Despite what the latest had plans may tell you, you don’t have to restrict and starve yourself to lose weight. Making a few easy-to-follow changes can go a long way when it comes to hitting your goal.
1. Snack Regularly
You read that right. Eating every three to four hours can help you stay satisfied and prevent overdoing it later on. Aim for 150 to 200 calories, and try to include a combo of protein and fiber.
2. Stay Hydrated
Don’t give up your coffee habit just yet. Drinking more unsweetened beverages like java, tea, seltzer, and water will keep you in tune with your own hunger cues, which we often confuse for thirst! A goal of eight to 10 cups per day is ideal for most.
3. Sleep In
Skipping out on the recommended amount of seven hours not only makes you more likely to snack late at night, but it also can slow down your metabolism. Stick to a regular bedtime and it’ll give you another push in the right direction.
4. Build a Better Breakfast
A well-balanced meal at the start of the day is a key part of any stay-slim plan. Research shows that breakfast eaters typically consume about 100 fewer calories during the course of the day and weigh less than those who forgo food in the morning.
This strategy works in the long run, too. Nearly 80% of participants in the National Weight Control Registry, which charts dieters who have kept off 30 pounds for a year or longer, have breakfast every day. An extra perk of eating a nutrient-dense morning meal: It supplies glucose to your brain to help you think clearly and function optimally until lunchtime.
5. Pile on the Produce
To speed up weight loss, consider doubling — if not tripling — your intake of fruitsand vegetables every day. Less than 2% of Americans eat the recommended nine daily servings, a major missed opportunity for shedding weight. Produce is made up mostly of water, so it’s low in calories — meaning you can eat a lot without putting on pounds — and high in fiber, which helps curb hunger. Bonus: Numerous studies have shown that fruits and veggies are also great disease fighters.
6. Upgrade Your Greens
Yes, we want you to eat more veggies, but it’s okay to experiment a little! Fresh or frozen, more is always more when it comes to veggies. Some colorful suggestions: yellow and orange peppers, purple cabbage, spinach, kale, arugula, eggplant, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts. Your scale will thank you. A six-month study led by Pennsylvania State University researchers showed that people who filled up on produce ate an average of 511 fewer calories each day than those who consumed less.
7. Sample More Seafood
Follow a low-cal diet that includes fish, and chances are you’ll drop more pounds than you would eating the same meal plan minus the seafood, suggests a study in the International Journal of Obesity. One possible explanation: Ounce for ounce, fish has fewer calories than almost all cuts of beef, pork, and skin-on poultry. Researchers also theorize that omega-3 fatty acids in fish switch on the fat-burning process — provided you also exercise or walk regularly.
8. Double Your Dairy
Dairy products are loaded with calcium, a mineral that may be nature’s own weight-loss elixir. Scientists suspect that a diet high in calcium-rich foods (as opposed to supplements) may suppress calcitriol, a hormone responsible for enlarging fat cells and increasing fat storage. You need to get at least the recommended daily allowance of 1,000 milligrams in order to make your body break down fat more efficiently, which speeds up weight loss.
9. Add Kick to Your Dishes
Swapping fattening butter, oil, and cream for zero-calorie spices and herbs is an instant way to slim down a dish. Research has shown that fiery flavors in particular can have longer-lasting weight-reduction benefits. For example, capsaicin, a spicy compound that’s plentiful in chile peppers, can be a powerful appetite suppressant, metabolism booster, and fat burner. A a Canadian study found that people who ate appetizers made with hot pepper
10. Go With Whole Grains
Whole grains are digested slowly, so they keep your blood sugar steady and hunger in check. That appetite-stabilizing mechanism may explain why women in a 12-year Harvard study who ate plenty of whole grains gained less weight than those who consumed a lot of refined grains (think cake, white bread, and other white-flour goodies). Swap sugary processed foods for 100% whole grains, and look for snacks where sugar — or any version of it — is not the first ingredient.