How many times have you tried to diet, but only to fail to lose the weight or keep the weight off? For many people diets continually fail to deliver results. Why? Because they are either based on the wrong principles or because they do not address important underlying principles or address needed lifestyle changes.
No matter how compelling the underlying principles for any diet may seem, most people will stay on a diet forever, and eventually will go back to normal eating habits where they not only gain back the weight they lost, but gain more.
Long-term weight loss success and total health requires significant changes not just in how you eat, but in the way you live. The following diet and weight management tips are proven techniques that DO work and if implemented can dramatically improve your chances for long term weight loss and an overall improvement in health:
- Keep a food Log. Keeping a food log can be a huge asset in successful weight loss. A food log can provide a large amount of self-awareness. A food log can help you understand more about what you are eating, track your food better, identify any emotional triggers that trigger overeating, foster greater awareness of portion sizes, and help you discover your personal food triggers. Study any patterns that emerge from your food log and identify where you may be able to make more healthful changes. Trust me, the sheer act of tracking your food will increase your chances of dieting success. A food log also provides an added benefit of keeping you focused on and committed to your goals!
- Read food labels. It is very important to understand what you are putting into your body. Many people unknowingly consume foods that have hidden fats, or are loaded with high processed ingredients that can be stored as fat quickly, as well as negatively impact the body’s hormonal system which can result in slowing down or stopping the body from burning fat.
- Do NOT crash diet. When you lose weight rapidly your body thinks that it’s starving and reduces its metabolic rate, which makes it harder for your body to burn each calorie (they burn at a slower pace than they normally would). Then when you start eating normal again your body stores food, burns less fat, in case a “famine” hits it again. Gradually ease into your diet if possible. Many diet programs allow you to do this. Remember that small changes are easier to stick with than drastic ones. Start by always leaving a little extra on your plate, or drinking water instead of soda. Smaller changes are also more likely to remain with you when the duration of your diet is complete. Aim for behavior-change goals that you know you will be able to maintain over years, not just weeks.
- Understand what protein to eat and when to eat. Choosing the right proteins at the right time will help in your dieting efforts, especially if you are incorporating weight training into your overall dieting program.
- Reduce processed food and simple sugar. Reducing processed food and simple sugar intake can help control appetite. Studies have also shown that those who reach for highly processed foods and/or foods comprised of simple sugars also tend to gain more weight because this type of meal also does not increase satiety levels (fullness) optimally. Why? Because simple sugars are rapidly digested by the body as opposed to complex carbohydrates, such as starch. This causes a person to feel hungry sooner. If carbohydrates are to be consumed they should be of the low glycemic kind, or they should be consumed with protein which increases satiety because the addition of protein delays stomach emptying and promotes the feeling of fullness.
- Minimize the consumption of High Glycemic Foods. Consumption of high Glycemic carbohydrates (which to some people’s surprise include, white rice, white potatoes, sugar) results in surges of blood glucose and insulin that, derail diets, zap energy, hamper training gains and over time, can lead to the development of Type 2 Diabetes in carbohydrate sensitive / insulin resistant individuals. Studies have also shown that those who reach for highly processed foods and/or foods comprised of simple sugars also tend to gain more weight because this type of meal also does not increase satiety levels (fullness) optimally. Why? Because simple sugars are rapidly digested by the body as opposed to complex carbohydrates, such as starch. This causes a person to feel hungry sooner. If carbohydrates are to be consumed they should be of the low glycemic kind, or they should be consumed with protein which increases satiety because the addition of protein delays stomach emptying and promotes the feeling of fullness. Ct out the sugars and processed foods. Minimize the consumption of breads, pasta, white rice and other processed, low-fiber carb sources and instead eat lower glycemic carbohydrate foods such as yams, oatmeal, lentils and brown rice.
- Keep your blood sugar balanced. To do this eat smaller meals and eat frequently (small meals every three hours). Also eat protein at every meal: One of the most important ways to keep your blood sugar balanced and energy levels high is to include protein at every meal, breakfast and snacks included. The best protein sources include fish, organic meat, chicken, eggs, yogurt, and whey protein powder. Insufficient protein is a common reason for fatigue. Pack some almonds and nuts for a quick and convenient protein snack.
- Never eat carbohydrates without protein. Including protein in a meal can influence satiety by affecting insulin activity. By consuming some high-quality protein at every meal/snack your blood glucose and insulin levels are more stable and appetite is minimized compared to a carb only meal. There have also been several studies that indicate that high-protein meals are more effective than a high-carbohydrate meals in decreasing serum ghrelin levels after the meal. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates hunger. Ghrelin levels increase before meals and decrease after meals and is considered the counterpart of the hormone leptin, produced by adipose tissue, which induces satiation when present at higher levels. High-protein meals delay stomach emptying and thus create a longer-lasting feeling of fullness. Another benefit of adding protein to a meal, is that protein contributes to thermogenesis, the process whereby the increases the metabolism of the body’s adipose tissue (fat), generating heat. The bottom line: because protein is more satisfying in regards to fullness to your body than carbohydrates or fats, protein can be a powerful weapon in weight control. Getting enough protein also helps preserve muscle mass and encourages fat burning while keeping you feeling full. So be sure to include healthy protein sources, like chicken breast, turkey breast, low fat cottage cheese, low fat yogurt, healthy nuts, or beans, at meals and snacks.
- Do NOT skip breakfast. Breakfast is an easy meal to miss by many busy people. While cutting out one meal may appear to be a simple means to cut daily caloric intake, research indicates that this meal is the one not to be missed since missing breakfast may increase your hunger throughout the rest of the day. Focus on breakfasts that delay stomach emptying to increase satiety and control calorie consumption.
- Stop grazing. Grazing, the act of eating small portions throughout the day with any regularity has shown to contribute to weight gain, according to a 2005 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study. When researchers asked women to eat at regular, fixed times or to break their usual amount of food into unscheduled meals throughout the day, they made a startling discovery: The women actually burned more calories in the 3 hours after eating the regular meals than they did after the unplanned meals. The women produced less insulin, too, potentially lowering their odds of insulin resistance, which is linked to weight gain and obesity. Grazing instead of eating regularly scheduled meals can contribute to mindless eating; a known source of weight gain and risk factor for obesity. Eating regularly scheduled meals keeps hormone levels (e.g., ghrelin, leptin, enterostatin, insulin and cholecystokinin) steady and quashes hunger pangs.
- Control your food portions. Researchers at the National Institute on Aging Studies found that middle-aged men and women who ate their daily number of calories in one supersize supper produced more ghrelin, a hormone that causes hunger, than when they ate the same number of calories in three square meals. Smarter move, eat smaller meals more frequently.
- Do NOT overeat. When you’re done eating, you should feel better — not stuffed, bloated, or tired. So, slow down when you eat, give your brain time to catch up with your stomach. It takes a minimum of 20 minutes for the brain to communicate to the stomach that satiety (fullness) has been reached. The amount of calories consumed before you begin to feel full can vary significantly depending on how quickly you eat. So slow down, take smaller bites and enjoy and savor every tasty morsel.
- Choose foods that are filling and low in calories. This means meals and snacks made with whole grains, such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread, fibrous vegetables and oatmeal, as well as legumes, such as lentils and other beans. Regarding the veggies, start by focusing on getting the recommended 5-9 servings each day. This may sound like a lot of food, but eating this many servings of fibrous veggies (or low glycemic fruits) will help increase your dieting success, because at the same time you are meeting your fiber goals and feeling more satisfied from the volume of food. You’re also less likely to overeat because fibrous veggies and low glycemic fruits typically displace fat and processed foods in many people’s diets.
- Pump up the volume. Several studies over the past two decades have shown that expanding food volume with non-caloric ingredients, such as air and water, offers a means to control appetite. How does this work? y adding VOLUME in the form of air, water and fiber the calorie density of your diet can be reduced. By lowering the calorie density of your diet you can eat more food, and lose weight.
- Slow down. For more than 35 years, dieters have been told to eat slowly to reduce their intake of food. The reason: it takes a while for the brain to realize that the stomach is stretching and allows the body time for the development of satiety [fullness]. Eating slowly gives the brain time to catch on. A 2006 study reported at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity proved that it takes time for the brain to know that the stomach is full. In a study lead by Kathleen Melanson, Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Food Science at Rhode Island University, 30 women made two visits to Melanson’s lab, and each time they were given a large plate of pasta and told to eat as much as they wanted. When they were told to eat quickly, they consumed 646 calories in nine minutes, but when they were encouraged to pause between bites and chew each mouthful 15 to 20 times, they ate just 579 calories in 29 minutes. “Satiety signals clearly need time to develop,”Melanson concluded. “Not only did the women take in fewer calories when they ate more slowly, they had a greater feeling of satiety at meal completion and 60 minutes afterwards, which strongly suggests benefits to eating more slowly.” The women also judged themselves as having enjoyed the meal more when they ate slowly than when they ate quickly, Melanson added. Because the study proves that it does takes longer for satiety signals to reach the brain letting the brain know the stomach know that it is full, it is recommended that people should eat slowly, pausing between bites and chewing each mouthful 15-20 times. This simple act can help reduce overeating.
- Cycle your calories. Plan your days to include a low calorie day following a day of unusually high calories. By “cycling” calories this way your body works more efficiently to burn fat.
- Increase your fiber. Fiber increases satiety (the feeling of fullness) by adding bulk to foods without additional calories Fiber can also help stabilize blood sugar levels by delaying stomach emptying which slows the rate of carbohydrate absorption, improves the body’s regulation of blood sugar, reduces the risk of insulin resistance/sensitivity and lowers insulin needs. Fiber also has many health benefits. Increasing your consumption can also help decrease blood cholesterol levels, and therefore, reduces the risk of heart disease. Fiber can also decrease the risk of colon cancer by increasing the speed of elimination; reducing the amount of time harmful toxins are in contact with the intestinal cells. The recommended dietary fiber intake is 14g per 1,000 calories consumed. This can be achieved by eating more vegetables (broccoli, carrots and Jerusalem artichokes), root vegetables such as potatoes, yams and onions, whole grains (oats,barley, chia, and barley), legumes/beans, certain fruits (e.g., prunes, rubus berries, plums, bananas, and the insides of apples and pears) and whole grain cereals. A gradual increase is recommended to minimize the side effects of fiber, such as cramping, diarrhea, and intestinal gas. It is also very important to increase your fluid intake as you increase your fiber intake.
- Drink lots of water. This helps your body in many many ways. Many people underestimate the importance of water to the body. There is a huge gap in knowledge regarding the understanding as to why proper hydration is important for health. The human brain is composed of 95% water; blood is 82% water; the lungs are nearly 90% water. As one can imagine water is also the single most critical nutrient for health, growth, and development. It is not only the most important nutrient in the body, but also the most abundant. Water is critical to the balance of all the body’s systems, including the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and muscles. Water is the medium for various enzymatic & chemical reactions in the body. It moves nutrients, hormones, antibodies, & oxygen through the blood stream & lymphatic system. Many people with ailments might find that they can be improved or even cured with proper water hydration. One of the most common reasons for low energy is not drinking enough water. Read this to see all the ways adding more water to your diet improves your healthand helps you lose weight.
- Change your afternoon snack. By the time 3, or 4:00 rolls around, your lunch has probably worn off and you’re ready for your afternoon snack. Instead of reaching for a Red Bull, a soda, or a candy bar, try replacing these with a complex carbohydrate snack or more protein. A snack low on the glycemic index (for more about the glycemic index, and to see a long list of the glycemic content of various foods, check out the nutrition section, and diet tools area at www.musclemagfitness.com). Sugary snacks produce an instant rush and increase in blood sugar, supplying you with more energy. However, this affect is short lived and as your blood sugar levels come back down, the result is a feeling of extreme tiredness. Try adding a protein shake or bar as your afternoon pick-me-up and stay away from known tiredness inducers.
- Reduce the intake of “fat-Free” foods. Reducing fat free food consumption can help control appetite. One weapon Americans have pinned their hopes on is fat-free foods, but the reliance on fat free foods has been shown in study after study NOT to be effective in helping people battle the bulges. The reason eating fat-free foods won’t necessarily make you lose weight is because it’s the amount of calories you take in, not the amount of fat, that determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain weight. Fat free foods are often very high in calories and simple sugars. Used in moderation, though, fat-free foods can help reduce your daily calorie count. Another problem with fat-free foods is their low-level of satiety, which is why it’s so easy to eat larger portions of fat free foods. a lot of them. The lack of fat doesn’t satisfy hunger. Fat in food creates a feeling of fullness-the sense that you’ve had enough to eat. If there’s no fat, it’s more likely you will keep on eating until you’re stuffed, ending up with many more calories than you would have gotten from eating a smaller serving of a food that contained a little fat. Several recent studies have shown that by choosing a fat-free breakfast, satiety is often reduced. In addition, many people consume larger quantities of low-fat or nonfat foods than they do of regular foods, thinking because the foods are fat free that they will not cause weight gain.
- Eat good fats. Omega-3 oils will improve fat loss as well as health. Eat plenty of fish rich in Omega-3’s like tuna, salmon, red snapper, flounder, cod, haddock, and sea bass.
- Focus on whether you are truly hungry. Many people are emotional eater s and not truly hungry when they start chowing down….or a specific time of day triggers a meal. Hunger is your body’s way of telling you that you need fuel, so when a craving doesn’t come from hunger, eating will never satisfy it. Whenever you feel like eating, look for physical signs of hunger, rather than just eat to eat.
- Curtail mindless eating. Sitting down with a bag of chips or a box of bon bons in front of the TV is an example of mindless eating, where you mindlessly eat without being hungry, but out of habit. do NOT eat while watching TV!
- Use non-food alternatives to cope with stress. Stress causes many people to eat. It also raises certain hormones that stunt fat burning. Everyone is faced with stressful situation; many of us daily. Instead of turning to food for comfort, be prepared with some non-food tactics that work for you. Tactics may include meditation, message, exercise…just to name a few.
- Clean out your fridge and food pantry. Failure to “snack proof” your home can sabotage your dieting attempts. Replace high fat, and highly processed foods with healthy alternatives.
- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. They are just empty calories.
- Brush your teeth after every meal. Once you brush your teeth, your teeth have a fresh, clean feeling. Studies show that just the act of brushing your teeth deters people from wanting to eat immediately after. Brushing your teeth also deters eating because several foods especially foods that contain citric acid, reacts with the fluoride in the toothpaste in such a way as to create a horrible taste. This flavor change has also been shown to help deter people from wanting to eat. By committing yourself to the minimum recommended brushing standard (two minutes three times a day) you can lose 1.5 pounds every year. If you are brushing after every meal (remember I am recommending 5 small meals a day) the benefit can be even greater; up to 2.5 pounds every year! Adhering to this brushing standard not only ensures the much-needed weight loss as people age but it also ensures healthy and glossy teeth resulting in better self-esteem, outlook, and reduced bills/visits to your dentist. This simple act alone can take 15 to 25 unwanted pounds off your frame over a ten year period!
- Get active. No matter what other people may tell you, calories do matter. It takes a deficit or surplus of 3,500 calories to lose or gain a single pound of body fat. Losing weight is simply burning more calories than you are eating (consuming). The more calories you burn the more fat you will lose. Being active also helps rev up your metabolism. Becoming more active also has several other benefits. (1) It creates a fat burning environment hormonally (3) reduces risk for chronic diseases (4) Improves mobility and (5) you will have less time to reach for your “comfort foods”. Most people also eat out of boredom, so just the act of being busier by implementing consistent exercise into your daily routine will help you lose weight too! In order for exercise to be helpful in weight loss, you should strive for a minimum of five 30 minute sessions per week. The good news is that recent research has shown that three 10 minute sessions in a day are as good as one 30 minute session. This helps many in combating the old “no time for exercise” excuse. Bottom line; make a commitment to get active today. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to increase your activity, but it does take commitment. Start slowly, work up to a satisfactory level, and don’t overdo it. You can develop one routine, or you can do something different every day. Find fun ways to stay in shape and feel good, such as dancing, gardening, cutting the grass, and swimming, walking, or jogging. Just start moving!
- Pump Iron. Make sure that you’re doing resistive intense weight training at least 3-4 times a week. There are many ways to make sure a training session is intense: more sets, less time, higher repetitions, more resistance, etc. The best routine incorporates and alternate all methods to increase intensity in the gym. Limit your workouts to one hour to keep anabolic hormones high and catabolic hormones low. Overtraining will burn muscle as well as fat.
- Get intense. Use High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) rather than long cardiovascular workouts 2-3 times a week on alternate days of weight training. This training program will burn fat and increase your metabolism.
- Be an early bird. Do your training in the morning rather than the evening. When you can train earlier in the day, you not only ensure that you do not miss your training (because sometimes things come up later in a day or you just get too tired) but studies show that you may also burn fat quicker as your metabolism is usually higher in the morning than in the evening.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Putting the tips given above into practice just may not be as simple as you think. The success of any long term weight loss plan in is your ability to set manageable and achievable personal goals, track your successes regardless of how minute they may be and keep your eye on the end result.
If you follow these principles, adjust during the process when need be, and focus on your long term goals you will increase your chances for success dramatically. Remember long term weight loss is a long term goal. Your success will rely on your level of commitment and your ability to see the end result, however far in the future it may be.