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Losing weight with a healthy diet

There are many benefits to aiming for a healthy weight: it enhances well-being and makes everyday activities and movement more enjoyable. In addition, it reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Find out here how to reach and maintain your ideal weight.

How can I lose weight and keep it off?

Long-term weight loss has to be a slow process. Otherwise, there is the risk of the dreaded yo-yo effect. A maximum of two kilograms a month should be the goal. It's normal for the weight to drop off faster at the start than a couple of weeks or months into your dietary changes.
The best way to lose weight healthily is by changing your eating habits and behaviour and getting lots of exercise. Basically, no foods or drinks are off limits: all foods are allowed, but what matters is that you eat them in the right amounts.

Balanced eating and drinking

Bowl of Bircher muesli with assorted berries
  • Make sure your meals are balanced, which means a large portion of vegetables, a protein accompaniment and carbohydrates. Ideally, the carbohydrates should be wholegrain products and pulses.
  • The best way to start the day is with Bircher muesli with yoghurt, oats, fresh fruit, and nuts and seeds.
  • Instead of refined flour products, frequently eat wholegrain products and pulses. These keep you full for longer and prevent cravings.
  • Eat 3 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit every day. These fill you up without providing many calories.
  • Limit yourself to one small sweet treat a day, and eat this after a meal rather than between meals.
  • Drink water, unsweetened tea or infused water instead of sweet beverages.
  • Try to reduce sugar as a matter of course.
  • Only drink alcohol occasionally, as it is packed with calories and inhibits the burning of fat.

Changing your behaviour

Woman relaxing on the sofa with a cup of tea.
  • Only eat when you're hungry and not for comfort, out of boredom or frustration.
  • Take your time eating and focus on enjoying meals in a leisurely way.
  • Stress is the number one enemy of successful weight loss. Make your daily routines as stress-free as possible and incorporate relaxation opportunities such as yoga or meditation.
  • Get plenty of sleep. If we don't get enough sleep, the body produces the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. 

Exercise

A young couple jogging together in the park.
  • Exercise for at least half an hour each day. Take the stairs instead of the lift, go shopping on foot or by bicycle, get off the tram one stop sooner or go for a regular evening walk. Every minute spent exercising counts.
  • Regular endurance and strength training further supports weight reduction. Strength training increases muscle mass, meaning that you burn more energy even when at rest.

Low carb versus low fat

To sustainably reduce weight, many rely on reducing carbohydrates or fat. Studies show no relevant difference between these two types of diet when it comes to the weight reduction achieved. What matters is that you feel healthy with the version you choose. If you reduce your fat intake, you should make sure that you still provide your body with vital fats. If reducing carbohydrates, it makes sense to eat less sugar and fewer refined flour products. Fruits, wholegrain products and pulses should still be on the menu, as these provide valuable fibre as well as vitamins and minerals.

Crash diets and fasting

Measures such as single-food diets or fasting promise rapid weight loss. Whilst in the short term these are often successful, you usually end up back at your starting weight before long. Indeed, the scales may well register more weight a few weeks in than before you started the diet. This is because the restrictive calorie intake reduces muscle mass which in turn lowers your calorie requirements (= metabolic rate).
Fasting involves not eating at all, or only between certain times. At best, fasting diets can make it easier to alter eating habits. You become more conscious of feelings of hunger and satiation. For a while, you have to ditch annoying habits such as snacking between meals – whether as a comfort mechanism or through boredom. Usually, however, no new behavioural patterns are learned and established in such a short period. Often, the old habits creep back in.
Fasting diets also carry risks and are not suitable for everyone. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not try to lose weight, particularly not through single-food diets or fasting. Children, teenagers, ill and elderly people should not fast. Strict fasting diets, as well as single-food diets, can lead to a deficiency over time, in things such as proteins, essential fatty acids or vitamins and minerals.

How can I maintain my ideal weight?

Man in running gear tying his running shoes
To maintain your weight, regular exercise and, of course, the right diet help. To ensure your diet is healthy and balanced, follow the recommendations of the food pyramid. As muscle mass tends to decline from the age of around 30, so too do your energy requirements. Moderate strength training helps preserve muscle mass.

The number one weight loss rule: stick at it!

The weight often drops off quickly when you start a new diet. After a couple of weeks or months, however, the number on the scales tends not to drop as quickly in line with your efforts. This can be frustrating, but is normal and does not mean that the change of diet has not worked. Anyone who works out at the same time will reduce body fat and build muscle. Muscles also translate into weight on the scales. The aim should not be continual weight loss, but a weight at which you feel well in the long run and a healthy lifestyle.