1. Drink plenty of water.
Rather than aiming for a number of cups or ounces per day, just carry a water bottle with you wherever you go. When you’re thirsty, drink. When you’re starving, drink.
Drinking plenty of water has two benefits for weight-loss. First, it makes you less hungry. Our body’s signal for thirst is similar to its signal for hunger, and when we are working or watching TV, it is easy to confuse the two. When that first sign of hunger appears, try drinking a glass of water, if after a few minutes you are still hungry, go ahead and eat. Second, water is crucial for everyday functions in our bodies. With all the diuretics we consume on a daily basis (e.g. coffee, soft drinks, alcohol), it is easy for us to be mildly dehydrated, and not even know it, which results in less energy to exercise and a slower metabolism.
2. Chew your food.
Mom was right on this one.
Methodically chewing our food slows us down, and gives our bodies a chance to let us know we are full, not the other way around. This is because it takes 10-20 minutes for our digestive hormones to tell our brains we have received enough nourishment. When we eat in a rush, our body never gets a chance to send this signal out which can result in over-eating. Chewing thoroughly also allows saliva in our mouth to begin breaking down the food we eat, making it easier for our bodies to absorb the nutrients.
Being sleep deprived can sabotage anyone’s weight-loss goals. When we skimp on sleep, the body becomes fatigued. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t stop for us, so we usually end up reaching for a can of soda and bag of chips for a quick, mid-morning, pick-me-up. We continue this cycle throughout the day, and by the time we get home, we are far too tired to exercise. Sleeping 7+ hours a night will help keep energy levels up, decrease caffeine/sugar cravings and make it easier for us to exercise.
4. Eat a large breakfast.
It might seem counterproductive to eat a large breakfast when our ultimate goal is to eat fewer calories throughout the day. The reason for eating a large breakfast is because our bodies need energy, and they will get it, whether it is now or later. Eating now will allow us to get a good combination of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats; while eating later usually results in eating a sugary snack that only gives us energy for a short period of time. This causes a vicious cycle of snacking throughout the day, which usually leaves us with more calories than we need, and less energy than we’d like.
5. Add, don’t subtract.
Again, Mom was right – No ice cream until you finish your vegetables.
Rather than taking out all the bad food in your diet, add in more good food. First, this prevents the constant feeling of hunger throughout the day, which tends to result in evening binging. Because healthier foods are generally less dense in calories, they allow us to feel full longer, for the same amount of energy. Secondly, by adding in more healthy sides to a meal, it leaves less room for unhealthy alternatives. For example, rather than completely skipping out on Family Pizza Night, add in some steamed vegetables to the meal (not for decorations). This will allow you to enjoy the pizza, while not overindulging.
6. Use smaller plates.
This tip dives deep into our subconscious minds.
Having a half-full plate of food just doesn’t look right to us; because of this, we tend to fill our plates regardless of the size. As we all know, if the food makes it to our plates, it tends to also make it to our stomachs. By using smaller plates, we can still please our eyes with a full plate, but also reduce the amount of food we eat. Even if you’re not stuffed, chances are you won’t get up for seconds.
7. Turn off the TV.
This goes along with the previous tip.
So much of what we do is a result of our subconscious mind. When we eat in front of the TV or laptop, we essentially distract ourselves from our meal. When we’re not engaged in the meal at hand, we struggle to notice the feeling of fullness our bodies are trying to tell us. This, of course, results in eating far more than we should. So, put down the remote and sit at the table for weight-loss.
8. Prepare your meals in advance.
We have all had those days, the ones where by the time we get home all we can think about is eating, and going to bed. What are the chances you’re going to cook a healthy meal for yourself? Not good. Does ordering Chinese or pizza sound more like it?
To prevent your busy life from sabotaging your weight-loss goals, prepare as much food as you can in advance. If you’re cooking chicken and vegetables for dinner, why not cook an extra chicken breast for a salad at work tomorrow? If you really want to see those pounds come off, prepare food for 3-5 days in advance. This will prevent any of those fast-food excuses at lunchtime.
9. Track the food you’re eating.
Normally I don’t encourage people to count calories, but a food journal can be a great way to jump-start the weight-loss process. Plus, with all the different websites and apps for smartphones these days, a person can easily enter their daily meals in a couple of minutes and get a print out of their caloric intake. These online food diaries also track macro and micronutrients, to ensure you’re staying healthy. Another benefit of writing down each meal you eat is for accountability. It’s much harder to forget about a cheeseburger, fries, and a diet Coke when it’s staring at you in the face every day.
10. Don’t drink your calories.
Out of all of these weight-loss tips, not drinking your calories may have the biggest impact on your waistline. Few people realize just how many calories are in the juices and soft drink they consume. These are generally considered empty calories because of the lack of nutrients in them. Any vitamins in these drinks can easily be found in food sources or vitamin supplements. The other no-no for weight-loss is alcohol consumption. An average shot of liquor has approximately 100 calories, and that not including the mixers!
Cut these drinks out of your diet and watch the scale move.