10. The importance of maintaining a healthy weight and ways to achieve it

How to lose weight and keep it off permanently

There are several diets, exercises, and routines for weight loss. However, the truth remains that there is no “one size fits all” approach to lose weight and keep the weight off permanently. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight usually requires a combination of several approaches. These include diets, exercises, and lifestyle modifications.

Since every individual is different and unique, it is worthy of note that not every weight loss plan will work for you. You need to carefully study yourself to find out what suits you best and then commit to it to achieve your weight loss goals. You may decide to choose just one method or a combination of several methods to help you lose weight and keep it off permanently.

Although our individuality and the method of weight loss we choose plays a role when it comes to losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight, there are basic weight loss principles that are applicable to everyone and will guarantee a healthy weight in the long run:

Dietary Changes

#Eat less carbs.  Carbohydrates produce glucose which is the body’s main source of energy but not all forms of carbohydrates are healthy. Refined foods like pasta, bread, soft drinks usually contain higher amounts of carbohydrates and are unhealthy while unrefined foods like rice and beans contain less carbohydrate. So, avoid processed foods.

#Go for 100% whole grains like quinoa, rye, and oat. Whole grains are a good source of carbohydrates and fibre. In addition to losing weight, eating whole grains reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and stroke. People who are sensitive to gluten should take caution while consuming whole grains

#Eat more of low calorie, nutrient-dense foods – fruits and vegetables. These nutrient dense foods also help to control blood sugar and blood pressure. They also prevent cardiovascular diseases and reduce inflammation.

#Eat at regular intervals and don’t skip any meals. Eating regularly helps you avoid snacking on junk foods and keeps your metabolism high throughout the day. On the other hand, skipping meals gives your brain the impression that you are starving. To protect your body, the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin is released. Your metabolism is slowed down, and you feel hungrier. When this occurs, you end up overeating, therefore skipping meals should be avoided.  An interval of 3-5hours between each meal is recommended.

#Drink lots of water. Drinking water before a meal makes you feel full and helps you eat less. Water has no calories and offers numerous benefits to the body.  It aids digestion and helps to promote weight loss. Water prevents constipation by improving bowel movement. It also reduces the risk of urinary tract infections. Drink at least 2litres of water daily to stay healthy.


Lifestyle Changes

#Be physically active.  The major cause of weight loss is lowering your calorie consumption. However, being physically active also helps your body burn more calories. To lose weight and maintain it, at least 300minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise is recommended.

#Have enough sleep. Research has shown that not getting enough sleep leads to late night snacking and causes one to eat larger portions of food due to increased cravings for high energy foods. This ultimately leads to weight gain. To keep the body functioning optimally and maintain healthy weight, at least 7-9 hours good night sleep is recommended.

#Create time for relaxation. When you are stressed, you tend to overeat, also in response to the stress the body releases the hormone cortisone which promotes storage of fat around the abdomen. If you want to lose weight and keep it off permanently, it is therefore essential to minimise stress.

#Cook your meals by yourself. Cooking your meals yourself guarantees the quality and quantity of nutrients or calories you are consuming. With this, you can easily adjust your diet to suit your taste/needs. To help you stay on track with your meals, draw up a weekly or even monthly meal plan. Also avoid fast food.

#Start a food journal. Keeping a food journal can help you lose weight and keep it off permanently. The basic things to be stated in your journal are a) the food you eat b) the quantity c) time and d) where you eat. Maintaining a food journal helps you stay on track with your diet and daily calorie intake. The food journal will also help you identify your eating habits and make the necessary adjustments concerning your weight.

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