Natural weight loss -- without resorting to drastic surgery or pills -- results from a combination of approaches. To create sustainable fat loss, you need to focus on developing sturdy exercise, nutrition and lifestyle habits. Each of these elements plays a crucial role in reducing body fat and helping you to keep it off in the long run. Keep in mind that this process takes time: 1 to 2 pounds a week is a realistic time frame for losing weight.
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Nailing Your Nutrition
What you eat has the single largest effect on your body composition. Eating junk food regularly, or consistently overeating, will inevitably prevent weight loss. The same goes for drinking sugary sodas, juices and alcohol. To reduce your body fat, focus on healthy meals of sensible serving sizes. Eat lean meats, eggs, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, and small servings of whole grains and dairy. Drink 2 to 3 liters of water per day, and keep sweets and treats to a minimum. Each meal should leave you satisfied, not stuffed. Learn to listen to your body -- eat slowly and pay attention to when you start feeling full.
Working out regularly is a key part of losing weight. A combination of strength training and aerobic exercise tends to produce the best results. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that adults need at least two strength training sessions per week, and 150 to 300 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, or 20 to 40 minutes per day. If you've never exercised before or don't feel confident in your ability, join a gym or have a personal trainer walk you through the correct way to train.
Sleep: The Secret Weapon
Your lifestyle plays a significant role in your body's composition. It's important to prioritize your sleep, as getting less than seven to eight hours a night has been linked to higher rates of weight gain and obesity. Not only does being tired cause your body to feel stressed and therefore hold onto fat, it also saps your motivation to work out and your resolve to eat healthfully.
Consistency is King
Losing weight ultimately comes down to how consistent you are in your dietary, exercise and sleep efforts. If you only pay attention to what you eat sporadically, your body won't change much. Nor will you lose the weight if you excuse yourself from workouts, or skimp out on sleep. Losing weight, and keeping it off, requires day-in, day-out commitment over the long term. Accepting that it takes time, that there are no shortcuts and that you will have to work at it every day is a vital mindset shift and will make the whole process much easier.