With so many different diet plans available today, it is difficult to know which one to choose. Going on a low-calorie diet is simply asking for trouble. If you reduce your caloric intake by too much, you’ll begin to feel tired and irritable.
It’s important to continue to eat enough food to provide the calories you need to feel energized, while also curbing your appetite and excluding bad calorie choices from your diet altogether.
It doesn’t have to be so complicated. Most physicians will tell you that weight loss will happen if you consume fewer calories, make healthier choices, and exercise each week.
1. Eat Apples before Every Meal
If you want to lose weight, try eating an apple before each meal. Since it takes about 20 minutes to realize that you’re not as hungry as you were before eating, you should eat the apple at least that many minutes before you plan to have a meal. One medium-size apple with skin has approximately 100 calories, so eating one doesn’t add much to your caloric intake.
If you choose pre-sliced apples, which are commonly sold in grocery stores in the refrigerated produce area, a one-cup serving of sliced apples with their skins has about 65 calories.
Apples have no fat, sodium, or cholesterol, and they are rich in vitamin C and dietary fiber. Lots of varieties exist, and each of them offers a unique quality of flavor and crispness. Sweet apple varieties include Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Rome, and Gala.
If you want an apple that is a bit tart with a distinctively sweet flavor, indulge in Braeburn, Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, Finger Gold, Empire, or Cameo varieties. The tartest of all apples is the Granny Smith variety, but other varieties that will make your mouth pucker include Wine Sap, Pippin, Newton, and Crispin.
- Don’t Drink Your Calories
Beverages contain calories, and some of them contain a lot. Depending on how often you drink something other than water, these calories can really add up to more than you need, particularly if you would like to lose weight now. Just imagine that you are drinking the following beverages in a single day:
- 12 ounces of orange juice (165 calories) to start your day
- Coffee with half-and-half and sugar (90 calories) for breakfast
- Medium cafe latte (250 calories) on the way to work
- Energy drink for your morning pick-me-up (110 calories)
- Large soda with lunch (300 calories)
- Beer or glass of wine with dinner (150 calories)
By the time your day ends, you have ingested more than a thousand calories just from your beverages.
This scenario doesn’t leave you much room for eating any calories at all, particularly if you are on a diet trying to lose weight.
If you substitute water, which is calorie free, you can easily reduce your daily intake of calories from beverages by several hundred calories. If switching to water is too difficult, drink sugar-free sodas and energy drinks. Eliminate fancy coffees and teas entirely and switch to black versions instead.
- Drink Lots of Water
Once you have figured out which beverages you can give up easily without feeling totally deprived, it’s easier to begin drinking more water each day. Not only does water have zero calories, but it helps you to feel full. In fact, you should be drinking eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
It might sound like a lot, but drinking that much water each day can boost your body’s metabolism, which helps you to burn more calories each day whether or not you exercise.
A study published in the Journal of Endocrinology suggests that metabolic rates can increase by as much as 30%simply by drinking 17 ounces of water.
If you want to boost your metabolic rates even more, drink cold water as some evidence exists that the cold temperature might be helpful in this area.
Now, you might be wondering if you should invest in bottled water so that you get even more benefit out of drinking it. Truthfully, there isn’t much evidence that bottled water is any better than what you get out of your kitchen faucet. In fact, with labeling guidelines so lax for bottled water, some companies are getting their bottled water directly from the public supply.
- Avoid White Carbohydrates
If you want to lose weight now, you might want to avoid overeating white carbohydrates. Most of them have been processed to the point that they have lost much of their nutritional value. In particular, white or refined carbohydrates have reduced fiber content because the outer layer has been stripped away.
Bread, rice, pasta, cereal, crackers, and bread crumbs made from white flour have been linked to an increased risk of obesity when excessive amounts are ingested. Eating white carbohydrates on occasion is not a bad thing, as long as it is done in moderation.
Unfortunately, it is easy to eat a larger quantity of foods that have been made with processed carbohydrates, particularly because people find the flavor and texture more appealing than breads, cookies, and pasta made from unbleached (unrefined) flour.
The human body needs a certain amount of good carbohydrates to function properly. However, it is healthier for people to eat simple carbohydrates rather than those found in foods made from white flour.
Simple carbohydrates include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Eating simple carbs and foods made from unrefined flour will keep you feeling full longer, helping you to limit your caloric intake.
- Eat Only Lean Proteins
It’s important never to underestimate the importance of choosing lean proteins when you are trying to lose weight. Even so, it isn’t always easy to grab protein when you’re in need of a quick snack.
The portability of fruits and vegetables means that they are more likely to go into brown-bag lunches. However, lean protein is needed by the body so that it can function properly.
While sources of lean protein (meat, fish, beans, and dairy products) might have a higher calorie count than fruits and vegetables, they are an important part of losing weight.
Eating lean protein allows you to feel full longer than you would if you ate an orange or handful of raw snow peas. This is because protein remains in the stomach longer than most fruits and vegetables.
From the moment you eat it, protein begins to help you to lose weight. It takes longer to digest and metabolize protein, so your body uses more energy and calories to do so. Lean protein sources allow you to avoid the extra calories that are found in animal fats, so you should choose skinless chicken or turkey, lean cuts of beef, and pork tenderloin.
- Include More Vegetables in Your Diet
Most physicians will tell you that you can eat as many non-starchy, non-dressed vegetables as you like. Fresh, unprocessed vegetables are low in cholesterol, salt, and fat.
Therefore, they are naturally low in calories, giving you a great option to choose when you are hungry and want a snack.
Choosing fresh vegetables is better than selecting frozen or canned versions that might have added salt in them.
Since they are so low in calories, you can eat as many vegetables as you want as long as you do not add butter, dressings, or sauces.
Eating lots of vegetables instead of sweets like ice cream, candy, and cookies helps you to lose weight faster and easier than if you kept up with poor eating habits. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that you fill half of your dinner or lunch plate with non-starchy vegetables.
Not only can a diet rich in vegetables help you to lose weight, but it also provides lots of nutrients. In addition to the fiber content that vegetables provide, they offer a variety of nutrients that encourage good health. These nutrients include vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and folic acid.
- Exercise Several Times Weekly
Now that you have your food intake under control, it is time to step your weight loss program up a notch by adding in some exercise.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that most healthy adults attempt to exercise a minimum of 150 minutes each week if they complete moderately aerobic activities.
Adults who complete robust aerobic exercise need only invest about 75 minutes each week in doing so. Of course, these numbers vary for senior citizens over the age of 65 as well as for anyone who is under a doctor’s care.
If you want to lose weight, then you should attempt to exercise as much as 300 minutes each week. This strategy breaks down to 30 minutes a day on six days out of the week. Even if you cannot find the time to exercise 300 minutes each week, you should aim for the recommended minimum of 150 minutes.
Each time you exercise, you will burn calories, which will help you to lose weight faster. Participating in regular physical activity is what is important. If you can’t find a block of 30 minutes, you can always break your routine into three 10-minute sessions.