5 Features of Healthy Weight Loss Programs
by Lea Jones
Healthy weight loss programs can be hard to find. Far too many mainstream diets appear to expect you to live on starvation rations, to cut out one or more of the major essential food groups, to poison your body with possibly dangerous diet pills, or to eat additive-filled meal replacements. But you don’t have to abuse your body to lose weight. Instead, look for a healthy, balanced weight loss plan that meets the following criteria:
It Should Be Based on Natural, Unprocessed Food
Firstly, a healthy diet program involves eating real food, not synthetic meal replacements, and the food should be as close to its natural state as possible. This means fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, dairy (preferably organic) and other nutrient-rich, unprocessed foods. Any kind of low calorie diet will help you to lose weight, but if you want to remain healthy too, it’s essential to include lots of high quality fresh foods, and to eat enough. So avoid any diet plan that would require you to live on junky processed food or meal replacement drinks – that way of eating just isn’t sustainable over the long term.
It Shouldn’t Involve Diet Pills
Diet pills can sometimes help people to lose weight quickly, but their long term effects on the body are uncertain. Risking your health for short term weight loss is a bad idea, particularly if you don’t change your eating and lifestyle habits. With a healthy diet and moderate amounts of regular exercise, there’s simply no need to pop pills to lose weight, and a healthy weight loss program won’t expect you to.
It Should Include Some Exercise
You can lose weight without exercising, but if you care about your long term health, taking some exercise is essential. Exercise can help to prevent chronic health problems, and it also gives your mood and energy levels an immediate boost. In addition, exercise makes weight loss easier because you’ll burn calories during your workout, your metabolic rate will be increased for some time afterwards, and you’ll build lean muscle tissue, which is more metabolically active than fat – meaning that you burn more calories even when you’re at rest. So for optimal health, ensure that your weight loss program includes at least twenty minutes of exercise three or four days a week.
You Should Eat Enough, and Often Enough
It’s essential to provide your body with enough food when you’re trying to lose weight. Avoid the temptation to skip meals or go on a crash diet, because this puts your body under stress, and will decrease your energy levels, making overeating more likely. If you get into the habit of under-eating, you’re also at risk of malnutrition and losing muscle mass. In addition to the negative effects on your health, skipping meals won’t really help with weight loss, because your body’s metabolic rate will slow. This makes fat loss more difficult, and you’ll be more likely to regain even more weight than you lost when you begin to eat normally again. So for healthy weight loss, eat at least three meals a day (many people find that four or five smaller meals works better), and don’t be tempted to skip any meals.
It Should Stress the Importance of Making Permanent Changes
Any diet plan that depends on faddy short term techniques such as cutting out whole food groups, taking diet pills or drastically reducing calories won’t help you lose weight permanently, and won’t help you to stay healthy over the long term either. For most people, plans of that type are impossible to stick with for very long, because the body eventually rebels, and forces you to eat more just to provide the energy and nutrients that it needs. Any healthy weight loss plan will put the emphasis on making permanent changes in your eating habits, and also eating adequate (but not excessive) amounts of healthy, unprocessed, nutritionally-dense foods.
If you’re in the habit of overeating, or you live on junk foods, changing to such a plan can be challenging, but it is doable, given some time and patience. And it’s definitely worth the effort, because once you’ve established healthy new habits, the weight will stay off, and you’ll be free from the yoyo cycle of weight gain and loss for ever. And you’ll feel great too!
So if you want to lose weight, keep it off, and be vibrantly healthy too, look for a health-focused weight loss plan that avoids short term gimmicks and instead encourages you to do what’s best for your body.