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Give up restaurants? You don’t have to with the ‘No-Diet Diet’

Does dieting mean you have to give up your favorite restaurant food? No, says David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of Men’s Health, whose new book, “The Eat This Not That! No-Diet Diet,” showcases simple food swaps that can save you pounds. Here, Zinczenko explains how it works.
/ Source: TODAY books

Who says you have to give up your favorite restaurant food in order to lose weight? Let David Zinczenko demonstrate how to keep shedding the pounds via simple food swaps. Here, David explains "The No-Diet Diet"!

“You can’t lose weight eating in restaurants!” So says my close buddy Terri, who is not only a great friend, but one of the busiest people I know. She juggles a 40-hour-a-week job, an overactive 3-year-old, and a couple of errant teenagers in the bargain. Oh, and she works out three times a week as well. “I can’t diet!” she said recently. “I’m so busy, I have to eat restaurant and fast food! How am I ever going to lose these last 10 pounds?”

“Relax,” I told her. “You don’t have to diet, and you don’t have to give up your favorite restaurant food. You just need to follow 'The No-Diet Diet.' ”

Then I laid it all out for her: "The No-Diet Diet" is a plan for people who are simply too busy — or too hungry! — to exercise more or “go on a diet.” That’s my friend Terri — and that’s me, too, and probably you as well. Most of us lead busy lives, and busy lives often send us at meal time toward the flickering neon lights of fast-food and family restaurants, places that aren’t exactly known for their weight-loss magic. So we’re helpless to lose weight, right?

Wrong. More and more restaurants are actually stepping up and offering food that can be part of a weight-loss plan. In fact, you could eat fast food breakfast, lunch and dinner and still lose 10, 20, 30 pounds or more. A lot of restaurants — from Starbucks to Red Lobster and beyond — are stepping up to offer lower-calorie meals that will totally satisfy your need for great flavors, as well as your need to look good in a swimsuit. All you need is a guide to the smartest choices on the restaurant menus, and a few healthy snacks to boost your nutritional intake (and never, ever let you go hungry!).

That’s where the new "The No-Diet Diet" comes in. After all, you are what you eat. And trust me, with "The Eat This, Not That! No-Diet Diet," you’re going to look delicious.


Not That!
Heartland Scramble 1,160 calories 63 g fat (19 g saturated) 2,930 mg sodium

Calorie Equivalent: 6 Krispy Kreme Glazed Doughnuts

Eat This Instead!
Build Your Own Grand Slam with Egg Whites, Bacon, English Muffin, and Fruit 320 calories 6 g fat (2 g saturated) 567 mg sodium

Your Eat This, Not That! No-Diet Diet savings: 840 calories, 57 g fat (17 g saturated), and 2,364 mg of sodium

Denny’s Heart Scrambler — Heartland Scramble, I mean — contains about a day’s worth of sodium and saturated fat. This entrée represents the old model for breakfast diners: Take a healthy food like scrambled eggs and stuff it with so much fat- and sodium-loaded junk that patrons feel like they’re getting a bargain. In reality, you're just getting an excuse to buy new pants — bigger ones. Thankfully, Denny’s is making changes. This Grand Slam is part of the chain’s Better For You Menu, which provides 250 meal combinations all under 550 calories. If you plan on crafting your own Better For You Slam, here a couple points to note: One, choose egg whites over whole eggs. It’s not that whole eggs are bad for you, but Denny’s cooks them with so much butter that each two-egg order ends up with 21 grams of fat and 260 calories. And two, choose regular bacon over turkey bacon. Both options provide 70 calories per serving, but the regular stuff saves you 100 milligrams of sodium over turkey bacon.

Bonus Tip: I'm always keeping my eye on the very best places for you to eat, and the often surprising places where hidden calories lurk.


Not That!
Blueberry Scone and a Grande Tazo Tea Latte (with 2% milk) 700 calories 26 g fat (14.5 g saturated) 58 g sugars

Sugar Equivalent: 29 servings (1.2 tubs) of Extra Creamy Cool Whip

Eat This Instead! Egg White, Spinach & Feta Wrap and a Venti Nonfat Cappuccino 390 calories 10 g fat (3.5 saturated) 18 g sugars

Your Eat This, Not That! No-Diet Diet savings:310 calories, 16 g fat (11 g saturated), and 40 g sugar

Have you seen "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory"? The scene where Violet Beauregard bloats up like a giant blueberry? That’s basically what scones do to your body — even “healthy” blueberry scones like this one. (That’s why we deemed it one of the 19 Worst Breakfasts in America.)

Muffins, scones, or danishes — they’re all just pastries, which means they’re made from little more than fast-digesting carbohydrates. Eat these things for breakfast and they’ll spike your blood sugar and insulin levels and force your body to store glucose as fat. Starbucks' Wrap invokes the opposite response. The combination of spinach and protein-rich eggs provides a nice nutritional balance, but the real accomplishment is the fiber. It’s rare to find a grab-and-go breakfast with more than a couple grams, and this wrap has an astonishing 6! That’s enough to keep your hunger stifled, your body energized, and your belly flat.


Not That! Mom’s Ricotta Meatballs & Spaghetti 1,240 calories 60 g fat (21 g saturated) 3,430 mg sodium

Saturated Fat Equivalent: 14 orders of Cheesy Nachos from Taco Bell

Eat This Instead! Pollo Caprese (pasta and chicken), with a side of broccoli 550 calories 20 g fat (5 g saturated) 1,660 mg sodium

Your Eat This, Not That! No-Diet Diet savings:690 calories, 40 g fat (16 g saturated), and 1,770 mg sodium

Romano's was once among the unhealthiest restaurants in America. But its menu underwent an overhaul in 2009 and is now one of the most nutritionally sound you’ll find outside of your own kitchen. But there are still few holdovers from the days of excess. Spaghetti and meatballs with more than 1,200 calories? Fuggedaboutit! This thing is big enough to feed an entire family of hungry Italians. Go with the Pollo Caprese instead and you’ll earn 46 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, and loads of vitamins and minerals — all for just 550 calories.

Bonus Tip: You can drop pounds quickly by eliminating — or drastically reducing — the liquid calories in your diet. Here's where to start: The 20 Worst Drinks in America.


Not That!
Red Lobster Seaside Shrimp Trio1,010 calories 55 g fat (13 g saturated) 3, 940 mg sodium

Sodium Equivalent: 146 Ritz Crackers Eat This Instead!
Live Maine Lobster with cocktail sauce, Garden Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, and Fresh Broccoli 300 calories 9.5 g fat (1 g saturated) 1,325 mg sodium

Your Eat This, Not That! No-Diet Diet savings:1,240 calories, 68.5 g fat (13 g saturated), and 2,765 mg sodium

Take a second look. This is an entire lobster dinner for only 300 calories. What’s the secret? We swapped out the usual melted-butter dipping sauce for cocktail sauce. That one substitution saves you 310 calories and an astonishing 38 grams of fat. Now get this, if you eat this lobster over the fat-infested Garlic Crab-and-Shrimp Pasta, you’ll add 1,240 calories to your day’s caloric savings. Make a swap like that just three times a week and you stand to drop more than 55 pounds this year!

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