With obesity and weight gain on the rise, it's no wonder that an estimated 108 million Americans are currently on a diet, with many of them trying to diet four or five times every year, according to "20/20" on ABC. While some diets may promise that you'll drop weight quickly, the healthiest option is achieving slow but steady weight loss at a rate of just 1 to 2 pounds per week. The key is making simple lifestyle and food choices that are easy to integrate into your everyday life without forcing you to make extreme changes.
Cut out any sugar-sweetened beverages. For example, if you drink only one 12-ounce can of soda a day and eliminate it from your diet, you could lose approximately 15 pounds in just a year, according to the "Journal of the American Medical Association." Replace sugary drinks with water, which the University of Rochester Medical Center calls a "No. 1 weight-loss choice." Not only is water free of calories, it can also boost your metabolism to help you burn more calories in the long run.
Get enough shut-eye, aiming for seven to eight hours of sleep every night. The lack of sleep makes you hungrier and reduces your impulse control, which may cause you to overeat. Sleep deprivation also creates a spike in hormones such as cortisol, which is linked with increased abdominal fat retention.
Add fiber-rich foods to your diet. A study in the "Journal of Nutrition" followed a group of women for two years. It found that women who ate an extra 8 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories of food lost an extra 4.5 pounds while women who ate less fiber actually gained weight. Swap out low-fiber foods for fiber-rich counterparts. For example, eat oranges instead of sipping orange juice, and choose brown rice instead of white rice.
Exercise more, focusing on getting at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as jogging, every single week. The goal to lose weight is burning more calories than you consume, and exercise can help with that. By keeping your diet steady but simply burning an extra 500 calories every day through exercise, you can lose approximately a pound of weight every week.
Try not to eat while you're watching TV or otherwise distracted. Instead, focus on your food while you eat. This helps you to quickly recognize when you're no longer hungry. Otherwise, your brain will be distracted, and you could overeat simply because you're not paying attention to your food.
Talk to your doctor before changing your diet or starting a new exercise regimen. Everyone's body is different, and pre-existing health conditions may affect what works best for you.
- ABC News: 100 Million Dieters
- Journal of the American Medical Association: Sugar - Sweetened Soft Drinks, Obesity, and Type 2 Diabetes
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Foods That Help You Lose Weight
- Men's Fitness: 5 Things to Know About Boosting Your Metabolism
- New York Times: How Sleep Loss Adds to Weight Gain
- National Sleep Foundation: How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?
- Eating Well: Boost Fiber to Slim Down
- U.S. News & World Report: 10 Fiber-Friendly Food Swaps to Help You Lose Weight
- Harvard School of Public Health: Exercise and Weight Control
- University of Michigan Health Service: Weight Reduction
- Dr. Oz: Reset Your Hormones to Beat Belly Fat