Sustainable weight loss is a tough nut to crack. Many people struggle with losing weight and keeping it off but research shows (opens in new tab) it's not impossible to lose belly fat sustainably, as long as you approach the subject sensibly and focus on long term goals over short term weight loss results.
Why should anyone lose weight? According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (opens in new tab), "Even a modest weight loss of 5 to 10 per cent of your total body weight is likely to produce health benefits, such as improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugars."
Not everyone will benefit the same from losing weight but overweight and obese individuals will most likely experience some health benefits by dropping a few pounds. Is it possible to lose weight without our diet having a huge impact on our lives?
We asked Muscle Food (opens in new tab) expert nutritionist Vic Coppin to share her best weight loss tips to help you shed fat in a sustainable way. Most of the below tips follow a holistic approach and instead of telling you to eat two carrots a day, they aim to change your mindset about weight loss.
1. Focus on the big picture
"Before we set goals, we should start by getting clear on our Core Values", Vic suggests, "Our Core Values should act as the compass to guide us in our goal setting and getting, and our goals should then be more like the roadmap with milestones and guiding us on how to navigate the journey."
Setting Core Values is looking at the big picture. Sure, it won't look as good on Instagram if you don't lose five pounds every day but is that a sustainable way to drop weight? It isn't. Rather, work towards losing a certain amount of weight in 3 or 12 months. Those are the real milestones to hit and you can break these down into more actionable chunks.
2. Set realistic goals
We all need to ensure our goals are realistic with our lifestyle in mind; work, stress management, sleep, socialising etc.
"These are the factors that make up your world outside of your goals and setting totally unrealistic goals that involve you having to drastically turn your life upside down or go against your Core Values is likely to be highly unsustainable", Vic says, "Think big but be sure to know the steps and actions you need to take to realistically achieve it."
3. Take your biological sex into account
"While there are physiological differences in calorie needs for men and women, this does not necessarily mean that women will need fewer calories (energy) than their male counterparts", Vic explains, "Your energy needs are also going to be greatly dictated by your lifestyle, overall activity levels, training and goals."
Vic also shared the three main differences between how women and men should eat and train to maximise workout potential; read it once you finished with this article.
4. Accept the support of others
"We can all feel vulnerable about embarking on changes when it comes to our fitness and nutrition", Vic says, "Find people who understand you, and who will be able to support you on your journey. That might be a gym buddy, a partner or a coach. Having someone in your corner will really help make a huge difference and keep you showing up."
The support of partners might be the ultimate key to long term weight loss, According to this research (opens in new tab) presented this weekend during the European Society of Cardiology 2020 Congress, "When the researchers examined the role of partners on lifestyle factors separately, those patients with a participating partner were most successful in losing weight compared to patients without a partner."
Social bonds are important to us and not factoring in time spent with friends and family is often the main culprit why we fail at losing weight.
5. Think holistically
We should all spend time cultivating mindful eating techniques and working on mindfulness to extend into, and positively influence other areas of our life too. "Spending more time eating meals distraction-free, paying more attention to what we’re eating and our levels of hunger and satiety are great skills that set us up for a better relationship with food and with the act of eating", Vic adds.
6. Do resistance training
Whilst there is no one ‘best exercise’ for everyone, resistance training is shown to be an effective long term weight loss tool. By doing regular resistance training, we increase muscle mass (and improve bone density) which helps increase basal metabolic rate. "Through retention of muscle and bone density, we reduce the risk of falls, and the risk of injury, and generally set ourselves up to stay stronger for longer", Vic adds.