After the holidays and before swimsuit season, many of us reluctantly start on a new diet. But diets aren’t a lasting solution to weight loss, and weight loss doesn’t have to be about starving and cutting out foods. Sensible steps you can take all the year round can keep you on track without yo-yo dieting.
Make those calories count
Most active women will lose weight eating 1,500 or fewer calories per day. For an average man, the daily calorie count needs to be below 2,000. Too many refined foods—often high in “empty” calories—can use up your calorie count without giving your body the nutrients it needs for fuel. To make the most of your meals, keep these “best practices” in mind:
- Estimate your appropriate weight range with a Body Mass Index chart and calculate your ideal number of daily calories based on height and age at www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines.
- Eat a variety of nutritious foods and snacks from every food group, emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, and eggs.
- Read labels and compare nutrients. Remember that if a single serving of a single food item has over 400 calories per serving, it’s high in calories.
- Take a multivitamin and be sure you get other essentials, such as folic acid and magnesium, which are easily depleted.
- Choose foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars or corn syrup.
Try these easy ideas to eat right
It’s easier than you think to make good food choices part of your lifestyle. For starters, check out these simple tips.
- Make a satisfying protein-rich drink or smoothie by blending 2 cups (473 ml) of low-fat yogurt with 1 cup (237 ml) of crushed seasonal fruit, a banana, and a scoop of rice powder.
- Eat a salad or broth-based soup as a first course so you’ll feel full, but take in fewer calories.
- Pack healthy “on the go” snacks such as unsalted nuts, carrot sticks, pears, and apples so you’re not tempted by chips or candy bars.
Change to a lifestyle mindset
Stop thinking about the word “diet” as an unsatisfying set of restrictions and instead think about long-term changes that lead to slow, steady weight loss. Create a healthy lifestyle that includes daily exercise and eat right by making smart choices.
- Choose nutrient-packed foods—Ensure balance and give your body a full range of protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Pay attention to portion sizes—Share a dish when eating out or keep some for later if the portions are too large. At home, serve reasonable portions on small dishes (so they look bigger) and avoid second helpings.
- Take a walk—Get 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five to six days per week to use up the calories you take in and prevent weight gain. Aim for 60 to 90 minutes a day for substantial weight loss.
- Get started—Begin healthful habits today to manage your weight for the rest of your life. Small steps count, so look for opportunities: take the stairs, park farther away, walk to shops.