Whether you’re shedding pounds to become a better version of yourself, or your doctor recommended dropping a few inches for health reasons, losing and keeping off extra weight can be challenging.
You might go on a fad diet and drop 20 or 30 pounds quickly, but these methods don’t always result in long-lasting weight loss. You need a better plan to ensure you’re able to keep the weight off. This plan starts with permanently adjusting your eating and fitness routine.
Here are five golden rules for long-lasting weight loss.
1. Don't Leave Home Without a Snack
Mindless snacking throughout the day is one of the fastest ways to regain weight you’ve lost. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t refuel between meals. You’ll need to eat regularly to keep your metabolism active all day — about every two to three hours. This needs to be healthy snacks such as fruit, crackers, low-fat yogurt, and nut.
Toss a couple snacks in your lunch bag for a midmorning and midafternoon snack while at work. And if you’ll be out running errands for several hours, grab an apple from your kitchen or another healthy snack to munch on. This is better than grabbing fast food on the go.
2. Eliminate Empty Calories
Water can be tasteless and boring, but it might be a key to long-lasting weight loss. Studies have found that drinking about 17 oz. of water can increase our metabolic rate by 30 percent for up to 30-40 minutes. Drinking a glass of water before a meal can also fill you up, helping you eat less. Besides, if you’re dehydrated, you might confuse thirst for hunger and eat more. So, make sure you’re drinking about eight glasses a day.
Sodas and sugary drinks are full of empty calories that can cause you to pack on the pounds. For example, one 20 oz. bottle of Coke contains 240 calories. If you drink two a day, you’ll take in an additional 3,360 calories a week which is almost the equivalent of an extra pound.
3. Look for Every Opportunity to Be Active
If you return to a sedentary lifestyle after reaching your weight loss goal, you might regain lost pounds. For long-lasting weight loss, you need to be active every day. This doesn’t necessarily mean sweating in a gym or struggling through workout videos. Any type of physical activity counts toward burning calories and fat, so engage in activities you enjoy such as swimming, dancing or hiking whenever possible.
To illustrate, a 135 lb. female can burn up to 178 calories with 60 minutes of continuous housework. You should also look for other opportunities to be active, like pacing your office and doing squats while talking on the phone, or scheduling walking meetings with your colleagues. When watching TV in the evening, walk around your living room on every commercial break.
4. Don't Deprive Yourself
Limiting indulgences like cake, cookies and fast food can help you shed weight quickly, but this doesn’t mean you have to completely eliminate your favorite “bad” foods from your diet. It’s all about moderation. Sticking with the 80/20 rule with regard to your everyday diet contributes to long-lasting weight loss. Your daily diet should consist of 80 percent clean, healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, low-fat, whole grains) and 20 percent indulgence. This way, you don’t deprive yourself, which could result in overeating later.
5. Get Plenty of Sleep
It might come as a shock, but there’s a connection between sleep deprivation and weight gain. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can result in eating more calories throughout the day. In one particular study conducted in 2012, researchers found that people who were sleep deprived consumed an extra 549 calories a day – the equivalent of one extra pound every week. So, make sure you’re getting enough rest each night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a day.
For better sleep, improve your sleep environment by turning off the television or radio and eliminating other distractions. A cooler room temperature might help you sleep better, as well as avoiding caffeine a few hours before bed and not using electronic devices before bedtime.
See also: How to Lose Weight with a Sedentary Job
Reaching a weight loss goal is a big accomplishment. But if you don’t permanently change your eating habits and lifestyle, the weight might return. Following these rules can help you maintain a trimmer physique for years to come.