Every day there are headlines screaming the benefits of various diet and exercise regimes, but if you’re looking for something that works – this is it.
Go Paleo, cut the carbs, fast occasionally or do a juice cleanse are just a few of the more recent diet trends to do the rounds.
But when it comes to what the evidence shows are sustainable ways to lose weight and keep it off, the results can be a little sparse when it comes to proving the benefits of these regimes long term.
Here are some of the strategies that science shows do work when it comes to long term weight loss success.
1. Eat less at night for weight loss
While it is often debated by health professionals, there is growing evidence to show that eating less at night, or at least having relatively long periods overnight without food is beneficial when it comes to weight loss.
A recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that healthy men who restricted their calorie intake between the hours of 7pm and 6am consumed more than 200 fewer calories per day. The moral of the story, eat for fewer hours each day to support calorie control and weight loss.
2. Eat like the Italians
Of all the dietary regimes sprouted, few, if any have the scientific evidence base that supports disease prevention and longevity the way the Mediterranean diet does.
Packed full of fresh fruit, vegetables and plenty of good fats thanks to lashings of olive oil, nuts and avocado, not only is your heart likely to be healthier eating this way, but your risk of developing a number of other diseases — including cancer — as well.
3. Watch your liquid calories
Few foods are directly linked to weight gain the way soft drinks, juices and other sources of non-nutritive liquid calories are.
High sugar liquids deposit fat in the liver more readily than other foods and are easily overconsumed. Any time you see sugar in a liquid form, you are best to avoid it.
4. Concentrate on eating
Studies have repeatedly shown the benefits of mindful eating, including fewer total calories consumed, increased satiety and less calories consumed at the next meal.
This means it is time to ditch lunch in front of the computer for a few minutes and instead focus on what you are eating, and how much you are putting in your mouth.
5. Focus on fibre
Another old school dietary approach that many of us continue to ignore is getting enough fibre. Many of us are failing to reach the recommended intake thanks to an inadequate consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables. Instead, we are over indulging in more processed carbs, such as white bread, white rice and pasta.
Adults should aim for 30g of dietary fibre each day through 2-3 cups salad and vegetables, a couple of pieces of fruit and wholegrains like corn, brown rice, quinoa and legumes.
6. Ditch the diet drinks
While diet soft drinks may appear to be a healthier option, and while they may contain no added sugar, they remain an exceptionally sweet food and one that is linked to increased hunger, sweet cravings and hormonal issues.
For this reason, consuming them occasionally rather than thinking they are a good swap for regular soft drink is the key.
7. Sleep more
The more you sleep, the fewer hours there are to eat. When it comes to chronic sleep deprivation, getting less than five hours a night of shut eye is linked to increased body weight likely due to hormonal imbalances which can be impacted by lack of sleep.
Ideally aim for at least six to seven hours a night to avoid this effect.
8. Be consistent
No diet needs to be perfect to get good results. Data from the US Weight Control Registry — which tracks the progress of more than 5000 Americans who have lost more than 15kg and kept it off — has shown that consistency is the key when it comes to weight control.
This means a one off treat is not the issue when it comes to weigh gain. The problem is what you are having for breakfast, lunch and dinner most days of the week.
9. Keep moving
Exercise is great but even more important is the need to keep active. The biggest shift in modern life is that we find ourselves sitting down for many hours each day. In turn this means we need to clock up some serious steps in an attempt to counter act these long periods of inactivity.
For many of us this means moving at least 10,000 steps a day in addition to regular exercise. Research has shown that Individuals who have lost weight long term and kept it off clock up at least 60 minutes of activity every day
10. Get enough protein
Diets higher in protein have been shown to help regulate appetite, blood glucose levels and heart disease risk factors.
As a general rule of thumb, teaming each meal with a combo of slowly digested carbs such as wholegrains or fruit with a protein rich food is an easy dietary mantra. Try tuna on crackers, Greek yoghurt and fruit or brown rice with chicken next time you’re preparing a meal or snack.