Combine ultra-busy schedules and fast food, and what do you get? The answer is a lot of overweight and unhealthy people. Fortunately, health and wellness is on the rise in our country, and folks are looking for the easiest ways to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Here is a guide to natural weight loss with a few lifestyle changes that can bring permanent results.

For years, dieting experts have touted the Golden Rule of Weight Loss: Eat less, and exercise more! While there is definitely some truth to this directive, it has been tweaked for the 21st century. First of all, to keep the metabolism functioning at optimum efficiency and fuel the body with natural, day-long energy, it makes sense to feed it more regularly with smaller meals. For healthy weight loss, try 5 or 6 smaller meals to keep your engine running strong, but remember: these are snack-sized meals, not full-sized meals!

Instead of a restrictive "low fat," "no carb" or "grapefruit and egg only" plan, concentrate on a diet that contains fiber, lean proteins and healthy fats. Foods that are rich in fiber like leafy greens and whole grains are also high in complex carbohydrates. These healthy carbs take longer to convert to fuel which results in a better metabolism and more energy! Also incorporate lean proteins, like chicken and fish and healthy fats, like extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and avocados into your natural weight-loss plan.

Incorporate cardio-vascular exercise into your daily routine, and mix it up. Try a few days of walking or jogging for 45 minutes to an hour at a steady pace, and a few days of shorter, high-intensity workouts. While the less intense exercise is good for your heart, fifteen to twenty minutes of high-intensity exercise revs up the metabolism and keeps it up for hours after the exercise is done.

To further promote natural weight loss, try resistance training. This type of exercise increases lean body mass and burns fat. Each pound of body weight that comes from muscle burns an additional thirty-five to fifty calories per day without doing anything. Weight training also adds shape and definition to the body and strengthens the bones.

Adequate hydration is an important component to natural weight loss. Try to drink at least 64 ounces of filtered or spring water per day. Dehydration is a leading cause of fatigue, so drink up for more energy! Drinking water also helps to remove toxins from the body and keeps the metabolism functioning at a high level.

Finally, you will not have energy for anything, much less exercise without proper sleep. Lack of sleep can negatively affect basic metabolic functions like carbohydrate storage and glucose tolerance, which results in higher levels of blood sugar. This boosts the production of insulin, causing unspent energy to be stored as fat.

For your best chance of success with a natural, "no-pills" weight loss program, take advantage of the tips above. A few easy changes in lifestyle will bring out a happier, healthier you!