The Healthiest Ways To Lose Weight, According To Our Top Experts
Here at mbg, you won't see the words "calorie" almost ever. We're not into counting them or thinking about food in such a transactional way; and we're definitely not into "diets," at least in the traditional sense. Instead, we think the journey to our healthiest and happiest weight consists of piling our plates high with vegetables and focusing on how food fuels us—and of course, how it makes us feel.
That said, sometimes weight loss is necessary to achieve optimal health. But even if this is the case, restriction and deprivation are not the way to go if you want to make long-term, lasting changes in your health and maintain your optimal weight.
So then what are the healthiest weight loss strategies? Here are four healthy weight loss strategies from some of our top experts. They're effective, yes, but they also allow you to continue to enjoy food without feeling like you're counting every bite.
1. Eliminating inflammatory foods
"Losing weight is not about starvation or deprivation. It's about changing your microbiome from a fat and sugar processing machine that sends those calories into you into a calorie eating machine that keeps those calories to make more of them (which you will see as bigger poops!). The best way to start is by eliminating major lectin-containing food groups such as grains, pseudo-grains like quinoa, the nightshades like potatoes and tomatoes and peppers, and peanuts and cashews. In my studies on thousands of patients, inflammation dramatically drops and so does the weight." —Steven R. Gundry, M.D., renowned heart surgeon and author of The Plant Paradox
2. A low-carb, high-fat nutrition plan
"Weight loss is one of the major reasons people want to try a ketogenic diet, and for good reason! Multiple studies have shown that the keto diet is fantastic at lowering the feeling of being hungry, allowing people to be in a much better mood than they are on other diets. One of the reasons most diets fail is because there is only so long we can grit our teeth and push through the hunger that comes with restrictive dieting. This is not the case for a well-formulated clean ketogenic diet. Being fat- or keto-adapted allows you to be well-fed and satiated, key factors to any sustainable way of eating.
"Most people have very little metabolic flexibility and are always in a sugar-burning state, making them hangry and a slave to the next snack and meal to tide them over for another few hours; like kindling on a fire, being a sugar burner is short-lived and needs to be refueled often. Another related aspect to being fat-adapted with a ketogenic diet also allows you to gain metabolic flexibility, allowing you to be a fat-burner instead of sugar burner. Being fat-adapted is like firewood on the fire instead of kindling: steady, sustainable energy for your metabolism. It's often not until people are into their keto weight loss journey that they discover the other amazing benefits of this way of eating, like lowered inflammation and improved brain function." —Will Cole, D.C., IFMCP, mindbodygreen Collective member and author of Ketotarian
3. Intermittent fasting
"Fasting is merely anytime that you are not eating. It forms a part of the natural cycle—feeding and fasting. This is where the term 'breakfast' gets its name. In order to break a fast, you must be fasting, so this implies that you must fast every day. In other words, there is a time to eat, and there is a time to NOT eat, or to fast. When you eat, you store calories as body fat. When you fast, you use those calories that you stored, so maintaining a balance between feeding and fasting is critical for maintaining ideal body weight. During the 1970s, before the obesity epidemic, people generally ate three meals per day. If you ate breakfast at 8 a.m. and dinner at 6 p.m., you ate for 10 hours of the day and fasted for 14 hours of the day. Without watching their diet particularly, there was little obesity. Today, people are reprimanded if they don't start eating the minute they wake up and don't stop until they go to bed. Tilting the balance toward feeding led to obesity. So, a simple solution is to tilt the balance toward fasting—perhaps increasing fasting from 14 hours per day to 16 hours. The effectiveness is unquestionable." —Jason Fung, M.D., fasting expert and author of the book The Complete Guide to Fasting
4. Addressing food sensitivities
"A healthy weight loss strategy should always consider food sensitivities. Not everyone can eat everything. Our tolerance for certain foods can be affected by genetics, exposures, and health status. For a successful weight loss effort, it would be optimal to first have food sensitivity testing. This information would allow for proper nutritional choices that at the very least will not stoke inflammation that not only alters microbiome but also interferes with efficient digestion and utilization of nutrients, leading to sluggish metabolism. When the body is working hard to digest and absorb, there is less opportunity for healthy catabolism of adipose (fat) tissue as the energy is diverted elsewhere. So, the moral is: Learn of your specific food sensitivities and intolerances for a better weight loss plan. Once you are eating foods that nourish instead of inflame, you can better focus on mindful eating as natural satiety will become more obvious!" —Ilene Ruhoy, M.D., Ph.D., integrative neurologist
5. Eating consistently instead of restrictively
"The body has an energy and tissue replacement requirement every single day to move and regenerate. If you are on a calorie-restrictive diet, the body will try to repair itself with old parts and will not have the nutrients for chemical reactions to bond the amino acids and make new tissue. Excessive restriction—as opposed to consistent energy patterning where you eat similarly each day so the body always knows what it's getting and when—will trigger a sympathetic nervous system response, and the body will start to hoard and collect materials to protect itself. Over time this is a recipe for disaster where the body has to super compensate, and fat loss becomes seemingly impossible. Give the body what it needs!" —Kevin Libby, nutritionist, metabolism expert, and founder of PH2 Nutrition
The new year is a great time to establish healthy habits and test out one (or two!) of these strategies if you're trying to reach your healthiest weight.
Gretchen Lidicker is an mbg health contributor, content strategist, and the author of CBD Oil Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Hemp-Derived Health and Wellness and Magnesium Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Epsom Salts, Magnesium Oil, and Nature's Relaxation Mineral. She holds a B.S. in biology and earned her master’s degree in physiology with a concentration in complementary and alternative medicine from Georgetown University.