If you trying to lose weight, you need to find the best strategy that works for you. As I always tell my clients, there is no magic pill and lasting change happens over time. Here are my favorite “undiet” strategies that require no deprivation or following the latest fad diet trend.
Calories do matter. You want to make sure you are consuming the right number of calories for your body that support a healthy metabolism. For instance, an athlete will need more calories than a sedentary individual who works at a computer. Tracking apps, such as MyFitnessPal and Lose It!, are great at calculating your daily calorie intake needs based on your goals and activity level. Plus, logging your food and exercise will help you stay motivated, mindful and accountable.
The quality of your food matters. Your body processes a 200-calorie snack of cheese puffs, entirely differently than it does hummus and vegetable sticks. Therefore, focus on eating unprocessed whole foods (vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, nuts, whole grains) and cut “weigh” back on refined, processed foods (sugar, white flour, fast food, junk food).
The timing of your food matters. If you’re trying to lose weight, eat every 3-4 hours to support your metabolism and include protein at every meal and snack. In fact, eating a protein paired with a healthy fat (nut butter, olive oil, coconut oil) and slow releasing carbohydrate (vegetable, fruit, whole grain) will stabilize your blood sugar and keep you feeling satisfied.
You also want to stop eating after dinner and go at least 13 hours before breakfast to allow your body to rest and reboot (dinner at 7pm, breakfast at 8am). This is a light form of intermittent fasting, which promotes weight loss and healthy aging.
Get moving. Think about it. A lion doesn’t pop by his local grocery store for dinner. All the other creatures in the world must physically obtain their food (unless of course, they’re my spoiled golden retrievers!). This practice naturally keeps calorie intake and expenditure more even. Therefore, as many of us work at sedentary jobs, it is even more important that we get daily activity. Strive for 10,000 steps a day, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park at the end of the parking lot, garden or take an exercise class. Simply make a point of being physical every day.
Manage your stress. Stress not only causes individuals to indulge in emotional eating, but it impacts your hormones cortisol and insulin, which can lead to fat molecules being deposited around your belly. You can practice meditation on apps like Calm or Headspace, as well as put in place other ways to manage your stresses. For instance, if you had a tough day at work, call a friend, go for a walk with your dog, journal or take a Pilates class, as opposed to drowning your feelings in a pint of ice cream.
Catch your ZZZ’s. You need 7-9 hours of sleep per night to regulate your hormones and keep your metabolism in check. When you are sleep deprived, your hormones ghrelin and leptin get disrupted. Ghrelin is the go hormone that tells you when to eat, while leptin is the stop hormone that tells you when you are full. Thus, more ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain. Check out my blog Sleep Yourself Healthy for simple tips.
Be realistic about your goals. According to Reuters Health, a recent study suggested that six years after their dramatic weight loss on the TV show “The Biggest Loser,” most contestants regained the pounds and slowed their metabolisms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that individuals lose 1-2 pounds per week to support sustainable weight loss. As I teach my clients, just because it’s possible to lose a lot more weight initially on a fad diet, doesn’t mean it’s the smart strategy for you. You’re much better off modifying your lifestyle overtime and keeping the weight off for good!