Healthy Habits for a Sustainable Weight Loss Journey  

Dr. Christopher McGowan
April 13, 2023

Everyone wants to be thinner. In fact, according to a Gallup poll from last year, more than half (55%) of American adults are trying to lose weight at any given time. This desire to shed extra pounds has created a multibillion dollar industry of fad diets, supplements, exercise equipment, and workout programs that promise results but tend not to deliver for most people. Those who do manage to lose weight sustainably, however, often adopt a series of habits that are known to contribute to weight loss.

Daily Habits that Support Weight Loss Efforts          

Losing weight is hard for most people, and there are many factors that play a role in changing one’s body composition and getting to a healthy weight. Regardless of where you’re starting from, though, there are always small changes that can begin to make a difference. Eventually, those small changes can lead to healthy lifestyle changes that can bring your weight loss goals within reach. Below are some tips and habits for losing weight:  

  • Meal planning: Overeating is obviously one of the primary causes of obesity and being overweight, but it often happens because of a lack of planning. By planning (or even prepping) healthy meals ahead of time, you can sidestep the kind of last minute food choices that tend to include extra calories from refined carbohydrates.  
  • Food journal: Another habit related to meal planning is keeping a food journal. As much as we think we know what we’re eating and how many calories it contains, the fact is that it’s hard to keep track just from memory. By keeping a food journal, you can track the number of calories you’re consuming and know when you need to make an adjustment when necessary.  
  • Portion sizes: Many diets focus much more on what you eat rather than how much you eat. But reducing portion sizes can make a significant difference in consuming fewer calories each day. One guide to help with this is taking note of serving sizes on food nutrition labels and preparing meals accordingly. You can also use smaller dishes and bowls to help maintain smaller portions when serving food.   
  • Food swaps: Foods aren’t really “good” or “bad,” but they can be more or less helpful for weight loss in terms of nutrient density and calorie count. So rather than outright eliminating certain foods, you may be able to swap healthier options for current foods. For instance: diet soda for regular soda, whole grain bread instead of white bread, or olive oil instead of butter. In every food category, there are options that have fewer calories, less fat, less sugar, or more nutritional value.  
  • Sleep: The connection between obesity and a lack of sleep has become much more clear in recent years thanks to ongoing research. Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can affect the “hunger hormones” ghrelin and leptin. Participants in the studies who got less sleep tended to have higher ghrelin levels (the hormone involved in hunger) and lower leptin levels (the hormone involved in satiety).  
  • Drink water: Drinking plenty of water is beneficial for many aspects of overall health, including the regulation of metabolic processes. While drinking enough water won’t directly lead to weight loss, it does play an important role in many processes that are involved in weight loss. 
  • Physical activity: Healthy eating habits are naturally an important part of any weight loss process, but regular physical activity can make the process even more effective. The reason for this is that weight loss can only occur when a person is in a calorie deficit. This can be achieved by either eating fewer calories or increasing one’s physical activity level. Beyond the boon to weight loss, however, regular exercise is a vital part of maintaining overall health.  
  • Mindfulness: There are typically a lot of numbers and rules involved in weight loss programs, and it can be easy to get caught up in always counting. But there are other less tangible considerations like not going grocery shopping when hungry and eating meals more slowly. Being mindful about what you’re eating and how you feel can help you make better food choices that support weight loss.  
  • High-protein breakfast: Breakfast has long been known as the “most important meal of the day,” though its importance is somewhat dependent on what you eat. Rather than the high-carb foods that are most often associated with breakfast, opt for a high-protein version. Eating protein for the first meal of the day is known to increase satiety and reduce cravings throughout the day so you are more likely to stick with your weight loss program.      

Habits that May Hinder Weight Loss 

Just as there are some habits that can be beneficial for a weight loss plan, there are also habits that can work against it. As you are evaluating your daily eating patterns, these are some habits to avoid that may hinder weight loss: 

  • Focusing exclusively on exercise and burning calories 
  • Skipping meals (which can cause overeating during the next meal)
  • Snacking too often or mindlessly (even healthy snacks can subtly increase your calorie intake) 
  • Using food as a way to manage stress, depression, or anxiety 
  • Relying too heavily on supplements 
  • Drinking too many calories via wine, beer, energy drinks, etc. 

Healthy Foods that Help with Weight Loss

Essentially any kind of food can fit within a weight loss plan, assuming it is eaten in moderation. Yet there are also some foods that are better for overall health and that can assist with weight loss because they are nutrient dense and filling. Below are some examples of healthy foods that are good for you and good for a weight loss journey: 

  • Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and veggies are naturally part of a healthy diet for anyone, but they are also great for weight loss because they contain dietary fiber and tons of other nutrients.  
  • Legumes: Legumes, like beans and lentils, also contain a lot of fiber. Fiber is helpful in part because it makes you feel full faster, but it also has been shown to have a positive impact on blood sugar and insulin levels. 
  • Certain dairy products: Dairy needs to be eaten in moderation, but both cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are relatively low in calories and sugar while also being high in protein.  
  • Whole grains: Oats, barley, rye, quinoa, and other whole grains are high in fiber and other nutrients. 
  • Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds tend to be a little higher in calorie count, but they are rich in fiber, protein, and other nutrients. 
  • Fish: Fish like salmon and tuna are excellent sources of lean protein.   

Weight Loss Over the Long Term 

If you want to lose weight, making changes to your daily habits can be an important first step. The unfortunate truth is, though, that most people have trouble finding long-term success. At True You Weight Loss, we offer alternative solutions that have a strong track record of helping people lose weight and keep the weight off. If you would like to learn more about our non-surgical weight loss procedures, please contact us to request a consultation.

Dr. Christopher McGowan
Dr. Christopher McGowan

Dr. Christopher McGowan, MD, a leader in endobariatrics, specializes in non-surgical obesity treatments and is triple-board-certified in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Obesity Medicine. Renowned for pioneering endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) with over 2,000 procedures, his global influence and research contributions define him as a top expert.

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