Once you are on the right path to losing weight, building muscle and becoming a healthier version of yourself the next stage is to put into place ways to lose the weight for good and maintain it. There are a few things that you can do to ensure that your efforts are sustainable and it is a lifestyle change for good. It’s easy to fall back into bad habits, so here are nine ways to help you keep your weight loss maintenance as a staple to your way of life:
Eat Protein With Each Meal
Protein is the building block of muscle. It helps you feel fuller longer, and can help maintain lean muscle mass while restricting calories. Research shows that having more muscle mass can help with weight loss because muscles burn energy even when you are not working out. This means that when you focus your meals on protein you support muscle growth, and your body will be able to get rid of ‘fat’ by burning extra energy instead of storing it as body fat.
Plus, if you have an active lifestyle and want to keep up with your gym routine after losing weight, having some extra strength on your side will make all the difference in terms of maintaining a healthy weight for life! Keeping a meal plan is essential to lose the initial weight, and over time you will become accustomed to where to include your protein intake and what foods can enable that.
Stop Drinking Calories
It’s easy to underestimate how many calories you’re drinking. For example, a can of Coca‑Cola Original has 139 calories so drinking that alone or as a mixer for an alcoholic drink can add up quickly. Cocktails are equally high in calories, for example a Margarita can have 300-400 calories in just one drink. Another unhealthy choice that goes unrecognised is non alcoholic drinks, although certain aspects of low-alcohol and alcohol-free beers may be better for you and lower in calories, than a regular pint, they should still be consumed in moderation. Just like regular beer, some can be very high in carbs, with extra added sugar and may lead to weight gain and other health-related issues. Alcohol can also cause you to eat more than you normally would because it increases appetite, affects sleep which lowers your motivation to eat well.
You could be consuming hundreds or thousands of unnecessary calories each week without even realising it.
To reduce the amount of extra calories you’re taking in from drinks:
- Track how many drinks you have per week using an app like MyFitnessPal (iOS) or Fitbit (Android). This will help keep track of how many total calories you’re consuming from drinks throughout the day.
- Replace sugary alcoholic beverages like Margaritas and cocktails with diet mixers, light tonic so that alcohol doesn’t become off limits completely due to its low calorie count (under 100 cals/serving).
Eat High-Fibre Foods
Like protein, high-fibre foods can help you feel full and for longer so lessen your desire for larger meals and additional snacks. Fibre also helps to regulate your digestive system and keeps it running smoothly. Found in fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), whole grains, nuts and seeds it’s definitely included in your ‘5 A Day’ intake.
There are three types of fibre that we need:
- Soluble fibres dissolve in water and have the ability to lower cholesterol levels. These include oatmeal; barley, nuts, beans, peas, citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruits, unpeeled apples, skin on sweet potatoes and unpeeled carrots.
- Insoluble fibres do not dissolve in liquid but also have important health benefits such as helping prevent constipation by helping food move through your intestines properly.
- Prebiotic fibre feeds the good bacteria in your GI tract to produce health-promoting compounds, like the short-chain fatty acid butyrate. Sources include: Bananas, onion, garlic, dandelion greens, and chicory root.
The protein and fibre we need is all natural produce that comes from the ground, trees or animals – not foods and drinks that are processed or contain added additives or preservatives. Preparing and cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be time consuming if you plan and prepare in advance.
Drink Water Regularly to Stay Hydrated
Water is the most important nutrient for your body to function properly. Without it, you can’t absorb vitamins or lubricate joints. Water also helps regulate the temperature in your body, so if you don’t drink enough water, you might feel hot during the day and cold at night.
Water helps prevent toxins from building up in the body which keeps everything running smoothly! It’s also important for keeping skin glowing by flushing out toxins from underneath!
When exercising, make sure to supplement with a sports drink that has electrolytes such as potassium or sodium to replenish what’s lost through sweating (keep an eye on how much sugar is in these drinks). In addition, consuming protein within 30 mins to 1 hour after working out helps with muscle repair and recovery.
Cut Back on Added Sugar
Cutting back on added sugar is a great way to lose fat. This is because sugar is addictive, and consuming too much of it can lead to diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Also, the sugar found in processed foods can make you fat. For example: if you add extra sugar to your coffee every day for one year at 2 tsp per cup, by the time 365 days have gone by, you would have consumed approximately 100 lb of refined table sugar!
The best way to reduce sugar intake is to avoid packaged snack foods (cookies, biscuits etc.). These are often loaded with ingredients that contain high levels of refined carbs like white flour which may cause weight gain due to their ability to raise blood glucose levels quickly after consumption. Rather than feeling like you have to go cold turkey and restrict yourself, find some less processed snacks that you do like, and make sure you always have these in the house.
Track Your Food Intake and Exercise
You need to track your food intake and exercise (keep moving!) to lose fat. Tracking is the most important step in successfully losing weight, but it’s also the one that most people skip. Calories from oils and butter etc. often get missed and really do add up.
Tracking your eating and activity levels will help you identify what changes are needed for you to lose weight efficiently, as well as how many calories are being burned by different activities (like walking versus running). This information helps keep you motivated and lets you see progress on a daily basis.
To start tracking your food intake:
- Choose an app or website that best suits your needs—this can be something simple like pen and paper, or a more advanced system with lots of features such as MyFitnessPal or FitBit.
- Once selected, enter in everything that has gone into your mouth over the past few days (or weeks).
- Try using these apps to plan ahead, enter in tomorrow meals you plan to eat and it’ll get you in the right frame of mind to stick to a healthy eating plan.
Eat More Slowly
Studies suggest that eating too quickly can lead to weight gain and overeating, as well as a feeling of fullness that doesn’t last. Avoid eating where there are distractions like in front of the TV. If you’re distracted while eating, you’ll be less aware of how much food you are consuming and will likely continue until your plate is empty or close to empty even though you may not feel full yet.
Enjoy your food, make meal times an event! Some weight gain can be contributed to because of the love of food and too large portion sizes. By thinking about preparing, cooking and then eating your meal you will fill your mind with what you have had, and enjoy it, rather than being a chore.
Stock Up on Healthy Foods and Snacks
One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight is not having a healthy snack ready for when hunger strikes. While you may be able to avoid temptation for a few hours, it’s inevitable that at some point you’ll feel hungry and wonder if you have anything in the kitchen. In order to build up your willpower, it’s important that you stock up on plenty of healthy snacks so you never have an excuse not to eat something nutritious when cravings strike.
A great way to get started is by keeping a variety of snacks around at all times: high-fibre crackers, dried fruit and nuts (unsalted), yoghurt or cottage cheese with berries, hard boiled eggs—you get the idea. These will help keep hunger at bay until mealtime while also providing nutrients like protein and water content that can help suppress appetite.
Eat, Drink, SLEEP, Repeat
It’s important for our health that we get enough sleep. Experts suggest “Continuous sleep of 7-8 hours is beneficial as it makes you feel energetic, thereby, acting as a motivational tool for indulging in a physical activity which is directly related to weight loss”. A lack of sleep can increase appetite by changing hormones and making us more likely to eat unhealthy foods, and influences how body fat is lost.
Sleep also helps us regulate our metabolism, promote muscle growth, repair damaged tissue and memory, keep us happy and alert, reduce stress and keep our immune system strong. But sometimes it’s hard to get enough sleep — especially if you have a job or other obligations that prevent you from getting enough rest. Luckily, taking naps is a great way to get extra shut-eye without sacrificing the amount of time spent sleeping at night. If you really struggle to get more sleep, especially if you have children, aim for better quality sleep. Don’t drink caffeine four before bed, don’t use your screens in bed, try to unwind and get ready for sleep a couple of hours before, with lower lighting and reading.
Figure Out Your Body’s Needs
Everyone is different, our body’s all require different things to be healthy but in the main the above 9 recommendations will only get you closer to a healthier version of yourself. If trying all of these feels overwhelming, pick one or two actions, focus on these and then try adding in another when you’re ready.
- Eat enough fibre to keep your digestive system working properly.
- Drink water so that your body can stay hydrated and run efficiently.
- Aim to get better sleep, 7-8 hours per day or at least better quality sleep.
- Stop drinking your calories – put the fizzy drinks down!
- Eat protein with every meal – this is a must to support muscle loss as you age.
- Learn to cook, slow down and enjoy the process – this will help reduce mindless eating.
- Cut back on sugar – ’Crowd out’ processed snacks with healthier options you enjoy!
- Keep our kitchen stocked with healthy food – this will stop you instinctively reaching for the junk foods.
- Track your food intake to ensure you’re not sabotaging your progress with missed calories.
We hope these tips have been helpful for you. Remember that there is no magic formula for losing weight and staying fit — what works for one person may not work for another. The best thing to do is to experiment with different approaches and find out what works best for your lifestyle!
Change won’t happen overnight but as you start to see and feel the changes, you’ll be motivated to continue with your healthier lifestyle choices and keep going. Start today and by the summer you will thank yourself.