Weight loss, in the context of medicine, health, or physical fitness, refers to a reduction of the total body mass, by a mean loss of fluid, body fat (adipose tissue), or lean mass (namely bone mineral deposits, muscle, tendon, and other connective tissue). Weight loss can either occur unintentionally because of malnourishment or an underlying disease, or from a conscious effort to improve an actual or perceived overweight or obese state. “Unexplained” weight loss that is not caused by reduction in calorific intake or exercise is called cachexia and may be a symptom of a serious medical condition. Intentional weight loss is commonly referred to as slimming.
Pick up any diet book and it will claim to hold all the answers to successfully losing all the weight you want—and keeping it off. Some claim the key is to eat less and exercise more, others that low fat is the only way to go, while others prescribe cutting out carbs. So, what should you believe?
The truth is there is no “one size fits all” solution to permanent healthy weight loss. What works for one person may not work for you, since our bodies respond differently to different foods, depending on genetics and other health factors. To find the method of weight loss that’s right for you will likely take time and require patience, commitment, and some experimentation with different foods and diets.
While some people respond well to counting calories or similar restrictive methods, others respond better to having more freedom in planning their weight-loss programs. Being free to simply avoid fried foods or cut back on refined carbs can set them up for success. So, don’t get too discouraged if a diet that worked for somebody else doesn’t work for you. And don’t beat yourself up if a diet proves too restrictive for you to stick with. Ultimately, a diet is only right for you if it’s one you can stick with over time.
Remember: while there’s no easy fix to losing weight, there are plenty of steps you can take to develop a healthier relationship with food, curb emotional triggers to overeating, and achieve a healthy weight
Set yourself up for weight-loss success by taking charge of your food environment: when you eat, how much you eat, and what foods you make easily available.
Cook your own meals at home. This allows you to control both portion size and what goes in to the food. Restaurant and packaged foods generally contain a lot more sugar, unhealthy fat, and calories than food cooked at home—plus the portion sizes tend to be larger.
Serve yourself smaller portions. Use small plates, bowls, and cups to make your portions appear larger. Don’t eat out of large bowls or directly from food containers, which makes it difficult to assess how much you’ve eaten.
Eat early. Studies suggest that consuming more of your daily calories at breakfast and fewer at dinner can help you drop more pounds. Eating a larger, healthy breakfast can jump start your metabolism, stop you feeling hungry during the day, and give you more time to burn off the calories.
Fast for 14 hours a day. Try to eat dinner earlier in the day and then fast until breakfast the next morning. Eating only when you’re most active and giving your digestion a long break may aid weight loss.
Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time. You can create your own small portion snacks in plastic bags or containers. Eating on a schedule will help you avoid eating when you aren’t truly hungry.
Drink more water. Thirst can often be confused with hunger, so by drinking water you can avoid extra calories.
Limit the amount of tempting foods you have at home. If you share a kitchen with non-dieters, store indulgent foods out of sight.