Listen up: Skipping meals will not make you lose weight faster. If a hectic day makes a sit-down meal impossible, stash an energy bar or a piece of fruit in your car or tote, keep snacks in your office desk drawer, and make a point of getting up to grab a nosh — anything that will keep you from going hungry! Going long periods of time without food does double-duty harm on our healthy eating efforts by both slowing down your metabolism, and priming you for another binge later in the day. (Think: You've skipped breakfast and lunch, so you're ready to takedown a whole turkey by dinner!) Make it your mission to eat three meals and two snacks every day, and don't wait longer than three to four hours without eating. Set a "snack alarm" on your phone if needed.
It is important to remember that proper diet and exercise is largely accepted as the best way to lose weight. It is inadvisable to lower calorie intake by more than 1,000 calories per day, as losing more than 2 pounds per week can be unhealthy, and can result in the opposite effect in the near future by reducing metabolism. Losing more than 2 pounds a week will likely involve muscle loss, which in turn lowers BMR since more muscle mass results in higher BMR. Excessive weight loss can also be due to dehydration, which is unhealthy. Furthermore, particularly when exercising in conjunction with dieting, maintaining a good diet is important, since the body needs to be able to support its metabolic processes and replenish itself. Depriving the body of nutrients it requires as part of heavily unhealthy diets can have serious detrimental effects, and weight lost in this manner has been shown in some studies to be unsustainable, since the weight is often regained in the form of fat (putting the participant in a worse state than when beginning the diet). As such, in addition to monitoring calorie intake, it is important to maintain levels of fiber intake as well other nutritional necessities to balance the needs of the body.
There are different ways that you can keep track of your daily calorie intake. Many dieters use a smartphone app or websites like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt. These services allow you to input the food you've eaten along with your portion size and it automatically calculates your daily calories. There are also activity trackers, like Fitbit, which help you count daily food calories and daily exercise calories. If you're not a fan of tech gadgets, use a paper food journal. Simply write your calories in a notebook or on a daily food intake sheet to count your daily numbers.
“The American Heart Association recommends that men eat less than 36 grams of added sugar and that women consume less than 24 grams. However, for optimal weight loss, I tell my male clients to consume less than 20 grams of sugar per day and I tell the women to consume less than 15 grams.The easiest way to cut back on the sweet stuff is by consuming less sugary drinks and dressings. Cut the sugar, lose the fat, regain your health and life.” — Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS
Reading ingredients and preparing food at home might seem exhausting, and it isn't easy at first to adjust. Many have lost temporarily on fad diets, and it may be tempting to buy diet food instead of preparing your own. However, fad diets are focused on quick weight loss, not long-term solutions and health management, so many people gain back everything they lost (and more!) when the diet is over. You also may be causing holes in your nutrition by cutting out certain foods completely without ensuring that you replace the vitamins elsewhere. Getting healthy and staying slim is a lifestyle change, and fad diets just don't cut it.
Don't become overwhelmed with the initial hype. Really consider whether you can maintain a plan and if it provides the tools and strategies you require for long-term success. Can you realistically eat this way for the rest of your life? Does the plan include other strategies – exercise, sleep, stress control, etc. – that complement long-term success? Once you've found the right plan, commit to it. What you put into it, you'll get back. Very best wishes as you begin your fat-loss journey.
Christy Brissette, MS, RD is one of North America's top dietitians and a leading nutrition and food communications expert. She is the President of 80 Twenty Nutrition, a nutrition and food media company. Her mission is to end food confusion and dieting once and for all. Christy appears on national TV and is interviewed for international magazines, radio and websites. She empowers her clients to look and feel their best with the healing power of healthy, delicious food. She helps clients achieve results through cutting-edge, creative and fun meal plans and recipes. You can still enjoy your favourite foods and have the body of your dreams!
If you eat your dinner restaurant style on your plate rather than family style, helping yourself from bowls and platters on the table, you’ll lose weight. Most of us tend to eat an average of 150 percent more calories in the evening than in the morning. You’ll avoid that now because when your plate is empty, you’re finished; there’s no reaching for seconds.
They should help keep you from feeling deprived and bingeing on higher-calorie foods. For instance: honey has just 64 fat-releasing calories in one tablespoon. Eggs have just 70 calories in one hard-boiled egg, loaded with fat-releasing protein. Part-skim ricotta cheese has just 39 calories in one ounce, packed with fat-releasing calcium. Dark chocolate has about 168 calories in a one-ounce square, but it’s packed with fat releasers. And a University of Tennessee study found that people who cut 500 calories a day and ate yogurt three times a day for 12 weeks lost more weight and body fat than a group that only cut the calories. The researchers concluded that the calcium in low-fat dairy foods triggers a hormonal response that inhibits the body’s production of fat cells and boosts the breakdown of fat.
To splurge or not to splurge? That is the perennial weight-loss question. Should you allow for occasional indulgences in your healthy-eating program, or say a firm “no” out of fear they will sabotage your results? Once you start a new regimen, it can be scary to stray from it. So how can you navigate the path of progress without veering into perfectionism? Here’s some professional counsel.
Losing weight and eating healthy foods go hand-in-hand, and if most of your grocery store purchases are prepackaged or prepared foods, you might be consuming food additives that aren't doing your waistline any favors. The best way to avoid this is to stick to as many whole, unprepared ingredients as possible and to cook your food at home. That way, you know what's going into your meals.
You don’t have to stop eating all the things you like just to lose weight. Make small swaps to save calories here and there, and they'll add up—big time. Instead of a granola bar with 140+ calories and tons of added sugar, grab an apple for about 80 calories. Pick steamed rice and grilled chicken over fried rice and chicken. "You can also add vegetables to classic starch dishes to increase the water and fiber and lower the calories," says Cederquist. (Like swapping regular pasta for veggie noodles.) Cut out liquid calories by having primarily water, coffee, or tea instead of high-calorie coffee drinks. Baking? Reduce the amount of butter or sugar, or make healthy baking swaps like using apple sauce or Greek yogurt instead.
Even if you manage to meet your goal, it probably won’t be sustainable: “The amount of restriction required will make you so hungry that you’ll eat everything in sight—it’s survival instinct,” Dr. Seltzer says. What’s more, your body will be less prepared to burn the foods you binge on, since calorie restriction gradually slows your metabolism, he adds.