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Looking beyond a calorie deficit - What Habits Help Make Weight Loss Stick (According to Science!).

It's no secret that many people struggle to lose weight. And, when it comes to finding a weight loss solution, there are no shortage of options out there – from low carb diets, low fat diets, intermittent fasting, calorie counting, weight watchers or Slimming World. All with varying degrees of success where the goal is to create a calorie deficit. As I went through i a previous post, the mechanism for weight loss is fairly straight forward, however the application can be far more difficult.

After all, the best diet in the world is one that you can stick to.

But what actually works when it comes to losing weight? What habits lead to lasting change? Let's dive in a bit deeper to each of these weight loss success factors to help you on your weight loss journey.

1- Self monitoring

Anyone losing weight knows that it is not an easy task. There are a multitude of factors that can contribute to weight gain, and many of them are out of our control. However, one thing that we can control is our own behaviour. And according to science, self-monitoring behaviours like calorie counting, weighing yourself, meal planning and making a conscious effort to improve your diet can help you lose weight and keep it off.

2- Monitoring your weight

Weighing yourself has shown to have a positive impact on weight management. Most people are familiar with the old saying, "a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips." While there's some truth to that adage, research has shown that monitoring weight can be an effective weight loss strategy, where participants who weighed themselves often lost significantly more weight than those who didn't. The simple act of monitoring weight helped to raise participants' awareness of their eating habits and encourage them to make healthier choices. Giving yourself a weight range is also an effective strategy to help you come back from a relapse and understanding the reasons behind fluctuation in the scales. This doesn't mean you have to use the scales, using photos and how your clothes fit is shown by research (1, 2, 3) as another option to help monitor your progress and help with your weight loss efforts.

3- Meal planning

Another helpful weight loss strategy that research has shown to work is meal planning. Planning ahead can help you make healthier choices, avoid last-minute unhealthy choices, and save money. It can also help to prevent overeating, as you'll have specific meals in mind that you're trying to eat.

4- Monitoring what you eat

If you're trying to lose weight, studies (1, 2, 3, 4) show that one of the best things you can do is to monitor your food intake. By tracking what you eat and monitoring portion sizes, you'll be able to see how many calories you're consuming and make adjustments accordingly. This can help you stick to your diet and make healthier choices, help you understand portion sizes, identify eating patters that work for you and become aware of diet blindspots like not eating enough fibre or protein. There are a number of ways to track which I go through in this post.

5- External monitoring.

Losing weight is often seen as a solo endeavour, but research shows that having the support of loved ones, coaches, and even online support groups can be key to successful weight loss. Coaches and support groups also proved to be helpful, with participants who used these resources losing more weight than those who didn't. The findings suggest that weight loss is more successful when it's treated as a team effort, so if you're struggling to lose weight on your own, consider reaching out for help from groups, friends and family or experts in nutrition.

6- Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivators

According to research (1, 2, 3) another factor that can help people achieve their weight loss goals is intrinsic motivation. In other words, people are more likely to be successful if they're motivated by factors like the desire to improve their health, self confidence and fitness. Writing down what motivates you to lose weight can help keep you on track when you're feeling discouraged, and visualising yourself at your goal weight can also be helpful.

Extrinsic motivators:

As well as your own intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivators can also play a part in helping with weight loss efforts. Research (1, 2) has shown that social acceptance, decreased labelling or stigmatisation, and sense of belonging can all help with weight loss. In other words, when we feel like we belong somewhere and are accepted by others, we're more likely to stick to our weight loss goals. So if you're struggling to lose weight, consider surrounds yourself with a supportive community that will help keep you accountable. It could make all the difference in your success.

7- Self- defined, personalised goals

When it comes to weight loss, everyone is different. What works for one person may not work for another. That's why it's important to set your own, personalised goals. One study found that people who set self-defined, activity-related goals were more successful at losing weight and keeping it off than those who didn't set any goals at all. Another study showed that setting food and macronutrient-specific goals also helped achieve their desired weight loss than those who didn't set any goals. So if you're looking to lose weight, consider setting some self-defined goals. This could be anything from eating a certain number of vegetables each day to walking for 30 minutes every day. By doing so, you're more likely to see the results you want.

In short

So if you're looking to lose weight, we know the key is being able to create a calorie deficit, however, sticking to this deficit is what is tough. Consider making use of the points above to help make weight loss a success. Start monitoring what you're eating, track progress, join a supportive community, focus on your intrinsic motivation, set self- defined goals and enlist the help of a nutrition coach or dietician to give you the best chance at success.

Do you need more help with your weight loss goals?

Ignite weight loss programme

The Ignite weight loss programme is designed to help break the yo yo diet cycle using metabolism testing, expert guidance, support and motivation to help you lose weight and keep it off for good. The programme includes:

If you're ready to make lasting changes to your diet and lifestyle, Ignite could be the weight loss programme for you. Click here to learn more.


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