When it comes to losing weight, you have two choices: go into it with a fixed mindset (you believe your thoughts and experiences about weight loss are fixed), or start your journey with a growth mindset (you're eager to learn and explore new ways to lose weight). It comes as no surprise that losing weight requires a growth mindset, which will increase the odds of losing weight and keeping it off for good.
There's a pretty dizzying amount of research backing up this regime as a solid option to enhance your health, lower cholesterol, and encourage healthy, lasting weight loss. DASH (the acronym stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has you loading up on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (surprise!) and removing foods high in saturated fat from your diet. Research also shows that this diet may even ward off the onset of type 2 diabetes.
At the heart of its flexible system: SmartPoints. SmartPoints derive primarily from number of calories; sugar and saturated fat drive the number up, protein brings it down. Getting a feel for the number of points that different foods typically “cost” in order to stay on your daily “budget” is a great way to cultivate healthy decision-making: A fried chicken wing is 7 points, while 3 oz. of chicken breast without the skin is 2 points. A sugar-laden Coca-Cola is 9 points, but so is a dinner-sized serving of Moroccan chicken rice and potatoes. Some foods are zero points: fruits and vegetables, skinless chicken and turkey breast, seafood, eggs, nonfat yogurt. Being encouraged to eat certain items in this way helps to restructure your mindset around food.
Real talk: It could take weeks or months to see the metabolic effects of exercise on the scale, and even then, building muscle, which is denser than body fat, could lead to weight gain. "Do what you like because it’s good for you," Dr. Seltzer says, noting the way exercise is awesome for your heart, mental health, and more—and that not all measure of progress can be seen on the scale.
Think of each almond as a natural weight-loss pill. A study of overweight and obese adults found that, combined with a calorie-restricted diet, consuming a little more than a quarter cup of the nuts can decrease weight more effectively than a snack comprised of complex carbohydrates and safflower oil—after just two weeks! (And after 24 weeks, those who ate the nuts experienced a 62% greater reduction in weight and BMI!) For optimal results, eat your daily serving before you hit the gym. A study printed in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that almonds, rich in the amino acid L-arginine, can actually help you burn more fat and carbs during workouts. Fill up, but don’t fill out: Use these Eat This, Not That!-recommended 10 Daily Habits That Blast Belly Fat.
Before you eat, have a big glass of water. Being even just slightly dehydrated makes you prone to sugar cravings, especially if you've been exercising. Better yet, add some ice: A German study found that drinking about 16 ounces of cold water increased metabolic rate by 30% for an hour. If you're still hungry after sipping some water, then go ahead and eat.
A. "You'll be better able to maintain your weight loss if you don't have to permanently eliminate or restrict a single food group," explains Densie Webb, R.D. Low-carb diets are designed for short stints because your body simply cannot function without carbohydrates for very long. Diets that have this as their weight loss technique are appealing because they promise quick results, but studies show that after 12 months, they provide no greater weight loss benefit than a typical reduced-calorie, low-fat diet. Slow, steady weight loss is much easier to maintain for life, says Elisa Zied, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
Important Note: as with most diet ideas, these strategies should be used in moderation. There is a tremendous amount of social, cultural, and peer pressure in our world to “be thin.” The strategies I'm sharing below aren't meant to promote that type of behavior. My goal is offer ideas that make it easier to live healthy in a sustainable way. Your ultimate goal should always be to regain your health and love yourself.
Giancoli also recommends finding a diet that fits in with how you really live. She notes that if you enjoy going out to eat but try to commit to a diet that forbids you from ever going to a restaurant, you’re just going to cheat. “It’s not sustainable… You’re most likely going to have a healthier meal if you’re going to cook yourself, but you’re depriving yourself of that social interaction if you never go out.” To put it another way: Your eating practices shouldn’t isolate you or keep you from having fun.
Listen up: Skipping meals will not make you lose weight faster. If a hectic day makes a sit-down meal impossible, stash an energy bar or a piece of fruit in your car or tote, keep snacks in your office desk drawer, and make a point of getting up to grab a nosh — anything that will keep you from going hungry! Going long periods of time without food does double-duty harm on our healthy eating efforts by both slowing down your metabolism, and priming you for another binge later in the day. (Think: You've skipped breakfast and lunch, so you're ready to takedown a whole turkey by dinner!) Make it your mission to eat three meals and two snacks every day, and don't wait longer than three to four hours without eating. Set a "snack alarm" on your phone if needed.
Spice up your favorite foods with a few dashes of hot cayenne pepper sauce. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, an appetite suppressant; a study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate capsaicin consumed 200 fewer calories at the next meal. Not only will this help you cut back on calories and boost weight loss, but researchers have also found that capsaicin can help you lose belly fat and lose weight fast.
Dairy products contain varying amounts of lactose (milk sugar), which slows down weight loss. What’s more, part of the protein in milk generates a significant insulin response, which can have the same effect. Consequently, cutting back on dairy products may accelerate weight loss. This applies especially to dairy products typically lacking in fat, such as regular milk and various yogurts, but be careful with full-fat dairy such as cream and cheese all the same. And don’t forget whey protein powder, which is pure milk protein.
Protein is naturally filling and takes longer to digest than simple carbohydrates. When people drank a whey protein drink, they lost about 4 pounds more and about an inch more from their waists over 6 months and felt less hungry than people given a carbohydrate shake instead. Other research in mice, found that when mice were given extra whey protein they gained less weight and body fat and more lean muscle, even when calories were the same. Whey protein is found naturally in yogurt and other dairy.
Experts agree that the more tools and guidance you have on this journey, the smoother your trip will be. Some weight loss programs offer services like in-person coaching, full meal plans, prepackaged foods and online support. By considering the different programs, you can find the program that works best with your current lifestyle. Once you've found the right plan, commit to it. You’ll get back as much as you put into it.