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A proven approach to losing weight and keeping it off for overweight people is to adapt natural methods for effective weight loss, like altering eating habits and increasing physical activity.
Introducing a high-protein diet, a low-calorie breakfast, and adapting to fiber foods, including fruits and vegetables, in combination with physical activity and behavioral modification has been the recent approach to natural weight loss.
Let us understand these modalities, which help in reducing body fat and assisting in natural weight loss.
The incidence of obesity and overweight has nearly tripled since 1975 (WHO 2021). Due to its rising prevalence, obesity has elevated to the level of a public health concern, considering its negative effects on health and high costs of care.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health (WHO 2021). Weight loss is often recommended or necessary for individuals who are obese and have excessive body fat. It is advised to adjust one’s lifestyle, adopt a diet that limits excessive energy intake and enhances food quality, and, in certain circumstances, undergo adjuvant medication, surgery, and psychological approaches (Castelnuovo et al 2017) to successfully maintain weight loss over time (Aaseth et al 2021).
To effectively reduce body fat, it's essential to combine a balanced diet with regular exercise, creating a holistic approach to achieving sustainable and healthy weight loss. To steadily reduce body fat through natural methods is often considered better than relying on pharmacotherapy (medications) or surgery. Natural weight loss is often a long-term and sustainable change that is associated with fewer side effects and is cost-effective. Changing one’s lifestyle, which includes eating a balanced diet, consuming fewer calories (limiting intake of added sugar and refined carbs), and exercising regularly, is the key to attaining long-term weight loss. Incorporating nutrient-rich and low-calorie foods to help lose weight is a key strategy for promoting a healthy and sustainable approach to weight management. Opting for a low-calorie breakfast for weight loss, such as a nutrient-packed smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruits, can set a positive tone for the day and support overall health goals.
Let us discuss clinically supported natural methods that assist in weight loss.
Dietary restriction and modification are important components of a weight-loss program. Complex elements, such as food intake, food type, and meal timing, have a role in weight regulation. Adopting a well-balanced and sustainable weight loss diet rich in nutritious foods and mindful eating practices is crucial for achieving long-term health and fitness goals. Many people embark on a weight loss journey by following a personalized weight loss diet tailored to their individual nutritional needs and preferences. A variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains are considered essential weight loss foods that can support a healthy and balanced diet. Starting your day with a low-calorie breakfast for weight loss can kickstart your metabolism and contribute to a successful and energized weight management journey. Some of the evidence-based dietary strategies (foods to help lose weight) for natural weight loss are as follows:
Add Protein to Your Diet
Embarking on a high-protein diet for weight loss can be beneficial, as it not only helps in reducing overall calorie intake but also promotes a feeling of fullness and supports the preservation of lean muscle mass (Halton and Hu 2004; Belza et al 2013).
A high-protein diet often means consuming more protein—20% to 30% of the daily caloric intake, or 1.2 to 1.6 g/kg of the optimal body weight each day (Astrup et al 2015; Leidy et al 2015). Typically, a protein diet for weight loss should be rich in nutrients and low in saturated fat and calories.
Soyfoods like soybeans, edamame, tofu (soybean curd), soymilk, miso, natto, and tempeh are good protein sources and are considered as weight-loss diets (Cope et al 2008; Messina et al 2022).
Beans like white kidney beans are rich in proteins (22%–27% of seed weight) and are usually considered a high-protein diet for weight loss. However, these should be consumed by those who have been tested for allergenic proteins (Kumar et al 2013; Wang et al 2020; Watanabe et al 2020).
Nuts are rich in protein and dietary fibers and help in weight loss by contributing to satiety (Jackson and Hu 2014).
Seafood is a great source of protein. Nearly half of an adult’s daily protein requirements are met by a 100-gram portion of seafood, which only has 100–200 calories (Reames 2012). Various studies have shown a positive correlation between seafood (especially lean seafood) and weight loss (Liaset et al 2019; Ramel et al 2009; Ramel et al 2010).
Other high-protein diets for weight loss include low-fat dairy products, lean meats, etc. Consider incorporating a high-protein diet for weight loss, as it can boost metabolism and aid in achieving sustainable and effective results.
Limit Your Intake of Added or Free Sugar
As the name suggests, added sugars are not found naturally but are added by the manufacturer. Food items like beverages, cookies, confectionaries, and many packed foods consist of added sugar. These food items with added sugars have been associated with the development of obesity and should be discouraged (Malik et al 2013; Hodge et al 2018). The WHO recommends limiting added or free sugars to <5% to 10% of daily caloric intake (WHO 2015).
Drink Plenty of Water Daily
Water intake has been proposed for weight loss and overall weight management by suppressing appetite and providing calorie-free hydration (Hofmeister 2022).
Water intake can be beneficial in a weight loss plan, but it is important to remember that it’s not a weight loss diet or a magic solution for losing weight. A study conducted on individuals dieting for weight loss or maintenance suggested a weight-reducing effect of increased water consumption (Muckelbauer et al 2013). Another study conducted on overweight-dieting women showed an increase in drinking water was associated with a significant loss of body weight and fat over time (Stookey et al 2008). However, the evidence of this association is still low due to the lack of high-quality studies.
Coffee and Green Tea
Studies investigating the effect of tea and coffee consumption on body weight and body fat in adolescents with obesity showed that coffee and tea may be associated with reduced weight when combined with a recommended diet (Moran et al 2023; Cisneros et al 2017).
Limit Your Intake of Refined Carbohydrates
Typically, unprocessed carbohydrates are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and are part of a healthy and weight-loss diet. While refined carbohydrates lack natural fiber and nutrients, eating a low-calorie breakfast, sticking to a low-fat diet, keeping track of one’s weight, and following a regular eating schedule are all advised to maintain weight loss (Wing and Phelan 2005).
Examples of refined carbohydrates are bread, rolls, pizza, white rice, and most ready-to-eat cold cereals and sugar. Studies have shown that these types of carbohydrates are harmful to overweight and obese individuals and also lead to diseases related to the heart (Liu et al 2000).
Intake More Fruits and Vegetables
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet, as these are a safe and nutritious approach to managing or achieving a healthy weight (CDC 2022). Including natural weight loss foods, such as fruits and vegetables, in your daily diet can contribute to a healthier lifestyle and support your weight management goals.
Several studies support the significance of higher consumption of fruits and vegetables, which could potentially prevent weight gain in adults who are overweight (Sartorelli et al 2008; Weerts and Amoran 2011).
Fruits like grapefruit (Dow et al 2012), bitter oranges (Cardile et al 2015), avocado (Heskey et al 2019), papaya, apple, pineapple, raspberry, strawberry, etc. are preferred as the best fruits for weight loss.
Similarly, healthy vegetables for weight loss, like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, etc. are preferred as the best vegetables. Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are often regarded as some of the best vegetables for weight loss due to their low calorie content and high nutritional value.
Consume More Fiber Foods
Incorporating nutrient-dense and fiber foods for weight loss into your daily meals can contribute to a more effective and sustainable approach to achieving your fitness goals. Eating fiber foods for weight loss, like fruits and whole grains, helps you feel full and supports a healthy approach to managing your weight. Dietary fiber is the edible part of plant foods that are resistant to digestion and absorption in the human intestine. Consuming viscous dietary fiber has led to a modest but significant improvement in body weight (Jovanovski et al 2020; Du et al, 2010). The reason for implementing high-fiber diets as weight-loss foods is their potential to lower calorie consumption and potentially affect metabolism.
Take Probiotics to Improve Digestive Health
The use of probiotics is becoming a promising intervention aimed at natural weight loss and combating obesity. A study utilizing Lactobacillus rhamnosus as a probiotic formulation showed sustainable weight loss (Sanchez et al 2014). However, the relationship between probiotics and weight loss is still ongoing without substantial evidence. Probiotic supplementation might potentially aid in weight loss by balancing the gut microbiota and by maintaining a healthier gut environment required for improved nutrient absorption (Czajeczny et al 2021).
Physical activity is a crucial component in the care of individuals who are overweight or obese and willing to lose weight. According to the National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, exercise is an integral part of any weight loss program (Seagle et al 2009).
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation or inadequate sleep has been associated with a wide range of disorders, one of which is obesity (Worley 2018; Knutson and Van Cauter 2008). An average of 7 hours of sleep for an adult has been considered appropriate for sound health and mind (Hirshkowitz et al 2015).
Tracking Your Diet and Exercise
Successful weight loss often involves making sustainable lifestyle changes. This can include combining different modalities, one of which is proper diet and exercise. Studies have also shown that physical exercise, when combined with higher-protein diet menus, promotes greater fat loss, thereby increasing weight loss (Lockard et al 2022).
Individuals who use behavioral modification techniques to make these adjustments are more likely to be successful in maintaining their weight over the long run. Stress reduction, cognitive restructuring, self-awareness, social support, and sensory control are all components of behavioral strategies (Iyanu et al 2021).