Like 40% of the American population I should lose some weight. As someone who likes to follow proven advice I started reading up on scientific studies concerning weight loss. I found that there are been THOUSANDS of studies in to weight loss with varying conclusions. The science suggests that there isn't one weight loss method that works for everyone. Some diets work brilliantly for certain people but when others follow the exact same diet they dont get the same results.
What they all the studies do generally agree on is people who are successful in losing weight eat more fruit and vegetables, consume fewer calories overall and exercise more. Seeing as this is a blog about habits, I have turned these findings in to 3 habits.
1. Eat primarily plants.
The diet voted the healthiest year after year is the Mediterranean Diet. The primary ingredient in this diet is fruit and vegetables. The USDA's "My Plate" which was created by scientists and dietitians recommends filling half your plate with fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are high in nutrients and fill you up without adding an excessive amount of calories.
The first habit is:
When you serve your meal then fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables.
Make half of every meal fruit and vegetables. Include fruit or vegetables with every meal. Add fruit to your cereal or put some vegetables in your omelette for breakfast. When you think you want a snack ask yourself if you are hungry enough to eat an apple. If you are then grab an apple before you eat anything else. If you arent hungry enough to eat an apple then you dont really need a snack. At lunchtime add some vegetables to your sandwich or have a chefs salad for lunch. At dinner time literally make half of your meal vegetables - and eat them first!
2. Control portions.
Next, control how much you eat. It is really easy to eat too much. Restaurant portions sizes have doubled since the 1960s. All foods come with portion sizes, we just dont take the time to look at them. A balanced meal includes vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates. If you dont have a scale handy, a really simple way to control your portions is to put one cup of each food group on your plate. If you dont have a measuring cup, its about the size of a tennis ball or a clenched fist. Aim to have 4 cups worth of food on your plate (2 cups of vegetables, one cup of proteins and one cup of carbohydrates.)
The second habit is:
When you measure your food then put one cup of each food group on your plate.
It isnt a perfect measurement but it is good enough and it is a simple way to manage the amount of food you intake.
3. Go for a brisk walk.
Finally, the last generally agreed on finding of all these studies is people who lose weight increase their exercise. There is a saying - you can't outrun your fork. Dont expect exercise to use up lots of extra calories - a half hour run won't undo eating 2 slices of cake. However exercising will increase your metabolism and help you use calories more quickly. Exercise also has a bunch of other great health benefits. Study after study has found that walking is one of the very best forms of exercise you can do. The benefits of walking are even the same as jogging. For your walk to be considered "brisk" you do need to be breathing harder than normal.
The third habit is:
When you finish eating then go for 10 minute brisk walk.
You can read more about "brisk walks" in this blog post.