A healthy lifestyle is the best weight management strategy to lose weight permanently and healthily

​5 Healthy Weight Management Strategies

When it comes to losing weight, it's best to do it the healthy way. Weight management is a lifestyle that incorporates the principles of healthy eating and active living. Here are simple things you can do every day that can help you achieve permanent weight loss because we don’t want to lose weight, only to gain it back the next day.

1. Balance Your Food Choices

Caloric balance is the key to managing your weight. You do not have to give up your favourite foods just because they are high in calories.

The recommended daily calorie intake for females on average is about 1600 calories per day (kcal/day). An average man needs about 2000 kcal/day.

When you eat more calories than what your body uses or “burn off”, these extra calories will be stored as fat in your body, leading to weight gain. If you want to lose weight, the number of calories you consume must be less than the number of calories burned through physical activity.

To balance your calorie intake you can try one of the following:

Smaller serving sizes

Exercising portion control by reducing your food intake can help you lower your calorie intake so that you do not consume more calories than you burn. Some things you can try are using a smaller serving plate, sharing desserts and packing home leftovers if you can't finish your food.

Budget your calories

If your favourite foods are high in calories, you do not have to give them up just because you need to lose weight. Furthermore, studies suggest that avoiding your favourite foods altogether often make them irresistible and may cause you to give in to food cravings and perhaps overeating. What you can do is to include them but make sure you eat within your caloric allowance. If you choose to have a high-calorie meal, choose a lower-calorie option for your next meal so that your total energy intake does not exceed the number of calories you need in one day. If you are meeting your friends for a buffet in the evening, try to have a healthier meal for lunch, and eat more fruits and vegetables instead.

2. Watch What You Eat

Healthy food does wonders for the body. Be mindful of the food choices you make and select healthier options whenever you can. Here are a few simple rules to bear in mind:

Abandon the refined grains! Switch to wholegrain foods

Whole grains can help you manage your weight as they help you feel full faster and keep you feeling full longer. This is because wholegrain foods are higher in fibre, which provide bulk. In addition, they are generally digested at a lower rate; hence prolonging the feeling of “fullness”. You can include a wide variety of wholegrain foods (e.g. wholemeal bread, brown rice and oats) in your diet. Be sure to look out for the Higher in wholegrain Healthier Choice Symbol when shopping for groceries.

Choose and prepare food with less fat

Cutting down on high-fat foods will reduce your intake of daily calories and promote weight loss/prevent unnecessary weight gain. Did you know that 1g of fat contains 9 calories while the same amount of protein or carbohydrate only contains 4 calories?

When you cook:

  • Choose low-fat oils like sunflower, soya bean, corn, canola and olive oil.
  • Cool soups, stews and curries to remove solidified fat.
  • Choose high-protein lean meats and poultry and remove any fat or skin.

When you're eating out:

  • Choose plain rice over flavoured rice (e.g. chicken rice, nasi lemak, nasi briyani).
  • Avoid dishes with coconut cream or coconut milk as these dishes are high in calories (e.g. curry chicken, laksa).
  • Order soup-based dishes (e.g. Yong Tau Foo, Sliced Fish Soup).
  • Remove fat and skin from meats (e.g. fried chicken).
  • Choose plain rice over flavoured rice or better still, choose brown rice. In addition to the health benefits of brown rice, it can help us feel fuller for a longer time as well.

Choose food and beverages with less sugar

Sugar supplies calories with no nutritional value. These empty calories can spoil your appetite and increase calorie intake. Diabetics in particular need to be careful with their blood sugar levels. Here are some tips to reduce your sugar intake:

  • Choose plain water, not sweetened drinks. When we drink water, it helps to fill up the stomach and reduce the amount of food we eat.
  • Avoid adding too much sugar to tea or coffee.
  • Ask for less sugar or syrup in desserts.
  • Choose food products labelled, unsweetened, less sugar, reduced sugar or low in sugar.

Up your fruit and vegetable intake

Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and high in nutrients and fibre. So increase your intake to provide bulk to fight the hunger pangs! Be sure to prepare vegetables with healthier cooking methods such as blenching, steaming or stir-frying with less oil.

Include lean-protein foods

In addition to the above strategies, always make sure you have lean protein foods at each meal because studies suggest that protein may help increase your metabolic rate and stave off hunger longer. Hence, it may aid in weight loss. For example, have a tub of low-fat yoghurt or low-fat milk during breakfast and a palm size of poultry without skin/lean meat/fish/beancurd during your main meals.

3. Get Your 150 Minutes Of Physical Activity

Physical activity is an essential part of any effective weight-loss programme, as it burns calories that we have consumed over the day. To prevent weight gain, you should accumulate between 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week while being mindful of your diet. Exercise also helps with fat burning, and it will reduce the excess amounts of body fat we have stored in our bodies.

You should start slow and gradually increase the intensity and frequency of your workouts. When you feel ready, try incorporating 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intesntiy aerobic physical activities and even change up your routine to include 2 to 3 muscle-strengthening sessions per week.

Young woman jogging and engaging in physical activity as part of a sensible weight management strategy.

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity causes a slight increase in breathing and heart rate.

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity causes a large increase in breathing and heart rate.

As a rule of thumb, 1 minute of vigorous-intensity physical activity = 2 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity. You can try a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity aerobic activity to get the necessary amount of physical activity each week.

  • Some examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activity are badminton, brisk walking, leisure cycling and tennis.
  • Some examples of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity are basketball, running, soccer and swimming laps.
  • Daily activities can also be a form of exercise. Here are some things to try:
    • Taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalators.
    • Getting off the bus one or two stops before your destination and walking. Even an extra 15 minutes of walking a day can bring many health benefits.
    • Parking the car further away from your destination and walking.
    • Doing household chores.

4. Building Strength

Strength-building activities provide additional health benefits. They can help you to lose total body fat while also improving bone and muscle strength. It is recommended that you do muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week and involve all major muscle groups including the legs, hips, abdomen, back, chest, shoulder and arms.

To build muscle, you need to repeat an action. A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, like an arm curl or sit-up. During weight lifting, you should aim to complete 2 to 3 sets of  8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise. Some examples of muscle and bone strengthening activities are hand-held weights, resistance bands, callisthenics, strength training equipment, and rock climbing walls.

5. Have Regular Meals

Some diet plans suggest you skip meals in order to cut calories but it is actually unhealthy to do so. Skipping meals can cause you to snack more often or binge-eat which can lead you to consume even more calories. Some tips to remember are:

  • Eating breakfast to fill your stomach first thing in the morning.
  • Avoid eating food high in sugar as they may make you full at main meal times.
  • Do not leave snacks lying around. They may spoil your appetite.

So Remember

  • Balance your food choices by reducing your portion size and budgeting calories.
  • Choose and prepare food and beverages with less fat and sugar.
  • Do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week.
  • Do strength-building exercises at least twice a week.
  • Have regular meals so you're not tempted to snack or overeat.
  • Don't go back to eating unhealthily just because you've successfully lost weight quickly or reduced your body fat percentage.

One last tip before you embark on your healthy journey to lose weight naturally and healthily. It’s important to get enough sleep as studies have shown that sleep-deprived people tend to experience an increase in hunger and appetite, so get a good night’s rest each night if you haven’t already been doing so.

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    BLOODGOOD, and K. L. PIERCY. (2019). Physical Activity and the Prevention of Weight Gain in Adults: A Systematic Review. MEDICINE &SCIENCE IN SPORTS &EXERCISE, 1262-1269. Retrieved June 2021 from doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001938