With over two-thirds of the American population weighing-in as overweight or obese, weight loss is a big industry. There are hundreds of programs and products that promise a quick fix, but most people know that these “miracle pills” won’t produce sustainable, healthy weight loss. So, if you’ve been dieting and exercising but are still struggling to lose weight, you have two reasonable options: (1) ask your doctor for help, or (2) adjust your at-home strategy
If you have been struggling to lose weight for a long time, it may be worthwhile to talk with your doctor. He or she can screen you for conditions that make weight loss harder (e.g. hypothyroidism or polycystic ovary syndrome), or prescribe medications to help you lose weight. Prescription weight loss medications, like Adipex (phentermine) or Belviq, are effective for some patients, but they also come with a long list of contraindications and potential side effects. If you think you may have a condition that makes weight loss harder, or could benefit from a pharmaceutical boost, make an appointment with your doctor.
Otherwise, try these four at-home tricks to lose more weight, faster!
1. Track Intake and Activity
Research repeatedly shows that dieters who track what they eat and drink, as well as their daily activity, lose more weight than those who don’t. Tracking is far from a perfect science, and even experts are prone to underestimate portions by up to 20% (especially when eating out), but it helps keeps you accountable. Commit to at least two weeks of consistent tracking to reap the benefits of this “trick”.
You can either write everything down in a notebook and then Google & record calories at the end of the day, or use a mobile tracking app (like MyFitnessPal, LoseIt or MyPlate). Apps are easier for most people since they automatically calculate calories and macros, plus set daily calorie goals, but some people still prefer pencil & paper for simplicity.
For this method to be effective, it’s important that you:
- Track all seven days a week (not just weekdays)
- Record all of your nibbles and snacks, as well as your main meals
- Measure your portions of food, or find a reliable way to eyeball it
- Accurately calculate calories burned by activity
2. Eat More Protein, Especially at Breakfast
Eating more protein helps increase satiety, which means you won’t be rummaging for snacks by 10am. In one study, researchers found that people who doubled their protein intake (from 15% to 30% of their daily calories) experienced a marked decrease in appetite, which means they naturally ate fewer calories throughout the day and lost more weight as a result.
More, another study reported that dieters who ate an egg breakfast lost 65% more weight in eight weeks than did a similar group who ate bagels for breakfast. This indicates that protein at breakfast is especially important for weight loss.
Looking for some high-protein breakfast ideas? Try an omelette, cottage cheese with berries, a protein shake, or whole-wheat toast with smoked salmon.
3. Drink Enough Water
Proper hydration is vital to successful weight loss. In fact, a 2016 study found a noteworthy correlation between hydration status and body mass index (BMI); US adults with inadequate hydration were significantly more likely to be overweight or obese.
Drinking enough water helps people lose weight faster for two reasons:
- Decreased appetite (intake)
- Increased lipolysis (breakdown of fat cells)
Hydration needs vary from person-to-person, but most adults need at least 64 ounces (8 glasses) of water per day. Needs are higher for men, athletes, individuals living in hot or cold climates and bigger people (whether taller or heavier).
If you’re not sure how much water you should be drinking, look at your pee. It should be light yellow – if it’s darker it means you need to drink more, while clear urine indicates you may be over-hydrating. Even among the medical community, urine color is considered the best indicator of hydration status.
4. Combine Cardio and Strength Training
Many dieters focus almost-exclusively on cardio, usually because cardio burns more calories in the moment. This tends to be especially important to people who are tracking intake & activity and love that big negative number in the daily calorie report. However, while the standard 30-60 minutes of daily cardio are important to promote both weight loss and aerobic fitness, strength training is also vitally important since it helps maintain & build lean muscle mass.
Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat, plus people with more muscle mass are less prone to injury and tend to stay more physically-active as they age. These are all important factors in weight loss given that we spend the majority of our time not exercising, injuries undoubtedly hinder weight loss efforts and becoming sedentary promotes weight gain.
Common strength training exercises include lifting weights, climbing stairs, yoga, Pilates, bodyweight exercises (lunges, squats, push-ups, crunches, etc.) and working with resistance bands.