Sure, you can lose weight quickly. There are plenty of fad diets that work to shed pounds rapidly -- while leaving you feeling hungry and deprived. But what good is losing weight only to regain it? To keep pounds off permanently, it's best to lose weight slowly. And many experts say you can do that without going on a "diet." Instead, the key is making simple tweaks to your lifestyle.
Open up a big bag of baby carrots and dip them into your freshly made no-oil-added, no-salt-added hummus. Simply whip up in your food processor a can of no-salt-added chickpeas/garbanzo beans, fresh tomatoes, lemon juice, garlic, a jalapeno pepper (if you like your hummus hot and spicy), and fresh herbs like cilantro and dill. Add a little water, if necessary, until the desired consistency is achieved.
This plan was developed by nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, to allow vegetarians to have a burger every once in awhile. There is no specific weight-loss claim, but the guidelines recommend around 1,500 calories per day, so there’s a good chance you’ll lose weight. Recipes are available online and in Blatner’s book. Vegetarian diets have been linked with reduced risk for diseases such as diabetes and heart troubles, but you have to make smart food choices to avoid nutrient deficiencies. Learn about the healthy diet plan nutritionists recommend for weight loss.
Switch to Lighter Alternatives. Whenever you can, use the low-fat versions of salad dressings, mayonnaise, dairy products, and other products. "You can trim calories effortlessly if you use low-fat and lighter products, and if the product is mixed in with other ingredients, no one will ever notice," says Magee. More smart substitutions: Use salsa or hummus as a dip; spread sandwiches with mustard instead of mayo; eat plain roasted sweet potatoes instead of loaded white potatoes; use skim milk instead of cream in your coffee; hold the cheese on sandwiches; and use a little vinaigrette on your salad instead of piling on the creamy dressing.
“This is a great way of eating that I highly recommend to many clients, and I even model in my own life,” says Elizabeth Shaw, RDN, who is in private practice in San Diego and is the co-author of Fertility Foods Cookbook. “Since the premise of the diet is designed to help people who have high blood pressure, low-sodium foods are recommended. But considering that most Americans exceed their daily sodium levels anyway, it’s not surprising that dietitians recommend this style of eating for treating many different conditions, such as heart disease and obesity.”
Watching little television. The average American watches 28 hours of television per week, but about two-thirds of NWCR participants reported watching 10 or fewer hours per week, and only 12% watched 21 or more hours per week. Those who watched the most TV were more likely to regain weight than those who watched less, even after researchers controlled for diet and exercise differences.
Dr. Bazilian says one of the worst things she sees as a dietitian are people who have an “all or nothing” approach to nutrition. Instead of setting rigid rules that could discourage you, Dr. Bazilian suggests applying gentler guidelines along with positive reinforcement can help. “If you’re trying to shift your habits around an afternoon snack that consists of sugary baked good or cookie or candy and a coffee, perhaps build in room for a day (one!) where this may happen either spontaneously or during a planned instance,” she says. “Then navigate the rest of the week keeping in mind that you’ve built in some flexibility and you’re not depriving yourself.” Next, check out these ways to lose weight without a lick of exercise.
"Researchers around the world say what really works is not just cutting calories but satisfying your hunger with the right kinds of foods," says Health’s Frances Largeman-Roth, RD. In fact, women following a low-fat diet who were allowed to fill up on all the fruit and vegetables they wanted lost 23% more weight than women on a low-fat diet alone, a new study from the United Kingdom reports.
Dairy products contain varying amounts of lactose (milk sugar), which slows down weight loss. What’s more, part of the protein in milk generates a significant insulin response, which can have the same effect. Consequently, cutting back on dairy products may accelerate weight loss. This applies especially to dairy products typically lacking in fat, such as regular milk and various yogurts, but be careful with full-fat dairy such as cream and cheese all the same. And don’t forget whey protein powder, which is pure milk protein.
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."
Many people ask me what to do about extra skin, or loose skin, after weight loss and the answer is always “that’s what exercise is for.” If all you can do is a 20 minute yoga video after the kids go down for their nap, or a walk with the dog after work, find a way to make the most of it. And whenever possible increase the time you exercise, if even by 5 minutes.
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.
Notes: Chop the sweet potatoes and halve the Brussels sprouts, and place on a sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast at 450°F (230°C) until tender, about 15 minutes. Season the steak with salt and pepper. In a frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 teaspoon olive oil. Cook the steak until done to your liking, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. (Consuming raw or undercooked meats may increase your risk of foodborne illness.)