You can lose weight quickly, that’s true. There are many fad diets that help you lose weight quickly, but leave you hungry and deprived. But what’s the point if you lose weight only to gain it back? It’s best to lose weight slowly if you want to keep it off for good. Many experts say you can do that without going on a “diet.” Instead, you need to make small changes to how you live.
There are 3,500 calories in one pound of fat. You can lose about a pound a week if you cut 500 calories from your diet and workouts every day. If all you need to do is stay the same weight, cutting 100 calories a day is enough to keep from gaining the extra 1-2 pounds that most adults do every year.
You can lose weight without going on a “diet” by doing one or more of the following simple, painless things:
1. Eat breakfast every day:
Eating breakfast every day is a habit that many people who have lost weight and kept it off share.
Many people think that skipping breakfast is a good way to cut calories, but Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to the New Food Pyramids, says that they usually end up eating more throughout the day. “Studies show that people who eat breakfast have lower BMIs and do better in school and at work than those who don’t.” For a quick and healthy way to start your day, try a bowl of whole-grain cereal topped with fruit and low-fat dairy.
2. Close the kitchen at night:
Set a time when you will stop eating so you won’t give in to late-night cravings or mindless snacking while watching TV. “If you want something sweet after dinner, have a cup of tea, suck on a piece of hard candy, or have a small bowl of light ice cream or frozen yoghurt,” says Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, WebMD’s “Recipe Doctor” and author of Comfort Food Makeovers. “Then brush your teeth, and you’ll be less likely to eat or drink anything else.”
3. Choose Liquid Calories Wisely:
Sweetened drinks are high in calories, but they don’t make you feel full like solid foods do. You can quench your thirst with water, citrus-flavored sparkling water, skim or low-fat milk, or small amounts of 100% fruit juice. If you get hungry between meals, drink a glass of low-calorie vegetable juice. It will fill you up and be good for you. Watch out for the calories in alcohol, which add up quickly. If you usually have one or two glasses of wine or a cocktail every day, saving alcohol for the weekends can save you a lot of calories.
4. Eat more fruits and vegetables:
When you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, you have less room for foods that are higher in fat and calories. Move the meat away from the middle of your plate and pile the vegetables on top. Or, Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan, suggests starting lunch or dinner with a vegetable salad or a bowl of broth-based soup. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. government say that adults should eat 7–13 cups of fruits and vegetables every day. Ward says that’s not so hard to do: “Keep a lot of fruits and vegetables in your kitchen and eat a few servings with every meal and snack,” she says. “Your diet will be full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fibre, and you won’t want to reach for the cookie jar if you fill up on super-nutritious fruits and vegetables.”
5. Choose whole grains instead of refined grains like white bread, cakes, cookies, and pretzels:
This will give you more fibre and help you feel full faster, so you’re more likely to stop eating when you’re full. Choose breads and pastas made with whole grains, brown rice, bran flakes, popcorn, and whole-rye crackers.
6. Control Your Environment:
Another easy way to cut calories is to control your environment. This means doing things like making sure your kitchen is full of healthy foods and picking the right restaurants. That means you should stay away from restaurants where you can eat as much as you want. “Eat a healthy snack before a party so you won’t be starving, and be picky about what you put on your plate at the buffet,” says Ward. Wait at least 15 minutes and drink a big glass of water before going back for more food.
7. Cut your portions:
Even if you did nothing else to lose weight but cut your portions by 10% to 20%, you would still lose weight. Most restaurant portions and portions you make at home are bigger than you need. Get out the measuring cups and figure out how big your typical portions are, then work on making them smaller. The author of Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink, PhD, says that you can control how much you eat right away by using small bowls, plates, and cups. You won’t feel hungry because the food will look like a lot when it’s served on pretty dishes.
8. Take more steps:
Get a pedometer and add steps slowly until you reach 10,000 per day. Do everything you can to be more active throughout the day. Walk around while you talk on the phone, give the dog an extra walk, and march in place during TV commercials. Having a pedometer is a great way to keep you motivated and on track.
9. Eat protein at every meal and snack:
Adding a source of lean or low-fat protein to each meal and snack will help you feel full longer and less likely to overeat. Try a small amount of low-fat yoghurt, nuts, peanut butter, eggs, beans, or lean meats. Experts also say that you should eat small meals and snacks often (every 3–4 hours) to keep your blood sugar levels stable and keep you from overeating.
10. Use lighter versions:
Use low-fat versions of salad dressings, mayonnaise, dairy products, and other foods whenever you can. Magee says, “Using low-fat and lighter products is an easy way to cut calories, and if you mix the product with other ingredients, no one will ever know.” More smart substitutions: Use salsa or hummus as a dip; spread mustard on sandwiches instead of mayo; eat plain roasted sweet potatoes instead of loaded white potatoes; use skim milk instead of cream in your coffee; skip the cheese on sandwiches; and put a little vinaigrette on your salad instead of a lot of creamy dressing.