Losing weight is one of the best things you can do to boost your overall health. In fact, dropping just 10 percent of your weight can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It can also improve or prevent asthma, joint pain, and even sleep apnea. You’ll feel better and be more energetic, too. Plus, you might just get into that pair of skinny jeans. The problem is, losing weight may sound great in theory, but it’s often easier said than done. There are dozens of diets on the market today that promise quick results. But the problem is, most of these weight loss plans are highly restrictive. While they can help you lose weight initially, the pounds come right back as soon as you go off the diet. But here’s the good news: there are some proven strategies to not only help you drop excess weight, but keep it off for good.
Watching what you eat is critical if you are trying to lose weight. Trade in processed foods that are often high in fat and sugar for non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Getting plenty of lean protein can fuel your metabolism, causing you to burn an extra 150 to 200 calories a day. Research shows that eating spicy foods can also boost your metabolism for up to five hours. One recent study by Dutch researchers reported that regularly eating thermogenic foods like hot peppers and green tea increases metabolism, boosts energy, and enhances fat oxidation during weight loss efforts. Finally, prevent overeating by learning to "eyeball" standard portion sizes: 3 oz. of meat is the size of a deck of cards; 1 cup of rice or pasta looks like a tennis ball; and a serving of vegetables is the size of a baseball.
Adopting a regular exercise program that includes both aerobic exercise and strength training burns calories and builds muscle and muscle speeds up your metabolism. The more vigorously you exercise the more calories you'll burn. You'll also improve your aerobic capacity. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, you'll be able to exercise longer or with more intensity. To enhance weight loss, strive to get 60 minutes of exercise, five to six days a week. To help you stick with your exercise program, find activities you enjoy, such as walking, lifting weights, dancing, or participating in a sport or exercise class.
It’s also important to get enough sleep. A study by researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center found that people who got 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep burned twice as much fat compared to those getting just 5 or 6 hours of shut-eye. It turns out that sleep helps regulate the hormones like leptin that control appetite. Specifically, shortchanging yourself on sleep lowers leptin levels so you don’t feel satisfied after eating and are much more apt to overeat.
African mango extract: can help speed weight loss by improving the function of leptin and insulin. This helps you eat less. A placebo-controlled study of 102 overweight people that appeared in Lipids in Health and Disease found that the extract significantly enhanced weight loss even though the people in the study didn’t change their diets or add exercise to their normal routines. They also significantly reduced LDL and total cholesterol, fasting blood sugar, and inflammation. Typical dosage: 150 mg twice a day.
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA): is a fatty acid that occurs naturally in meat and dairy products. Some studies have found that supplementing with CLA can help you lose body fat and increase lean body mass. When a group of overweight people took 3.2 grams of CLA each day for six months, they lost more body fat than people taking a placebo and gained less holiday weight during the winter months. Typical dosage: 1.8 to 3.4 grams daily. Because one study of 53 patients found increase CRP levels (an inflammation and heart disease marker) in patients taking 4.2 grams of CLA, those with high CRP levels may want to try other options.
Green tea: contains caffeine and unique catechins, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), that support healthy weight loss. One trial of 107 overweight volunteers published, in the Journal of Nutrition, found that those drinking green tea for 12 weeks had greater overall weight loss, and specifically, greater loss of dangerous belly fat, than those drinking a placebo beverage. Typical dosage: 500 to 750 mg of a green tea supplement daily, standardized to contain 75 percent total catechins with 55 percent EGCG, taken in divided doses.
PolyGlycopleX (PGX): is a special type of fiber that promotes weight loss by helping you feel full longer. More than a dozen human studies have shown that it effectively reduces appetite, and an overview published in Alternative Medicine Review demonstrated that PGX helps reduce blood-sugar swings and improves insulin efficiency. This helps keep food from being stored as fat. Typical dosage: 2.5 grams before each meal, taken with a full glass of water.