Healthy Habits to Lose Weight More Quickly
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for health, especially with advancing age. Here are some ways to improve your chances of losing weight and not regaining it over time.
Losing weight sounds easy, but the reality often isn’t
At its core, losing weight is a pretty straightforward calculation: consuming less calories than you use each day. This is known as a caloric deficit, and it is essentially what allows people to lose weight rather than gain it.
While eating at a calorie deficit is a simple concept in principle, it isn’t quite so simple in practice. Individual caloric intake varies quite a bit, and there are other factors that can influence how quickly you ultimately lose weight.
For example, aging can play a large role in how effective weight loss is. With aging, metabolism slows down and becomes increasingly dysfunctional. This is called deregulated nutrient sensing, one of the hallmarks of aging.
Weight management is very important in the context of health and aging and should be a primary concern for anyone interested in a longevity lifestyle. Being overweight puts you at risk for a number of age-related conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, cognitive impairment and dementia, and cardiovascular diseases.
How many calories a day should I eat?
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women need between 1,600 and 2,400 calories a day, and men need between 2,000 and 3,000. However, this depends on your age, size, height, lifestyle, overall health, and activity level.
To help work out how many calories you need to consume, the basal metabolic rate (BMR) is a good starting point. This is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest. BMR is essentially a measure of your body’s metabolism and can help you monitor how many calories a day you need to maintain or lose body weight.
There are many BMR calculators available online, and while they are not the most accurate measurements of your BMR, they do provide a reasonable estimat. Ideally, consulting with a nutritionist or similar specialist is best to determine your exact BMR.
Once you have established your BMR, you should find an easy way to record your daily calorie intake. We recommend using one of the many online calorie counters, such as MyNetDiary or My Fitness Pal, to take the headache out of working out how much you have eaten.
Healthy habits to help you lose weight
Losing weight by eating to a caloric deficit is a simple enough goal, but even if you manage to stick to it, there are no guarantees as to how fast you will lose unwanted pounds. Developing healthy habits is also important for increasing your chances of keeping off the extra weight you lose.
There are several simple, healthy habits that may help you to lose weight quickly: Eating protein for breakfast, going for walks, eating more fiber, reducing carbohydrates, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep can all help.
Eat protein for breakfast
Starting your morning with a protein-rich breakfast is a great start to the day and could help you keep hunger at bay. It is well known that that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but this sage advice often goes ignored.
Our busy lives often find us reaching for breakfast food that is fast but not nutritionally good for us. Cereal or toast are easy breakfast foods to grab in a rush, and they do give us the jolt of energy we need to get going, but they are packed with sugars and carbohydrates.
Protein is a key nutrient, and adding more to your diet could be an effective way to lose weight. Eating more protein can help curb your appetite and prevent you from eating too much. Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates do, which explains why it suppresses appetite [1-3].
One study found that increasing protein to 25% of total calories reduced late-night snacking by 50% and obsessive thoughts about food by 60% . Try eating eggs, salmon and other seafood, yogurt and unsweetened dairy products, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans and chickpeas.
Go for a walk
Getting enough exercise doesn’t need to involve spending all day at the gym working up a sweat. Walking is an ideal low-impact way to exercise that can help you to quickly lose weight.
The CDC recommends that most adults should walk 10,000 steps per day. This is roughly 5 miles a day. Most people in the United States only take between 3,000 and 4,000 steps, which equates to roughly 1.5 to 2 miles, a day.
Try to take 30 to 60 minutes out each day to take a walk. Not only does walking help break the working day up and keep your brain active, it also burns a significant amount of calories over the course of a week.
The more you can walk, the better. Try to incorporate more walking into your daily routine, such as taking the stairs not the elevator or ditching the car to go to the store. You may want to monitor your steps using a pedometer; these are relatively cheap and are a handy way to track your level of activity.
Eat more fiber
Including more fiber in your diet may help you to lose weight. Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. Most simple carbohydrates are broken down into glucose sugar molecules, but fiber cannot be broken down like this. Instead, it passes through the body undigested.
Men should aim to consume up to 35 grams and women 25 grams of fiber per day. Most people eat significantly less than this, which is a concern as fiber is critical for a healthy gut. There are helpful bacteria in our gut that rely on fiber to survive and create other beneficial molecules, such as butyrate, from it.
Fiber also helps us to feel fuller without our body breaking it down and turning it into sugar, which is a plus when trying to lose weight. Black beans, pinto beans, lentils, chickpeas, fruits and vegetables, rye crackers, oatcakes, and unsalted nuts or seeds are all good sources of fiber.
Modern eating habits can see us consuming 50% or more of total calories in the form of simple carbohydrates. Reducing your intake of simple carbohydrates and replacing them with protein will reduce the number of calories that are turned into fat.
Simple carbohydrates increase the level of sugar (glucose) present in our bloodstream; this, in turn, triggers an increase of insulin, which then sends the glucose to be stored in fat cells. In other words, the more simple carbohydrates we consume, the more our bodies build up fat reserves.
Unlike complex carbohydrates such as fiber, simple carbohydrates should be reduced where possible. Try to avoid sugar, white bread, potatoes, and non-whole grain pasta. Breakfast cereals are also well known for containing high levels of carbohydrates, whether they are sugar frosted or marketed as being healthy.
Drink enough water
Making sure you are properly hydrated is another trick to potentially lose weight. It is easy to fall foul of temptation and grab a quick snack, but drinking water may help.
Sometimes our body mixes up when it is thirsty with being hungry causing us to reach for those extra calories instead of hydrating. If you do feel hungry during the day between meals, try drinking a glass of water and see if that gets rid of your appetite.
It is also a good idea when eating a meal to drink water too as this can help reduce the chances of overeating and help make you feel full.
Get more sleep
Finally, this last one should be easy, but sadly many of us struggle to get enough quality sleep. Our modern lives are frequently fast paced, and many of us struggle to achieve a good work/life balance, which includes getting enough sleep.
A lack of sleep causes the human body to produce a stress hormone called cortisol. This is bad news because it causes metabolism to slow down and makes it more likely to be tempted to reach for sugary snacks. Midnight snacking is one of the potential dangers of not getting enough sleep, and it makes piling on the pounds a real danger.
Not enough sleep also leaves us feeling fatigued, which can also trigger hunger cravings for sugar-filled snacks. This is why making sure you get enough sleep is essential.
Try to sleep in a room that is dark, ventilated, and cool enough at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Seven to eight hours seems to be a healthy amount of sleep, though some people may need more. If your sleep is much shorter, you might need to discuss it with your medical advisor; as you age, the production of the sleep hormone melatonin decreases, and your advisor might recommend taking it as a supplement.
Make weight control part of your longevity lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy weight is an important factor in determining how healthy you are and potentially how long you live. We live at a time in human history in which researchers are developing therapies to potentially help us live longer, healthier lives; it would be wise to do everything we can to stay healthy and alive until they arrive. Hopefully, these tips are useful in helping you to lose weight and keep it off.
 Westerterp, K. R. (2004). Diet induced thermogenesis. Nutrition & metabolism, 1(1), 1-5.
 Westerterp-Plantenga M. S. (2008). Protein intake and energy balance. Regulatory peptides, 149(1-3), 67–69. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.regpep.2007.08.026
 Halton, T. L., & Hu, F. B. (2004). The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(5), 373–385. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2004.10719381
 Leidy, H. J., Tang, M., Armstrong, C. L., Martin, C. B., & Campbell, W. W. (2011). The effects of consuming frequent, higher protein meals on appetite and satiety during weight loss in overweight/obese men. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 19(4), 818–824. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2010.203