The 3 Best Ways to Lose Weight

Science Reveals the Best Weight Loss Methods

Doctor weighing a delighted woman
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If you ask a diet expert about the best ways to lose weight, you're likely to get a wide range of answers. So dieters often spend hours online trying to find the best eating plan, the newest workout trend, or the most effective supplements for weight loss. But often, the pills are too expensive, the diets are too complicated, and the workouts are overly exhausting.

So how do you find a weight loss program that will really work?

A scientific study revealed the best ways to slim down. In fact, researchers identified three specific things you need if you want to lose weight.

Study Reveals 3 Best Ways to Lose Weight

So what does it take to lose weight? According to a major review of weight loss studies published in JAMA, obese dieters who combined these three things were most successful at weight loss.

  • A diet that reduced food intake by about 500 calories per day 
  • More physical activity like walking for 20-25 minutes each day
  • Support from a trained professional such as a doctor, registered nurse, or registered dietitian

When researchers evaluated the results of different weight loss studies, they found that when dieters did one of the things on the list but not the others they were less successful. And even dieters who did only two things lost less weight. The people who lost the most weight were those who combined all three things: diet, exercise, and support.

The Best Way to Lose Weight—Your Personalized Approach

Maybe the results of the study are not surprising to you. After all, the fact that we need to eat less and move more isn't exactly groundbreaking news. But there are a few takeaways from this research that may be helpful if you are trying to slim down.

  • Don't underestimate the role that your physician can play in your weight loss journey. Your doctor can help you to understand how weight loss can improve your health. He or she can also provide support and referrals to other professionals like a registered dietitian who can help make weight loss easier for you or a behavioral health specialist to manage emotions that affect eating. The support you get from a physician, a nurse or a registered dietitian can help you to stay motivated and on track when typical challenges arise.
  • You need to track your calories. If you want to reach a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day as suggested by the study, you need to track your food intake, especially in the beginning of your program. Otherwise, you'll never know if you are reaching your target on a regular basis. And consistency is key when you're trying to slim down. So how do you count calories? Some dieters use a smartphone app, but others use a paper journal to plan meals and to record calorie intake. Use the method that works best for you. Eventually, you may be able to ditch the numbers and use a more simple approach, like portion control. But keeping track of calories in the beginning of your program is likely to be helpful

And lastly, you can't expect big results if you only make small changes. If you really want to lose weight, you need to tackle each of the three tasks if you want to see real results. Record your daily calorie intake, measure your weekly workouts and stay accountable to a health coach or other professional to reach your weight loss goal and keep the weight off for good.

A Word From Verywell

If you are searching for a weight loss program, it can be tempting to use a program that looks new or trendy. Many programs advertise that you can eat whatever you want and still slim down. But this study confirms—and most nutrition experts agree—that a nutritious, calorie-controlled diet, healthy moderate exercise, and emotional support are the best path to weight loss and permanent weight maintenance. Work with your health care provider or a nutrition professional to build a program that you feel good about so you feel confident about sticking to it for life.

Sources

Wadden TA, Butryn ML, Hong PS, Tsai AG. " Behavioral Treatment of Obesity in Patients Encountered in Primary Care Settings: A Systematic Review.." JAMA. 2014;312(17):1779-1791. 

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