(3 common items to lose weight)

When it comes to weight loss, the only thing that is certain is that there is no shortage of advice. Magazines, books and websites promise that you will lose all the pounds you want forever, using diets that eliminate fat or carbohydrates or those that promote superfoods or special supplements.

With so many conflicting options, how do you know which approach might work for you? Scientific evidence shows that there is no secret or best way to lose weight, but the diets that actually work have 3 things in common. These 3 common elements will be presented in this article and we hope to help you.

1. Eat more vegetables

Considering that 9 out of 10 Europeans fail to meet their production requirements , it is quite safe to say that you should eat more vegetables. And regardless of the food philosophy you subscribe to, vegetables are a big part of the program. Vegetables have a lot: They fill you up with very few calories and flood your body with the nutrients it needs to fight off diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

If you follow dietary trends, you may think you have to fall in love with cauliflower and kale to reap all the benefits that vegetables offer, but that’s not the case. Whether it’s broccoli, carrots, red peppers, kale, spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts or any other vegetable, the idea is to eat a variety of them and find plenty of ways to enjoy all the goodness they provide.

So if you can’t eat steamed Brussels sprouts, try roasting them or try sautéed Brussels sprouts. If you don’t like raw zucchini, see if you like them boiled or grilled on a griddle.

Using a layered approach is another great way to build a good vegetable habit. For example, start with a food you already enjoy – say, pasta – and layer some vegetables on your plate. This can help you discover a new flavour with a food you already enjoy eating, and from there you can try new ways to enjoy it.

Take spinach, for example. Once you’ve tried it with pasta, you may want to try it in an omelet or another favourite dish, or try it on its own with different cooking techniques (sauteed or steamed) or different flavour additions (garlic or raisins). The possibilities are endless!

I’ve turned countless vegetable haters into vegetarians, and upgrading vegetables to a flavour exploration game can have tremendous payoffs in the way you look and feel.

2. Eat less sugar

You can blame biology for your weakness for sweets. We usually learn to prefer sweets from a young age and this drive is universal and starts early, according to a new study. Sugar makes food taste delicious, so food companies add it to everything from bread to soups, salad dressings, cereals, yogurts and more. This means that we are unknowingly taking in too much sugar every day!

On average, Europeans consume more than 19 teaspoons of sugar a day, far more than the limit of 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men set by the European Society of Cardiology. With that much sugar it is really very difficult to maintain a normal weight. That is why every diet advocates eating less sugar.

There has been some confusion that a low-fat diet means you can enjoy low-fat biscuits and other treats, but that, again, is the influence of food manufacturers. The true intent of low-fat eating is to eat more healthy foods that are naturally low in fat: fruits, vegetables, beans, lean proteins, and whole grains.

There is plenty of research to support a low-fat lifestyle, as there is strong evidence that you can lose weight by reducing carbohydrates. Different approaches work for different people, but if you want to lose weight, reducing added sugars is solid advice in all dietary programs.

One more note on added sugars: Whether you call it cane juice, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, concentrated fruit juice, brown sugar or any of the 61 names for added sugar , they all spell trouble for your health and weight.

3. Eat less processed foods

I’m in favour of any program that promotes whole foods over processed foods, and that’s one thing all popular diet programs can agree on. Overly processed foods have been linked to weight gain, perhaps because many unhealthy packaged foods (think: chips, ice cream, pizza, cookies and the like) lack the fibre found in many whole foods, including vegetables.

Fibre helps us feel full, and research shows that by simply adding more fibre to your menu, you can lose weight almost as well as a more complicated approach. Consistently choosing unprocessed foods is one way to do this.

A newer study shows that it’s easier to over-consume processed foods. Think about how long it takes to eat a fast-food sandwich compared to a plate of fish, salad, broccoli and brown rice.

When researchers conducted a similar experiment, matching meals with calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat and sugar and allowing people to eat as much (or as little) as they wanted, they found that people ate about 500 calories more a day when they ate processed foods – and gained an average of two pounds over the short study period.

They ate more, ate faster, and showed some changes in the hormones that regulate appetite that can make it harder to feel full.

The same people lost about two pounds when given the unprocessed food diet, suggesting that prioritising whole foods may help you regulate your appetite and weight.

Unprocessed foods include fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, eggs, seafood, chicken and so on. Dietary philosophies may differ on which of these foods to emphasise, but that’s okay, as the evidence shows that there is no one best diet to lose a lot of weight

The goal is to choose an approach that feels sustainable to you. If you want to live without pasta, perhaps a low-carb approach focusing on vegetables and quality proteins such as seafood, chicken and lean beef would be appropriate.

Vegans and vegetarians can lose weight by choosing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plant-based proteins . Whatever diet appeals to your appetite and lifestyle, focusing on whole foods is something all plans promote.

To Summarise

There is no one diet or weight loss program for everyone. Taking into account your preferences, lifestyle and weight loss goals, you will likely find a diet that you can tailor to your needs. As we have seen unfortunately there is no secret best diet to lose a lot of weight fast. However, there are 3 basic rules that apply to all diets and if you follow them you can see the extra pounds gradually give way. These 3 rules are:

  • Eat more vegetables every day.
  • Reduce or completely avoid sugar.
  • Eat unprocessed foods.

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