Your habits and cravings may both rear their heads at restaurants, where it's easy to blow your diet in seconds. To stick to the plan, says Juge, be diligent in ordering. "Ask them to grill your meat without oil or grease. Ask for steamed vegetables with no butter. Get a salad (no cheese) with either fat-free dressing or a vinaigrette." After his 14 years in bodybuilding, Juge testifies that he's found many restaurants are accommodating, so there's no reason to avoid them as long as they'll cook to your preferences.
Lastly, consider how the diet plan can be incorporated into your lifestyle and whether it’s sustainable for you over the long-term. Most weight loss fails because of the dieter’s inability to maintain their commitment. Price, time requirements for meal planning and preparation, satisfaction and flexibility with your lifestyle are therefore essential to your success, no matter which diet plan you choose.
Even if you do meet your goal, it's nearly impossible to keep off the weight over the long term: "The amount of restriction required [to maintain that number] will make you so hungry that you’ll eat everything in sight—it’s survival instinct," Dr. Seltzer says. And since calorie restriction gradually slows your metabolism, your body will be less prepared to burn the foods you binge on, he adds. That could mean gaining more pounds than you lost in the first place.
Calories are an important part of your weight-loss journey, but so are the foods you choose to spend those calories on. It may not come as any surprise, but a 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who fill their diets with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and yogurt tend to be thinner than those who eat more junk such as soda, potato chips and processed meat. Eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains may help you eat fewer overall calories, which helps with weight loss. These high-fiber foods slow digestion, holding off hunger. As for yogurt, the researchers theorize that the friendly bacteria in the fermented food may change the bacteria in your gut, which may help prevent weight gain.
Ranging from just-juice to just-tea cleanses, these typically short-term plans can be dangerous. “Detoxes and cleanses are usually low in calories, protein, and fiber, all nutrients that our bodies need to function,” says Alissa Rumsey, RD, who is in private practice in New York City. “These plans leave you feeling hungry and cranky, causing a rebound food binge once you stop the detox.”
Coffee add-ins could be adding in unnecessary extra calories to your diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, common calorie culprits include sugar, half-and-half, whipping cream, and even fat-free milk. Meanwhile, black coffee has only five calories. Registered dietitian Andy Bellatti adds that another good swap is unsweetened plant milk instead of the sweetened ones for your beverages.
Some diet plans, such as the MIND diet and the DASH diet, are meant to focus on certain areas of health — and weight loss may be a bonus. Others are created with weight loss as a primary goal. “It is important to remember that we are all very unique individuals,” says Kyle. “We all have different states of health and different lifestyles, which could affect what diet plan is best for us. That means that you should not be considering what is working for your friends or family members — and instead should pay attention to what works for you individually.”
If you want to lose weight, you’d better avoid special “low-carb” products that are full of carbs. This should be obvious, but creative marketers are doing all they can to fool you (and get your money). They will tell you that you can eat cookies, pasta, ice cream, bread and plenty of chocolate on a low-carb diet, as long as you buy their brand. They’re full of carbohydrates. Don’t be fooled.
Make your own. It’s easy! From one 14-ounce can of no-salt-added cannelini beans, spoon out 2 tablespoons of beans. Puree the rest. In a medium nonstick pot, sauté 5 cloves of chopped garlic until translucent. Add 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth and 1 head of escarole, chopped, or a package of frozen chopped spinach. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add pureed beans, red pepper flakes and black pepper, to taste, and cook 1 minute longer. Garnish with the beans you spooned out plus, if you desire, a little chopped red bell pepper. Refrigerate or freeze what you don’t eat for easy soup prep for a future lunch or dinner.
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. Brush the chicken with 1 teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat until marked and no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes per side.