These days, the pursuit of weight loss is a common goal for many. Among the 95% of Americans trying to lose weight in the last five years, participants reported varying reasons for doing so, from improving their appearance (43%) to addressing major health concerns (39%). However, it’s also a given that weight loss can be difficult to sustain for many. The biggest challenges people face while losing weight include maintaining willpower and motivation, eating healthy foods, overcoming hunger, and the expenses associated with weight loss.
Studies over the past years have indicated that the top weight loss secret available today isn’t miracle weight loss drugs or fad diets. Instead, a healthy weight loss program often promotes personalized lifestyle changes and builds healthier daily habits to foster sustainable weight loss. Rather than forcing restrictive diets and trends, long-term weight management should be about healthy eating and simple nutrition — changing your eating patterns to develop a healthy relationship with food and your body. Below, we’ll look at some of the lifestyle factors that can help develop and sustain healthy weight loss:
The impact of lifestyle on your weight
While it can be easy to oversimplify weight loss strictly as a food problem, various lifestyle factors help determine or cause someone to be overweight or obese. A study focusing on Mediterranean principles used a lifestyle index that assessed various factors, including diet quality, sleep, activity habits, and sedentary behaviors. These factors have been associated with body weight and abdominal obesity.
The study also found that overweight and obese people who reported higher adherence to Mediterranean living experienced significant weight loss. Additionally, while the study noted the association between a Mediterranean diet and weight management, researchers emphasized combining it with other lifestyle changes, such as optimal sleep and regular physical activity, for optimal results.
Exercise and weight loss
Exercising regularly can help keep your body in shape and improve your general health. In a previous post discussing the most effective exercises for weight loss, we highlighted how exercising not only helps you lose weight and reach your body goals but also extends your life by protecting against diseases and other health conditions.
This doesn’t mean you should pick up extremely physically demanding sports if you can’t. Studies have shown that lighter and moderate physical activities like jogging reduced BMI, body fat percentage, and hip circumference. Similarly, dancing and yoga are excellent exercises that promote relaxation, weight loss, and strength gain without straining your body.
Nutrition and weight loss
While we did mention that weight loss shouldn’t be all about food, the right food and nutrients certainly play a role in healthy weight management. A study covering some of the most optimal diet strategies found that reducing daily calorie intake is essential for weight loss. However, other dietary factors can impact how quickly you lose weight and how much and how sustainable your weight loss is.
For example, eating breakfast and avoiding late-night snacking is a crucial dietary strategy for boosting weight loss and improving your metabolic health. While more restrictive diets like intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating can help you lose weight, it’s important to ensure your body gets enough nutrients to fuel your daily activities.
Sleep and weight loss
Finally, we also mentioned the importance of adequate and good quality sleep to help maintain long-term weight loss. Findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicate that adults who reported an average of less than seven hours of sleep have significantly higher obesity rates.
Sleep deprivation is also associated with an increased risk for other weight-related conditions, such as poor lipid-lipoprotein profile, type 2 diabetes, and other cardiovascular diseases. Other studies have noted that restricting sleep for up to five days can lead to short-term weight gain. At the same time, lack of sleep may be associated with higher energy intake, resulting in poor eating habits. So, when in doubt, try to get in bed early rather than stay up.
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