Numerous diets, supplements, and meal replacement plans claim to help lose weight natually and rapidly, but most lack any scientific evidence. There are, however, some strategies backed by science that do have an impact on weight management.
In this article, we consider five methods of weight loss that scientific research supports, include the following:
1. Eating mindfully
As most people lead busy lives, they often tend to eat quickly on the run, in the car, working at their desks, and watching TV. As a result, many people are barely aware of the food they are eating. People should pay attention to how and where they eat food. This practice can enable people to enjoy the food they eat and maintain a healthy weight.
Techniques for mindful eating include:
- Sitting down to eat, preferably at a table: Pay attention to the food and enjoy the experience.
- Avoiding distractions while eating: Do not turn on the TV, or a laptop or phone.
- Eating slowly: Take time to chew and savor the food. This technique helps with weight loss, as it gives a person’s brain enough time to recognize the signals that they are full, which can help to prevent over-eating.
- Making considered food choices: Choose foods that are full of nourishing nutrients and those that will satisfy for hours rather than minutes.
2. Cutting back on Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates
The diets, increasingly high in added sugar, and refined carbohydrates are heavily processed foods that no longer contain fiber and other nutrients. These include white rice, bread, and pasta, which are quick to digest, and they convert to glucose rapidly. Excess glucose enters the blood and provokes the hormone insulin, which promotes fat storage in the adipose tissue. This contributes to weight gain.
Where possible, people should swap processed and sugary foods for more healthful options. Good food swaps include:
- whole-grain rice, bread, and pasta instead of the white versions
- fruit, nuts, and seeds instead of high-sugar snacks
- herb teas and fruit-infused water instead of high-sugar sodas
- smoothies with water or milk instead of fruit juice
3. Eating plenty of Fiber
Unlike sugar and starch, dietary fiber describes plant-based carbohydrates that it is not possible to digest in the small intestine. Including plenty of fiber in the diet can increase the feeling of fullness, potentially leading to weight loss.
Fiber-rich foods include:
- whole-grain breakfast cereals, whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain bread, oats, barley, and rye
- fruit and vegetables
- peas, beans, and pulses
- nuts and seeds
4. Balancing Gut Bacteria
One emerging area of research is focusing on the role of bacteria in the gut on weight management. The human gut hosts a vast number and variety of microorganisms, including around 37 trillion bacteria.
Every individual has different varieties and amounts of bacteria in their gut. Some types can increase the amount of energy that the person harvests from food, leading to fat deposition and weight gain. So we should otherwise increase the amount of good bacteria that do not lead fat deposits and weight gain.
Some foods can increase the number of good bacteria in the gut, including:
- A wide variety of plants: Increasing the number of fruits, vegetables, and grains in the diet will result in an increased fiber uptake and a more diverse set of gut bacteria. People should try to ensure that vegetables and other plant-based foods comprise 75 percent of their meal.
- Fermented foods: These enhance the function of good bacteria while inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria. Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, tempeh, and miso all contain good amounts of probiotics, which help to increase good bacteria. Researchers have studied kimchi widely, and study results suggest that it has anti-obesity effects.
- Prebiotic foods: These stimulate the growth and activity of some of the good bacteria that aid weight control. Prebiotic fiber occurs in many fruits and vegetables, especially chicory root, artichoke, onion, garlic, asparagus, leeks, banana, and avocado. It is also in grains, such as oats and barley.
5. Trying intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating that involves regular short-term fasts and consuming meals within a shorter time period during the day.
Several studies have indicated that short-term intermittent fasting, which is up to 24 weeks in duration, leads to weight loss in overweight individuals.
The most common intermittent fasting methods include the following:
- Alternate day fasting (ADF): Fast every other day and eat normally on non-fasting days. The modified version involves eating just 25–30 percent of the body’s energy needs on fasting days.
- The 5:2 Diet: Fast on 2 out of every 7 days. On fasting days eat 500–600 calories.
- The 16/8 method: Fast for 16 hours and eat only during an 8-hour window. For most people, the 8-hour window would be around noon to 8 p.m. A study on this method found that eating during a restricted period resulted in the participants consuming fewer calories and losing weight.
Please note it is best to adopt a healthy eating pattern on non-fasting days and to avoid over-eating.
It is important to remember that there are no quick fixes when it comes to weight loss. The best way to reach and maintain a healthy weight is to eat a nutritious, balanced diet. On top of the five methods above, you should also pay attention to tracking your diet and exercise, getting a good sleep and managing your stress levels. This combination will probably bring the desired weight and figure.