Weight management is important for maintaining good health. Obesity increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight helps in better health and boosts self-esteem.
For many women, weight is closely linked to their perception of themselves. In extreme cases, it may even lead to body dysmorphic disorder or eating disorders. Compared to men, women find it harder to lose weight. Men have more muscle, whereas women may have more fat. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, men often seem to lose weight faster than women. Menopause may also make weight management harder for women. And the food cravings caused by premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can destroy all diet plans.
But with a healthy diet and regular exercise, women too can achieve a healthy weight.
Tips for weight management for women
Eat a balanced diet:
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is the first step towards weight management.
Try to include more protein in your diet. Food items like Cottage Cheese, Greek Yogurt are rich in protein and keep you feeling full for longer. Cottage Cheese and Greek Yogurt also have Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which may help in weight loss. You also need to make your diet rich in fiber. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, berries, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are all rich in fiber. And they are packed with various nutrients essential for good health.
Reduce your intake of Refined Carbs. These are commonly found in products like bread, pasta, and other packaged food items. Replace these with whole grain food items like oats, brown rice, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, etc. Avoid processed food as much as possible. Processed food is high in calories, sugar, and sodium, but low in vital nutrients. So limit your intake of processed foods and stick to the natural goodness of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.
Avoid consuming added sugar. Sugar can increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. So avoid sweets, candies, sugary drinks.
Avoid unhealthy drinks:
You don’t just eat calories. You drink them too. So, just eating healthy is not enough. You need to be careful about what you drink as well. Avoid sugary drinks. Choose fruits over fruit juice. Limit the sugar you put in your tea, coffee, etc.
Drink more water. Water keeps you hydrated. It may also help you calm down a food craving. Drinking water about a half-hour before a meal can help in reducing overeating. This leads to less consumption of calories. And according to a study. drinking 16.9 ounces (500 ml) of water may even increase the number of calories burned by 30% after 30–40 minutes.
Practice smart eating habits:
Eating habits matter a lot when you are trying to lose weight. Here are some smart eating habits that can help you in better weight management:
- Note down what you eat: Keeping a journal of what you eat can show you where you are going right or wrong. It can also help you plan your diet and motivate you to stick to it.
- Enjoy what you eat: When you eat food, keep your focus on it. Enjoy the food’s taste, smell, and texture. This will give you the feeling of fullness sooner. It will also make you more careful about what you are eating.
- Snack intelligently: Losing weight does not mean you need to starve yourself. Snacking between the meals might even help you lose weight by preventing food craving and binging later. But choose your snacks smartly. Instead of reaching out for that muffin or that packet of potato chips, reach out for healthier food. Choose fruits, berries, seeds, nuts, Greek Yogurt, etc, which are delicious as well as healthy to eat.
- Stop torturing yourself: Don’t torture yourself with over-strict or fad diets. Don’t fall into the trap of weight-loss pills. All these do more harm than good. A balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices are what you need to lose weight without getting sick.
- Nibble, don’t gorge: Eating in small bites may also give you the feeling of fullness sooner. And when you are treating yourself to something that you know is unhealthy, nibble on it instead of taking big bites. Chew your food more slowly. Try to chew your food 50 times per bite. If you take a long time finishing one potato wafer, you are less likely to reach out for many more.
- Use smaller plates: If you don’t have enough space on your plate, you’ll put less food on it. This may help reduce your risk of overeating.
- Don’t starve yourself: An adult woman’s diet should contain no less than 800 calories per day. If you consume less than that, you might lose weight fast but might also develop several health issues. That is why it is a good idea to consult a doctor, nurse, dietician, nutritionist before you put yourself on a diet.
- Have a nutritious breakfast: A healthy breakfast that contains plenty of vital nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber can help you lose weight too. Skipping breakfast might lead to binge eating later. Having a nutritious breakfast can make your alert, improve your mood, and give you a feeling of fullness. Include items like oatmeal, Greek Yogurt, seeds, berries, fruits, etc. in your breakfast to begin the day on the right note.
Along with a healthy diet, you also need to do regular exercise.
- Resistance Training: Resistance training is one of the best exercises for weight loss. It will help you build muscle and increase your endurance. It is especially helpful for women over 50 as it can also help in preserving bone mineral density. This resistance training can protect older women against osteoporosis. It also increases the rate of calorie burning while at rest. Resistance training includes exercising like lifting weights, body-weight exercises.
- Cardio: For younger women, Cardio or Aerobic exercise can work well. Cardio exercises increase your heart rate to burn extra calories. Try to include 20 to 40 minutes of cardio every day.
- HIIT: If you can’t exercise every day, you can also try HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). Doing HIIT a few times in a week can help you burn calories, reduce belly fat, and increase weight loss. An intense burst of movement alternating with brief periods of recovery keeps your heart rate elevated and helps in burning calories.
- Yoga: If you are not comfortable with intense exercises, try Yoga. Yoga can prevent weight gain and help you burn fat and calories. And Yoga is also beneficial for reducing stress and anxiety and prevent emotional binge eating.
- Walking: Walking is a moderate intensity exercise that can help in weight loss, strengthen your bones and muscles, boost your immunity, and give you various other health benefits. Being a moderate-intensity exercise, anyone can walk for weight management and good health. Minimum 30 minutes of walking per day is recommended. The advantages of walking go beyond physical fitness. It can even improve your mood and make you feel happier.
- Stay active: Even if you can’t exercise every day, you can still try to adopt a more active lifestyle. Travel short distances by walking instead of driving. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk whenever you have a few minutes free. As per an estimate, non-exercise-related activities may account for 50% of the calories burned in a day.
Irregular or insufficient sleep may also lead to weight gain. A study by researchers at the University of Colorado found that one week of sleeping about 5 hours in a day caused an average weight gain of 2 pounds in the participants.
Sleep deprivation can cause changes in the hormones that regulate hunger and appetite. It can reduce the hormone Leptin which suppresses hunger and also encourages the body to spend energy. Lack of sleep reduces the brain’s ability to make reasoned decisions. It may also affect your motivation to lose weight. Sleep deprivation may lead to binge eating too. All this may cause weight gain.
So, try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. And keep a regular sleep schedule. If you have difficultly falling asleep, consult a doctor.
Probiotics are a type of beneficial bacteria. These helpful bacteria can improve your gut health and excretion of fat. Probiotics can also alter hormone levels leading to a reduction in appetite. All of this can help with weight loss. Lactobacillus gasseri probiotic can decrease belly fat and overall weight.
Probiotics can be consumed easily through food or supplements. Probiotics are naturally present in most fermented food. Food items that are rich in probiotics include yogurt, pickles, kefir, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread, and some cheeses.
Beat the stress and be happy:
Negative moods like stress, anxiety, depression can lead to emotional binge eating. Such negative emotions can also disturb your sleep cycle, demotivate you from your weight loss goals, and may lead you to give up exercise and start eating unhealthy food.
Try to relax by doing things you enjoy. Listening to soothing music, walking in the park, keeping a journal, socializing with friends, taking up a hobby, and other such pleasant activities can help. In short, stay happy. When you are happy, you are more likely to stick with your resolve to losing weight.
And when you set your weight management goals, be realistic. Unrealistic goals can lead to disappointment, demotivation, and derail you from your weight loss plans.
Weight management can be a hard battle for women. But it can be won. With proper modifications in your diet and lifestyle, you too can achieve a healthy weight.