We all hope for quick results when it comes to weight loss. And to meet this end, we often follow restrictive fad diets. Not only are these diets bad for our health, but they also lead to binges and sometimes result in eating disorders.
In this article, I will share some simple tips that will make your weight loss journey easy and sustainable. But before we start, let’s quickly understand how weight loss happens.
How do you lose weight?
There is only one way to lose weight – by being in a calorie deficit. Means, we should be burning more calories than consuming. How much we eat, what we eat, how active we are, etc, are all just different parameters for creating this deficit.
So then, what is it with people saying ‘eat more protein’ or ‘reduce the carbs’?
Honestly, every macro and micronutrient we consume is important. But it is not always possible to manage everything at the same time. So, start with the calories/energy balance and then move on to the macro and micro-nutrients to see the best results. Check out Eric Helms’ The Muscle and Strength Pyramid (Nutrition) to understand this concept better.
Easy tips to lose weight in a healthy way
1. Prioritise protein at each meal
If there were 1 tip I would like you to take away from this article, it would be this. Getting your protein intake right can single-handedly set you up for success in weight loss. It is the most important macronutrient to consume when in a calorie deficit. There are two main reasons for this:
Better hunger management:
Proteins take longer to digest when compared to carbs and fats. Meaning, it keeps you fuller for longer after every meal. This is very important when trying to lose weight, as you are inevitably consuming less food than you usually eat, resulting in higher hunger levels. So, the longer digestion time required for protein can help tackle this hunger problem to some extent.
Reduced muscle loss:
One of the main negative effects of weight loss is losing muscles. Even though you are working out, muscle loss is bound to happen. Eating high-protein meals ensures that this muscle loss is limited to the bare minimum.
For these reasons, it is recommended to consume at least 25-30 grams of protein at each meal.
2. Don’t go to the gym to burn calories; go to get stronger
We all go to the gym when trying to lose weight. But more often than not, the goal is to burn extra calories. While calorie balance will determine your overall weight loss, building muscle is super crucial.
Muscles require more energy to sustain as compared to any other tissue in the body. So, with a higher muscle mass, your BMR also increases. Effectively burning more calories and making you look fitter and more toned. It’s a win-win!
Thus, strength training is a very important part of healthy weight loss. Lifting weights at least 2-3 times a week, in addition to some cardio, makes the perfect workout routine.
3. Eat nutrient dense & high volume foods
We all know eating enough food is the only way to avoid hunger. So, while trying to lose weight, it is critical to pick foods that are high in volume and nutrition and low in calories. Consuming more nutrient-dense foods helps tackle hunger better and thus increases your adherence to the diet.
The advantage of eating nutrient-dense and high-volume food is:
- Due to the high volume, they keep you fuller for longer
- They reduce cravings as the hunger is in-check
- Certain nutrients improve metabolism, and in-turn burn more calories
- Getting a wide variety of nutrients increases energy levels, letting you be more active. Thus, burning more calories 
Nutrient-dense foods include fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
4. Reduce consumption of calorie-dense foods
As you can guess, calorie-dense foods are items high in calories but low in volume and nutrients. And often, these are also hyper-palatable. You might have already guessed the problem here. While eating these, you are consuming a lot of calories, but the low volume of the food doesn’t make you feel full. So, reducing the consumption of calorie-dense food is crucial if you want to lose weight in a healthy way.
A common example of these foods is refined carbs. These are sugars and grains stripped of their nutrients and fiber, and unfortunately, we are surrounded by them. They include processed and packaged food, fast food, desserts, chocolates, baked treats, etc.
Disclaimer: Certain foods are both nutrient-dense as well as calorie-dense. These include dried fruits, nuts, seeds, nut butters etc. These are extremely good for your health but can hamper your weight loss progress, so they should be consumed in moderation.
5. Increase your NEAT
NEAT is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This basically consists of all the physical activities other than the workout. There are studies proving that NEAT can sometimes account for as many as 50% of the total calories burned per day, making it a game changer in weight loss. So, be more active throughout the day.
Some easy ways to increase NEAT include:
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Walking to work or the metro station
- Standing instead of sitting, wherever possible
- Doing 10k steps a day. There is no magical logic to 10k. It is only about increasing your NEAT. If you can’t do 10k, do 8k or 5k. Something is better than nothing.
Burning even 100 calories more every day can result in a 5kg additional weight loss annually.
6. Include healthy fats
Including healthy fats in your weight loss diet will positively affect your satiety. It will ensure that you feel full after your meal. Healthy fats also help improve the taste and texture of most foods. So, include items like avocado, seeds, nuts, nut butters, unprocessed cheese, etc. in your meals. But again, remember to consume them in moderation, ensuring you’re in a deficit.
7. Increase fiber intake
Including fiber in your diet is important as it adds volume to the meals, making you feel fuller. In addition to keeping you full, fiber also helps in better digestion and regular bowel movement. Studies have also shown eating more fiber is associated with lower blood pressure and better insulin response.
Aim at consuming around 25-30g of fiber daily. These should be a combination of soluble and insoluble fibers and should ideally come from a whole-food diet.
8. Eliminate empty/liquid calories
There are certain items, especially beverages, which are considered empty calories. This is because they have zero nutrients. A classic example is sugar-sweetened beverages such as carbonated soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. It is best to avoid these drinks while trying to lose weight.
PS: the cocktails will be waiting to celebrate with you when you achieve your goal! 😀
Check out this article to see how much weight you can lose if you quit drinking soda.
9. Track the portion size
Most people hate tracking calories and portion sizes. I do too! But I have realized that this can be a game changer in weight loss.
Tracking helps you understand which food and how much quantity of it will keep you full and in your calorie range. Honestly, it removes the guesswork from dieting and lets you make rational choices. This ensures that you move forward in your journey every single day.
Also, when we estimate portion sizes, we often tend to underestimate their calories. A classic example of this is peanut butter. The calorie range can vary drastically depending on how much you scoop into the spoon.
10. Never get too hungry
This is quite a thing to say when the topic of discussion is weight loss. I get it! But it is important to mention this because all of us have tried the crazy starvation diets, only to fail repeatedly. And for some reason, people are still recommending it!
So, I want to state a fact: Making sensible food choices when hungry is next to impossible. And everything is tempting, especially the sweet and fried food.
I suggest having smaller snacks during the day, but many people also recommend a heavy breakfast. Honestly, anything is ok, till it works for you and helps you avoid mind-numbing hunger.
11. Plan your meals
Planning meals can be annoying and tedious, but it also makes weight loss sustainable. If you have food options you like, which are healthy and tasty, you will not have a reason to go ‘off track.’
I have written another article on practical hunger, explaining the importance of planning meals. Of course, planning your meals doesn’t mean you can’t have your cheats. Instead, try and let the cheats be planned as well, and not something that just happened because you’re too hungry.
12. Prefer home-cooked meals
A lot of us tend to consume multiple meals outside every week. It could be because the days are too busy to cook, or you didn’t have time to get the groceries. But what we forget is that it is nearly impossible to track your calories with these outside meals.
Cooking at home requires planning and time. But this can be a game-changer when it comes to weight loss. Because when you cook your meals at home, you can account for the calories and macros and stay within the target range. To make things easier, you can meal-prep for the whole week on the weekend, or you can experiment with one-pot meals.
13. Learn how to read food labels
Learning how to read labels can be a blessing in your fitness journey. Many brands market their products as ‘healthy’ but are often higher in calories/carbs/sugars than their regular counterparts.
A classic example of this is digestive biscuits. Sure they have a higher fiber content than regular biscuits, but this also leads them to have higher calories. Sometimes even higher than cream biscuits. Salad dressings are a similar story as well. So, read the food labels to estimate the calories of the foods you consume correctly.
14. Drink more water
Water is a fabulous tool that we hardly use. Apart from the nutritional benefits, water is a zero-calorie hunger quencher. Also, sometimes our body confuses thirst with hunger. So, being hydrated is super important.
It is also proved that having a glass of water 30 minutes before meals results in reduced calorie intake, which is such an easy hack! So, try to have at least 2-3 liters of water daily.
15. Set realistic goals
We can all daydream about achieving the perfect body in just a month. And the promises of the fad diets only gives us more hope. But when we are not practical about what we can achieve, we set ourselves up for failure. That is why it is crucial to set realistic goals.
We must understand that, on average, our body can lose only 0.5-1% of its body weight every week. If you are new to weight loss, you might see a larger drop in the first couple of weeks, but that trend won’t continue. Also, losing weight week after week is desirable but not realistic. So, it’s important that you are aware of these facts and set goals that you can achieve.
16. Get enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep can lead to mood swings, massive food cravings, binge episodes and fat storage. So, you must get at least 7-8 hours of sleep daily.
Additionally, being sleep deprived makes you lethargic. This means reduced activity and NEAT, resulting in you not burning enough calories. Also, if this wasn’t enough, our body does all the repairing of muscles when we sleep. So, without a good night’s sleep, you can’t recover from the kickass workout you had. And this will eventually make you more prone to injuries and workout fatigue.
17. Reduce stress
We all live in high-stress environments. May it be at work or managing a home. But managing stress is important for weight loss. High stress is associated with the hormone cortisol, which can lead to cravings and increased hunger. Again, something we are desperately trying to avoid.
Some easy ways to reduce stress include medication or yoga, playing with your pet or spending time with your family. Honestly, anything that makes you happy works.
18. Make sustainable changes
It is easy to tell someone to eat more protein, start weight training, or walk 10k steps daily. But it’s not always easy to follow. So, my next and most important tip is to ensure that you make changes that you can sustain, at least for a period of 6 months. I say this because weight loss isn’t magic, and no progress will occur overnight. It is a slow process, but you will surely see results if you continue long enough.
So, instead of making too many changes in one day, try to include new habits every week or fortnight. This way, your body will get used to it, and you will have an opportunity to incorporate them into your routine.
19. Find your motivation
Losing weight is not easy and is definitely not quick. So, if you want to make sure you see results, find out what motivates you. It can be an upcoming vacation, your desire to wear a particular dress, or better mental and physical health.
Whatever the case may be, find it out and remember it. Write it on your work desk, or post it on your fridge. And look at it as often as you can. This reminder will help you stay on track on the days you are losing control.
20. Get a fitness buddy
Losing weight is all about following a routine. And although following a routine will show you great results in the long term, they are generally monotonous and boring.
Finding a workout buddy with a similar fitness goal will help you go a long way. You both can motivate and push each other on the blah days. And they will understand your plight! If you can’t find someone with the same goal, find someone who will support you wholeheartedly and will genuinely be happy to see you succeed. Maybe your partner, sibling or best friend.
21. Take diet breaks
We all want to lose weight, and we want to lose it now! But that is not how our body works. Once you have been dieting for an extended period of time, the body adjusts to the reduced calorie intake. Meaning, the body now needs fewer calories to survive than it did when you started the diet. Ok, that sucks! But there is an easy solution to that. Take a diet break.
A diet break is when you go off your calorie deficit for a short period of time and eat at your maintenance calories. This gives your body and mind time to reset. And then, you get back on the diet with full gusto to achieve your next goal.
However, you can consult a professional to understand if you need a diet break right now, or just need to be consistent with your efforts.
I have written an in-depth guide on diet breaks which you might find helpful.
Action plan to get started
Incorporating the below 5 steps in your lifestyle is an easy way to get started.
1. Eat at least 2 fruits daily
No, the sugar in fruits isn’t going to make you fat!
2. Eat a salad at the side of all your meals
I am a vegetarian. Sometimes I eat salad on the side of veggies 😂. Also, ‘salads are boring’ is just an excuse! Been there, done that. Google, and you will find at least 100 salad dressings that are kick-ass.
3. Include a protein in every single meal
Yes, even vegetarians and vegans need to do this 🙂
4. Cut out liquid calories
I would say stick with water, but if you really need to have a drink, have an occasional diet soda.
5. Get active
Sure, strength training is the best option. But if you can’t do that, it’s ok. Just get moving, do your steps, go for a hike or find a physical activity you enjoy. Everything counts!
Hope the above hacks will make your weight loss journey easier. And remember, the only way to achieve your goals is by being consistent. You might also find my article on ‘how you can eat sugar and lose weight’ interesting. Do check it out.