PROTEIN FOODS: Make sure your diet plan allows plenty of protein while you are losing weight. This will help you feel stronger while you are eating a lot fewer calories. Choose meat, fish, and poultry that is very lean before cooking. Remove all fat from meats and skin from poultry before cooking. Nuts and seeds are high in fat so limit the amount you eat. Do not eat more than 3 to 4 eggs a week. Use low fat and fat-free dairy products, salad dressings, and cheeses.
Eat Breakfast Every Day. One habit that's common to many people who have lost weight and kept it off is eating breakfast every day. "Many people think skipping breakfast is a great way to cut calories, but they usually end up eating more throughout the day, says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of The Pocket Idiot's Guide to the New Food Pyramids. "Studies show people who eat breakfast have lower BMIs than breakfast-skippers and perform better, whether at school or in the boardroom." Try a bowl of whole-grain cereal topped with fruit and low-fat dairy for a quick and nutritious start to your day.
And beyond that, weight-loss efforts can take an emotional toll. “It can destroy your relationship with food. It can lead you to feel obsessed and frustrated,” Albers explains. For some people, quitting dieting is better and healthier than continuing to try to lose weight. And whatever a person’s weight-loss goal, the priority should be first and foremost on health. “Eating for health frees you up emotionally and is based on improving your body rather than rejecting your body,” she says.
A calorie isn’t always a calorie. Eating 100 calories of high fructose corn syrup, for example, can have a different effect on your body than eating 100 calories of broccoli. The trick for sustained weight loss is to ditch the foods that are packed with calories but don’t make you feel full (like candy) and replace them with foods that fill you up without being loaded with calories (like vegetables).
Little treats keep you from feeling deprived, so every day, allow yourself a bit of something you love (aim for 150 calories each). This kind of moderation is the difference between a "diet" and a lifestyle you can stick with forever. For salon owner Caitlin Gallagher, who lost 125 pounds, that meant replacing her nightly bowl of ice cream with a square of chocolate; social worker Brittany Hicks, who lost 100 pounds, started baking mini versions of her favorite pies.
Control Your Environments. Another simple strategy to help cut calories is to control your environment -- everything from stocking your kitchen with lots of healthy options to choosing the right restaurants. That means avoiding the temptation by staying away from all-you-can-eat restaurants. And when it comes to parties, "eat a healthy snack before so you won't be starving, and be selective when you fill your plate at the buffet," suggests Ward. Before going back for more food, wait at least 15 minutes and have a big glass of water.
“You need a combination of both weight training and cardio to get fat off your body,” Mike Duffy, CPT, tells us in 17 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Back Fat, adding, “Cardio alone will only train one type of muscle fiber and you’ll only be building one part of your fat-burning furnace. I see many people doing tons of cardio every day and not lifting weights. They never change the way they look.”
Yes, it sounds weird, but it might actually work. A study found that participants who regularly smelled peppermint reported lower hunger levels, significantly lower calorie intake, and fewer calories from saturated fat and sugar during the research period. Plus, says dietician Vanessa Rissetto, R.D., you may begin to create associations between the smell of peppermint and better self-control—as long as that minty aroma isn’t coming from peppermint candy, of course.
“I’ve been overweight my entire life. I’d try different diets, lose a few pounds and then gain it back. When I turned 25, I was 485 lb. and I knew I was fighting for my life. I want to have kids one day and be more active with my husband. I wanted to stop sitting on the sidelines of my own life. At the beginning of 2016, I started tracking my calories, working out and making healthier versions of the foods I loved. Ultimately, I fell in love with taking care of myself. My advice is to focus on each day, not how far you have to go. Weight loss is a journey, not a sprint.”
Next time you need groceries, circle the perimeter of the store before going up and down every aisle. Why? You’ll load up on the healthy stuff first. The edges of grocery stores generally house fresh produce, meat,] and fish, while the inner aisles hold more pre-packaged, processed foods. Browsing the perimeter can help control how many unwanted additives are in your basket.
Practicing portion control is one of the most reliable ways to lose weight — even if it’s not an easy task. Portion distortion is common, but it may help to use portion visuals. For instance, a serving of chicken (three ounces) is roughly the size of a deck of cards; or holding about a two-inch circle of uncooked pasta, will yield about one cup cooked.
There’s an idea that focusing on less helps us achieve more. Changing a habit is tough, but trying to tackle a handful may seem impossible. Instead, concentrate on changing one behavior at a time. Start small and make clear guidelines. For example, if you’d like to increase your veggie intake, decide to eat three different vegetables each day, or one cup with each meal. And remember, small changes can lead to gradual weight loss.
Or any activity that lowers stress. "The lower your stress, the lower your cortisol levels," says Fred DeVito of Exhale Spa. That means your body will store fewer calories as fat. If you're not sure yoga's for you, check out all the amazing things it can do for your body besides stress reduction in our report on 7 Surprising Reasons You Should Be Doing Yoga Now.
To help you avoid losing muscle, or avoid seeking weight loss at the expense of muscle loss. Basically, the secondary goal of everyone trying to lose weight should be to preserve as much lean muscle as possible while that weight is lost, thus ensuring it’s primarily body fat. This is a topic I’ve covered in detail before: How To Lose Fat Without Losing Muscle
Writing stuff down may be helpful, but it’s tough to accurately gauge how much you move every day (and not just on the treadmill). Invest in a wearable to monitor energy burn. You can also track your daily steps with a simple pedometer. Studies show that individuals who walk more tend to be thinner than those who walk less, and pedometer-based walking programs result in weight loss.
Just wanted to say Great Article! I love reading all your articles. Even when it may be about things that I already know from reading previous articles. It just helps keep me encouraged that I’m doing things the right way. I love how you explain everything so well, yet simplify what needs to be done. It really helps me to not stress out when I hear about a new diet and wonder if that’s what I should be doing. I already know what the best way is, thanks to all the info you’ve given. I’ve lost 24lbs in 15 weeks! I still have about 85 more to go, but I’ve got a great start and the confindence to reach my goal. Thanks for all you do!!
“Everyone has something that’s going to be more meaningful to them, so you have to figure out what is it that’s going to drive you to actually do it. Is it time saving? Is it cost saving? Is it the ability to make things simple [so that] you don’t need to think about it?” says Delaney. “To sit down on a Sunday and think about planning takes time. How am I justifying that time? Well if I add up the cost savings and the time savings throughout the week, it may have only taken me an hour on a Sunday, but during the week without having to think about it, I just saved five hours. If you do the math, it’s worth it. You’re also giving yourself back some mental space. So instead of waking up in the morning and winging it, now you have some sort of routine so you can feel more in the present and not consistently worrying about what’s coming next.”
Check out online communities (on Facebook, Twitter or other forums) that provide support and encouragement. One study showed that overweight adults who listened to weight-loss podcasts and used Twitter in tandem with a diet and physical activity monitoring app lost more weight than those who did not go social. Sharing progress and setbacks on social media can help you feel accountable for your goals.
Adding a wide variety of flavorful spices to your foods can help you control portion sizes and lose weight. Research shows that people eat less when their food tastes new and spicy (perhaps because we're forced to pay attention to it?). The crazier the blends of spices, the more novel the food will taste and the more benefits you'll reap, so don't be afraid to mix spices and go out of your comfort zone. Plus, traditional spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin are chock-full of powerful antioxidants.
So sure, if you wanna waste some time doing silly (often unhealthy) nonsense that will make it temporarily appear as though “fast weight loss” has taken place, this is how it is done (and no, I definitely don’t recommend it… at all… even a little). You’ll basically just lose a bunch of water weight and then regain it soon after all while having no effect whatsoever on the body fat you’re actually trying to lose.
This could be because the body increases insulin secretion in anticipation that sugar will appear in the blood. When this doesn’t happen, blood sugar drops and hunger increases. Whether this chain of events regularly takes place is somewhat unclear. Something odd happened when I tested Pepsi Max though, and there are well-designed studies showing increased insulin when using artificial sweeteners.
Getting your daily dose of fruits and veggies is even more important than you thought it was. Not only is colorful produce healthy and low-cal, but it’ll often contain flavonoids, a plant compound that can stave off weight gain. A recent study in the British Medical Journal found that out of 124,000 middle-aged and older people, those eating a flavonoid-rich diet had more success maintaining their weight than those who didn’t. Get a liquid boost of the stuff with a glass of green tea; it’s full of flavonoids as well.
You have a workout station and a driving station, so why not a dieting station? Background sound, research has shown, doesn't just set a mood, it can actually affect our perception of flavors. In a 2012 study by Unilever and the University of Manchester in England, blind-folded participants were fed an assortment of sweet and savory foods while listening to white noise and, at different times, background music they liked. The participants then rated the intensity of the flavors and how much they enjoyed them. The white noise appeared to dull the participants' perception of flavors—they tasted both salt and sugar less intensely. Whereas appealing background music enhanced their perception of flavors. And when you can actually taste your food you tend to savor and enjoy it more, and your brain registers that you have eaten, ultimately making you feel fuller quicker and eat less.
Part of the weight loss puzzle has to do with fighting inflammation, and incorporating the spice turmeric into your diet is an excellent way to do that. Like a myriad of other spices, the Indian cooking staple contains anti-inflammatory compounds. In a 2015 study in the journal Clinical Nutrition, researchers gave 117 patients with metabolic syndrome either supplements of curcumin—the active ingredient in turmeric—or a placebo. Over eight weeks, those who received the curcumin saw dramatic reductions in inflammation and fasting blood sugar.
The trick here is not only to avoid all obvious sources of carbohydrate (sweets, bread, spaghetti, rice, potatoes), but also to be careful with your protein intake. If you eat large amounts of meat, eggs and the like, the excess protein will be converted into glucose in your body. Large amounts of protein can also raise your insulin levels somewhat. This compromises optimal ketosis.
High blood sugar levels coupled with high blood ketones, on the other hand, will mean that you have a pathologically low level of insulin – something non-diabetics do not suffer from. This can lead to ketoacidosis – a potentially life-threatening condition. If this happens, you’ll need to inject more insulin; if you’re at all unsure of what to do, contact a medical professional. Coveting really high blood ketones for weight control is not worth the risk for type 1 diabetics.
The American Heart Association recommends that the amount of added sugar consumed in a day shouldn’t exceed 25 grams for women and 37.5 grams for men, but since the sweet stuff is in everything from bread to tomato sauce, most Americans aren’t adhering to those guidelines and they’re fatter for it. In a review of 68 clinical trials and studies, New Zealand researchers reported in the British Medical Journal that increasing sugar intake meant increasing body weight while reducing sugar meant reducing body weight. Additional research has shown that cutting back on the granular stuff is one of the fastest ways to lose weight.
Plate sizes have increased over the past millennium. When it’s time to sit down for dinner, choose a size-appropriate plate or bowl. Using a smaller plate (eight to 10 inches) instead of a tray-like plate (12 inches or more) can make us feel fuller with the same amount of food. How does that work? The brain may associate any white space on your plate with less food. Plus, smaller plates generally lead to smaller portions.
There’s a reason that most nutritionist and exercise experts warn against strict diets. As Herbst explains, the concept of not allowing yourself to consume so many things that your body wants to consume becomes a burden rather than the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. This inevitably causes you to burn out. “Anything done severely doesn’t work,” he says. “It’s the severity of famine which the body defends against.” Instead, he recommends eating a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, and watching the extraneous calories.
Ah, the über-popular “know your why” strategy. One Brown University study found that when people are motivated to lose weight for appearance and social reasons, they stick with their weight-loss habits for significantly less time than those who are motivated by their health. After all, these external motivators (like looking a certain way or fitting into a cultural ideal) aren’t going to get you going when you’re feeling down, have had a bad day, or are frustrated with a plateau, Albers says.