While more and more diets and fitness programs are being revealed to help people live healthier lives, it seems like the prevalence of obesity is also continuously increasing. The problem lies within the fact that most diets today can be classified as “fad diets”, which means they place extreme restrictions on a person’s food intake for a couple of days; thus resulting in weight loss, but then after the person has completed the diet, they tend to eat more since they starved themselves while they were following the diet. In turn, this leads to excessive weight gain after the diet. The perfect and most effective weight loss diet for women and for men usually consists of a balanced food intake, as well as the restriction of foods that are bad for the body and leads to weight gain.
While both men and women are at risk of obesity, it does seem like the prevalence of obesity is much higher amongst women especially during pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization, as much as 15% of women are considered obese throughout the worldwide population, yet only 11% of men are considered obese (1). Obesity places a lot of excess stress on the human body and can even become a problem during pregnancy in women. To help women out, we have decided to look into the most effective ways women can lose weight without having to place any extreme restrictions on their daily calorie intake.
Why Avoid Following A Fad Diet
Any person who has followed any particular type of diet in the recent past or has been looking at diets that could possibly help them lose weight should be familiar with the term “fad diets”. These diets have become quite popular, but, in reality, they are really not the best way to lose weight in a healthy way, and may actually do more harm to the body and even lead to excessive weight gain after completing such a diet.
The UPMC explains that a fad diet is basically any diet that promises a person would lose weight in a very short period of time through the utilization of weight loss techniques that includes an unbalanced diet and most often unhealthy methods (2). They continue to explain that, while some people do succeed in losing weight through these diets, it is important that a person understands the weight they usually lose through a fad diet is nothing more than water weight and not actual fat.
To determine if a particular diet that you want to follow is a fad diet, you should take a look at what the diet promises. Any diet that promises a person will lose weight quickly but does not provide any scientific evidence in regards to the methods it utilizes, is most likely a fad diet. These diets also tend to make promises that sound simply outrageous and the diets also often accompany a promotion to help a company sell a product or service.
According to Shaw Academy, one of the most important drawbacks of fad diets that plays a significant role in why people should avoid following such a diet is the fact that they place a person at a high risk of developing a nutritional deficiency (3). Inadequate intake of essential nutrients can impair the body’s ability to perform certain functions, such as cause the immune system to become weaker, which means a person’s immune system would not be able to fight off infection and disease.
Best Weight Loss Diet For Women
Men and women tend to diet differently. While men often try to build larger muscle mass at the same time as they try to lose weight, women rather focus on losing weight and building a slimmer physique. Here, we would like to focus on weight loss for women specifically and advise on the most appropriate methods for women to not only change the way they eat, but also to implement certain lifestyle changes that will change their lives for the better – allowing them to lose weight and then avoid gaining back weight, and also to help them feel more confident about themselves.
The first step to successful weight loss for any woman especially after pregnancy starts with their existing lifestyle. A woman should sit down and consider how they are currently living their life – what they are eating, what they are doing, how they are sleeping when they are eating. All of this information will be useful for them as it will help them identify problem areas in their life, which they can then attend to in order to help them become healthier and reach a healthy weight.
Women’s Health Magazine recently interviews women who recently successfully completed their own weight loss journeys, and found that most of these women found that keeping a journal with them to note down what they eat, what they do and other important information was one of the best ways to help them lose weight in the end (4). The journal serves as a way for them to identify areas where they need to improve.
Another change that seemed to have helped most pregnant women is a change of serving size, and not particularly serving type. These women explain that they have had great success with reducing the size of their bowls and plates used to serve up for themselves during each meal. When dishing up in a smaller plate, it means they are less likely to stack a lot of food onto one plate, which significantly reduces the amount of food they eat during each meal of the day.
Other than these tips, there is usually not a need to go onto a strict diet in order to lose weight effectively. The key is to control the amount of food you eat and to avoid snacking on unhealthy food between the main meals of the day. Keep some nuts and fruits with you during the day and snack on them instead.
Cleveland Clinic reports that it is also important to consider the fact that consuming more calories than your body needs in a single day means you are going to gain weight (5). On the other hand, using more calories per day than you are consuming means you will lose weight. This, however, does not mean you have to place extreme restrictions on the number of calories you consume. If you already eat very little food, then increase your daily activity levels so that you can burn more calories. If you are, on the other hand, eating more food than you should, then cutting back can do wonders for your figure.
Weight Loss After Pregnancy
According to the CDC, one-third (32%) of pregnant women gain the recommended amount of pounds during pregnancy. Most women do not. About 21% of women gain too little weight while 48% put on too much weight when pregnant (6). As a reminder, women within the healthy weight range who are carrying one baby need to gain 25 to 35 pounds (11.5-16kg) during pregnancy.
Many women struggle to slim down after they give birth to their children.
Pregnancy weight after the baby consists of extra fat stores which act as energy reserves (7). Excess weight gain during pregnancy can result in excess fat, which is usually referred to as “baby weight”. This is a common problem, but it can be difficult to manage it.
Below, you can see how to slim down naturally after pregnancy.
1. Have realistic goals
Weight loss after pregnancy seems easy because celebrities and media present it that way. It’s not uncommon for celebrities who gave birth recently to post super skinny images of themselves just a few weeks after giving birth. Exposure to these images produces unrealistic expectations. But, you need to keep in mind reality is different.
For example, a study from Obstetrics and Gynecology found that 75% of subjects were heavier one year after pregnancy than before it. Of these, 47% were at least 10lbs heavier about 12 months after giving birth and 25% of women were 25lbs heavier (8).
The above mentioned study matters because it perfectly depicts challenges that women encounter after giving birth. While your goal is to slim down, you need to adopt realistic goals and expectations. It’s possible to lose the baby weight, but the significant weight loss will not occur in a week or two. Weight loss is a process, especially when you want to keep it off.
2. Breastfeed your baby (if you can)
Health organizations such as CDC, WHO, and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend breastfeeding (9, 10, 11). You see, breastfeeding has many benefits for both a mother and her baby. But what most women don’t know is that breastfeeding may also promote weight loss.
One study showed that mothers who were breastfeeding had lower postpartum weight retention than their counterparts who didn’t breastfeed their babies (12).
Therefore, in order to slim down after giving birth, you may want to breastfeed, if you physically can. Just keep in mind the first three months of breastfeeding may not induce changes in your weight. You may even gain a few pounds due to increased calorie needs and intake and decreased physical activity. After that, you may start losing weight.
3. Be more active
Physical activity and regular exercise are crucial for weight loss, but somehow a common belief is that new mothers should stay away from that. Exercising after giving birth is safe and may help you slim down. However, how long you’re going to wait after delivery to start working out depends on the mode of delivery, your fitness levels, whether there were any complications, and how you feel. This is the subject to discuss with your healthcare provider.
Generally speaking, women who exercised during pregnancy and had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery may start with light exercises within days of giving birth. Or they can do it when they feel ready, pending their doctor says it’s okay. On the other hand, women who had a C-section or complicated delivery will need to wait a while, usually six weeks to start with light exercises (13).
Keep in mind the main point here is to do light exercises when your doctor approves. Even the light and low-impact movements can help you slim down.
4. Say no to highly processed foods
Processed foods are perceived as delicious and they also happen to be affordable. For new moms, it may seem convenient to just eat something quick and easy. But, intake of processed foods is associated with more addictive eating behavior (14).
These foods have little to no nutritional value. They deliver empty calories that fill you up, but it doesn’t take long for you to feel hungry again. That’s when you crave these foods and the cycle continues. All this translates to increased weight or difficulty slimming down.
One of the most important weight-loss methods to employ is to avoid consuming processed foods. Instead, you may want to focus on getting enough protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other healthy compounds your body needs.
A healthy diet will also give you more energy, which you can use to start moving and spend less time on being sedentary.
5. Drink water
Staying hydrated is important for preventing dehydration and ensuring the body functions properly. But, water intake can also aid weight management. You see, water can fill you up and suppress your appetite. As a result, you avoid overeating during the next meal. Since overeating is a common problem for persons who are struggling with weight gain, you can see why it’s so important to suppress your appetite. Water can also accelerate metabolism (15).
The color of your urine is the telltale sign of whether you need to up the intake of water. If you drink enough water your urine is clear. Darker urine indicates you’re not drinking enough water.
New moms may forget to drink the water due to tons of errands to run, chores to do, and a baby to take care of. To still manage to stay hydrated, you may want to set up reminders around your home or on the phone.
Other Weight Loss Tips
- Get enough sleep, although it’s challenging, but asking someone for help and support can mean the world here
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid or reduce intake of refined carbs and added sugar
- Instead of junk food, eat healthy snacks
- Do home workouts
- Connect with other moms who are trying to slim down as well, forming a little support group can boost your motivation and help you stay on the right track
- Self-care is crucial and while it becomes difficult when you have a baby, it’s still an important factor in your mental and physical health, both of which can influence your weight
Obesity is a more serious concern amongst women, with 4% more women being affected by obesity than men when the global prevalence of obesity is taken into account. This causes a significant amount of pressure on the female body’s wellbeing and also tends to reduce a woman’s body image, causing her to experience symptoms of both anxiety and depression. In this post, we discussed how the best weight loss diet for women should look like, and why it is important to steer clear of fad diets, and rather opt for lifestyle changes that include healthier food choices and more exercise.