Let’s face it, fad diets are like those flashy, quick-fix gadgets you see on TV infomercials. Sure, they might help you lose some weight, but they also leave you feeling hangry and unsatisfied. And let’s not forget, as soon as you stop following them, the weight comes right back on.
So, what’s the secret to losing weight and keeping it off? Well, it’s not about following some crazy, restrictive diet. It’s more about making small, sustainable changes to your lifestyle.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up your favorite foods or starve yourself. By adopting some simple and painless strategies, you can lose weight without feeling like you’re on a “diet” at all.
In fact, these strategies can become a part of your everyday routine and help you maintain a healthy weight for life.
1. 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.
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.
2. Close the Kitchen at Night
Set a time when you will stop eating so you won’t give in to the late-night munchies or mindless snacking while watching television.
Have a cup of tea, suck on a piece of hard candy or enjoy a small bowl of light ice cream or frozen yogurt if you want something sweet after dinner, but then brush your teeth so you will be less likely to eat or drink anything else.
3. Choose Liquid Calories Wisely
Sweetened drinks pile on the calories, but don’t reduce hunger like solid foods do.
Satisfy your thirst with water, sparkling water with lemon, skim or low-fat milk, or small portions of 100% fruit juice.
Try a glass of nutritious and low-calorie vegetable juice to hold you over if you get hungry between meals.
4. Eat More Produce
Eating lots of low-calorie, high-volume fruits and vegetables crowds out other foods that are higher in fat and calories.
Move the meat off the center of your plate and pile on the vegetables.
Stock your kitchen with plenty of fruits and vegetables and at every meal and snack, include a few servings.
Your diet will be enriched with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and if you fill up on super-nutritious produce, you won’t be reaching for the cookie jar.
5. Go for the Grain
By substituting whole grains for refined grains like white bread, cakes, cookies, and pretzels, you add much-needed fiber and will fill up faster so you’re more likely to eat a reasonable portion.
Choose whole-wheat breads and pastas, brown rice, bran flakes, popcorn, and whole-rye crackers.
6. 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.
Before going back for more food, wait at least 15 minutes and have a big glass of water.
7. Trim Portions
If you did nothing else but reduce your portions by 10%-20%, you will lose weight.
Most of the portions served both in restaurants and at home are bigger than you need.
Pull out the measuring cups to get a handle on your usual portion sizes, and work on paring them down.
Get instant portion control by using small bowls, plates, and cups. You won’t feel deprived because the food will look plentiful on dainty dishware.
8. Cut Out Alcohol
You may not want to give up alcohol completely, but if you can ban booze for a few weeks, you’ll notice a difference on the scale. There are many different weight loss benefits that you’ll enjoy if you go sober.
First, if you drink water instead of wine at happy hours and other festive events, you’ll significantly decrease your calorie intake. A single glass of wine provides about 125 calories or more. Cocktails can provide 200 or more.
Next, you’ll also be less likely to munch on high-fat and high-calorie foods if you avoid alcohol. And lastly, you’re more likely to keep your workout plan on track if you don’t have to deal with a morning-after headache and exhaustion. Then end result? Fewer diet slip-ups and faster weight loss results.
9. Keep Hydrated
It’s not uncommon to think you’re hungry when your body actually needs water, not food. Signs of thirst and hunger can easily get confused. The result is that you might eat more food and consume extra calories when your body is thirsty.
You can avoid this problem and lose weight faster if you stay hydrated. Fill a few bottles with water and keep them in the front of your well-stocked refrigerator. That way you’ll see them right away when you open the door to graze for food. Then, before you eat a meal or grab a snack, drink a full 6-8 ounces. You may decide that you don’t need to eat after all.
10. Get Proper Sleep
Numerous studies have shown that getting less than 5–6 hours of sleep per night is associated with increased incidence of obesity. There are several reasons behind this.
Research suggests that insufficient and poor-quality sleep slows down the process in which the body converts calories to energy, called metabolism. When metabolism is less effective, the body may store unused energy as fat. In addition, poor sleep can increase the production of insulin and cortisol, which also prompt fat storage.
How long and how deep someone sleeps also affects the regulation of the appetite-controlling hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin sends signals of fullness to the brain while ghrelin tells your brain you’re hungry.
Without a properly functioning leptin and ghrelin, you’re constantly hungry and nothing you eat will ever make you full – double whammy.
So, sleep more and sleep well.