7 scientifically supported weight loss strategies

We’ve put together some of the most concurrent, effective weight loss strategies that are supported by reliable research to help you achieve your weight loss goals this year.

Published: Monday 24 February 2020



The journey of losing weight can be difficult to navigate; the wealth of information available can be overwhelming, making it difficult to find useful and reliable weight loss strategies. When it comes to finding reliable weight loss advice, it is crucial to cut through the noise and identify useful tips that are scientifically supported to deliver results.

We’ve put together some of the most concurrent, effective weight loss strategies that are supported by reliable research to help you achieve your weight loss goals this year.

1. Dieting

There are a multitude of diets around, each proclaiming to be superior than the next. We’ve identified 3 diets renowned to deliver excellent weight loss results.

The 3 most effective diets for both short term and long term results consist of:

Ketogenic Diets: A Ketogenic diet consists of high protein and high fat intake with low carbohydrate intake. The aim of this diet is to induce ketosis, which is the metabolic process where the body utilises fat for energy due to a low immediate availability of carbohydrate[1]. In a recent study, comparing a low carbohydrate diet (ketogenic) with a low fat diet over an 8 week period, the results indicated that the ketogenic diet was responsible for an 11.0% loss in body mass compared with just 2.7% in the alternative low fat diet[2].

Zone Diets: The premise behind the Zone Diet, is that you consume a ratio of macronutrients in the proportions of 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. This is necessary to constrict calorie intake and encourage the body to metabolise fat; furthermore, the Zone Diet is reported to promote health and longevity due to the stabilised release of insulin[3].

In a study investigating the effectiveness of the Zone Diet over a 6 month period in overwieght and obese women, results were reported with an average weight loss relative to individual body mass of 7.4%[4]. Furthermore, research investigating longer duration dieting (12 month period) using the Zone diet reported findings of 3.2% weight loss relative to body mass[5].

Calorie Restriction Diets: Calorie restriction dieting consists of reducing calorie intake but maintaining adequate nutrition; the recommended reduced daily calorie intake is acknowledged to range between 20%-40% less[6]. A popular calorie restriction diet consists of the Weight Watchers Diet, where each food, depending on their macronutrient composition, “costs” you points to eat them. You select foods to eat based on an allocation of points, the daily maximum points are calculated relative to your stature and designed to help you lose weight. Calorie restriction diets such as the Weight Watchers Diet attempts to significantly promote weight loss whilst maximising compliance due to the appeal of food selection[7].

Research investigating the effectiveness of Calorie restriction diets reported findings of between 10%-20% weight loss relative to body mass for overwieght and obese participants over a 12 week period[8]. Furthermore, an extensive 2 year study reported promising weight loss and health results utilising a calorie restrictive diet, combined with exercise[9].

Whilst this is a summary of effective diets, it is important to seek advice on how to precisely structure a specific diet to ensure you achieve great results, healthily.

2. Exercise and physical activity

Exercise for weight loss works on the premise that you create a negative energy balance, where energy output is greater than energy input[10]. Starting exercising is often easy, but maintaining it is the challenge and can be difficult.

Tips to help you maintain your exercise program:

  • Start slow, make it easy and make it enjoyable.
  • Plan your sessions each week but don’t overcomplicate.
  • Set realistic weight loss and exercise goals that you can record and reward.
  • Make sure you adjust your diet to compensate for increased exercise… you need to maintain your energy.
  • Join a fitness class and find someone to train with.
  • Remember why you are starting and remind yourself of the benefits frequently.
  • Gradually increase intensity/duration and vary exercise mode/sessions (try joining a games club, try different exercises, get competitive).

Another good strategy is to start by increasing your daily step count, an increase of just 2000 steps per day can induce positive weight loss result[11]. 2000 steps may sound like a lot but it only takes approximately 15-25 minutes at average walking pace which amounts to approximately one mile[12].

3. Sleep

Getting enough sleep each night is actually associated with being able to successfully maintain weight loss goals! A study investigating sleep duration reported that between 6-8 hours sleep is optimal, whilst less or more can actually make weight loss more difficult to maintain due to possible disturbances hormones that regulate appetite[13]. Furthermore, research indicates that a persistent lack of sleep can result in adverse implications on body composition; possibly due to disturbances hormones that regulate appetite[14].

4. Prescription medication

Prescription medication combined with exercise and dieting can offer very effective weight loss results; especially for those with a high BMI (>30). Orlistat (Branded as Xenical, Alli and Orlos) is the active ingredient found in many clinically proven prescription weight loss medications, it is a pancreatic lipase inhibitor and reduces the absorption of ingested fat by up to 30%[15].

The efficacy of Orlistat is extensively reported in a multitude of studies, reporting successful short term, long term and weight maintenance results compared to those in a control group[16]. Find out how you can get the most out of taking Orlistat through incorporating a carefully composed diet plan to maximise weight loss.

5. Reduce alcohol intake

Reducing alcohol intake can offer excellent weight loss results. It is most effective in combination with dietary efforts and other strategies to support your overall weight loss goals. Alcohol can significantly contribute to your calorie intake, therefore, it is unsurprising that there is extensive research recommending reduced alcohol intake in the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle and weight loss[17].

6. Reduce stress levels

Chronic stress caused by life events, daily stressful occurrences and stress inducing lifestyle factors (e.g. insufficient sleep) is reported to contribute to unintended weight gain[18]. The stress response is reported to activate the mesocorticolimbic dopamine pathway or ‘reward pathway’; with the release of glucocorticosteroids in the blood following high stress, the desire to ingest palatable food increases[19]. With chronic stress, the long term result is weight gain or difficulty with weight maintenance. Reducing stress through yoga, meditation, exercise and ensuring better quality sleep are all effective stress reduction methods[20].

7. Set realistic goals, track your results and reward yourself.

Setting realistic goals is really important. Whilst quick weight loss results are desirable, maintaining consistent results over time is essential and key to achieving your weight loss targets. Planning an exercise programme and keeping track of your results is necessary to effectively organise your time and enable progression. Furthermore, ensuring you reward yourself when you achieve important milestones or short term targets is reported to significantly reinforce positive behaviour and behaviour change[21]. Everyone needs a cheat/treat day once in a while!

If you’re looking to commit to losing weight this year, we recommend you give some of these strategies a try to help you well on your way to achieving your weight loss goals… good luck!

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