Weight loss is a universal health and cultural pursuit. Whether you’re working towards a beach-ready body for the summer or seeking healthier lifestyle changes, weight loss remains a hot topic, no matter where you’re from in the world.
In fact, the global weight loss market is expected to surpass €381 billion (£335.3 billion) by 2030. Reasons for weight loss will vary depending on whom you ask, but the differences can be even more interesting when considering different cultures and traditions. People from different countries and cultures pursue weight loss in different ways. As you’ll see later on, weight loss can be about how you eat as much as what you eat. Either way, there’s bound to be something useful for your weight loss journey in these cultural differences. Below, we’ll explore five weight loss secrets from around the world:
Italy – Eat heart-healthy foods
To celebrate Italy’s rich culture, we’ll start with a diet you likely have already heard of: The Mediterranean Diet—a nutritional plan so effective that it’s on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, the third cultural treasure from Italy to make it in the rankings. Foods like fruits, whole grains, and fresh fish are essential components of this famous diet, which is known to improve heart health, reduce cancer risk, and promote sustainable weight loss. In fact, modern weight loss programs classify over 200 of these foods—including non-starchy vegetables, fruit, eggs, yoghurt, fish, shellfish, and chicken—as nutritional powerhouses to support your overall health and encourage better eating. While eating heart-healthy foods like the Mediterranean Diet is a great start, it’s essential to work on curbing poor eating habits as well, such as stress-eating or late-night snacking, to have a better relationship with food for your heart.
South Africa – Try rooibos tea
Rooibos tea has been consumed in South Africa for centuries, made using leaves from a shrub called Aspalathus linearis, usually grown on the western coast of South Africa. Unlike the usual green or black tea, rooibos is considered a herbal tea. Modern variations of rooibos tea include rooibos iced tea, espressos, lattes, and cappuccinos. Rooibos tea has been found to be beneficial for weight loss as it increases fat metabolism while reducing stress hormones that may trigger hunger and fat storage in the body. Rooibos tea is also associated with decreased “bad” cholesterol in overweight adults.
Eat spicy foods
Some people may not enjoy spicy foods out of preference, but that doesn’t stop spicy foods from having its share of health benefits. In countries such as Mexico, Thailand, Korea, and India, peppers of different shapes, colours, and levels of spiciness are commonly used in meals. Capsaicin, the active ingredient found in peppers, can be used for analgesia — pain reduction — and may even slow cancer cell growth. In particular, capsaicin is especially useful for weight loss as it produces heat in the body, helping you burn fat and convert fat into heat more efficiently.
Germany – Don’t skip breakfast
Did you know? 75% of Germans eat breakfast daily. To put that into context, only 44% of Americans do so. Studies have long associated skipping breakfast with unintentional weight loss, as it may make your brain and body crave high-calorie food later in the day. Having breakfast before you officially start your day will give your body enough energy before the next mealtime instead of making you hungry sooner. Adjusting your breakfast menu to include healthier options, such as fruit, whole grain cereals, and whole grain bread, is also important so your body can get enough essential nutrients to fuel you for the day.
Netherlands – Ride a bike
Weight loss isn’t just about the food and nutrition—even if they play a considerable part in the process. Lifestyle adjustments such as routine physical exercise and better sleep quality can contribute to healthy and successful weight loss. In the Netherlands, bicycles rule the roads and have become synonymous with Dutch culture since the 70s. Part road safety and part daily workout, the Dutch use the bike as a means of transportation, exercise, and entertainment. An open secret for weight loss, riding a bike is an effective way of utilising the calories you ingested from breakfast, burning belly fat and up to 2,500 calories if done daily for a week.
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