Sustained weight loss can be a struggle, but there are practical tips that can help.Successful strategies include cutting back on foods and drinks that have been strongly tied to weight gain and increasing your intake of more nutrient-dense foods.Other approaches focus on ways you can set yourself up for long-term healthy eating in subtle, gradual steps.
In a country that eats dessert for breakfast, sustained weight losscan feel like an uphill battle.Aside from avoiding obvious minefields like stacks of syrup-drenched pancakes and huge muffins, there are several practical guidelines to follow if you’re looking to slim down. These tips can be helpful whether you’re struggling to lose weight or simply aiming to reboot your eating plan with some healthier basics.
Still, if you’re aiming to make big changes to your diet and to your health, it’s always helpful to get help from a trained medical professional like a physician, registered dietitian, or family doctor. They’ll be able to go over any questions you have about the suggestions you find here.
Start eating more vegetables — especially greens
Author Michael Pollan may have condensed all the best nutrition wisdom into one line when he wrote: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
Dozens of scientific studies have tied diets high in vegetables — especially greens — to better health outcomes, including weight loss and a decreased risk of a handful of chronic diseases. Veggies like watercress, spinach, chives, and collard greens all rank highly on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of “powerhouse foods,” so find a few you like, and start adding them to your plate.
But don’t worry: Most of the research does not suggest a need to slash meat, dairy, or fish from your diet. In fact, the best results typically appear to come from diets that combine high amounts of vegetables with healthy sources of protein, which can include seafood, eggs, and meat. Eating plans like these include the popular Mediterranean diet and MIND diet.
Replace soda or sweet tea with sugar-free drinks
Sweetened beverages like soda and juice can make up a surprising portion of the calories you consume each day, yet they don’t fill you up the same way solid food does.
As part of an eight-year study that included nearly 50,000 women, Harvard researchers tracked what happened when people either slashed their intake of sweetened drinks or started consuming more of them. Not surprisingly, the participants who raised their sugary-drink intake gained weight and increased their risk of developing Type 2diabetes. In fact, the more people’s sweet-drink intake increased, the more weight they gained and the more their disease risk went up.
Those who curbed their intake did not see those negative results
So the next time you’re looking for something other than water to drink, try seltzer or unsweetened tea. Even diet soda is probably a better choice. Every time you pick one of these over a sweetened beverage, you’ll also be cutting anywhere from 150 to 400 calories.
Swap the white bread and rice in your meals for whole grains
One of the least healthy components of most American diets appears to be refined carbohydrates, a category that includes white bread and white rice. Refined carbs can also be found in lots of other processed foods — they appear on nutrition labels as “refined flour” or just “flour.”
A 2012 study published in the journal Food and Nutrition Research found strong links between diets high in refined carbohydrates and weight gain. One reason for this may be that refined grains are processed quickly and turned into sugar in the body.
Whole grains, on the other hand, get digested slowly and fill you up for hours. The key difference is that whole grains still have their nutritious, fiber-rich outer shells, such as the germ and bran. Those parts get stripped off of refined carbs in a factory before you eat them.Roxanne B. Sukol, medical director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Enterprise, said people should think of refined carbohydrates simply as “stripped carbs” and avoid them whenever possible.