What Are the Best Options for Weight Loss Today?
What Are the Best Options for Weight Loss Today?
The Changing Landscape of Weight Loss
Weight loss science is constantly evolving. Whether it is a new diet, exercise routine, or medication like obesity fighter Semaglutide, which targets the body’s appetite and feeding mechanisms (available for purchase here as a once a week dosage with limited side effects and results of up to 15% loss of total body weight for obese individuals or those with certain conditions and a BMI of over 27), new methods for achieving weight loss are always being unearthed. As such, it is essential to look at the most up-to-date methods to try and obtain the best possible results. We review some of the most current techniques available to those trying to lose weight today.
The first aspect that we must look at is nutrition. After all, weight gain is attributed to eating more calories than are used up by activity, with the body storing the extra calories as fat. This is due to the body’s natural survival mechanism. When more calories than are needed are eaten, our bodies think we are preparing for a period of time when there will not be sufficient calories available, and stores the excess calories for later. However, in modern times those future times of lack do not come, and as we continually overeat, the body continues to store more calories for later.
Accordingly, it makes the most sense to look at strategies and programs that will allow us to reduce our calorie intake. The most prominent of these in recent years has been intermittent fasting, which can take on several forms. Perhaps the most popular of these is the 16/8 method, whereby the person fasts for 16 hours a day (which includes the hours they sleep), and has an 8-hour window in which they eat. Another approach is the 5/2 method, whereby the person eats regularly for 5 days a week while limiting themselves to just a 500-600 calorie meal on the other 2 days. There are a variety of different methods, but in all of them, weight loss occurs because the body exhausts its sugar supplies and begins to burn fat. Furthermore, it is thought that in a limited time frame (during which the person may eat), the person is likely to consume fewer calories, which will also contribute to weight loss.
Furthermore, there are certain “diets” (we put these in quotation marks because they should become a lifestyle, sustainable) that not only promote weight loss but health as well. Two of the most prominent of these are the Mediterranean diet and the plant-based diet. Both diets have similarities in that they focus on eating plants, preferably in their unprocessed form. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, healthy fats such as olive oil and avocados, and lean protein while restricting red meat, sugar, and heavily processed and refined foods. On the other hand, the plant-based diet emphasizes the consumption of a wide variety of plant foods while limiting the consumption of animal products (as opposed to veganism, whereby animal products are eliminated entirely). As both diets are high in fiber, the person following them feels satiated for longer and is thereby less likely to overconsume calories. Moreover, both diets have been shown to decrease chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Other diets that are not overly dissimilar to the two diets discussed here are the DASH diet and the anti-inflammatory diet.
Up to this point, we have focused on the “calories in” portion of the weight loss equation. But what about our calorie expenditure? Traditionally, the emphasis on activity revolved around cardio. Whether it was running, cycling, or the StairMaster, the common thinking was that one could simply burn calories off. We now know better, as the energy spent (and the calories burned) during cardio tend to bring about some fatigue during the rest of the day, which will limit the number of calories we can burn doing everyday activities, from moving around to simply fidgeting (yes, believe it or not even these movements burn calories). As such, an emphasis has begun to be placed on resistance training. Essentially, by building muscle we not only use calories in the gym, but long after we have left. The reason? Muscles require a good deal of energy to maintain, so by simply having muscle one is burning calories, even while sitting on the couch. Moreover, resistance training tends not to tire out the person to such a degree that they are lacking energy throughout the rest of the day. But where to start? Ideally, it would be best to work with a personal trainer, as they will be able to create a customized workout depending on the level of the individual. However, if one is not accessible there are numerous quality videos online that could help you get started.
The Power of Sleep
Finally, emphasizing sleep and the management of stress can both help with the suppression of appetite, which will lead to weight loss. Both of these have to do with the production of the hormone cortisol. When we don’t sleep enough, our body increases the production of cortisol, which makes us feel hungry. The same goes for stress. While quick bursts of stress lead to a brief increase in cortisol, we are not hungry at the time because our body is initiating its fight or flight response. On the other hand, when we are under constant stress the response is gone, but the cortisol remains, leaving us hungrier than we should be. Unfortunately, when we are in that state our tendency is to reach for foods we crave, which tend to be laden with fat and sugar, with very high calories and very low nutritional returns.
The Goal is Feeling Better
Overall, no singular strategy will lead to the results people seek. While all will have a benefit, the best results will be achieved by those who incorporate all of them into a lifestyle. And it will absolutely be worth it, from the perspectives of health, self-confidence, happiness, and general well-being. And while the road to getting back on track will not be a quick and simple one, there are new technologies available that will expedite the weight loss process much more than in years past, allowing you to reach your goals and live the life you want and deserve.