In the Unites States, 70 percent of adults are overweight, with 37 percent being obese. With these numbers, it is no surprise that most people have been on some sort of diet at some point of their lives.  Many fad diets may lead to initial weight loss, yet most are not healthy and are not sustainable long-term. Below are some simple lifestyle changes that over time can lead to big weight loss and a healthier you!

1. Get enough sleep

Not getting enough sleep can put you at risk for all kinds of diseases including heart disease, diabetes and depression. When you don’t sleep enough, you are more prone to various factors which contribute to weight gain. Sleep deprivation raises your levels of a stress hormone known as cortisol, which increases your appetite. And lack of sleep also alters the body’s ability to release hormones such as leptin and ghrelin, which signal satiety and fullness. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night to avoid your weight loss efforts being plagued.

Get in bed early enough and avoid looking at lit up screens like phone, ipad or TV which can make falling asleep harder. Instead read a printed book or listen to relaxing music.  

2. Skip spinning and choose resistance and weight training

While cardiovascular exercise burns calories while you are doing it, resistance training such as weight lifting has an excess post-exercise oxygen consumption effect. This means that by engaging in that type of exercise, your metabolism will get elevated and you will be burning more calories throughout your day. While cardiovascular exercise is great for health, when it comes to aiding in weight loss, exercise that builds muscle wins. Muscle burns 50 calories per pound more than fat. In addition, resistance training helps to preserve lean body mass and muscle. Resistance training increases the fat-free mass in your body; the more you have, the more calories you will burn at rest, thus increasing your metabolism.

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3. Get enough calories

Eating enough calories is a key component of weight loss. While you do want to create a calorie deficit in order to lose weight, many people cut out too many calories while dieting, which can be counterproductive. In addition to the unsustainability of eating a very low calorie diet long term, consumption of too few calories can cause your body to go into starvation mode. This results in a slowed metabolism because the body is holding onto every calorie consumed, not knowing when the next calorie is coming, and this may result in a weight loss plateau.

4. Get enough lean protein

Protein increases metabolic rate more than carbohydrates or fat do because of proteins’ high thermic effect. The thermic effect of food leads to an increase in metabolism after digestion. It takes more calories for your body to burn off a piece of chicken than a piece of fruit. Additionally, similar to resistance exercise which builds muscle; increased protein intake also helps preserve your metabolic rate during weight loss and maintenance. When choosing protein, try sticking to lean proteins, which are 45 calories per ounce as opposed to medium, and high fat proteins, which are 75 and 100 calories per ounce. The lean protein list does not include only chicken or fish; it also has some cuts of beef like chuck, sirloin, and flank as well as loin chop of veal.

5. Get enough fiber

Most Americans do not get nearly enough fiber per day. It is recommended that women get at least 25 grams of fiber per day and men get 38 grams of fiber per day, most Americans get less than half of that. Fiber aids in weight loss because it leaves you feeling full on fewer calories. Fiber also helps boost metabolism as the body works hard to break it down and burns calories doing so. It also attaches itself to some of the food you eat leading to even less calorie absorption. Foods high in fiber include artichokes, raspberries, bran crackers and cereals and beans.  

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.

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