Losing weight can be so frustrating, especially if you’ve tried everything you possibly can but still see no results. There are a lot of fad diets out there that promise instant results. While some of them may work short term, they are often unsustainable.
These 5 tips will help you see results in the shortest time possible. They are not magic tricks, so don’t expect to see results within a week. What’s great about them though is that they are natural, backed by science and easily sustainable.
1. Intermittent fasting
Genetically, we were created to survive environments that underwent fluctuations between episodes of famine and feasting1. The age we live in now is characterized by constant feasting, unlike primitive times. That makes overconsumption of food a common and easy trap to fall under.
Intermittent fasting helps avoid overeating and makes maintaining a caloric deficit-which is the main necessary tool needed to achieve weight loss-a simple task.
Intermittent fasting refers to periodic fasting episodes where you go a number of hours in a day without food intake, which is then followed by a period of eating.
The most common type of intermittent fasting is the 16/8 route, where you fast for 16 hours of the day and eat within an 8 hour window only. For example; if you have breakfast at 11:00, your eating window will be from 11:00 to 19:00. After 7 pm is the start of your fasting window and it will end the following day at 11 am.
The other option is alternate day fasting where you fast for 24 hours and the following day you eat as normal. For someone who is starting intermittent fasting though it is advisable to start slowly with a minimum of a 12-hour fast.
During your fasting window you can drink water, coffee or tea without sugar. Nothing with calories is allowed.
Besides weight loss, intermittent fasting has been found to be an effective instrument in reducing insulin resistance, oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
People who suffer from eating disorders are advised to consult their medical practitioners before attempting intermittent fasting.
2. Natural diuretics
Diuretics help your body get rid of excess fluid. Excess fluid can reflect as extra weight on your body and the scale.
There are many synthetic diuretics in the market that you can find at your nearest drug store but they often have negative side effects that could potentially harm your health. Fortunately, nature has provided us with diuretics with many other benefits besides ridding your body of excess fluid2.
Drink these twice a day:
In your meals, you can incorporate coriander and dandelion leaves, toss them in a salad or cook them in a soup or herbal tea.
Water also acts as a diuretic and helps flush out toxins off your body, drink at least 2 litres of it per day.
3. Minimize processed foods and sugar
Naturally occurring sugar in vegetables, fruits, dairy and grains is good for you. These type of foods also contain essential minerals, antioxidants and are high in fiber.
Your body also digests these foods slowly, so the sugar in them provides your body with a steady source of energy3.
The sugar you should be in the lookout for is in processed foods like flavoured yoghurts, cakes, sweets, biscuits, cereals, soft drinks and fruit drinks.
It’s also in the less obvious foods that you use daily like salad dressings, ketchup, soups and bread.
These foods may not be that healthy, but they sure do taste good!
You do not have to completely cut them out, doing so has proven to be unsustainable in many cases and may lead to binges. Reduce their intake to once or twice a week, depending on your weight loss goals.
Pairing a healthy diet with exercise is more effective for weight loss. The great thing about exercise is that it will help you lose fat while sculpting and toning your body into the shape you want it to be.
Exercise also has other benefits like increasing cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and helps balance your hormones4.
Exercise a minimum of 3 days per week for 30 minutes each day. Play around with different kinds of workouts until you find the one you enjoy.
You can try walking, running, skipping rope, swimming, cycling, yoga, strength exercises with weights or body weight, even dancing. It’s important that you enjoy your workouts so it’s not difficult to stick to exercising.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to diabetes and obesity. Not getting sufficient sleep increases the release of cortisol.
Cortisol increases sugar levels in your bloodstream which can lead to insulin resistance5.
Rest is crucial in your weight loss journey so aim to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day. Plus it will improve your mood.
6. Bonus tip:
Consistency and patience!
Losing weight requires a ton of patience and discipline, especially if you’re looking to maintain your weight loss.
So be patient with the process and be consistent, you cannot undo the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle created over a long period of time in one day or one week. If you happen to fall off the wagon, do not give up, get back up on it and try again. You can do this!
Written by Babalwa Mpolongwana