The sad truth is that conventional ideas – eat less, run more – do not work long term. Counting calories, exercising for hours every day and trying to ignore your hunger? That’s needless suffering and it wastes your time and precious willpower. It’s weight loss for masochists. Eventually almost everyone gives up. That’s why we have an obesity epidemic. Fortunately there’s a better way.
Carbohydrates are the preferred form of fuel for your body's energy needs. Simple or sugary carbs have their place when you need fast energy, but for the most part you should eat complex or slow-burning carbs (we'll give you examples of these later). The thing about carbs, though, is that after you consume all the carbs your body needs for immediate energy, any excess carbs will be stored as body fat.
Meal prep, short for meal preparation, is the process of planning and preparing your meals ahead of time. You can meal prep one day ahead, or take one day to prepare lunch and/or dinner for an entire week. While most meal prep only one or two meals, you can easily meal prep breakfast, lunch and dinner, even snacks for the week ahead. It’s entirely up to you!
Enjoy the rich flavor of sweet potatoes? While home on Sundays, cook up a batch. Wrap each one in foil and bake for about an hour at 425 degrees F, or until their luscious, sweet juices start to ooze out into the foil. At work the following week, just pop one in the microwave for a quick warm-up. They’re loaded with taste, so they don’t need any extra toppings. If you want a little zest, swirl in a teaspoon or two of no-salt-added Dijon mustard or a quarter cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt.
This could be because the body increases insulin secretion in anticipation that sugar will appear in the blood. When this doesn’t happen, blood sugar drops and hunger increases. Whether this chain of events regularly takes place is somewhat unclear. Something odd happened when I tested Pepsi Max though, and there are well-designed studies showing increased insulin when using artificial sweeteners.
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.

With this eating style, you’re looking at a lot of menu planning and preparation. A review published in August 2017 in Nutrients suggests the diet could lead to weight loss, but the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics warns the plan could also cause certain nutrient deficiencies, such as in calcium and vitamin D. (3,4) And, therefore, according to an article published in the January–February 2016 issue of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, anyone at risk for osteoporosis should avoid it. (5)


In other words? "Drinking makes you more likely to eat sh*t," Dr. Seltzer says, referring to drunk foods. At the same time, he stops short of asking patients to quit alcohol cold-turkey to lose weight. Plus, research suggests you don’t have to, as long as your intake is moderate—i.e., less than about a drink a day. "If you drink a glass of wine every night and notice you eat more afterward, eat less early to account for this," he says. "Or, if you’re drinking four glasses of wine a week, drink three instead so you’ll won’t feel such a big difference."
"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.
Some antidepressant medications can cause weight gain, especially the older tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as Tryptizol, Saroten, and Clomipramine; as well as newer drugs such as Remeron (Mirtazapine). Lithium (for manic-depressive disorder) often causes weight gain. The most common antidepressants known as SSRI’s (for example Citalopram and Sertraline) usually don’t impact weight significantly. More on depression
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.
Big salad of baby greens with Pritikin-Style Thousand Island Dressing, which has less than one-quarter the calories and sodium of regular Thousand Island Dressing. What a gift for your heart and waistline! To make dressing, combine thoroughly the following: ¾ cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt, ½ cup fat-free sour cream, ¾ cup unsweetened, low-sodium ketchup (good brand is Westbrae), ½ teaspoon oregano, and ½ teaspoon granulated garlic.
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.
Once you’re done with your meal prep, make sure you let your meals cool down before transferring them to airtight containers and storing them in the fridge, but make sure you don’t keep your food in room temperature for more than two hours. If you are using meal prep containers and have stored your cooked meal prep well, it can last in the fridge for up to 7 days.  Some foods will keep longer than others, which is something to consider when prepping 7 days at a time.
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.
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.
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