Debbie J., MS, RD contributed this article –
After almost 2 years and posting over 100 articles on losing fat, gaining muscle, protein needs, vegetarianism, and healthy food choices, we’ve amassed a ton of nutrition guidance for you to follow! We’d love for you to read every entry, but if you’re time constrained here is a summary of the best advice we have for weight loss through diet.
- Drink a cup of water before meals to help you fill up without calories. Your empty stomach volume is somewhere around 1 liter (and up to 4 L full). A cup of water will occupy about ¼ of that space, a much-needed buffer to prevent it from being filled with food. Imagine the weight loss you’d achieve with 25% fewer calories!
- Take smaller portions and slow down your meal, taking time to chew each bite thoroughly. It takes 15-20 minutes of eating for your brain to know you’ve done so, so eating slower contributes to a reduction of intake — you eat less before you feel satisfied. Chewing thoroughly is not only good for digestion, it’s an integral part of intuitive and mindful eating that increases your enjoyment of the flavors in your mouth.
- Include lean protein at each meal and snack. Examples are: beans, egg whites, fish, Greek yogurt (plain), nonfat cottage cheese, and poultry breast. You only need 3-4 ounces per meal, or 1-2 ounces at breakfast and snacks to reap the benefit of this power packed nutrient. Protein helps slow digestion, so you feel fuller longer and carbohydrates aren’t absorbed so rapidly.
- Consume at least 25 grams of fiber, preferably from whole foods, daily. Like water, fiber is naturally calorie-free, so it is a great component to focus on for weight loss. Unlike water, it is not absorbed and passes through the gut. This enables it to do several things: contributes to intestinal health; slows digestion of other carbohydrates, keeping blood sugar more even; and creates a feeling of fullness, reducing caloric intake.
- Eat more than half of your total calories by the time your mid-day meal is done. To shed pounds you need to burn more than you’ve eaten. How can you do that while you’re asleep? Instead of blowing through your day and wolfing down a hearty dinner, fuel your activity with a substantial breakfast and balanced lunch. Shifting calories to earlier in the day will help prevent a deficit in energy and subsequent over-eating.
- Be sure that no more than 10% of your calories come from sugar. Complex carbohydrates are the best choice, but leave a little room for natural sugars. These simple carbohydrates provide the body with ready energy, and the fruit and milk they are found in contain so many other valuable nutrients.
- Avoid extra calories from alcohol, soft drinks and condiments. Besides poor food choices and super-sized portions, these items are primary contributors to a wide waistband. Since they aren’t the main components of a meal they are often overlooked as calorie-laden. Yet a serving of dressing, glass of alcohol and can of soda each have over 150 calories. That’s 10% of a typical dieter’s intake for the day!
- When hungry, eat some vegetables. Any kind! Vegetables are simply the most bulky food with the least calories. A cup of raw vegetables or bowl of salad greens contain less energy than 1 piece of fruit. They are a perfect way to trick your body into feeling full. Aside from the middle of a workout, there is no wrong time to eat your veggies.
Regardless of the eating style or cuisine, you can incorporate these strategies into your nutrition plan. Success means consistently making healthier changes until they become habits. Nail these and you’ll be on your way to a slimmer you!
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