Weight loss is a hot topic. There are so many tips and diets and supplements out there its hard to know who or what to trust. These tips are tried and true; plus they’re scientifically backed. Consider trying out several of these tips to help you meet your weight loss goals.
Use smaller plates and bowls
Aim for a 9 inch plate. The same amount of food on a 12 inch plate will look like less food due to the plate having more empty space than on a 9 inch plate. Use this tip to trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more than you are. Check out this example from Jen Lee. Our brains can be fooled by this optical illusion and we can end up eating less. Check out this research on the matter.
Drink a glass of water before meals
The water will help fill you up faster! You will eat less than your usual amount each meal. Plus, fiber needs fluid to do its job well. Fiber expands and moves through our digestive track with adequate fluid intake. Water works best for weight management because its calorie free!
Practice mindful eating
Pay attention to your food. Not the TV. Not your phone. The food you are putting into your mouth. Focus on it. How does it smell? Look? Taste? This focus will help prevent overeating because you’re tuning into your body. Here is a great article from Psychology Today on mindful eating and how it helps with weight management.
Set your fork down.
How often do you just shovel food in your mouth without coming up for air?! Set the fork down. Take a drink. Take a breath. Then continue your meal. This will naturally slow down your eating. It takes 15-20 minutes for the hormones that control hunger and fullness to do their jobs and for our body and brain to realize we are no longer hungry. If we scarf our meal down in 5 minutes we may still think we are hungry and go back for more. Wait 15 minutes before getting seconds. Then if you are still hungry choose low calorie options like vegetables and fruits to fill up. If you aren’t willing to eat a vegetable, you must not be that hungry!
Fill up on veggies
At least half of your meal should be non-starchy vegetables. They’re low in calories and high in fiber. A perfect weight loss friendly food group! The health benefits to vegetables are too many to list. If you want to learn more about how the quality of your foods effects your overall health check out the Ultimate Guide to the Anti-inflammatory Diet.
Choose whole grains
Whole grains have more fiber. Fiber helps you feel full. It also does a lot of other nifty things like keep blood sugar in check and get things moving in our digestive track. White and refined grains will quickly be digested and the energy kick we get from them will quickly dissipate. Before we know it we will begin to feel tired and “hungry” again. Not a great option when you are trying to lose weight.
Keep a food log
Write down every, single bite. You’ll be able to determine where you may be getting excess calories and prevent mindless snacking. If you have to write it down you may be more likely to say no. It’s like being your own accountability partner. Many people don’t like this or feel its tedious. But people who track their food intake lose more weight than those that don’t. You can’t really make improvements if you don’t know where your going wrong in the first place. Check out this simple food log from the American Heart Association. Consider using pen and paper, different apps, or some other tracking option.
Ask yourself if you would eat an apple
When you’re about to eat something ask yourself if you would eat an apple (or other favorite fruit) right now instead. This will help you determine if you’re eating out of habit or boredom instead hunger. The idea is if you would eat a healthy snack instead you’re probably hungry. If not, maybe you shouldn’t be eating at all.
Leave 1 bite
I once had the bad habit of “saving the best bite for last”. Why is this a bad habit? First of all it encourages you to clean your plate, even if you’re not hungry, to get to the best bite. Secondly, it’s scientifically impossible for the last bite to be the best. Yeah, you read that right. It’s actually the very first bite of each meal that’s the most pleasurable (biggest endorphin release) and tasty. So eat the best bite first!
Don’t drink your calories
Say you should be averaging 500 calories a meal. If you drink a 12oz soda then you only have 350 calories left. That’s a lot less food for something that has no benefit and increases the likelihood of obesity and diabetes. Plus, sugary beverages increase our inflammatory response. Leading to chronic health conditions over time. If you would like to learn more about eating to fight inflammation check out my Ultimate Guide to the Anti-inflammatory Diet.
Go for a walk after meals
All you need is 10 minutes. This will help improve blood glucose control and help increase the calories you’re burning throughout the day. Here is some preliminary research on this topic and preliminary research on how it can help manage diabetes (bonus!)
Eat real food as snacks
We have a bad habit of eating candy, donuts, and other dessert type items as snacks. They’re treats!!! Not snacks. Choose fruit, veggies and dip, or nuts instead. Spark People has an amazing list of 55 snacks under 200 calorie. Visit their website for the full list. Here is a sneak peak:
Eat more proteins and fats, reduce carbs
Higher protein intake can help improve weight loss efforts. It’s the science behind why Atkins and keto diets work. But you want to do it the healthy way. Not stuffing yourself with hot-dogs and bacon. Choose lean proteins and eat plenty of veggies. Nuts and seeds are great options too. Remember to keep starches limited to one quarter of your plate.
Make a Plan
Plan meals, plan workouts, and plan to eat healthy choices. That great saying If you “Fail to Plan, you are planning to fail” (credited to Benjamin Franklin). When it comes to losing weight, nothing could be more true. Plan your grocery list, plan ahead when going out to eat, plan your strategies and you will succeed.
I know I just said to make a plan, but meal planning deserves its own note here. Meal planning is so important because if we don’t have a plan we will inevitably make less healthy choices that lead us away from our weight loss goals. Too tired to cook = drive-thru. There’s nothing to eat = restaurant. Didn’t bring any snacks to work = vending machine. This spur of the moment decisions often lead to unhealthy food choices. Don’t be that guy (or girl).
Start your day off right! Eating balanced meals in the morning (not sugary cereal people!) can prevent over eating later in the day. It also helps ensure we get all our nutrients throughout the day. Breakfast doesn’t have to be eggs and toast. Anything that breaks your fast is considered breakfast. According to The National Weight Control Registry 78% of people who successfully lose weight and keep it off eat breakfast every day.
Get Quality Sleep
Good sleep is a vital part of weight management. 8 hours is what the average person needs, but you may need more or less as an individual. How do you know if you’re getting quality sleep? You wake up feeling rested, you aren’t napping during the day, and your mental game is on point. Consider talking to your doctor about sleep apnea if your significant other tells you that you stop breathing during the night or that you snore heavily. Sleep apnea can disrupt your sleep and often coincides with being overweight. Check out what Harvard has to say about sleep and weight control.
Choose high fiber foods
Foods that are high in fiber such as vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts help you feel full and prevent over eating. Eat more of these foods and less refined foods to prevent hunger throughout the day. Make sure to eat whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juice for the same benefit.
Change just 1 or 2 things at a time until you’re able to make it a habit. Trying to change everything all at once becomes overwhelming and can cause burnout. Weight loss is often about experimenting until you find what works best for you. Trial a couple things out and determine if they are working well or not. Then try a couple more!
or add some type of resistance training to your workout. Cardio doesn’t cut it for weight loss. You need muscle to burn fat. Just twice per week for about 30 minutes can help you reach your weight loss goals! Strength training includes weights, resistance bands, and even body weight exercises like push-ups and squats. Doing both weight lifting and cardio together will get you the best results, learn more here.
Stay Consistent with Meals
Aim to eat at least 3 meals a day and keep consistent. Skipping meals or eating 1 large meal with a couple small ones can throw your metabolism off and make weight loss harder to achieve. Some people prefer to eat more often, which is fine as long as you’re waiting 3-4 hours between meals and snacks. Aim not to go longer than 6-7 hours between meals during the day.
Reduce Portions by One-Fourth
Cut your current intake by a quarter. This tip is way easier than counting calories. You don’t have to drop to teeny-tiny portions on day one. Reduce by a quarter and once that smaller portion is your new normal, reduce again to continue losing weight.
Don’t Bring Junk Food Home
Having tempting, unhealthy foods in the house just increases the likelihood that you’ll eat them! If you’re craving something less healthy then only buy a small amount to quench your craving. Then you won’t have the rest of the item sitting on the counter tempting you to overindulge.
Practice Stress Management
Chronic stress literally causes weight gain. If you are not managing your stress levels it can hold you back from reaching your weight loss goals. Meditate, practice mindfulness, journal, or find something else that helps reduce your stress levels. Research shows that women with chronic, un-managed stress tend to have higher abdominal weight gain levels.
Limit Added Sugars
I’m not saying you can never have ice cream or cookies again. What I am saying is that it shouldn’t be after every meal or even every day! When you do have them keep your portions small and don’t lose sight of the end goal. There is nothing about treats that will help move you forward with your weight loss.
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