Need to drop a few pounds? As with any goal, it’s essential to head into the project with a strategy in hand. To increase the probability of success, figure out how to respond to any possible roadblocks and look for opportunities to make the process easier. And plan some rewards for yourself!
Choosing a Food Plan
The cornerstone of your weight loss strategy will be your food plan. There is no one best diet—the best diet for you is the one you’ll stick to because it fits your lifestyle. Do you love to cook and try new recipes, or do you need a high level of convenience? Do you like a wide variety of foods or do you have a limited palate? Any food allergies, intolerances, or other issues to consider? Be realistic: A diet featuring mostly raw vegetables may be very effective for weight loss, but how long could you stick with it? Be wary of any diet that severely restricts calories or types of food. In the 1970s, one popular weight loss diet consisted almost exclusively of eggs, steak, grapefruit, and coffee. It wasn’t particularly effective or nutritious, but the myth that grapefruit accelerates fat loss persists to this day.
The Role of Energy Density
- Whatever food plan you choose, be mindful of energy density. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that many dietary patterns can lead to weight loss. A commonality? Including primarily foods that are low in calories and limiting consumption of foods with high energy density. (Examples of high-energy-density foods include eggs, bacon, ice cream, butter, cheese, and peanut butter.) These foods still have a place in your diet, but portion control is crucial. Here are two examples of how to balance energy density:
- Consider a meal of steak, baked potato, and sauteed carrots and broccoli. An eight-ounce steak, large baked potato, and half cup of vegetables could add up to 800 calories or more. In contrast, a four-ounce steak, small potato, and two cups of vegetables will come in at around 400-500 calories.
- Avocados are high in energy density, but they have many health benefits and deserve to be part of your weight loss diet. Choose a very lean protein like tuna and a dressing low in calories like a vinaigrette when you include some avocado in a salad.
Hot Now: The Mediterranean Diet
The Penn State study takes the Mediterranean eating pattern, which emphasizes low-energy-dense foods, as an example of a healthy diet for weight loss. The list below includes some of the highly recommended foods of a typical Mediterranean diet:
- Vegetables – broccoli, tomatoes, leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, kale
- Fruits – berries, cherries, melon
- Legumes – peanuts, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas
- Whole Grains – wheat, oats, buckwheat, barley, brown rice
- Fish and Seafood – salmon, mackerel, tuna
- Dairy Foods – feta cheese, Parmesan cheese, Greek yogurt
- Healthy Fats – extra virgin olive oil, avocado, olives, walnuts, almonds
- Poultry and Eggs – chicken
Herbs, spices, garlic, and citrus juice add plenty of seasoning to the Mediterranean plate and zero (or almost zero) calories or fat.
Accommodating Higher Fiber Levels
Almost any weight loss diet you follow will probably increase your consumption of foods that cause gas and bloating. These foods include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale, and legumes like Navy beans, black beans, and chickpeas. Make things easier on yourself (well, your gut!) by:
- Cooking vegetables to make them easier to digest
- Eating legumes with whole grains like rice or quinoa
- Being patient. Your body will adjust if you regularly consume these foods.
- Take a supplement like Fit, which includes the probiotics BIFIDOBACTERIUM LACTIS BL-07 and BIFIDOBACTERIUM LACTIS BL-07, to ease the gas and bloating. It also includes BACILLUS SUBTILIS DE111® which helps the body assimilate nutrients and BIFIDOBACTERIUM LACTIS B420 which can reduce body fat and control appetite.
The Rest of Your Weight Loss Strategy
Get moving – Any increase in your fitness level will provide benefits, even if your first challenge is walking around the block. Being physically active improves your mood, increases energy, and burns calories. And as you drop pounds and that morning run gets easier, you get a boost of motivation to continue your efforts.
Plan for roadblocks – What situations can sabotage your efforts, and how can you address them? For example, if you sometimes work late and grab an unhealthy meal on the way home, making a batch of chili or soup to stock your freezer can help you stay on track and out of the drive-through lane.
Make it fun! – Pick one evening a week to try a new recipe that features an ingredient you’ve never had. Plan small rewards for yourself as you work towards your goal. And be sure to include metrics like achieving a streak of walking two miles a day for five days so that it’s not just about the scale.
Whatever your strategy, improving your health by shedding excess weight will be worth the effort.