Sure, you can lose weight quickly. There are plenty of fad diets that work to shed pounds rapidly — while leaving you feeling hungry and deprived. But what good is losing weight only to regain it? To keep pounds off permanently, it’s best to lose weight slowly. And many experts say you can do that without going on a “diet.” Instead, the key is making simple tweaks to your lifestyle.
One pound of fat — is equal to 3,500 calories. By shaving 500 calories a day through dietary and exercise modifications, you can lose about a pound a week. If you only need to maintain your current weight, shaving 100 calories a day is enough to avoid the extra 1-2 pounds most adults gain each year.
Adopt one or more of these simple, painless strategies to help lose weight without going on a “diet”:
Choose Liquid Calories Wisely. Sweetened drinks pile on the calories, but don’t reduce hunger like solid foods do. Satisfy your thirst with water, sparkling water with citrus, skim or low-fat milk, or small portions of 100% fruit juice. Try a glass of nutritious and low-calorie vegetable juice to hold you over if you get hungry between meals. Be careful of alcohol calories, which add up quickly. If you tend to drink a glass or two of wine or a cocktail on most days, limiting alcohol to the weekends can be a huge calorie saver.
Eat More Produce. Eating lots of low-calorie, high-volume fruits and vegetables crowds out other foods that are higher in fat and calories. Move the meat off the center of your plate and pile on the vegetables. Or try starting lunch or dinner with a vegetable salad or bowl of broth-based soup, suggests Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan. The U.S. government’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines suggest that adults get 7-13 cups of produce daily. Ward says that’s not really so difficult: “Stock your kitchen with plenty of fruits and vegetables and at every meal and snack, include a few servings,” she says. “Your diet will be enriched with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and if you fill up on super-nutritious produce, you won’t be reaching for the cookie jar.”
By substituting whole grains for refined grains like white bread, cakes, cookies, and pretzels, you add much-needed fiber and will fill up faster so you’re more likely to eat a reasonable portion. Choose whole-wheat breads and pastas, brown rice, bran flakes, popcorn, and whole-rye crackers.
Control Your Environments. Another simple strategy to help cut calories is to control your environment — everything from stocking your kitchen with lots of healthy options to choosing the right restaurants. That means avoiding the temptation by staying away from all-you-can-eat restaurants.