Most people try to lose weight for health or beauty reasons. Losing 5 to 10 per cent of your body weight will usually have measurable health benefits, like lower blood pressure and reduced blood sugars.
To lose weight and remain leaner over time, you will have to adjust your diet and exercise routines.
If you have any long-term health condition, speak to your healthcare provider about how best to go about losing weight.
Weight loss is a drop in your weight, which can be intentional or unintentional. Unintentional weight loss is often a symptom of a disease (like tuberculosis) or stress.
Healthy weight loss starts with consuming fewer and burning more calories. This means eating a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits, cutting down on fats and sugars, and getting more active by exercising and walking. Do not try to loose too much weight at once. Starving yourself is very hard and often leads to weight gains later on. Do not skip meals, but you want to take smaller helpings during the meals. Plan your weight loss program to lose no more than 1 to 2 kg of body weight per month until you hit your preferred weight.
To lose weight, make sure to nourish your body with a healthy, balanced diet. The aim is to reduce the quantity of what you eat and the things that you eat (e.g. reduce fats and sugar).
Your diet will contain the following throughout the day, giving you enough calories to keep you going but to reduce your intake by 500 to 1000 calories per day:
- Include lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.
- Include proteins such as lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, nuts and seeds.
- Try to avoid saturated or trans fats (e.g. butter, fried foods), salt and sugars.
Fruit: your fruits can be fresh or canned fruits without preservatives. Make your fruit bowls colourful and delicious.
Vegetables: eat raw vegetables as much as possible, or steam them lightly.
Proteins: try a variety of meats, fish, eggs and plant proteins. Meats and fish are healthier when you bake or grill them. Try spicing with herbs to improve the taste.
More tips include:
- Eat regular meals and do not skip breakfast. This will help you stay full and less likely to eat unhealthy snacks.
- Always look for ways to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Substitute some of your carbohydrates (like rice and yam) for more complex carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables (carrots and fonio whole grains).
- Check food labels, so you know how many calories, fats and sugars you are eating.
- Include fibre-rich foods in your diet. Foods such as oranges, watermelon, vegetables and whole-grain products. These foods make you feel full for longer.
- Drink lots of water.
- Reduce your portion sizes by using smaller plates.
- Create a meal plan, this way, you are more likely to stick to your reduced calorie intake.
- Limit alcohol intake because alcohol is high in calories.
Aim to do up to 150 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Your activity regimen may include:
- Running or jogging.
- Jumping rope.
- Weight lifting.
- Sports, like football.
- Bicycle riding.
Most of all, try to find an exercise that you enjoy doing and that you will stick with. Exercise at least five days a week to maintain a healthy weight loss. Consider joining an exercise group, as a group can help you to continue to exercise for longer. Next to regular exercises, try to walk more. It is easy and helps to maintain your weight loss.
When you reach your weight goal, it is essential to maintain it. Weight loss may make your body's metabolism slow down, which means that it becomes easier for you to gain weight rather than lose it. Follow these tips to keep your hard-won goals:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet: you will need to learn to balance your energy needs and food intake. Keeping a balance ensures that you are not eating more than you can use for your daily activities.
- Keep an active routine: have an exercise regimen that keeps you active and helps to increase your overall fitness.
- Keep tabs on your weight from time to time. You can buy a weighing scale for this purpose.
- Some medications for chronic (long-term) diseases can slow down or speed up your metabolism. Speak with your healthcare provider about losing weight while using medication.
Weight loss can be a self-esteem booster, especially when actively putting in the work through dieting and exercise. Set a target and take steps to achieve them. Once you have reached your desired weight, follow through with the above tips to help you maintain the weight.
If you notice that you are losing weight unintentionally, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.