If you are trying to shed pounds and improve your health, you may turn to popular fad diets and trends. Unfortunately, these often leave you with temporary results, if any. Instead, try adopting healthier habits. Here are some smart tips to get you started on the right track.
Choose Foods You Like
You may think your preference for more indulgent foods is causing you to gain weight, or keeping you from dropping pounds. However, if you cut out the foods you like and replace them with foods you don’t particularly enjoy, you are setting yourself up for failure. If the foods you are eating do not make you happy or satisfied, you likely won’t stick to your meal plan for long.
Be Mindful Of Portions
Aside from watching what you eat, you should also look at how much food you eat. Keep your goals in mind and stick to the appropriate portion size. Being conscious of this can prevent you from binging and, consequently, aid in weight loss.
Pack Your Lunch
Portion sizes at restaurants have been on the rise, and, unfortunately, have given us the wrong idea about what a normal serving is. Because of this, it is a smarter option to simply pack your own lunch. That way, you can control the foods you eat and the serving size. A good marker to make sure you don’t consume too much food/too many calories is to keep your portions no larger than your fist.
Fiber & Protein
With processed foods, you get little to no nutrients, thus they fail to make you feel satiated. If you want to feel fuller longer, choose foods rich in fiber and protein. This prolonged satisfaction will prevent you from overeating.
The Mediterranean diet focuses on healthy foods, like vegetables and olive oil, and is believed to help reduce the risk of heart disease along with other health benefits. While you don’t have to stick to this diet exclusively, you may want to take a few cues from it. Instead of looking at what’s included in the diet, take note of what is not part of it, such as processed foods and large portions.
Avoid Liquid Calories
Do you drink juice and soda often? If you swap those sugary drinks for water, you could be saving yourself countless calories. This can lead to weight loss and improved hydration, a win-win for everyone.
Flexibility & Variety
Just because you have an eating plan doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Allow yourself flexibility with your meals rather than eating the same things every week. A little variety will prevent you from getting bored with your meals while encouraging you to stick with your plan.
Your microbiome is basically the microbes, or bacteria, that live in your stomach. There is fairly new, yet ongoing, research from Sweden looking into a formula to find the right eating plan based on your microbiome. While the research continues to unfold, you keep your gut bacteria healthy and diverse by eating a variety of dairy, vegetables, chicken, fish, eggs, and oils.
Hydration Is Key
As you’ve likely experienced, eating when you are very hungry often leads to overeating. Try to stave off hunger by drinking more water. A study found that drinking at least 16 ounces of water about 30 minutes before your meal can help weight loss. While exercise and healthy eating habits go hand in hand, pushing yourself too hard in the gym could be counterproductive. Moderate exercise should suffice and won’t leave you starved.
Hungry? Don’t Go Grocery Shopping
Much like not eating when you’re starving, don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach because you might just reach for more junk food. In one study, hungry shoppers chose one-third more junk food than the shoppers who were full. Next time you’re headed to the grocery store, be sure to eat something first and pay attention to what you buy.
When we are tired and sleep deprived, it seems we tend to crave junk food more so than when we are well-rested. Researchers have found that when presented with pictures of junk food, reward centers in the brains of people who were sleep-deprived reacted more than in those who were well-rested.
This suggests that we are more attracted to fatty foods when we are tired and need energy.
Eat A Smart Breakfast
Starting eating early! Breakfast is often touted as the most important meal of the day because it kick starts your metabolism and should provide you with the proper nutrients to keep you energized throughout the day. Choose a breakfast that’s high in protein and complex carbohydrates while low in sugar for the best results.
Avoid Late Night Snacks
And stop eating early! Eat dinner, but avoid eating anything beyond that. A study that restricted participants from eating anything from 7pm until 6am the next day reported that an average of 238 fewer calories were consumed (which mostly came from high-fat, high-carb foods). Rather than eating late at night, try getting to bed early to get a good night’s rest.
Skip The Diet Drinks
In order to kick your soda habit, you may opt for diet soda instead. While this isn’t a bad idea, it may only lead to short-term results. If you can, skip the diet soda and go straight from regular soda to water or seltzer.
Don’t Starve Yourself
A study conducted at the end of World War II consisted of giving volunteers (36 young males) a low-fat diet (1,600 calories a day) for 24 weeks. While the men lost about 1 pound per week for the first 12 weeks, for the last 12 weeks, they only lost a quarter of a pound per week. They also found that the men became obsessed with the thought of food, began losing hair, and healed more slowly than before.
After the trial, many men went on extreme binges, some consuming as much as 10,000 calories a day. About 20 weeks after the study concluded, the men had gained an average of 50% more body fat than when they began the study.
The moral of the story is that starving yourself is not good for your body, and if you’re trying to lose weight this way, you can do more harm than good.
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