Submitted by Rob Trevett, General Manager, O2 Fitness Seaboard
Everyone knows that the key to losing weight is eating LESS and exercising MORE. Sounds simple enough, but in the context of real life and its demands, it can be anything but simple. So how do successful losers do it? Here are 10 tips that WebMD compiled from it’s panel of experts:
Best Diet Tip No. 1: Drink plenty of water or other calorie-free beverages.
People sometimes confuse thirst with hunger. So you can end up eating extra calories when an ice-cold glass of water is really what you need.
"If you don't like plain water, try adding citrus or a splash of juice, or brew infused teas like mango or peach, which have lots of flavor but no calories," says Cynthia Sass, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
Best Diet Tip No. 2: Think about what you can ADD to your diet, not what you should take away.
Start by focusing on getting the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
"It sounds like a lot, but it is well worth it, because at the same time you are meeting your fiber goals and feeling more satisfied from the volume of food," says chef Laura Pansiero, RD.
You're also less likely to overeat because fruits and vegetables displace fat in the diet. And that's not to mention the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. More than 200 studies have documented the disease-preventing qualities of phytochemicals found in produce, says Pansiero.
Her suggestion for getting more: Work vegetables into meals instead of just serving them as sides on a plate.
"I love to take seasonal vegetables and make stir-fries, frittatas, risotto, pilafs, soups, or layer on sandwiches," Pansiero says. "It is so easy to buy a variety of vegetables and incorporate them into dishes."
Best Diet Tip No. 3: Be choosy about nighttime snacks.
Mindless eating occurs most frequently after dinner, when you finally sit down and relax.
"Sitting down with a bag of chips or cookies in front of the television is an example of eating amnesia, where you mindlessly eat without being hungry, but out of habit," says American Dietetic Association spokesperson Malena Perdomo, RD.
Either close down the kitchen after a certain hour, or allow yourself a low-calorie snack, like a 100-calorie pack of cookies or a half-cup scoop of low-fat ice cream. Once you find that you're usually satisfied with the low-cal snack, try a cup of zero-calorie tea, suggests Perdomo.
Best Diet Tip No. 4: Enjoy your favorite foods.
"I think putting your favorite foods off limits leads to weight gain because it triggers 'rebound' overeating," says Sass.
Instead of cutting out your favorite foods altogether, be a slim shopper. Buy one fresh bakery cookie instead of a box, or a small portion of candy from the bulk bins instead of a whole bag.
"You can enjoy your favorite foods, but you must do so in moderation," says Sass.
Best Diet Tip No. 5: Eat several mini-meals during the day.
If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. But when you're hungry all the time, eating fewer calories can be challenging.
"Studies show people who eat 4-5 meals or snacks per day are better able to control their appetite and weight," says obesity researcher Rebecca Reeves, DrPH, RD.
She recommends dividing your daily calories into smaller meals or snacks and enjoying as many of them as you can early in the day -- dinner should be the last time you eat.
Best Diet Tip No. 6: Eat protein at every meal.
Protein is more satisfying than carbohydrates or fats, and thus may be the new secret weapon in weight control.
"Diets higher in protein [and] moderate in carbs, along with a lifestyle of regular exercise, have an excellent potential to help weight loss," says University of Illinois protein researcher Donald Layman, PhD.
Getting enough protein helps preserve muscle mass and encourages fat burning while keeping you feeling full. So be sure to include healthy protein sources, like yogurt, cheese, nuts, or beans, at meals and snacks.
Best Diet Tip No. 7: Spice it up.
Add spices or chiles to your food for a flavor boost that can help you feel satisfied.
"Food that is loaded with flavor will stimulate your taste buds and be more satisfying so you won't eat as much," says Perdomo.
When you need something sweet, suck on a red-hot fireball candy for a long-lasting burst of sweetness with just a few calories.
Best Diet Tip No. 8: Stock your kitchen with healthy convenience foods.
Having ready-to-eat snacks and meals-in-minutes staples on hand sets you up for success. You'll be less likely to hit the drive-through or call in a pizza order if you can make a healthy meal in 5 or 10 minutes.
Sass stocks her kitchen with:
- 94% fat-free microwave popcorn (20-25 calories per cup, and you can make it in two minutes or less)
- Frozen vegetables
- Bags of pre-washed greens
- Canned diced tomatoes
- Canned beans
- Whole-grain wraps or pitas
- Pre-cooked grilled chicken breasts
- A few containers of pre-cooked brown rice
Within minutes, she can toss together a healthy medley.
Best Diet Tip No. 9: Swap a cup of pasta for a cup of vegetables.
Simply by eating less pasta or bread and more veggies, you could lose a dress or pants size in a year.
"You can save from 100-200 calories if you reduce the portion of starch on your plate and increase the amount of vegetables," says Sass.
Best Diet Tip No. 10: Be physically active.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, don't use exercise either to punish yourself for eating or to "earn" the right to eat more.
"When you do, it sets up a negative thought pattern, which is why so many people say they hate to exercise," says May.
Instead, focus on how great you feel, how much better you sleep and how much more energy you have when you exercise. Physical activity is good for you whether you are trying to lose weight or not, so keep it positive and build a lifelong habit.