Knowing what you're going to eat for dinner may help prevent those last-minute stops at the fast-food restaurant. Spend a little time once a week planning out your dinner menu and prepping ahead, such as defrosting your chicken and chopping veggies. Make a healthy chicken Parmesan by topping a 3-ounce grilled chicken breast with 1/2 cup of tomato sauce and 1 ounce of low-fat mozzarella cheese, and serve it with 1/2 cup of cooked whole-wheat spaghetti and 2 cups of steamed broccoli. This meal has 425 calories.
While there are probably plenty of pre-made bean and veggie soup options that just need a few minutes to heat through on the stovetop, making your own soup is really easy—and a great idea for your health. Homemade soups are much lower in sodium – about 100 milligrams or less per 2-cup serving. By contrast, 2 cups of many canned soups contain a blood-pressure-busting 1,200 milligrams or more, a worrisome amount considering that health experts recommend consuming no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium for the entire day. This is also a great way to use up all those leftover vegetables in your crisper—pretty much anything works in this soup.
Who says you shouldn’t eat less than 1800 kcals? Under normal circumstances, the minimum is 1200 for women, 1500 for men, and height and weight have no bearing – these are what the body requires to avoid starvation. This diet is, however, for 7 days only, it is not intended as a long-term weight-loss strategy, so 6 days at less than 1500 won’t do you any harm. You don’t say how tall you are, or what you do for a living, which would also have a bearing on your long-term weight-loss plans. Good luck with it, anyway – it’s not easy
This vegan side dish is traditionally served at room temperature with grilled meat or fish, but feel free to double your portion and eat it as a vegan entree with crusty bread for dipping in that garlicky, flavor-packed olive oil. The name for this combination of roasted vegetables comes from the Catalan escalivar, meaning to cook in ashes, though most folks these days use an oven or grill to put some char on their veggies.
To prep the kale for the salad, we’re going to add it to a large bowl with a little olive oil and rub all over the kale, massaging it until the kale reduces in volume and becomes less stiff. (This makes a huge difference in the texture of the kale and makes it much easier to eat. I like to buy pre-cut kale when I meal prep because it’s just easier and takes one less step out of the process.)
Mindful eating is vital for a healthy diet, according to McKenzie Flinchum, RD, LD/N, CPT, Founder of The Flexible Dietitian LLC. “We tend to eat for many other reasons besides hunger, including boredom, celebrations, food cravings, etc.,” Flinchum says. “When a person sits down while eating, he or she is more conscious and is better able to pay attention to the whole process.” That said, eliminating other distractions while eating is beneficial too since a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that distracted eating may add to weight gain.
Topping foods with heavy sauces or condiments could add extra calories and often little nutritional value. For example, ketchup often has a high amount of sugar. According to Monica Auslander, a registered dietitian and founder of Essence Nutrition, one teaspoon of ketchup is equal to eating a sugar packet. “It’s deceiving because it has no fat, so people think they can enjoy freely,” she says. “Unfortunately, we now know that sugar is far more insidious than fat.” Fortunately, there are healthier lower-calorie options such as pesto, hummus, and DIY recipes. These are the condiments that are bad for your health.
So how does this work? A quick run-through: The first tip was to eat low carb. This is because a low-carb diet lowers your levels of the fat-storing hormone insulin, allowing your fat deposits to shrink and release their stored energy. This tends to cause you to want to consume fewer calories than you expend – without hunger – and lose weight. Several of the tips mentioned above are about fine-tuning your diet to better this effect.
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.
Some men can lose up to 5 lbs. per week, says Juge, if they follow the diet strictly. He recommends striving for a weekly 2- to 3-lb. loss for more lasting effects. "That way it's not such a drastic change and you'll be less likely to put all the weight back on when the diet's done," he adds. Weigh yourself naked just once per week, at the same time, preferably on the same scale. That way it'll be as accurate as possible.
Have Protein at Every Meal and Snack. Adding a source of lean or low-fat protein to each meal and snack will help keep you feeling full longer so you're less likely to overeat. Try low-fat yogurt, small portion of nuts, peanut butter, eggs, beans, or lean meats. Experts also recommend eating small, frequent meals and snacks (every 3-4 hours), to keep your blood sugar levels steady and to avoid overindulging.
Keep in mind that the first time that you sit down and plan meals to lose weight the process will take a little longer. But once you have a system in place, you'll breeze through the ritual—you might even start to enjoy it. Getting organized feels good and reaching your weight loss goals feels even better. So take enough time to follow through with the prep steps to get used to your diet plan and stay on track.
Skimp on fluids, and your body will release an antidiuretic hormone that leads to water retention that could affect the scale, Dr. Setlzer says. While this sneaky effect is one reason why the scale is a poor measure of body mass loss, you can outsmart it by drinking more—particularly if you fill your glass with water or non-calorie alternatives like unsweetened coffee and tea.
Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as a fast walk or a low-impact aerobic class, five days a week. Additionally, you want to work out all the major muscle groups with strength-training exercises, such as lifting weights or using a resistance band, for 30 minutes two days a week. As you lose weight and your fitness level improves, you may want to increase your exercise to up to 60 minutes a day to burn more calories, but with your doctor's permission and supervision.
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."
While 1,200 may be the right number for some, it can be super restrictive for others, says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Try basing your meals and snacks off this plan and double up on veggies at any opportunity — more fruit at snack time works too! You can also add an extra ounce or two of protein at all meals if you find yourself feeling hungry. The combo of fiber from produce and lean protein makes this an adaptable strategy that’ll help you lose weight safely — one meal (and snack) at a time!