For weight loss, you need to find the right balance of calories so that you lose at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds a week. Starvation diets that severely restrict caloric intake may help you lose weight faster, but you're losing water and muscle, not fat. Plus, when you eat too few calories, your body may hold onto fat as a means of protection against the starvation. This change in metabolism makes it even harder for you to lose the unwanted pounds.
"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.
Consequently, researchers have widely discredited the hCG diet, which involves using hCG injections, pellets, sprays, or drops, and consuming as few as 500 calories daily. The diet is problematic not only because there’s a lack of research on hCG supplements, but also because the calorie requirement is dangerously low, potentially leading to nutrient deficiencies, fatigue, hormone imbalances, blood clots, and other issues. Thus, most experts agree the hCG diet is not safe for anyone, the Mayo Clinic notes. (35)
To reach your get-lean goal, you must also follow a get-lean diet, filled with the best foods to burn fat. Why? Even if you work out hard for an hour every day, that still leaves 23 more hours for you to wreck all your hard work in the gym with just one slip-up: a measly handful of chips, a beer with the guys, or a burger at lunch. Diet is a huge, so to speak, part of the fat-loss equation. It's the backbone of your entire plan, the foundation of a hard body.
When you drink liquid carbs, like the sugar in soda, your body doesn't register them the same way as, say, a piece of bread, according to a review of studies published in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care. That means, even though you're taking in calories, your fullness cues aren't likely to signal that you're satisfied once you finish off a can. And that can lead to consuming more overall.
“There are many diet plans on the market today that promote good health,” says Emily Kyle, RDN, who is in private practice in Rochester, New York. “The key is finding one that does not cause you stress or agony.” Ask yourself questions such as: Would the diet guidelines make you happy? Anxious? Stressed? Are you able to follow them long term? “Factors such as enjoyment, flexibility, and longevity should be strongly considered,” adds Kyle.
In our eat-and-run, massive-portion-sized culture, maintaining a healthy weight can be tough—and losing weight, even tougher. If you’ve tried and failed to lose weight before, you may believe that diets don’t work for you. You’re probably right: some diets don’t work at all and none of them work for everyone—our bodies often respond differently to different foods. But while there’s no easy fix to losing weight, there are plenty of steps you can take to develop a healthier relationship with food, curb emotional triggers to overeating, and achieve lasting weight-loss success.
Ready to step it up with your Fitbit tracker and set some new health and fitness goals? That’s awesome! Cue the fireworks! But if your ultimate goal is to lose weight, unfortunately, activity alone isn’t going to get you there—you also have to change what you eat. That does not mean you need to do a cleanse or detox. But it is possible to get a jump on weight loss, the smart and healthy way. Fitbit Dietitian Tracy Morris developed this kickstart one-week meal plan to help her clients see results, fast. Disclaimers: Please don’t try to lose more than 2 pounds per week, or dip below 1200 calories per day, which can compromise your metabolism. This is not a long-term plan, so you definitely don’t want to eat this way every week. But it’s a great way to kick off a weight loss goal, with specific meal and snack ideas, so you’ll see an initial drop—and be extra motivated to keep the momentum going this year. Increase your drive to succeed, and see how many consecutive days your can stay on track, by using Fitbit’s food logging feature.