Struggling to shed weight and keep it off? We asked nutritionists to share practical advice you can actually use to help you shed those extra pounds — and keep them off — without starving yourself, or ditching your social life.
Tip 1: Don’t let hunger deter you from sticking with your diet.
Whatever diet you choose — and many different diets can help you lose weight — don’t give up because you get too hungry.
Hunger is one reason many people don’t stick with a weight loss plan for more than a few weeks. If you are one of the people who let hunger get in the way of your weight loss goals, try a higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate diet. This meal plan is best for controlling your hunger and appetite.
Tip 2: Be honest about your daily calorie allowance
Know what your calorie allowance is by taking a look at the dietary guidelines online, or at your doctor’s office. Dietary guidelines provide you with a good idea of what your calorie allowance should be based on gender, age, and physical activity level. When you know your calorie allowance, you can better plan the number of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and other protein-related servings to include every day. Whether you’re trying to maintain your weight or lose a few pounds, knowing your daily calorie allowance is the best bet to getting a good start on your weight loss journey.
Tip 3: Reach for your cell
Next time your mind gets stuck on a certain food, call a friend so you can distract your brain by asking how his/her day’s going. Research shows that cravings only last about 5 minutes, so by the time you hang up, the urge to devour junk will have dwindled.
Tip 4: Focus on healthy behaviors, not the number on the scale.
It’s easy to get discouraged when you look only at your weight. Instead, redirect your focus on making good food choices, watching portions and exercising regularly. For example, replace a goal like “lose 2 pounds a week” with specific mini-goals, like “eat 1 cup of veggies at dinner,” “walk 20 minutes a day,” or “keep a daily food log.” If you’re disappointed with your weight progress at week’s end, reflect on how well you stuck to each goal.
Tip 5: No foods are 100 percent off-limits.
Resist the urge to label foods as “good” and “bad”. Everyone naturally fixate on foods that they shouldn’t eat but typically still crave. Focus instead on choosing the right portions of healthy foods 80 to 90 percent of the time. Then, combine your healthy foods with a regular exercise routine to ensure long-term weight loss success. Allowing yourself 10 to 20 percent of “fun food” budget will help you commit to your weight loss journey without the feeling of guilt or resentment.
Tip 6: Plan tomorrow’s meals today.
When you sit down for dinner tonight, plan what you’ll eat for dinner tomorrow. By planning your meals ahead, you will prevent that “grab what you see” behavior that sets in when you wait to plan dinner until you’re starving at 6 p.m. Planning your meals ahead of time also gives you time to properly prep your meats and/or vegetables for the following day.
Tip 7: Use the red, orange and green rule
At each meal include one food that is any of these colors. By focusing on these foods, you’ll be sure to get some produce on your plate and won’t have space on your plate for higher-calorie fare.
Tip 8: Be a heavy drinker
Water is essential for keeping the body hydrated and we’re actually more likely to retain “water weight” by not drinking enough of it rather than by having too much. The needs of each person will be different, but the general recommended daily amount is 64 ounces or 8 cups. It also takes up space in your stomach so you’ll feel fuller while taking in less calories.
Tip 9: Start with soup
Research shows that people who ate a low-calorie vegetable soup before a meal consumed 20% fewer calories at the meal. Have a low-calorie broth-based veggie soup before your largest meal of the day to reduce calories and lose weight without feeling hungry.
Tip 10: Dine anytime
It’s a myth that you’ll gain weight as a direct result of eating after 7 p.m. Everyone has a different schedule and it’s unrealistic for some who work very late to stop eating by 7 p.m. Based on your own schedule — whatever time that may be — just eat 70% of your calories before dinnertime and 30% at dinner. Give yourself at least 90 minutes to end your meal before you plan to go to sleep. You need at least 90 minutes to digest so you can sleep comfortably.
Tip 11: Increase your metabolism
Many popular diets these days leave you starving, restricting calorie to the point that your metabolism actually SLOWS. But there is a little-known plan called the 2 Week Diet that actually teaches you what to eat and when. This increases your metabolism, allowing you to shed weight and shed it FAST. Those on the diet report losing 12-23 pounds and 2-4 inches in a matter of 2 weeks – all backed by science. Watch this video to learn more about how the 2-week diet works.