8 Science-backed Ways to Lose Weight and Keep It Off

·4-min read

Weight loss is not just about tweaking your eating and exercise habits. ‘It’s about changing your mindset, behaviours and environment, too,’ says registered dietitian Devon Golem. ‘They all go together.’ You’ve probably heard it said that the majority of men who reverse obesity eventually find themselves heavy again. Going in with a solid, long-term game plan will swing the odds in your favour. These science-backed tactics are designed with that in mind.

01/ Have Smart Expectations

Before you vow never to let another pork scratching touch your lips, think seriously about the commitments you’re making and the results that you anticipate. Weight loss takes time, and you’ll find that it rarely happens at a predictable rate. ‘There will be times when you see dramatic change, and then it’s going to plateau for a while,’ explains Dr Golem. Your motivation, too, will have its peaks and troughs. Knowing this ahead of time will help to minimise your risk of calling it quits after dietary slip-ups or progress-free weeks.

02/ Think Bigger Than Food

You can’t just adopt a new diet and change nothing else in your routine. ‘Things like sleep, exercise and stress are all interconnected,’ says Dr Golem. ‘When you ignore one, it can sabotage the others.’ One example: evidence shows that suboptimal sleep (less than seven hours) spurs us to overeat. You’ll get the best results when you actively look for ways to take better care of your body in all areas of life.

03/ Forget Quick Fixes

When you want to lose a significant amount of weight, you need to transform your healthy changes into instinctive habits. ‘You want to get to the point where eating in this new way becomes second nature,’ Dr Golem says. This takes practice, but you can set yourself up for success by thinking of every new dietary switch-up as a permanent change. This mental shift will help you spot resolutions (eg, ‘I’ll have green juice for breakfast every day’) that are likely to be sustainable.

04/ Master Just One Habit

Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to create 20 new habits at once. Start with just one, Dr Golem says – whether that’s drinking two litres of water every day or cutting out the 3pm vending machine dash. Taking on too much too fast can lead to frustration and overwhelm you. Instead, gradually build up your habits like blocks of Lego.

05/ Don’t Obsess Over Numbers

Hitting an objective weight-loss target (‘I lost the first stone!’, ‘I went down a waist size!’) is great – but don’t get too caught up in the numbers. Dr Golem suggests making a few subjective goals, too. Do you want to have more energy? Move more freely? Focusing on these unquantifiable measures of weight loss can give you extra motivation when you’re stuck in a plateau. So maybe you weigh the same as you did last week – but getting up for that 6am run felt easier than ever before. It pays to recognise these new feelings as rewards, Dr Golem explains.

06/ Crowd Out the Junk

Before you blacklist biscuits and crisps, focus on adding more vegetables to your diet – Dr Golem advises eating seven to eight servings per day. The more you add, the less room there is to indulge between meals. As a bonus, ramping up your intake will boost your mood, digestion and immunity. (New research links fibre-heavy diets with better mental health.)

07/ Go Whole or Go Home

Swapping white loaves for brown isn’t quite the power move you think it is. Some supposedly wholegrain breads have only a negligible increase in fibre versus their refined counterparts. Check the label to ensure you’re getting 100% wholegrain. Better yet, sub out the bread for quinoa, oats or freekeh.

08/ Dust Yourself Off

No one navigates a significant weight loss without a few slices of pizza. Life is for living, after all. Just don’t let these deviations derail your progress. If you do eat more than you planned to, says Dr Golem, ‘step back, calm down and recognise this is part of the learning process’. Don’t punish yourself – forgive and move forwards.

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