Most people inherently know that keeping a healthy weight boils down to three things: eating healthy, eating less, and being active. But actually doing this can be tough.
We make more than 200 food decisions a day, and most of these appear to be automatic or habitual, which means we unconsciously eat without reflection, deliberation or any sense of awareness.
Thus, habitual behaviours often override our best intentions. In fact, most people who diet will regain 50 per cent of the lost weight in the first year after losing it. Many more will regain it in the following three years.
But, as detailed on The Conversation, a new study by Australia’s Bond University – published in the Journal of Obesity – has found the key to staying a healthy weight is to reinforce healthy habits.
Every time they subsequently snack in response to getting home, this link strengthens, to the point that getting home prompts them to eat a snack automatically. This is how a habit forms.
New research has found weight-loss interventions that are founded on habit-change, may be effective at helping people lose weight and keep it off.
The 15 Effective Habits
1. Keep to a meal routine
Eat at roughly the same times each day. People who succeed at long-term weight loss tend to have a regular meal rhythm (avoidance of snacking and nibbling). A consistent diet regimen across the week and year also predicts subsequent long-term weight loss maintenance.
2. Go for healthy fats
Choose to eat healthy fats from nuts, avocado and oily fish instead of fast food.
3. Walk off the weight
Aim for 10,000 steps a day. Take the stairs and get off one tram stop earlier to ensure you’re getting your heart rate up every day.
4. Pack healthy snacks when you go out
Swap crisps and biscuits for fresh fruit
5. Always look at the labels
Check the fat, sugar and salt content on food labels
6. Caution with your portions
Use smaller plates, and drink a glass of water and wait five minutes then check in with your hunger before going back for seconds
7. Break up sitting time
Decreasing sedentary time and increasing activity is linked to substantial health benefits. Time spent sedentary is related to excess weight and obesity, independent of physical activity level
8. Think about your drinks
Choose water and limit fruit juice to one small glass per day
9. Focus on your food
Slow down and eat while sitting at the table, not on the go. Internal cues regulating food intake (hunger/fullness signals) may not be as effective while distracted
10. Always aim for five serves of vegetables a day, whether fresh, frozen or tinned
Fruit and vegetables have high nutritional quality and low energy density. Eating the recommended amount produces health benefits, including reduction in the risk of cancer and coronary heart disease.
11. Don’t Drink Liquid Calories
If snacking is the number one weight loss saboteur, then liquid calories are a close second. They pose the exact same problem: It’s just too easy to consume way too many calories when you’re guzzling down sugary drinks that don’t satiate you at all.
This includes sports drinks. Gatorade isn’t inherently bad, but the fact is that the vast majority of people do not need sports drinks. Unless you’re actually depleting your glycogen stores with more than 60 consecutive minutes of hard training, sports drinks of any kind are just not necessary.
12. Limit Yourself to 3 Meals a Day Max
This relates to tip number 1. If you eat 3 meals per day or less, it’s much harder to accidentally overeat. There’s a popular myth that one needs to eat every two hours to keep the metabolism roaring at full speed. Understand: That is completely false and unsubstantiated by science.
13. Eat Slowly and Stop When You’re Approximately 80% Full
Most people simply need to eat less food to lose weight, and that means not stuffing your gullet to the brim. Slow down, and stop eating when you’re 80% full, or satisfied. I firmly believe if everyone in America took just these 4 initial tips to heart, the vast majority of overweight people could lose what they need to.
14. Use Caffeine
It’s the developed world’s drug of choice, and is also one of the few supplements that isn’t snake oil. Caffeine won’t raise your metabolic output to any notable degree, except within it’s initial week or so of use, but what it can do is suppress appetite. It also can increase your physiological and mental capacity for a full breakdown of what the available scientific research says about regular caffeine use.
15. Reduce Refined Sugar Intake
Eating refined sugar to excess is literally doing the opposite of tip number 6, and will likely lead to eating too many calories. As Brad Pilon says, the reason carbs make us fat is because they are awesome and thus easy to overeat
Most people would benefit immensely by reducing refined sugar intake. A little here and there is permissible, but not too much.