The questions about weight loss are asked all the time.
How to lose weight? How can I lose weight fast naturally? or What should I stop eating to lose weight?
The answer comes down to one simple scientific fact.
The calorie imbalance
When calorie intake is more than the expenditure, the excess is stored as fat in the body and leads to weight gain and obesity.
How can one reverse the calorie imbalance?
The options to reverse this calorie imbalance are
- Reducing calorie intake
- Increasing calorie expenditure
This can be achieved by a bit of self-control and discipline.
Dieting or calorie restriction may not be for everyone because calories restriction may increase the feeling of hunger which may do more harm than good in terms of weight loss.
In this article, 3 simple and easy tricks or methods are discussed that can be a great starting point on your journey to shed extra pounds. Combining them would accelerate the process of weight loss.
Physical fitness is not the only benefit of walking. Walking is also a great way to lose weight.
It is simple and easy, yet it is overlooked.
Walking is one of the most basic physical activities one can do. It does not require any fancy gadget, equipment or gear. The only thing you need is to get up and WALK.
Research has shown that walking helps in weight loss and even weight maintenance.
In a study, moderately obese young women intending to lose weight without dietary restriction lost 10-12% body weight in 6 months after taking part in brisk walking or bicycle riding compared to women who took swimming programs (1).
Another study done on a group of ethnically diverse premenopausal overweight women showed that following a 60 minutes or 30 minutes walking program for 12 weeks with a low-fat diet showed a reduction in body weight (2).
However, similar weight loss occurs in the group that followed the diet only program.
A clinical case study of a middle-aged Caucasian American woman with a BMI of 27.8, followed a 14-week program of 1 hour of a walking program called “Walking therapeutic sessions”, healthy eating and positive attitude lost 11 pounds. She maintained her BMI at 24.1 during 2 years follow up period (3).
Another interesting study recommended a “walking bus program” for weight loss (4). Walking buses uses the same principles as regular buses except passengers walking in groups to get to their destinations rather than taking a ride on a vehicle.
In summary, walking can help you lose weight not only steadily but may also help in the weight maintenance phase.
How to start walking for weight loss?
As mentioned before, walking does not require special preparation. You don’t need to buy any special gear. Here are some tips:
- Start slow: In the beginning, a stroll is fine. You need to increase the timing and pace gradually. Start with 15 minutes and then increase the duration to 30 minutes. Carry a bottle of water with you to keep you hydrated.
- Create a schedule: Following a schedule can really help you stay on course. Try walking every day at the same time.
- Walk your dog: Why don’t walk your dog if you have one. If you don’t own a dog and still like the idea, you can sign up for a dog sitting service. It will make you some money on the side as well.
- Socialize: If you don’t like dogs, you can walk with other people. Join meetups or clubs that walk in groups or hike regularly. It will help you stay motivated.
- Gym membership (optional): If you already have a gym membership, you should definitely consider using that.
The gist: In summary, walking is a great start for your weight loss journey. 30 to 60 mins walk per day should provide enough physical activity to see improvement in weight loss.
#2 Eat more proteins & vegetable
Delaying the satiety (feeling of fullness after eating food) is crucial to cutting back on overeating and tackling overweight and obesity (5).
Research shows that proteins can make you feel full. Increased amino acid concentration is associated with lower hunger levels (6).
Protein and satiety studies have shown that a high protein diet lowers the appetite while a low protein diet influences more savory protein choices (7)
Replacing protein with carbs and fats also leads to overconsumption of food which increases the risk of weight gain (8).
When rats were fed a low protein diet, they consumed more food to compensate for the low protein levels (9). In humans, the studies are not conclusive perhaps due to high variability in diet and trial conditions.
High protein intake is also correlated with weight loss. An increase in proteins reduces hunger and increases weight loss (10).
A high protein diet with exercise is associated with greater weight loss and body composition than a high carbohydrate diet with exercise (11).
Thus, one possible way to reduce energy intake is to take a high protein diet with high satiety which will eventually reduce total energy intake without you feeling hungry.
Vegetables and fruits are full of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber (12).
Studies have shown that taking vegetables and fruits rich diet is associated with weight loss even without any calorie restriction (13). Especially vegetables and fruits with fewer carbohydrates and more fibers can promote weight loss because fiber can also influence weight loss (14,15).
American Heart Association (AHA) recommends between 25-30g of fiber each day but unfortunately, current daily fiber intake is about 15g per day among Americans (16).
So, increasing food rich in fiber will promote weight loss.
A diet high in protein, vegetable fiber and low in fat induce a feeling of fullness compared to fatty foods (17).
How to Include proteins and vegetables in your diet
Including healthy proteins, vegetables and healthy fats should be easy.
Below is the list of nutrients sources.
What are good protein sources?
Meat: Beef, Lamb, Poultry, Pork, etc
Eggs: Free-range organic eggs are better
Fish: Salmon, Trout, Tilapia or any local fresh fish
Seafood: shrimps, prawn, crabs, etc
What are good Protein sources for Vegetarians?
Beans and lentil: Kidney beans, black bean, chickpeas, and lentils, etc
Tofu: Firm or soft depending on your style of cooking
Nuts and seeds: Peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc
Quinoa is a good protein source
Protein Powder: Whey or plant-based protein powders are also great options for quick protein intake. In fact, Whey protein may also increase fullness and decrease appetite compared to casein protein (18).
Good examples of vegetables and fruits
Good Vegetable examples: Spinach, watercress, zucchini, Broccoli, cucumber, cabbage, beet, artichoke, potatoes, Garlic, cauliflower, bell peppers, kale, turnips, onion, cauliflower, eggplant, leeks, yam, chard, asparagus, sweet potatoes, squash, okra, etc
Fruit examples: Avocado, raspberry, pears, lemon, kiwi, apples, banana, coconut, mango, plum, quince, figs, cherry, lemon, melons, grapes, tomatoes, honeydew, orange, watermelons, etc
These are just examples of the most commonly available vegetables and fruits. You can always choose what is locally produced in your region.
The gist: Increasing proteins and fiber and limiting fats to healthy fats such as olive oil will promote weight loss.
#3 Stop Snacking
Astonishingly, in the USA 27% of total calorie intake among children was observed to have come from snacks (19).
There has been a gradual increase in snack consumption from 1977 to 2006 a long term study noted.
By 2006, children consumed 50g more snacks per day compared to snacking in 1977. The snacks are salty and candy-like, loaded with simple sugars. The same research found that among adults, snacking increased from 18% to 24% (20).
There is no established scientific definition of “snacking”. However, a near encompassing definition could be “any food taken outwith a regular mealtime (namely breakfast, lunch and, dinner) or snack item taken in place of such meal.” (21).
Research has shown that snacking is attributed to obesity and weight gain.
It was observed that obese individuals were more frequent snackers than the reference group and snacking was positively related to energy intake, Thus, cutting back on snacking was recommended for weight loss (22).
Moreover, sugary drinks including aspartame-containing drinks might even increase hunger if you are following a low energy diet (26).
So you might think that the content of the snack is an important consideration and if you choose healthy snacks it may not affect your weight.
A study concluded that ready to eat, highly processed snacks are easily available in retail stores and are frequently consumed (29).
So, even though you might consider snacking on foods such as nuts, fruits and vegetables that are rich in healthy nutrients and fiber you are likely to end up buying calorie-dense highly processed salty and sweet snacks because of how easily accessible and inexpensive they are.
How to stop snacking?
If you are a regular snacker of processed nutrient-dense snacks, it might be hard for you to stop eating them all of sudden. But if you want to lose weight you have to stop snacking. Unfortunately, there’s no way around that.
- Drink water. Water is shown to have satiety effects.
- Research shows that drinking water before meals leads to decreased intake of food (30). Also, drinking water before a meal can promote weight loss on a hypocaloric diet (31).
- Sparkling water could be a great little hack. It does not have any calories yet it is interesting enough. You can either buy bottled natural flavored sparkling water or buy a sparkling water maker (Affi Ope) to make your own sparkling water.
- Unsweetened tea or coffee is recommended as a replacement for sugary beverages (32).
- Coffee is a great beverage that has many health benefits. Coffee contains antioxidants to keep you healthy.
- Green tea is a great option. It is a mild appetite suppressant (33), therefore, it might also help in reducing total energy intake. Like coffee, green tea is also loaded with antioxidants which will provide extra health benefits.
- Herbal teas are another great option. Most of them don’t have any caffeine thus, most of them have a calming effect.
The gist: The trick to weight loss and even maintenance is to avoid snacks of all kinds at all times.
The 3 methods listed above will help you lose weight by tackling the calorie imbalance.
Walking = calorie expenditure
Protein & vegetable-rich food= reduced-calorie intake
No Snacking = reduced calorie intake.
Walking will make you spend more energy than you normally would and therefore will go towards a calorie deficit state.
Protein, fiber-rich food will help you shed weight by increasing the feeling of fullness.
Finally, by not snacking, you will definitely cut on average ⅓ of calorie intake.
Combining these 3 methods is a powerful strategy to lose weight.