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.
The HMR program’s approach makes the top of the list of best diet plans because the Decision-Free plan suggests you can lose up to 66 pounds in 26 weeks. You could also drop 37 pounds on its Healthy Solutions option. The Decision-Free diet is a medically supervised, very low-calorie diet of shakes and snacks; Healthy Solutions includes shakes, snacks, entrees, and your own fruits and vegetables. You should expect to exercise plenty to lose the most weight; you can also sign up for health coaching to boost success. The convenience is a plus—but you will get a very limited choice of foods and aren’t allowed to drink alcohol or eat out. And remember: You risk gaining weight once you go back to real food. Check out these 42 tips for losing weight fast.
It's not just breakfast that's important when it comes to weight loss. So is lunch. A 2015 article published in Current Obesity Reports notes that planned, regular eating habits play a big role in promoting a healthy weight. Enjoy 2 cups of minestrone soup with five whole-grain crackers and 1 ounce of low-fat cheddar cheese at your next lunch for 410 calories. A quinoa salad made with 1 cup of cooked quinoa tossed with 1 cup of mixed diced raw veggies such as grape tomatoes, red onions and peppers, 1/2 cup of firm pressed tofu, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and grated ginger for 390 calories also makes a good lunch option on your weight-loss diet. Or try a simple turkey sandwich made with two slices of whole-wheat bread, 3 ounces of turkey breast with lettuce, tomato and mustard and served with 6 ounces of nonfat yogurt, a small apple and 1 cup of sliced cucumbers for 440 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.
Use leftover spaghetti for lo mein the next night. Toss 1 cup of the spaghetti with 12 peanuts and 1 cup of chopped celery, onions and bok choy that's been sauteed in 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil for 425 calories. Make fish tacos with 3 ounces of grilled halibut stuffed into two 6-inch corn tortillas with lettuce and chopped tomatoes and served with 1/2 cup of a mix of brown rice, black beans and corn for 405 calories.
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.
Go back to basics. Go through your meal planners and food logs to see what does not match up. Look for possible processed foods or artificial sweeteners in new foods you’ve added to your diet recently. If you’ve stopped logging or planning your meals, take this opportunity to start again. Most often just that one step will pull you out of a plateau.
Becky Duffett is a contributing nutrition editor for Fitbit and a lifestyle writer with a passion for eating well. A former Williams-Sonoma cookbook editor and graduate of San Francisco Cooking School, she’s edited dozens of cookbooks and countless recipes. City living has turned her into a spin addict—but she’d still rather be riding a horse. She lives in the cutest neighborhood in San Francisco, spending weekends at the farmers’ market, trying to read at the bakery, and roasting big dinners for friends.