An oft asked question - "Does natural weight loss work?". We hear so many stories of both successful and unsuccessful dieting that it is easy for people to lose track of what does actually help when you need to shift the pounds.
There are many different paths to dieting, however, natural weight loss offers the prospect of a healthy approach that also gets results. So how do you define natural weight loss?
The term healthy weight loss can be applied quite widely, but in general it would seem to cover approaches that include the following features:
- A gradual, sustained approach, rather than a crash diet
- An approach that is based on good science, rather than the latest celebrity fad or fashion
- Eating good, healthy food rather than artificial or packaged meals
In evaluating natural weight loss, it helps to understand why we put on the extra pounds in the first place, and what we have to do to get rid of that weight.
At it's simplest, weight gain occurs when we consistently consume more calories than we burn. However, there are various elements that can contribute to that happening:
- How much food you eat
- What types of food you eat
- Your activity levels
Although many people like to blame a "slow metabolism" for their weight gain, the reality is that the metabolism - the rate at which you burn calories - is mostly determined by your diet and exercise. In fact, most people who are seriously overweight have a fairly high metabolism, which is required to move the excess pounds around.
For many people, the problem is simply too many calories. The average man needs about 2500 calories per day, the average woman around 2000, yet the average daily calorie consumption in America is estimated to be around 3900! Europe isn't much better at around 3600. Eating that many calories per day, weight gain is inevitable.
The other issue is what people eat. Diets that are high in saturated fat, and particularly those high in refined carbs and sugar, encourage the body to store fat. Finally, sedentary lifestyles reduce the daily calorie consumption and slow the metabolism.
So what can you do to lose the extra pounds? Ironically, although most people opt for the quick fix, crash diet approach, the natural approach is far more likely to lead to sustained weight loss.
People put on pounds gradually, as a result of cumulative bad habits. Adopting a natural approach allows you to lose weight in the same way - gradually, by changing bad habits for good ones.
For example, a simple step such as replacing fizzy or calorie laden drinks with water will have a positive long term effect on both your weight and your health.
Similarly, ditching the processed meals and the junk food and replacing them with fresh food - fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein - will ultimately be the best way to lose weight.