Hi there, it’s Lacey! I’m the editor and main writer for A Sweet Pea Chef. I'm a food blogger, photographer, videographer, clean eating expert, and mommy of four. I also run the awesome free Take Back Your Health Community, am the healthy and clean weekly meal planner behind No-Fail Meals, and a little bit in love with Clean Eating. Be sure to check out my free beginner’s guide to eating clean and follow me on YouTube and Instagram to get my latest recipes and healthy eating inspiration.
Meal prep is a simple and easy way to track your food intake. Whether you just want to stay away from over-processed foods and eat healthy to build muscle, lose weight, or simply feel better, meal prep is a great idea. Prepping all, or at least most your meals, ahead of time makes cooking and eating healthy, nutritious food easier and quicker than ordering take out or grabbing some fast food on the go.

The scale is not necessarily your friend. You may want to lose fat – but the scale measures muscles, bone and internal organs as well. Gaining muscle is a good thing. Thus weight or BMI are imperfect ways to measure your progress. This is especially true if you’re just coming off a long period of semi-starvation (calorie counting), as your body may want to restore lost muscles etc. Starting weight training and gaining muscle can also hide your fat loss.

It could be beneficial for your health and your weight loss goals to drink more water and less alcohol. Dr. Bazilian says that alcohol doesn’t have to necessarily be avoided altogether. but you should think if and where alcohol fits in the context of your overall health goals. “Aside from calories, alcohol doesn’t offer much by way of nutrition, so it’s at minimum an important decision to have going into any weight-loss program for yourself whether, how often, what type and how much may or may not fit in your timeline and goals,” she says. Alcohol also reduces inhibitions sometimes making it more challenging to make healthy eating choices, according to Dr. Bazilian. And alcohol may negatively impact sleep which plays a role in healthy metabolism, she adds. 
According to a recent study published in Obesity, taking an earlier lunch break could help you lose weight. Participants who ate their lunch earlier lost 25 percent more weight than those who dined after 3 p.m. All participants consumed the same amount of calories and the same foods. Researchers speculate that this weight change could be attributed to hunger triggering cravings for junk food.
Sprinkle cheese on each tortilla. Cover cheese with the shredded cooked chicken and top the chicken with the marinated onions. Fold the tortillas in half, press gently with a spatula to flatten, and cook for about 2 minutes, until the cheese begins to melt. Flip the quesadilla and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the second side is golden brown. Serve with side mixed green salad and 1 tbsp. light dressing

The fad military diet consists of low-calorie, odd food pairings such as bun-less hot dogs with banana, carrots, and broccoli. “Any diet like the military diet that severely limits the amount of calories you consume or eliminates one or more entire food groups puts any individual at risk for nutrient deficiencies,” says Kyle. “This can be more harmful than holding onto those 10 extra lb you’re trying to lose.” (32)
This popular diet program is fairly restrictive — and for the first 30 days, dieters must cut out grains, legumes, most dairy, added sugar, and alcohol without any slip-ups, according to the Whole30 website. (29) The aim is to “reset” your body and to adopt dietary habits resulting in weight loss. Cutting out added sugar and alcohol has merit, but all the restrictions prove challenging and could lead to nutrient deficiencies and disordered eating.
A favorite of health experts, the DASH diet has the primary goal of limiting sodium and lowering blood pressure, but the bonus is losing weight by shifting to a healthier way of eating. The DASH diet plan advocates building meals around fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats. Evidence demonstrates that the approach is effective, especially when you add in regular exercise. You can improve your results, suggests some research, by adding more lean protein to the diet. This is one of the healthier approaches, and it’s easy to adapt to your needs, though the salt restrictions make eating out tough. Looking for another way? Check out these other weight loss tricks that don’t require diet or exercise.
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Mindfulness techniques, especially those that cultivate self-awareness and compassion, may help people lose weight and keep it off. One key example involves noticing mindless eating, which happens when people eat without paying attention to their physical and emotional state. People sometimes eat to soothe anxiety, sadness, or other unpleasant emotions. Mindfulness practices teach people how to identify emotions rather than avoid them and to ride out cravings, which tend to come and go. (Locked) More »

This high-protein, low-carbohydrate, diet plan claims you can lose nine pounds in two weeks. South Beach is different from other low-carb diets because it incorporates more unsaturated fats, such as those in olive oil and avocados, rather than saturated fats. On the downside, the cost can add up quickly if you’re buying the meals, and the first few phases of the diet don’t allow for eating out (or ordering in). No matter which diet plan you choose, avoid these 20 foods that are never worth the calories.
The trick here is not only to avoid all obvious sources of carbohydrate (sweets, bread, spaghetti, rice, potatoes), but also to be careful with your protein intake. If you eat large amounts of meat, eggs and the like, the excess protein will be converted into glucose in your body. Large amounts of protein can also raise your insulin levels somewhat. This compromises optimal ketosis.
Be choosy about carbs. You can decide which ones you eat, and how much. Look for those that are low on the glycemic index (for instance, asparagus is lower on the glycemic index than a potato) or lower in carbs per serving than others. Whole grains are better choices than processed items, because processing removes key nutrients such as fiber, iron, and B vitamins. They may be added back, such as in “enriched” bread.
Consuming protein in the morning will stabilize blood sugar, Sharon Collison, RD, sports dietitian and clinical instructor at the University of Delaware says. “Make sure to have an excellent source of protein with every breakfast such as Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or two to three eggs,” she says. Eating more protein earlier in the day could also help reduce sugar cravings in the late afternoon, Collison adds.
Other factors that can influence your decision include the program’s overall cost and your budget, whether you prefer pre-packaged options or the flexibility to eat out and cook your own meals, and finally, the degree of community interaction. Multiple studies have found that weight loss and diet control are most successful when there’s a degree of accountability and peer support. Most diet plan programs have a wide range of interactive, community-building features that can also help you gage customer satisfaction with the diet plan.
Combine onions and vinegar in bowl and marinate for 5 minutes. Drain the onions and set aside. Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray, and heat over medium heat. Add onions, and cook until onions have softened, about 5-7 min. Transfer to bowl and set aside. Place tortillas in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat (they will overlap). Warm for about 45 seconds on each side.
If you eat a carbohydrate-rich meal (lots of pasta, rice, bread, or French fries, for example), your body releases insulin to help with the influx of all this glucose into your blood. As well as regulating blood sugar levels, insulin does two things: It prevents your fat cells from releasing fat for the body to burn as fuel (because its priority is to burn off the glucose) and it creates more fat cells for storing everything that your body can’t burn off. The result is that you gain weight and your body now requires more fuel to burn, so you eat more. Since insulin only burns carbohydrates, you crave carbs and so begins a vicious cycle of consuming carbs and gaining weight. To lose weight, the reasoning goes, you need to break this cycle by reducing carbs.
Most people who want to lose weight have more than 12 pounds to lose. That’s why even the best weight loss drug in the world can only be an optional complement to other treatment. That’s why this piece of advice is number 18 out of 18. It may be a helpful addition for some people, but the advice higher on the list is what can make the biggest difference, by far.
While some people respond well to counting calories or similar restrictive methods, others respond better to having more freedom in planning their weight-loss programs. Being free to simply avoid fried foods or cut back on refined carbs can set them up for success. So, don’t get too discouraged if a diet that worked for somebody else doesn’t work for you. And don’t beat yourself up if a diet proves too restrictive for you to stick with. Ultimately, a diet is only right for you if it’s one you can stick with over time.
Different foods have different nutritional values, even if they sometimes have the same number of calories. And making a few simple food swaps could be beneficial for both your health and your waistline. Felicia Stoler, RD, an exercise physiologist, suggests swapping margarine for butter, corn oil for soybean oil, corn-fed proteins for grass-fed proteins, and artificial egg whites for farm fresh eggs. “Smart consumers are choosing grass-fed options because those tend to have more nutrients and fewer added hormones,” Stoler says.

This meal replacement plan has mixed scientific evidence to support it. SlimFast promises a reasonable one- to two-pound loss per week, but you’ll need to buy its shakes, bars, and other products. The 1,200-calorie plan allows for one 500 calorie meal of regular food daily, with the rest of the calories made up of SlimFast products, fruits, and vegetables. The hard part will be sticking with the program; also, the SlimFast foods contain a lot of processed ingredients and artificial sweeteners. This isn’t for people younger than 18, or pregnant or breastfeeding women without medical supervision. Make the most of your one meal with 11 simple swaps that lead to dramatic weight loss.
“A lot of people think the foundation of a paleo diet is high-fat meat, but I suggest that it’s vegetables,” says Hultin. The concept is to eat only foods — including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, fruits, and vegetables — that would have been available to our Paleolithic ancestors. This means grains, dairy, legumes, added sugar, and salt are all no-no’s.
Vegetarians tend to be slimmer than omnivores, according to research. But you’ll have to have a lot of discipline and willpower to pull off a vegan diet. Support is out there—the American Diabetes Association gives its approval to the plan, and there are plenty of resources online such as the Vegetarian Resource Group if you need guidance. Following this rigid way of eating may mean could miss out on important nutrients such as vitamin B12 and calcium, but overall going vegan offers some powerful health benefits. You can expect to lose about two pounds a week. Check out the 13 things that happen to your body when you go vegan.
Eat More Produce. Eating lots of low-calorie, high-volume fruits and vegetables crowds out other foods that are higher in fat and calories. Move the meat off the center of your plate and pile on the vegetables. Or try starting lunch or dinner with a vegetable salad or bowl of broth-based soup, suggests Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. The U.S. government's 2005 Dietary Guidelines suggest that adults get 7-13 cups of produce daily. Ward says that's not really so difficult: "Stock your kitchen with plenty of fruits and vegetables and at every meal and snack, include a few servings," she says. "Your diet will be enriched with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and if you fill up on super-nutritious produce, you won't be reaching for the cookie jar."
This company’s latest plan, Turbo 13, promises you’ll lose 13 pounds (and seven inches from your girth) in the first month. When you join Nutrisystem (membership is required), you’ll mix their pre-packaged meals with food you buy at the grocery store. The plan recommends splitting up your meals into a six a day. As with many diet plans, the research backs the short-term results, but there’s little evidence that it works in the long term. Convenience is the biggest pro; cons are the price and the highly processed foods. Nutrisystem is not for you if you are under 18, pregnant, or breastfeeding, or if you have food allergies. For research-backed tips, try these scientifically proven ways you can start losing weight right now.

Most low-carb diets advocate replacing carbs with protein and fat, which could have some negative long-term effects on your health. If you do try a low-carb diet, you can reduce your risks and limit your intake of saturated and trans fats by choosing lean meats, fish and vegetarian sources of protein, low-fat dairy products, and eating plenty of leafy green and non-starchy vegetables.

If taking the time to slice and dice vegetables holds you back from eating them, then invest in the pre-chopped or pre-washed vegetables. Rene Ficek, RD, the lead nutrition expert at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating says fresh produce is the cornerstone of healthy nutrition—and using pre-chopped vegetables could cut your cooking time in half. “Plus, keeping sliced veggies and prepared dips like hummus are great to have on hand at all time,” Fieck adds.

Basically, the effect of exercise on our weight is vastly overrated. That’s why it’s only number 15 on this list. There are other things you need to take care of first. It’s not a good idea to eat bad food, drink sugar water (so-called “sports drinks”) or be on medications which force you to exercise for hours daily just to compensate. Metaphorically that’s like digging a hole, into which you put your ladder, on which you stand and paint the basement-level windows of your house.
Since we are talking about setting a meal plan, we need to talk about how many calories you should plan to eat. If your goal is to lose weight, all you need to know is your goal weight. The equation is easy; add a zero to the end of your goal weight to find your daily calorie goal. Just be sure not to go under 1200 calories per day as this will send your metabolism into preservation mode, which may cause your body to hold onto weight instead of releasing it.
In what is perhaps the biggest buzzkill of all time, sex doesn’t quite count as cardio or burn a significant amount of calories: Women burn about 3.6 per minute. "It’s still a good idea," Dr. Seltzer says, citing the activity’s other benefits, like increasing the output of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which naturally reduce food cravings.
Sprinkle cheese on each tortilla. Cover cheese with the shredded cooked chicken and top the chicken with the marinated onions. Fold the tortillas in half, press gently with a spatula to flatten, and cook for about 2 minutes, until the cheese begins to melt. Flip the quesadilla and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the second side is golden brown. Serve with side mixed green salad and 1 tbsp. light dressing

Since we are talking about setting a meal plan, we need to talk about how many calories you should plan to eat. If your goal is to lose weight, all you need to know is your goal weight. The equation is easy; add a zero to the end of your goal weight to find your daily calorie goal. Just be sure not to go under 1200 calories per day as this will send your metabolism into preservation mode, which may cause your body to hold onto weight instead of releasing it.
Eating at home puts you more in control of what you eat and how much you eat. One study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that people who ate at least five home-cooked meals per day were 28 percent less likely categorized as overweight. And they were 24 percent less likely to have excess body fat than participants who ate less than three home-cooked meals per week. Here are the weight loss rules pros cheat on.
Opt for smaller bowls instead of large dinner plates, suggests Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS, a senior bariatric psychologist at the Bellevue Center for Obesity & Weight Management. Similarly, a study in the journal Appetite found that people ate more candy when the bowl of sweets was closer to their desk. Try plating dinner away from the table instead of serving family-style to combat overeating or mindless grazing. Don’t miss these tips for getting over a weight loss plateau. 
"Anytime you’re stressed, you probably go for food," Dr. Seltzer says. (Have we met?!) That’s because cortisol, the stress hormone, stokes your appetite for sugary, fatty foods. No wonder it’s associated with higher body weight, according to a 2007 Obesity study that quantified chronic stress exposure by looking at cortisol concentrations in more than 2,000 adults’ hair.
Whether or not you’re specifically aiming to cut carbs, most of us consume unhealthy amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, and sweetened breakfast cereals. Replacing refined carbs with their whole-grain counterparts and eliminating candy and desserts is only part of the solution, though. Sugar is hidden in foods as diverse as canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, and many reduced fat foods. Since your body gets all it needs from sugar naturally occurring in food, all this added sugar amounts to nothing but a lot of empty calories and unhealthy spikes in your blood glucose.

This eating plan promotes an average loss of one to two pounds per week. You’ll eat portion-controlled, pre-packaged meals and snacks; you can add your own fresh fruits and vegetables. Then, you’ll slowly introduce regular meals with the help of weekly counseling sessions. Jenny Craig does have some scientific evidence to back it, and dieters say they like the personalization and support of weekly meetings with a counselor. On the downside, the program can get expensive, and it uses a lot of processed foods with long ingredient lists. This plan isn’t meant for children under 13 or people with food allergies. For a budget-friendly option, check out the best free meal planners for weight loss.
Next, let’s get our lentils started. Add the dry lentils to a pot, followed by water. Be sure to use a large enough saucepan as the lentils will double or triple in size. Bring this to a boil over high heat, then cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until the lentils are tender. For whole lentils, it should take about 15-20 minutes. Then, drain the lentils and set aside for later.

Make sure that the diet has been studied extensively for safety — and discuss any changes with your physician or registered dietitian before beginning a new diet. (If you don’t have a dietitian, find one in your area at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.) And do a self-check to ensure the diet fits with your own values and preferences.
Eating finger foods takes more time leading to a more satisfying experience, Amy Gorin, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, New Jersey says. “I’ll often include finger foods in my clients’ meal plans, as it’s not just kids who love to eat with their hands,” she says. Some good options include lightly salted edamame, hummus, whole-grain crackers, sliced mushrooms, and sliced bell peppers. Here are the secrets nutritionists won’t tell you for free.
Andrew James Pierce, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS, inventor of the SugarChecked app suggests prioritizing vegetables and serving them at the beginning of the meal. This ensures that nutrient-dense veggies fill you up first. Eating them could help curb your appetite before moving onto the next portion of the meal. Give these other 11 natural appetite suppressants a try.
Second, take a few photos of yourself to keep your motivation up. "Most of the people who come to me are doing it for a reason," he explains. "They're going on vacation, competing in a bodybuilding show, or maybe going to a reunion. I always have them strive for that goal. I take front, side, and back pictures of them at the beginning and have them post the photos on their mirror at home. I tell them, just keep looking at that picture and think of what you're going to look like in a few weeks."
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