure you’re also doing strength training, which helps build muscle, boosting the number of calories you’ll burn even at rest.
3. Avoid Depriving Yourself
Forcing yourself to give up your favorite foods is not necessary. As Dr. Mehta says, “You can eat anything in moderation.” This is important because, ultimately, the right diet for you is one that will give your body the nutrients it needs, help you meet your health goals and be a way of eating that you can stick to over time. This means it must fit with your lifestyle and you must feel good about the way you’re eating.
4. Choose Your Snacks Wisely
If you snack, avoiding high-sugar beverages, cookies, cakes and candies, as well as processed salty snacks. Instead, snack smarter with a combination of healthy fats, protein and fiber, such as celery sticks dipped in almond butter.
5. Try Eating Smaller Meals More Frequently
Eating this way may trick your body into eating fewer calories overall without realizing it. You may find that you don’t even miss the larger, heavier meals you used to eat. The key to making this strategy work is to be sure each mini meal is healthy and nutrient dense.
6. Eat Slowly
This gives your stomach time to signal your brain that you’re full, which means you can stop eating just before. As Dr. Mehta explained, “Pretty soon, feeling full translates into feeling overly full and uncomfortable, and that’s a positive development.”
For even more information and weight-loss motivation, check out these 10 fat-burning tips for long-term success.