Weight loss

10 weight-loss tips that actually work

March 4, 2013 at 9:32 AM ET

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You'll feel fuller and take in less calories if you drink a lot of water, experts suggest.
By Diana Kelly, Prevention

 

 

If you've ever tried to lose weight (and who hasn't), you've got to be mindful of whose advice you take. Your colleague says you need to cut out carbs. Your gym buddy knows the secret is to stop eating after 7 p.m. Your Facebook friend swears she'll be in swimsuit shape by March if she only eats once a day. Your husband, well, he sneezes and the weight seems to fall off.

But do any of these tips really work? To help you shed those extra pounds--and keep them off--without starving yourself, ditching your social life, or eating only at odd times of the day, we talked to experienced nutritionists for real-world advice you can actually live with, day in and day out. We'll tell you how to focus on the delicious foods you can add to your diet, why you should be eating more often (yes!), the fat loss benefits of more sleep, and how even taking a few deep breaths can put you on a successful path to weight loss. Here, the 10 best diet tips of all time. Say buh-bye to hunger and hello skinny jeans.

1. Never get too hungry

You make poor decisions when your judgment is compromised. Hunger is a primal urge that's difficult to deny. When you're famished, it's hard to hold off until you can find healthy food. As a result, you end up eating anything that's not nailed down, and typically, regretting it. Planning meals and snacks works wonders to head off the intense hunger that can do a number on your best intentions to eat right. Always tote healthy snacks, such as an ounce of pistachios, a hard-cooked egg and some whole grain crackers, Greek yogurt, or 1/4 cup raisins. Don't skip meals or skimp on them, either. Here, 6 portable, protein-packed snacks that fill you up!

--Elizabeth Ward, RD, author of My Plate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better

2. Be honest about your daily calorie allowance

Everyone has a calorie budget, whether you're trying to maintain your weight or lose a few pounds. I've found that people ignore this simple fact. Your calorie budget allows you to build a healthy diet, and it helps prevent frustration about weight control. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide suggested daily calorie intakes based on gender, age, and physical activity level. When you know your calorie budget, then you can plan on how many servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and other protein sources to include every day.

--Elizabeth Ward

3. Eat right post-workout

People are notorious for overestimating how many calories they burn during physical activity, which is often far less than actual calories burned. When you overestimate the calories you burn during exercise, you may eat more than you need, making weight loss and maintenance difficult. High-intensity exercise may drive women to eat more, and moderate exercise may be the key to easier weight control. To see how many average calories you're burning during everyday activities and exercise, check out this chart from the CDC. You can see how easy it is to wipe out the calories burned during a workout with just a few extra nibbles during the day.

--Elizabeth Ward

4. Use the red, orange and green rule

At each meal include one food that is any of these colors. By focusing on these foods, you'll be sure to get some produce on your plate and won't have space on your plate for higher-calorie fare. (Bonus: Colorful fruits and veggies help your skin look healthier and younger! Here's what to eat for glowing skin!)

--Lyssie Lakatos, RD, and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, authors of The Secret To Skinny: How Salt Makes You Fat

5. Eat one less bite

Doing this at every meal could save about 75 calories a day which equates to nearly an 8-pound weight loss in one year!

--Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames

6. Be a heavy drinker

Water is essential for keeping the body hydrated and we're actually more likely to retain "water weight" by not drinking enough of it rather than by having too much. The needs of each person will be different, but the general recommended daily amount is 64 ounces. It also takes up space in your stomach so you'll feel fuller while taking in less calories. Find out the best non-boring ways to get in your recommended servings of water.

--Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames

7. Kick the salt habit

Salt is a big contributor to weight gain and often a reason why the numbers on the scale aren't going down. The average American consumes twice the amount of salt they should have each day, leading to weight gain, bloating, and the inability to lose stubborn pounds. Salt can also make you feel hungrier and thirstier, so check the nutrition labels for high sodium levels and choose fresh over packaged or restaurant foods. You'll see a puffy face and belly go down quickly just by cutting back on your sodium intake and choosing more natural foods.

--Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames

8. Spice up your food

Adding hot spices to your meals can help curb hunger, according to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. Need another reason to add some heat? Scientists at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that capsaicin (a compound found in chilies) triggers your brain to release feel-good endorphins. A full belly and a good mood? Pass the hot sauce!

--Christine Avanti, CN, author of Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food

9. Don't think diet soda will help you lose weight

A University of Texas Health Science Center study found that the more diet sodas a person drank, the greater their risk of becoming overweight. Downing just two or more cans a day increased waistlines by 500%. Why? Artificial sweeteners can disrupt the body's natural ability to regulate calorie intake based on the sweetness of foods, suggested an animal study from Purdue University. That means people who consume diet foods might be more likely to overeat, because your body is being tricked into thinking it's eating sugar, and you crave more.

A separate study found that even just one diet soda a day is linked to a 34% higher risk of metabolic syndrome, the group of symptoms including belly fat and high cholesterol that puts you at risk for heart disease. Whether that link is attributed to an ingredient in diet soda or the drinkers' eating habits is unclear. But is that one can really worth it?

10. Focus on nutrient balance instead of calorie counting

Making sure an eating occasion has carbs, protein, and fat instead of just counting calories (like a 100-calorie pack) delivers better energy and fat loss results by giving the body what it needs, like quick- and longer-digesting nutrients so you stay full longer. See ashleykoffapproved.com/nutritionplan for guidance.

--Ashley Koff, RD, Prevention Advisory Board member

More from Prevention: 

52 Ways To Lose A Pound A Week!

Side Effects of Drinking Diet Soda

Weight Loss Tips: Reset Your Body Clock with The Belly Melt Diet

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