Excess weight and obesity can be detrimental to both physical and mental health. Yet, losing weight can be a stressful journey, especially if one does not see results at a fast pace. The good news is that you are not alone if you are overweight and struggle to lose a few extra pounds. The World Health Organisation recorded over 1.6 billion people being overweight and more than 650 million obese people in 2016.
It is usual for people to struggle in their weight loss journey. It is often a non-linear journey with many ups and downs. One may even encounter the ‘yo-yo effect’ while trying to lose weight. The yo-yo effect refers to losing weight to gaining it back again. To prevent this effect, one must learn to maintain weight. This article will address such issues and how to tackle them.
Most importantly, one must not lose faith while on their weight loss journey. Positivity and self-esteem are key. After all, one also needs to build a healthy relationship with their body. It is indispensable due to the bias existing in society against overweight people or the ones not sticking to the ideal size. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that over 54% of adults face weightism while at work.
Choosing a Specific Diet Type to Lose Weight
If someone has difficulty losing weight, they should first assess their diet. While exercising is equally important, your dietary habits significantly impact your weight. So, is your diet working for them or against them? There are several types of diets that you can follow.
Some diets to consider are:
- Calorie Deficit Diet
- Ketogenic Diet
- Vegetarian Diet
- Vegan Diet
- Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet
- Atkins’ Diet
Calorie Deficit Diet
A calorie deficit diet is when one consumes fewer calories than they use in a week. Research says several ways of approaching a calorie deficit diet, including fat restriction, meal replacements, or fixed energy deficits.
Research says that the total body weight decreases by 8% on a low-calorie diet in the short term. It further states that low-calorie diets are well tolerated and have shown to be effective in significant weight loss for up to 5 years. Hence, we can conclude that low-calorie diets are good for losing weight and maintaining the lost weight.
The research also states that very-low-calorie diets produce faster weight loss but should be limited to 16 weeks. After crossing this period, people may experience clinically adverse effects.
Ketogenic (keto) diets are significantly low in carbohydrates and high in fat content. Research says that while low-carb diets have shown to be good at inducing weight loss in short periods, it is unclear how effective they are in the long term.
Other studies show that while rapid weight loss happens on a ketogenic diet, LDL cholesterol tends to rise. It even deemed other alternative diets to be more sustainable and equally effective. However, another study says that keto diets compare well with low-fat diets in weight loss parameters. It also shows improvements in high-density lipoprotein and triglyceride levels.
The vegetarian diet consists of one’s diet primarily being composed of fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. Vegetarians eat everything except poultry, meat, and fish. A meta-analysis states that when compared to non-vegetarian diets, vegetarian diets have shown remarkable benefits for weight loss.
Another study shows that vegetarian diets help reduce body weight, lower the chances of specific chronic illnesses and lower medical costs than non-vegetarian diets.
A vegan diet is all about eating plant-based foods. People on a vegan diet do not eat any animal products, including dairy, honey, and eggs. A study shows that when compared to the NCEP (National Cholesterol Education Program) diet, the vegan diet was associated with a noticeable and more significant weight reduction.
Another study shows improved body weight, insulin sensitivity, and lipid concentration under a low-fat vegan diet compared to a Mediterranean diet.
Yet another randomised trial study showed decreased body weight among individuals on a plant-based diet. The weight loss resulted in being more effective than other diets. It also demonstrated that the micronutrient levels improved while on a vegan diet.
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet
A study shows that being on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet for eight weeks improved people’s weight. In addition, it improved triglyceride levels, insulin metabolism, inflammatory responses, and other marked changes.
Another study says that following a DASH diet and incorporating vegetable juice daily into a calorie-restricted diet can facilitate weight loss in overweight people with metabolic syndrome. The calories allowed were 1600 and 1800 for men and women, respectively. Research, in general, suggests that a good choice for weight reduction and management in overweight and obese individuals is the DASH diet.
Atkins’ Diet to lose weight
The Atkins diet restricts the consumption of carbohydrates to only under 30 g per day while allowing the consumption of fatty foods such as meat, butter, and high-fat dairy products. A study shows decreased caloric intake when otherwise healthy overweight and obese individuals self-administered the Atkins induction and ongoing weight-loss diets. They had markedly changed their daily micronutrient intake. It explains the weight loss by the lower caloric intake done by self-section while on the Atkins diet.
While other diets are available, these diets have shown significant results for weight loss. Individuals must make an informed choice on which diet works to see improvements on the scale. The constant search for accurate knowledge on various diets is linked by research to anxiety around food choices and feeling futility in their efforts to select the proper diet.
The Problem with Setting Unrealistic Weight Goals
One may also set unrealistic goals and have significantly elevated body expectations. The human body is a complex system comprised of numerous processes. Hence, weight loss takes time and effort. If one sets a brief duration wherein they want to see weight reduction, it will work against them. Similarly, if one wants to lose significantly more weight in insufficient time, it will not be a beneficial strategy.
It is important to remember that not all bodies function the same. Several things do not work in setting unrealistic goals. Firstly, they stress people who are taking up weight loss. The pressure of the strict deadline too close can make them anxious and anticipate that they will not lose weight. This anticipation itself is exceptionally discouraging. It is better for individuals taking up the weight loss journey to try and stay motivated.
Other individuals may mistake tracking how many more units of weight they need to lose instead of seeing how far they have come. This point ties in with motivation. Motivation is critical to track your progress, not only for the incentive but also to realise how many units of weight you can lose in what duration.
It is unrealistic to expect to drop the same amount of weight you did at the beginning of your weight reduction journey. It is so because the weight loss journey has phases.
The stages of weight loss are:
- Glycogen Depletion and Dehydration
- Fat Loss
- Metabolic Recovery
Glycogen Depletion and Dehydration
Glycogenic depletion ensues when the body uses up the energy reserves in fat-storing organs, like the liver, after entering a calorie deficit. As a result, people tend to notice significant weight loss during the weight reduction phase. Dehydration refers to the concentration of fluids the body stores: the amount of water intake should be high.
Fat Loss is the actual part where one loses the extra pounds and can witness the fruits of their labour.
Plateau is the phase where the weight loss stops. By then, the body has run out of all stored energy. People often experience anxiety and a lack of motivation in this phase. They may be confused why they do not see any results while still rigorously following their weight loss regime. However, the individual may have already lost all the weight they must to be healthy by then.
Metabolic recovery is when the body recovers the ideal balance of energy. During this time, one may notice some weight regain. However, this weight regain is healthy. One should continue to eat healthily and exercise to maintain weight.
Some individuals may face the problem of not getting sufficient time in the day to prioritise their health. In addition, the fast-paced culture of today’s society can be detrimental to its people’s overall quality of life. However, one must take the time as it is the consistent effort of a person losing weight that aids in the process.
Sporadic efforts, such as doing high-intensity workouts for four hours one day and skipping workouts for the next week, will not provide any positive results. However, securing even just an hour daily to dedicate to your workout regime while trying to lose weight can be highly beneficial.
If one finds it difficult to make healthy meals that fit the diet they selected for themselves, they can invest in meal prepping. That means their work during the daytime to put together the meals will be significantly reduced. Meal prepping is usually done at night time such that everything is ready for the following day. Research says that consistency as a behavioural strategy promotes long-term weight loss maintenance.
Repercussions of Isolation
Many want to keep their weight loss journey private. It can result from the constant prejudice people face due to weight imbalance. Research shows both implicit and explicit anti-fat prejudice. For example, it showed that overweight individuals were the target of greater derogations than average-weight people.
It also does not help that the media portray overweight and obese people as stigmatised. Perhaps due to this skewed representation of overweight and obese individuals, many want to isolate themselves during their weight loss journey and become their new selves.
Yet, this can play a detrimental role in their mental health. Weight loss is a rigorous process, and having the family’s support can be highly beneficial. Many people have posted their weight loss journey on the internet and garnered a following that encourages them every day. These posts do not only include people posting their results but also while they are still losing weight.
Calculating Your Nutritional Intake
Calculating one’s nutritional intake while losing weight can help one be healthy while also losing weight. Unfortunately, some people can lose track and focus only on fat loss instead of replenishing their reserves. Research shows that prior knowledge of nutrition in low-income mothers is more predictive of weight reduction than gains.
A study shows that dietary patterns hold the most promising data in nutrition instead of nutrition supplements. Hence, people do not have to spend copious amounts of money buying accessories. Instead, they can include nutrient-dense foods into their diet.
Six essential nutrients needed by the body are:
Leafy greens, pumpkins, bell peppers, flax seeds, mushrooms, and nuts are high in vitamins. Cacao, berries, and beans are high in minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Lean meat, legumes, fish, dairy, and plant milk are high in protein. Avocados, dark chocolates, and chia seeds are known for their healthy fat content. Therefore, one can incorporate these food items to maintain their nutrient levels.
Viewing Foods as Categories of Healthiness
While research supports nutrient profiling as it helps one know their daily nutrient intake, one should not limit themselves to specific food items. Unfortunately, people believe that certain foods are incredibly healthy due to marketing gimmicks. However, cutting down on some food groups can be detrimental to one’s health.
A balanced diet is integral to weight loss. While some diets, such as the ketogenic diet, may tell you to leave out a specific nutrient, you must include all the other nutrients. This way, people do not run the risk of developing nutrient deficiencies. It is always advisable to talk to a nutritionist to understand what works for you.
Avoiding a Sedentary Lifestyle
Research shows that all other passive activities lead to weight gain except for sleep. A lack of sleep is a risk factor for obesity.
While it is essential to get enough sleep, at least 7 to 9 hours per day, it is also crucial to get up and get moving. Research shows that low physical activity levels lead to an increased possibility of weight gain and obesity. Since exercise is a significant component, all weight loss programs focus extensively on exercise.
A study says that dieting alone does not produce as many results as when we couple it with exercise. Exercise can reduce the waist-to-hip ratio, according to this study. In addition, low morbidity and mortality rates occur in overweight men and women who are fit and active compared to sedentary overweight individuals.
Losing weight becomes a stressful journey, especially if you are not seeing quick results. It is necessary to maintain one’s weight to prevent the yo-yo effect. It is good to consult a dietician or nutritionist before starting your weight loss journey. Also, do not underestimate the need for support of your loved ones at this time. A diet can be beneficial to losing weight, and you have multiple options to try from.
Avoid the sedentary lifestyle and choose your health over everything else. Often, the adverse effects of not doing so show up too late for one to be able to take action. Hence, start early and be consistent.
A balanced diet is vital to weight loss and exercising regularly. On the other hand, low physical activity increases the possibility of regaining weight and nutritional deficiency. Hence, one must exercise to facilitate the weight loss process.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Why is it so difficult for me to lose weight?
A. It can be difficult for you to lose weight due to exercising less, not being on the appropriate diet for yourself, or even living a sedentary life. However, you may also be looking for results in a brief time.
Q. What to do if you are struggling to lose weight?
A. First and foremost, get your health assessment done. Then, stop worrying about the process. Stay focused and choose a diet that suits you. Exercise daily, measure nutrition intake, eat a balanced diet, and take support from professionals when struggling to lose weight. Also, talk to your family and friends to stay committed to your journey.
Q. What conditions make it harder to lose weight?
A. Cellular damage, inflammation, hypothyroidism, chronic depression, stress, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are some medical conditions that make it harder to lose weight. Therefore, you must get yourself checked. Sometimes it can be a lack of commitment and not sticking to a plan consistently.
Q. Why am I not losing weight even though I exercise and eat right?
A. You may be looking for results in a brief time. If this is not the case, you might have some underlying condition, such as inflammation, stopping your weight loss. You might not be getting enough sleep every day, leading to increased weight.
Q. How can I speed up my metabolism?
A. Eating spicy foods can help speed up metabolism. In addition, sleep helps maintain a healthy metabolism. Also, high-intensity workouts can help one speed up their metabolism.
Q. Why can I not lose my stomach fat?
A. Stomach fat is primarily visceral fat. Unfortunately, visceral fat is hard to burn. Hence, initially, people may perceive some difficulty losing stomach fat in their weight loss regime. To improve this, one can do exercises that target the abdomens, such as crunches.
Q. At what age is it harder to lose weight?
A. People can have more difficulty trying to lose weight when they are middle-aged or old. However, it is not impossible. Proper diet, exercise, sleep, nutrition, and support from loved ones can help one lose weight.
Q. How long does it take for you to notice weight loss?
A. A reasonable period in which you may notice significant weight loss is two months. People may start seeing a fat reduction in certain body parts before other parts. These areas could be the trunk and hips.
Q. How often should I weigh myself?
A. One can weigh themselves once a week to track their progress. However, it is better not to consider yourself too often. It can create stress when weight loss starts becoming noticeable.