Countless people try the latest fad diets, only to go off the diet when it stops working and eventually try another one, and so on. Don’t be one of those people. Instead, follow these five tips for losing weight safely, naturally and permanently.
1. Eat breakfast and don’t skip meals
Eat more often to avoid a completely empty stomach, which can make you overeat at your next meal.
- Researchers have discovered a hormone called ghrelin, secreted by the stomach. When your stomach is empty, your ghrelin levels surge, which makes you run for the nearest food.
- Instead of skipping meals, plan to eat four to six small meals or snacks, spaced three to five hours apart.
2. Choose your carbs carefully
Despite what the popular media might have you believing, you don’t need to avoid all carbohydrates in order to lose weight. But you should shy away from simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, white bread, white pasta and white rice. These foods are quickly turned into glucose by the body, and the influx of glucose causes a rapid rise in the hormone insulin, whose job it is to escort glucose out of the bloodstream and into cells. A surge of insulin is followed by a glucose “crash,” which leaves you hungry in no time.
3. Focus on complex carbohydrates
Complex carbs can be found in whole-grain foods as well as in vegetables and fruits.
- To avoid insulin spikes, forgo meals made up mostly of simple carbohydrates or starches without fibre (think mashed potatoes).
- If you’re having pasta, have plenty of vegetables or some lean meat along with it, or add beans to the dish. Instead of white toast with jam for breakfast, have whole-wheat toast with an egg-white omelette.
4. Downsize your portions
We’ve become used to bigger and bigger portions both at home and when we eat out. If your fast-food restaurant offers super-size or value meals, think twice about where those extra calories will end up!
- At restaurants, reduce the temptation to clean your plate by setting aside one-third of your meal before you touch it.
- When eating at home, check the portion size of foods you enjoy. If your pasta portion has grown to two cups, cut it back to one, and your waistline will start to show the difference.
- To fool your eye into thinking you’re getting more food, use a bread plate instead of a dinner plate for your entrée and a small cereal bowl instead of a giant pasta bowl for your pasta.
5. Drink plenty of fluids—especially water
Drink water and lots of it. Carbonated water, mineral water and diet sodas are all good choices.
- Fluids quench your thirst and reduce your appetite as well.
- Fruit juice adds calories and sugar without fibre.
- Coffee or tea is fine. If you take it with sugar or milk, select skim milk and an artificial sweetener.
- Allow yourself to have an occasional glass of wine or beer if you wish, but be aware that they add more than 100 calories per glass.
A word to the wise: Don’t attempt to cut all the fat out of your diet. Research has shown that people are able to stay on a diet longer and are better able to maintain their weight loss when their diets allow at least some foods that contain fat — for example, nuts and olive oil.