- 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 dash of soy 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.
Always beware of products that make outrageous claims. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. When choosing a product, consult with your pharmacist or health care provider for assistance. Important questions to ask are:
1. Has the product been clinically tested?
2. Are there any side effects or interactions?
3. How should the product be taken (before meals, with food)? 4. How long can I take this product?
Drugs are occasionally prescribed for people with a BMI over 30, or people with a BMI over 27 who also have other risk factors or diseases. Typically, these drugs are used to complement dietary therapy and physical activity, and should never be taken in place of lifestyle strategies. There are two main categories of weight loss medications:
• Appetite suppressants decrease appetite and increase the feeling of being full. Side effects include nervousness, insomnia and irritability, increased blood pressure, nausea, diarrhea and dry mouth.
• Drugs affecting the gastrointestinal tract, such as orlistat, decrease the amount of dietary fat that the body absorbs. Reported side effects include loose bowel movements, abdominal cramps and nausea.
Eat at least three meals a day, preferably four to five small meals to keep your metabolism and energy level optimized. Do not skip meals as this can raise your appetite, deplete your energy levels and lead to binge eating. When you are hungry between meals, snack on healthful foods, such as fruit, yogurt, raw vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Focus on fresh, unprocessed foods. Low-fat, nutrient dense foods are your best dietary choices. These include fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans, peas and lentils) and whole grains. Eating foods as close to their natural state as possible will give you the most benefits in terms of nutrients and fiber.
Eat a variety of wholesome foods. This is the best way to ensure you get the optimum amount of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals you need to support lifelong health. We have a tendency to eat our favorite foods over and over. By doing this we miss out on some of the nutrients provided by eating different foods.
Incorporate more fat-fighting foods into your diet: Cayenne pepper—helps suppress appetite and may also increase calorie burning.
Vinegar—contains acetic acid, which may slow the passage of food from the stomach into the small intestine, so your tummy stays full longer. Vinegar can also delay the rise in blood sugar that occurs after you eat a starchy meal such as pasta.
Flaxseed—provides soluble fiber and also contains lignans (plant compounds that act as phytoestrogens and help to balance hormones).
Soybeans—are rich in protein and also contain phytoestrogens. Choose whole soybeans or fermented soy products, like tempeh.
• Keep a food diary. Before you decide what you need to change, take an objective look at what you are eating now. Most of us underestimate the number of calories we eat and forget about the quick little snacks we grab here and there. By writing down everything you put in your mouth you will gain awareness of where you need to make changes, such as whittling down the fillers (refined carbohydrates, sweets, and snack foods).
•Set manageable goals. A 50-pound weight loss is daunting. Focus on five-pound increments instead. If you gradually lose one-half to one pound a week, you will lose five pounds in five to ten weeks. In the meantime, you will be shaking off some of your fattening habits and adopting healthier ones.
•Make more daily health-promoting choices. If you like to snack, choose fresh fruit over ice cream. Opt for nuts or sunflower seeds over high-fat potato chips. Order your latte with skim milk instead of cream. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car farther away from your destination, so you do a little more walking. All of these small shifts in behavior add up to steady weight loss and improved overall health.
•Take pride in your progress. Modest losses can yield impressive health benefits. By losing ten pounds, you can lower your blood pressure significantly. When you lose twenty excess pounds, you: reduce your mortality by 20 to 25 percent; reduce angina symptoms by 91 percent; decrease total cholesterol by 10 percent; cut your risk of developing diabetes by more than 50 percent; and increase your exercise tolerance by 33 percent.
•Make a commitment to lifelong changes. Changing your diet and lifestyle for a month or two is a good start, but it is not enough. For long-term weight loss, you need to make long-term changes.
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 optimal health. 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 magnesium, which is easily depleted.
- Choose foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars or corn syrup.