The Best Diet Tips
Seriously, The Best!
There’s really no special trick to weight loss. It’s actually rather quite simple—eat healthy and exercise. But wait, if it’s that simple, then why do so many people struggle with their weight? Well, with busy schedules, tempting treats, and a surplus of unhealthy snacks on the market, eating healthy all of sudden becomes a lot less easy. These simple practices will help you take back control and drop the pounds for good.
1. Eat real food.
Choose whole over processed. Whole foods (ones trimmed, cleaned, or cooked but essentially in the same form it was harvested) have fewer calories, sodium, fat, and sugar than their processed counterparts and usually more fiber. Examples are choosing apple slices over sweetened applesauce, steamed broccoli over frozen broccoli in cheese sauce, and a baked potato over potato chips.
2. Cook at home.
Meals that you prepare at home are almost always lower in calories, saturated fat, and sodium. While it’s tempting to pick up dinner, skip the extra calories by cooking or reheating leftovers.
3. Load up your freezer.
Stock your freezer with frozen fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, so you always have healthy ingredients on hand. Throw frozen fruit in a smoothie, steam veggies for a quick, low-cal side dish, or defrost chicken breasts to grill or bake.
4. Choose protein for breakfast.
Make protein part of breakfast for satiety and weight loss by substituting grains for protein foods (eggs, turkey bacon, Greek yogurt, etc.) of equal calories. Two recent studies showed that people who ate eggs for breakfast lost weight faster than people who ate a bagel for the same amount of calories.
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5. Treat yourself.
Banning a food only makes you crave it more, so incorporate favorite, less healthy foods on occasion and in moderation. Examples are two slices of thin crust pizza for Friday night dinner or a 50-calorie piece of dark chocolate for dessert. You’ll continue to lose weight but won’t feel deprived.
6. Have a back-up plan.
Have a few options in mind for days when you can’t cook. Quick, throw-together meals, such as an entrée salad made with a rotisserie chicken breast and bagged salad, an omelet made with leftover veggies and whole-wheat toast, or grilled cheese on whole grain bread with vegetable soup, can save you from extra calories at the drive-thru.
7. Clean out your pantry.
Set your environment up for success by cleaning out those less healthy items that tempt you. Sticking to a daily calorie goal and meal plan is easier when you don’t have to stare down temptations.
8. Swap pasta for veggie noodles.
Use zucchini spirals or spaghetti squash strands in place of pasta to cut carbs and calories. Steam and then sauté the veggie noodles; top with your usual pasta or pasta accompaniment.
9. Pack your lunch.
Whether you work in the home or outside, prepare your lunch and snacks the night before to ensure you have healthy, pre-portioned options ready.
10. Double up on favorites.
Got a favorite healthy dish? Then make twice the next time you prepare it, and freeze one. Foods that typically freeze and defrost best are casseroles, soups and stews, and some pasta dishes.
11. Opt for good food.
Life’s too short for bland diet food. Spend calories on healthy, delicious meals and snacks so it’s easy to stay on your diet. Try new recipes, flavors, herbs and spices, and vegetables. If you need help incorporating recipes and good food into your diet, then check out The Cooking Light Diet.
12. Leave temptations at the store.
If it’s going to call your name from the pantry or freezer, don’t buy it. Realize there are certain foods that you don’t need to keep in the house, and that it’s better to buy a single serving on occasion instead.
13. Don’t serve at the table.
Avoid bringing serving dishes to the table where it’s all too easy to spoon extras onto your plate. Serve in the kitchen, and then bring only your plate to the table.
14. Plan ahead for stressful events.
Successful dieting doesn’t happen; it’s planned. If a hectic week is coming, cook dishes ahead that can be reheated, or stock up on quick meal options. Headed to a party? Decide in advance what you will eat and drink. Pencil workouts in the calendar at the start of the week.
15. Get right back on track.
Get rid of the “all-or-nothing” mentality. One slipup is not going to derail your efforts, so don’t wallow in failure and write the rest of the day (or week) off; this only makes things worse. Instead, get right back on track at the next meal or snack.
16. Beware of comfort calories.
People eat more calories, carbohydrates, and fat when it’s cold outside, so don’t let winter sabotage your weight loss. Pay close attention to portion size and opt for low-calorie comfort foods (hot tea instead of hot cocoa or coffee drinks, mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes, and zucchini noodles instead of pasta).
17. Track it.
Need help holding yourself accountable? Keep a food and exercise log on your phone or in a journal. Tedious, yes, but research confirms it works when it comes to weight loss and sticking with a plan.
18. Learn from slipups.
When you get off plan, the key is figuring out what triggered you to slip up, whether it’s stress, hunger, lack of groceries, or boredom. Then, plan for how you’ll deal with it next time to stay on track. Channel your frustration from messing up into a positive learning experience.
19. Focus on numbers other than weight.
Sometimes the scale isn’t the best indicator of progress, so focus on other health measures in addition to weight such as steps or miles covered daily, blood pressure, inches lost, or dress size.
20. Keep yourself hydrated.
It’s easy to perceive your body’s dehydration signals as hunger if you’re even slightly dehydrated. Avoid this by regularly sipping on water or other low-calorie drinks, and aim for a minimum of 64 ounces.
21. Stay consistent.
You’re a dieting rock star on weekdays, but you fall off track on the weekends and start over on Monday. Sound familiar? You won’t see big losses if you’re not consistent. Avoid weekend pitfalls by planning meals ahead just as you would during the week, packing healthy snacks when running errands, and getting at least one workout in.
22. Perfect Portions
Unless you’ve got company, serve using measuring cups instead of serving utensils to ensure your portions are accurate.
23. Sip on Green Tea
Tired of water or need to unwind? Sip on a cup of green. Not only has it been shown to reduce heart disease risk and possibly prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer, but some studies have suggested green tea increases the number of calories burned.
24. Pre-portion snacks
Repackage snacks into single-serve portions as soon as you get home from the grocery. This saves time, but also prevents you from portioning when hungry. That little extra bit you take when you’re hungry may not seem like much, but calories add up.
25. Eat Grapefruit
While not a magic bullet, try eating a grapefruit half before a meal. Studies show that individuals who consume grapefruit before meals lose more weight than those who don’t. Plus, the citrus fruit has a positive effect on insulin response and is full of fiber, Vitamin C and water.
26. Use smaller plates
Research shows that using smaller plates makes people serve themselves less, but still feel content after eating. The effect has to do with seeing a full plate; similarly a sparsely-filled plate can make you feel hungry. While it may all be mind games, play it to your advantage by using smaller plates and bowls so servings appear larger.
27. Overestimate by 5 to 10%
People routinely underestimate calorie intake, so plan and compensate for a 5 to 10% error rate. If your goal is 1500 calories, then either aim to eat 1350 to 1425 calories (instead of 1500) or eat 1500 calories but get in a few extra minutes of activity to burn those extra calories.
28. Put leftovers away before eating
Serve your plate, then immediately put away leftovers before sitting down to eat to eliminate the urge to go back for more.
29. Think 50-25-25
If you’re in a setting where you can’t measure portions, keep your plate and calories in check by remembering the 50-25-25 rule: 50% vegetables or fruit, 25% protein, and 25% starch or carbohydrate.
30. Focus on 10 Minutes
On days it hard to get motivated, focus on just exercising 10 minutes. Typically, once you reach 10 minutes, you’ll feel like continuing. Or, if long workouts aren’t for you, three to four 10-minutes workout during the day have been shown to have as much benefit—for health and calorie-burning.
31. HIIT a Few Days a Week
Higher intensity, shorter workouts (10 to 40 minutes) may actually be best for weight loss and speed up metabolism. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts involve intervals of harder-than-normal cardio for 1 to 3 minutes, followed by time to recover before repeating. Use HIIT with an existing cardio workout by increasing speed, level, weight or incline.
32. Shake It Up
If you’ve had the same workout routine for a while, shake it up to jumpstart weight loss. The body adapts to activity over time, so a new challenge for your body burns more calories. Incorporate intervals, increase speed or intensity, or try a new sport or fitness class—anything that get you out of your workout comfort zone.
33. Focus on Winning Instead of Losing
Focus on a fitness goal (like running a 5K or 10K) to stay motivated. Having a reason to workout other than weight loss helps frame exercise as a challenge rather than work.
34. Step On Up
Invest in a pedometer - a high-tech version (like FitBit) or a simple $10 one—then set a daily goal to get more activity and burn calories. To prevent weight gain, 10,000 steps daily is recommended; 12000 steps or more for weight loss. If you’re not at that level yet, work on getting 1000-2000 additional steps above your norm every week until you’re hitting 10,000 or more.
35. Download Music
Load up your workout playlist because listening to music while exercising makes people go father, longer, and burn more calories. It also increases workout enjoyment and commitment.
36. Stop Circling the Parking Lot
Most of us are guilty of it: circling the lot until we find a parking spot close to the entrance. But every little bit counts, so look for things in your routine - like parking farther and walking to the entrance - where you can get more activity. Every little bit counts.
37. Set Your Alarm to Get Up from Your Desk
If you sit most of the day, set an alarm or reminder to get up every 60 to 90 minutes; make a lap around the office, fill up your water bottle or go to the restroom—just move. Do this regularly through the workday and you can burn an extra 50 to 150 calories daily.
38. Don’t get too hungry
Dieting isn’t about suffering; it’s about making smarter—yet filling—choices. If you have hunger pains, you’re not eating regularly and setting yourself up to make poor choices and overeat. Eat regular meals and snacks to stay satisfied and content.
39. Never Skip Meals but Particularly Don’t Skip Breakfast
Skipping a meal saves calories then, but backfires later when you take in even more calories. It also slows metabolism. These effects were really demonstrated when researchers studied breakfast skippers and found that people who regularly skip breakfast actually weigh more than those who eat breakfast. If you’re not that hungry, have a smaller version of meal to keep that metabolism burning and hunger in check.
40. Snack Right
Snacking on the wrong foods—ones that aren’t leaving you feeling satisfied and cause dips in blood sugar – can actually make you eat more. Avoid processed snacks low in fiber like crackers and pretzels, but particularly ones with added sugars like low-fat cookies, granola bars, and sodas. Instead choose low-calorie snacks (100-200 calories) with fiber and protein for satiety.
41. Don’t Go Too Low
Dieting involves cutting back, but going too low in calories actually stops weight loss and slows metabolism. Avoid this by never going below certain calorie thresholds (1200 calories for women, 1400 calories for men), and up these thresholds if you’re very active.
42. Determine Your Day
Keeping tabs on your weight is key, so set a day that you will weigh each week. Research says Wednesdays give the most accurate measures, but pick a day that’s best for you. If you struggle on weekends, then Monday morning weigh-ins can be the push you need to make healthy choices on weekends. For others, Friday weigh-ins help their commitment during the week.
43. Control the Scale Variables
To get the most accurate weight, control as many variables as you can when weighing. Weigh at the same time of day (first thing in the morning is best), in the same clothes (or lack of clothes), in the same footwear (or barefoot), and with the same scale each time.
44. Get Rid of Water Weight
Water retention skews weight, so limit it by getting daily potassium (think fruits and vegetables), limiting refined carbohydrates, and most importantly avoiding high sodium foods, limiting salt, and drinking plenty of water. It sounds counter-intuitive but the body actually holds on to more water when you are start to get dehydrated.
45. Go to Bed
A lack of sleep disrupts hormones that regulate appetite, satiety, and hunger, so aim for at least 7 to 8 hours each night. Research shows that people who are sleep-deprived feel hungrier and consume more calories compared to those who get 7 or more hours of sleep.
46. Choose Alcohol Wisely
An occasional drink or two won’t halt weight loss IF you’re smart about what you choose. Opt for a drink that’s 60 to 150 calories like light beer or wine, and steer clear of higher calorie ones like Long Island Ice Teas, margaritas, and white Russians.
47. Spend Time with Like-Minded People
Research shows that we follow the eating and exercise behaviors of the people we’re around, so socialize with friends and coworkers who have similar health goals for support and to make staying on track easier. Also, be aware of how those around you impact your diet and exercise—both positively and negatively.
48. Stay Busy When You Slow Down
If you’re used to going nonstop, slowing down can feel a little odd. So it’s not uncommon to restlessly snack even if you’re not hungry. If this sounds familiar, find something to keep your hands busy while you relax like knitting or crossword puzzles.
49. Schedule a Moving Meeting
Change a lunch date with friends or a casual work meeting to a moving meeting. Meet on the track, in the park, or on adjacent exercise machines to catch up and burn some calories.
Bring your own water everywhere you go, and it’s easy to stay hydrated. Sit it prominently on your desk at work so you’ll remember to sip during the day.
Sure that’s easier said than done, but managing stress helps you lose weight. The reason has to do with cortisol, a hormone released when you’re under stress that causes increased hunger and fat storage. So go for a run, meditate, do yoga, or sip on hot tea, but take time daily to relax and de-stress.
52. Be the High Maintenance Diner
See if it’s possible to get small changes made when dining out. Asking for dressings and sauces on the side, substituting vegetables for starchy sides, and requesting entrees broiled or grilled can save several hundred calories. It never hurts to ask, and most will accommodate.
53. Don’t Go Past Two Drinks
As alcohol intake increases, inhibitions decrease setting you up to make poor food choices. Don’t go past two alcoholic drinks to keeps calories and eating habits in check.
54. Suggest the Restaurant
55. Jump in Line
Stay on track at buffets by getting in line behind someone who you know who eats healthy. Then follow their lead, being sure to load up on fruits and veggies, some protein like cheese or nuts, and avoiding fried foods and creamy condiments.