Losing weight doesn’t have to be more challenging than climbing Mount Everest. Taking a simple approach to dieting is actually more beneficial and much more effective than you might think. The problem is the amount of conflicting information on what foods you should and should not be eating, which makes dieting all the more confusing and frustrating. In order to simplify and make weight loss less stressful, here are seven tips that will surely help you lose pounds rather than your mind!
1. Produce, produce, produce! You can’t go wrong with eating fruits and vegetables! Whether they’re fresh or frozen (just be sure they’re not dripping in butter sauce or a salty marinade), fruits and veggies are the best things for you! It doesn’t get much easier than keeping fresh produce on hand when hunger strikes. Fruits and veggies are packed with important vitamins and nutrients your body needs. And if you pre-cut your produce ahead of time, they’re a quick grab-and-go snack.
2. Stay hydrated! We all know drinking water is good for you in so many ways, but it will also help you lose weight, which makes it vital to a weight-loss diet! Most people don’t drink nearly enough water throughout the day and that feeling of hunger you get is likely thirst. The next time you feel hunger pains kicking in, drink a tall glass of water. If the hunger pains return fifteen minutes later, you’re probably hungry. If they don’t return, you just solved the problem and spared yourself from eating unnecessary calories. For more information, check out Are You Hungry Or Thirsty? 3 Ways To Tell The Difference.
3. Eat protein! Protein not only helps muscles grow, but it also keeps you feeling full, which prevents unnecessary snacking! Be sure that thirty percent of your meals include protein like chicken, fish, turkey or tofu. Your snacks should also include enough protein to keep you full until your next meal.
4. Eat fat! Contrary to what many people believe, eating fat will not make you fat. In fact, many blame the fat-free diet craze on the rising cases of obesity because many of those foods contain very high levels of sugar, salt and other harmful substances. Eating foods containing healthy fats like nuts, avocados, seeds and nut butters will also keep you feeling full much the same way as protein—not to mention, they’re also heart-healthy.
5. Don’t drink your calories! Too often we fall prey to those fancy coffee and tea drinks that sound good until you see the calorie, carb and sugar count. For example, a 12-ounce café mocha with nonfat milk packs 170 calories and 32 grams of carbohydrates. Imagine how worse it would be if you ordered a bigger size or used a different milk. Stick with regular coffees or teas whenever possible and flavor them with ground cinnamon, a pinch of vanilla extract or even a tablespoon of cocoa powder to get extra taste without extra calories. Click here for the skinny on Starbucks drinks & some tips on healthier orders!
6. Exercise with intensity! While not technically a diet tip, exercise is a great way to lose weight and the more intense your workouts are, the more weight you will lose. Your body has to work extra hard to recover from an intense workout which means it will still be burning calories up to thirty-six (or more) hours after you’re done. Some people find that exercise curbs their appetite. Plus, the hour or so you spend exercising means you are not raiding the fridge or thinking about food. Need a quick but intense workout? Try Skinny Mom’s 10 minute HIIT routine!
7. Find healthy alternatives! Everyone has a weakness… whether it’s ice cream, pasta, chocolate or pizza. Instead of trying to stare down these foods day after day, trying to resist their strong calling, by finding a healthier version of your favorite food. You can make cauliflower-crust pizza, homemade peanut butter banana ice cream or spaghetti squash pasta. You can enjoy all those comfort foods but for half of the calories, carbs and fat.
One more thing—do not let a slip up or overindulgence get the best of you. Everyone has a moment of weakness, but if you have stayed on track, that moment will not do much to derail all of your hard work. Simply pick yourself up and continue to eat and exercise the way you were before the slip. Most experts will agree that having one or two “treat” meals a week should be part of your diet so that you don’t feel deprived and those tempting foods lose their power over you. You can even pre-plan your slip-ups on days you know staying on track may be more difficult.
Don’t over-think your diet. By sticking with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and the occasional treat, and staying away from sugary, processed, prepackaged foods, the pounds will come off with no problem. And don’t think of it as diet, which often has a beginning and an end, think of it as a lifestyle change that will continue even after you hit your weight-loss goal.