Simple strategies for dropping the pounds-and keeping them off.
Losing weight may not require as much work as you think. For example, consuming just 100 fewer calories each day is enough to avert the 1 to 2 pounds the average person gains each year. To lose weight, you have to downsize by 500 calories a day-but
you don’t have to slash them all from your plate.
“You can eat 250 calories less and then burn 250 by walking for 30 to 45 minutes. Over a week, that will produce about a pound of weight loss,” says Holly Wyatt, M.D., a clinical researcher at the Center for Human Nutrition in Denver. You won’t see dramatic changes immediately, but small tweaks like these will pay off over time.
1. Eat dairy daily. A piece of cheese or a cup of milk or yogurt can rev up your metabolism, a recent University of Tennessee study found. People who cut 500 calories a day from their diets while eating yogurt three times a day lost 13 pounds over 12 weeks, more weight and more body fat than a control group who only cut calories.
2. Have an apple before dinner. How did 346 people in small-town Washington State lose an average of 17 pounds each in three months? With regular exercise, balanced eating, and an apple with every meal. The residents owed their rapid weight loss in part to the fruit’s ample fiber, most of which is in the skin (a typical apple contains 5 grams). The roughage makes you feel fuller, blunting a raging appetite.
3. Be wary of white foods. That’s the color of most high-calorie carbs-bagels, potatoes, breads, rice, creamed corn, and the like. During this holiday season, decorate your plate with brightly hued fruits and vegetables to lower calories, increase fiber, and help you stay slim.
4. Drink water with a twist. Everyone knows keeping water intake up can keep calorie consumption down. Your body often mistakes thirst for hunger, so staying hydrated means you’ll probably also stay satiated. The problem is, many people find plain water too dull. Juice up your tap water with a twist of lime or lemon, or buy flavored seltzer or club soda.
5. Act like a kid. Expand your definition of physical activity to include shaking your booty with your kids to Raffi or The Wiggles. It’s a welcome break from the StairMaster, can burn just as many calories (about 120 every 20 minutes), and is a lot more fun.
6. Munch a handful of M&M’s. Two dozen plain candies, or just under half a pack, add only 100 calories to your daily tally and can satisfy a voracious sweet tooth. So go ahead and have a treat when you really want it instead of letting your cravings build up to the point of overindulgence.
7. Be picky about bread. Choose high-fiber whole-grain loaves over white ones, which are made with highly refined flour. The fiber in bread has the same appetite-inhibiting effect as that of whole-grain cereals. Select loaves with whole grain listed as the first ingredient, and make sure each slice contains at least 2 grams of fiber.
8. Eat breakfast. A Harvard study found that people who did so every day cut their chances of becoming obese and developing diabetes by 35 to 50 percent, compared with those who ate breakfast only twice a week. What you eat, though, is as important as when. Whole grains such as oatmeal and cereals that contain at least 2 grams of fiber per serving help pare the pounds.
9. Brush your teeth after every meal. It doesn’t just fight cavities: Brushing serves as a physical and psychological cue to stop eating. After all, who wants to dip back into the leftover lasagna with the minty taste of toothpaste in their mouth? When you’re on the go, popping a few Altoids or a breath strip can have the same effect.