Lose weight finally comes back to the concept of calories in, calories out: Eat less than you desire and you’ll lose weight. And while it’s reasonable to lose water weight quickly on a low-carb diet, I certainly wouldn’t support it. The food itself can trick you into thinking that this eating style is working — when actually, you might gain back what you lost as soon as you eat carbs again. That can feel especially dispiriting if you want decisions that last longer than a week.
Based on my expertise in nutrition counseling, most of us manage to snack on foods that aren’t nutrient-dense but are high in calories. For example, skipping sweet beverages is often the easiest way to lose weight faster. You don’t feel full from drinks — even the ones that do include calories — so swapping those out for bright water or unsweetened tea and coffee is the best place to start. Other major offenders often come in refined grains like seeds, chips, crackers, and cookies.
If you’re looking to speed up weight loss, I’d also urge you to be mindful of the foods you eat that you don’t choose for yourself. Think of food connections at work or your kids’ leftovers. Noticing where your extra calories come from is another step to making better choices in the short and long term.
In my experience, there are a few other tips that hold for nearly all of us across the board — and they’re thoughts that we can put into practice beginning right now.
So, here’s where to start:
Eat more vegetables, all of the time.
It’s that easy, I promise! If you think about making any meal mostly veggies (at least 50% of anything that you’re having), you’re on the right path to better health and lose weight.
Build a better breakfast.
All feeds are important, but breakfast is what assists you start your day on the right track. The best, heartiest breakfasts are ones that will fill you up, keep you happy, and stave off needs later in the day. Aim to eat anywhere between 400 and 500 calories for your morning snack, and make sure you’re including a source of lean protein plus filling fat (e.g., eggs, unsweetened Greek yogurt, nuts, or nut butter) and fiber (veggies, fruit, or 100% whole grains). Starting your day with a blood sugar-stabilizing blend of nutrients will help you slim down without loss.
Go to bed.
Tons of research demonstrates getting less than the desired amount — about 7 hours — of sleep per night can slow down your metabolism. Plus, when you’re alert for longer, you’re generally more likely to snack on midnight munchies. So don’t save on your ZZZ’s, and you’ll be compensated with an extra edge when it comes to losing weight.
Take a walk!
Don’t get me wrong — exercising at any time is suitable for you. But evening exercise may be especially beneficial because many people’s metabolism slows down toward the end of the day. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise before dinner boosts your metabolic rate and may keep it erected for another two or three hours, even after you’ve stopped moving. Plus, it’ll help you relax post-meal so you won’t be motivated by stress-induced grazing that can rack up calories.
Sure, you need to drink plenty of water to help combat bloating, you can (and should!) also utilize high-water content foods. Reach for cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, asparagus, grapes, celery, artichokes, pineapple, and cranberries — all of which contain diuretic properties that will also support you stay full due to their higher fiber content.
Skip sugary beverages.
We just don’t know full of liquid calories in quite the same way as we do real food. Drinking a juice or caramel coffee drink just isn’t as pleasant as eating a bowl of veggie- and protein-packed stir-fry. So monitor your consumption of juice, soda, sweetened coffee and tea, and alcoholic drinks. If you utilize each of those beverages during the day, you’ll have taken in at least 800 extra calories by night — and you’ll still be hungry.
Know your limits with salt.
Since salt is a chemical, packaged and processed foods are often highest in sodium — something to keep in mind when planning your meals. When it comes to buying meals, a “low sodium” product has to be 140 mg or less per serving — so if you’re REALLY in a bind, you can understand that guideline for what to put in your cart.