When you’ve made up your mind to lose weight, you want to see results yesterday. Yet, weight loss is a commitment that is often fraught with misinformation and conflicting advice. What should you do?
Here are five basic weight loss dos — and their counterpoint don’ts — that are the cornerstones of any dietary lifestyle change, regardless of what diet craze is currently in fashion.
You may be tempted to skip a meal in an effort to cut calories, but this can actually be counterproductive. According to WebMD, people who skip meals — especially breakfast — tend to consume more calories during their days than people who don’t. This is because hunger eventually leads to grazing and overeating to compensate.
According to Fitness Magazine, protein protects your muscles from being broken down when you’re losing weight, and it takes greater energy to metabolize than carbs or fats, meaning you’ll burn more calories digesting it. As if that wasn’t enough, protein can also make you feel full, thus helping you avoid needless snacking during the day.
Most sugar substitutes have zero calories, which can make them seem like guilt-free fixes when you’re having cravings. However, they may not be as innocent as you think. While research is still inconclusive, Harvard Health reports there is strong evidence that suggests there may be a link between diet drinks and obesity.
Water is the elixir of choice whether you’re dieting or not. It keeps your body hydrated, improves muscle function and can decrease your appetite if you drink a glass before meals. If you aren’t drinking enough water, your liver has to work overtime and whatever fat you consume will be stored rather than burned off, according to Fitness Magazine.
Fad diets don’t work in the long run because they force you to do things the human body wasn’t meant to sustain. We weren’t designed to run on cayenne pepper, lemonade and maple syrup. You may be able to lose a few extra pounds initially, but you’ll only gain them back — and more — when you rebound.
Instead of approaching weight loss as a temporary diet with a set end goal, commit to making health and wellness part of your everyday lifestyle. Incorporate better eating and regular exercise into your daily living patterns. The more you do these things, the more you make them habits.
Food isn’t evil. If you have a craving for a cheat food, indulge it. Just do it intelligently and in moderation. Instead of scarfing down a bag of chocolates big enough to satisfy a gaggle of trick-or-treaters, have one or two pieces of dark chocolate. Have a single serving of air-popped popcorn with light butter and salt instead of a jumbo bucket with extra butter from the theater. Completing cutting off certain foods may make you feel deprived.
Be mindful of calories that can sneak into your diet while you aren’t paying attention. Salad dressings and mayonnaise are packed with sugar and calories. Alcoholic drinks are also high in sugar and calories, plus they provide no real nutritional value. Cream and flavored syrups in your coffee, cheese on your sandwiches and salads, butter in your oatmeal and honey drizzled in your Greek yogurt all pack additional calories into your day, and they all count.
Jumping on the scale every morning expecting to be rewarded with an ever-plummeting number is a sure-fire way to become frustrated. Our weights can fluctuate as much as five pounds from one day to the next, according to WebMD. Seeing a high number can derail your efforts and make you feel hopeless.
If you want to know if your lifestyle changes are working, check the fit of your clothes. Measure your waist, arms and thighs. Observe your energy levels and how you’re feeling. Remember, muscle weighs more than fat. You could be downsizing to smaller clothes without seeing much of a change in your weight if you’re replacing fat with muscle.
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