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Weight Loss Strategies

Thursday 15 February 2024
Weight Loss
10 minute(s) read

Table of Contents

I. Weight Loss Diets

II. Physical Activity and Weight Loss

III. Lifestyle Changes for Weight Loss

IV. Weight Loss Medications

V. Conclusion

In a world where obesity rates are on the rise, adopting healthy lifestyle choices has become increasingly important for those seeking sustainable weight loss. While no one-size-fits-all solution exists, combining a nutritious diet, increasing physical activity, and making positive lifestyle changes can significantly contribute to successful weight management.

This article explores key strategies for weight loss to help you achieve your fitness goals and maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Weight Loss Diets

A bowl of salad, rice crackers, and a food tracker on a table

When it comes to shedding those extra pounds, adopting a healthy diet is key. You can achieve weight loss goals by making smart food choices, controlling portion sizes, and managing calorie intake while nourishing your body with the proper nutrients.

Choose Nutrient-Rich Foods

Not all calories are created equal. Nutrient density refers to the number of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients you get per calorie. Choosing more nutrient-dense foods allows you to obtain essential nutrients your body needs without consuming too many calories.

For a nutrient-dense diet, aim to incorporate the following strategies:

  • Choose whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats over refined grains. Whole grains are high in fiber and other nutrients.
  • Include healthy protein sources such as fish, legumes, nuts, lean meats, and skinless poultry. These provide protein to keep you full without excess fat and calories.
  • Eat nuts and legumes: These protein-packed snacks provide a wide range of nutrients, including healthy fats and fiber.
  • Limit red and processed meats, which tend to be high in unhealthy fats and preservatives.
  • Limit sodium and added sugars: High sodium levels can contribute to bloating and high blood pressure, while added sugars can lead to weight gain. [1]

Control Portion Sizes

Maintaining a healthy diet is about choosing the right foods and limiting the quantity of food you consume. Eating large portions can easily lead to weight gain.

The good news is that with some simple tricks, you can learn to eat reasonable portions that satisfy your hunger:

  • Use a smaller plate: This automatically prevents you from piling on too much food. Aim to fill half your plate with veggies and the other half with lean protein and whole grains.
  • Be aware of your carbs: If you already have potatoes, rice, or pasta on your plate, skip the breadbasket or naan. Too many starchy carbs can lead to overeating.
  • Use measuring cups and spoons: It's easy to misjudge how much to serve, especially with calorie-dense foods like oil, nut butter, and cheese. Measuring ensures you get the right amount every time.
  • Try swapping out your usual chocolate or cake for a serving of fruit. For example, an apple can be just as satisfying as a few squares of chocolate but with fewer calories.
  • Use the 20-minute rule: If you're still hungry after a meal, wait 20 minutes before reaching for seconds. It can take a while for your body to register that it's full, so give yourself time to feel satiated before eating more. [2]

Manage Calories

Cutting calories doesn't have to be complicated. Small changes in your daily routine can make a big difference in your calorie intake. The key is keeping track of what you eat and aiming to balance the calories you consume and the calories you burn through activity.

Here are some simple ways to cut about 500 calories per day:

  • Cut one high-calorie treat: By eliminating just one high-calorie treat from your daily routine, you can significantly reduce your calorie intake without feeling deprived.
  • Swap your snacks for healthier options: Instead of reaching for a candy bar or a bag of cookies, opt for nutritious alternatives like fresh fruits, raw nuts, or yogurt. These healthier snacks not only provide fewer calories but also offer valuable nutrients to support your overall well-being.
  • Stop drinking your calories: Replace high-calorie beverages like fruit juice, soda, and sugary coffee with water, unsweetened tea, or sparkling water with a squeeze of citrus. This easy change can cut hundreds of calories per day.
  • Skip second helpings: Eat slowly and mindfully to recognize when you start to feel full. Wait 20 minutes before getting seconds, and you may feel satisfied without them.
  • Make low-calorie substitutions whenever you can. Use mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, zucchini noodles instead of pasta, Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, or lettuce wraps instead of taco shells. [3]

Physical Activity and Weight Loss

people running in a group on a pier

A regular exercise routine is crucial to any weight loss plan. The key is incorporating various aerobic activities and strength training into your weekly schedule.

However, if you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic condition and want to become more active, consult with your doctor first. For those with diabetes, it's important to be aware that if ketones are present in your urine, exercise might spike blood sugar levels. In this case, physical activity may need to be temporarily halted until ketone levels normalize. [4]

Aerobic Activity

When it comes to aerobic exercises, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week. [5] This can include activities such as:

  • Brisk walking
  • Yard work
  • Shoveling snow
  • Playing with children
  • Biking at a casual pace [5]

If you prefer more intense workouts and want to spend less time on physical activity, strive for 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. [5]

  • Jogging
  • Swimming laps
  • Cross country skiing
  • Jumping rope
  • Sports such as football, basketball, or soccer [5]

Strength Training

Strength training builds strength, power, and endurance by putting targeted stress on muscles. While cardio is great for burning calories, strength training is essential for developing lean muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body burns, even at rest. [6]

Aim to incorporate strength training into your exercise routine at least two days per week. Focus on major muscle groups like the chest, back, legs, shoulders, and arms. [6]

If you’re just getting started with strength training, build up slowly to stay safe and maximize your results:

  • Start with a light weight and higher reps. Pick a weight that fatigues your muscles in 8 to 10 reps. This helps you learn proper form before moving on to heavier weights.
  • Remember to breathe steadily and fully. Exhale as you push against the weight. Proper breathing helps you maintain control and engage your core muscles.
  • Listen to your body and stop if you feel pain. Soreness is normal, but sharp pain means you should stop immediately.
  • Rest for a day or two between strength training sessions. This gives your muscles time to recover so they can strengthen and grow. [6]

Lifestyle Changes for Weight Loss

woman in black pants stepping on a scale and a yellow measuring tape on the floor

Our lifestyles often leave little room for self-care in today's fast-paced world. However, making small but significant changes can positively impact our weight and overall well-being.

Get Enough Sleep

While it's easy to overlook sleep, it plays a vital role in restoring our energy levels, enhancing cognitive function, and supporting emotional well-being. Research has shown that lack of sleep can reduce the amount of weight loss and encourage overeating. [7]

To improve your sleep and establish a consistent sleep schedule, follow these tips:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Keeping a regular sleep schedule helps to regulate your body's internal clock and optimize your sleep. 
  • Avoid eating large meals, drinking alcohol, or consuming caffeine right before bedtime. Your body needs time to digest for you to sleep well.
  • Go to bed earlier to avoid late-night snacking. The later you stay up, the more likely you are to consume extra calories. [7]

Manage Stress Levels

Stress can take a major toll on our physical and mental health, including contributing to unwanted weight gain. When we're under chronic stress, our bodies release higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which can increase appetite and lead to overeating and binge eating. [8]

The constant strain of stress can also take an emotional toll, causing us to reach for sugary or fatty comfort foods to make ourselves feel better.

To successfully lose weight, finding healthy and effective ways to manage stress is crucial.

  • Exercise is one of the best tools for counteracting the effects of stress. Activities like yoga, tai chi, and other mind-body exercises provide the benefits of physical activity along with elements of meditation and mindfulness. 
  • Social support is key for managing stress. Numerous studies have shown that people with adequate emotional and social support have better mental health outcomes. [8]

Limit Alcohol Intake

It's easy to underestimate the number of calories in alcoholic drinks. At around seven calories per gram, alcohol contains nearly as many calories as fat. [9] Moreover, cocktails and mixed drinks often have added calories from sugary mixers. Drinking regularly can quickly lead to weight gain if you're not careful.

The good news is that with some simple strategies, you can enjoy alcohol without sabotaging your fitness goals. Here are some tips:

  • Stay hydrated. Have a glass of water between each alcoholic drink. This will help prevent dehydration and ensure you don't confuse thirst for hunger.
  • Choose healthy snacks. If drinking makes you crave a snack, opt for fresh veggies or a handful of unsalted nuts rather than greasy bar food.
  • Drink at your own pace. It's easy to get carried away drinking in rounds. Stick to just one or two drinks per hour and alternate with water.
  • Eat before drinking. Don't arrive at happy hour on an empty stomach. Eating a healthy meal beforehand means you'll be less tempted to make poor food choices later.
  • Avoid binge drinking. Consuming multiple drinks in one sitting leads to excess calorie intake. It also lowers inhibitions, making overeating more likely. 
  • Stretch your drinks. For wine, add some soda water to make it last longer. You'll get the same number of units with fewer calories. [9]

Weight Loss Medications

When managing obesity, medication may be a helpful tool alongside lifestyle changes. If your healthcare provider thinks you're a good candidate, they may prescribe a medication to help with weight loss.

To be considered for a weight loss medication, you typically need to have a:

  • BMI of 30 or higher
  • BMI of 27 or higher along with obesity-related complications like type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure [10]

The good news is that we have more medication options for weight loss today. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Injectable Semaglutide (Wegovy): This medication is administered through a weekly injection and works by reducing your appetite. It's typically used in combination with a healthy diet and exercise. [10]
  • Oral Semaglutide (Rybelsus) is a once-daily tablet that curbs your appetite and lowers blood sugar. While Rybelsus is not currently FDA-approved for weight loss, it may be prescribed off-label to aid weight management. [11]
  • Orlistat (Xenical): Available as an over-the-counter tablet taken three times a day, orlistat works by blocking the enzyme responsible for breaking down fats from food. This inhibition leads to the reduced absorption of dietary fats, which are then excreted from the body. Some patients may experience a weight loss of approximately 5% of their body weight. [10]


Achieving successful weight loss involves a comprehensive approach that addresses diet, physical activity, and lifestyle changes. You can reach and maintain your weight loss goals by making healthy and sustainable adjustments to eating habits, incorporating regular exercise, and changing behaviors for the long term.

If you have any more questions on weight loss, visit our dedicated weight loss blog.

The content provided in this article is based on thorough research and in some cases, reviewed by a medical professional. Our goal for the information is to provide helpful, general health information. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice.