Even if getting a leaner physique is one of your top goals, it can be difficult to cut out your morning coffee drink or afternoon snack of Pringles and doughnuts. This definitely explains why most of us want to shed pounds, yet so many remain overweight.
It may sound straightforward and easy, but if you’ve tried to lose weight in the past you know it can be difficult. Here are some of the easiest ways to shed pounds, get lean, and stay that way.
1. Eat protein at every meal
Consuming moderate amounts of carbohydrates and higher amounts of protein is recommended to reduce overall body fat. Protein also helps maintain lean muscle tissue and keeps you feeling full longer while burning your fat deposits for fuel. Focus on lean meats like chicken and fish with moderate amounts of lean beef. If you’re vegetarian you can fill up on Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts and seeds, and beans.
2. Reduce portions
You may think you need to finish all of your food in one sitting. But in reality, the portion size of your entrée at a restaurant or delicious home-cooked meal is almost always double what you should be eating. In order to shed weight, try trading in your giant dinner plates for a salad plate and pack smaller lunches that are heavier on fruits, vegetables, and proteins, and light on carbohydrates.
3. Pack snacks
Especially as you start to eat smaller portions, you may be hungrier in between meals. To ensure you don’t hit the vending machine, Eating Well recommends packing a few different snacks with you daily. When you have something you can grab easily, you’ll be less likely to chow down on something you’ll regret later. Some healthy snack ideas include cut veggies with hummus, nuts, peanut butter and apple, or a filling Greek yogurt.
4. Keep a positive outlook
There will be times that you eat healthy all day only to come home and binge on a plate of brownies or order a burger and fries for dinner. FitDay suggests paying attention to how overeating or eating poorly made you feel, then focus on starting fresh tomorrow. Keep a positive outlook and focus on the day in front of you rather than the outcome of the day prior.
5. Cut out empty calories
There are a lot of calories in sweets and as delicious as they are, they don’t provide your body with any nutrition, Natural Balance Foods points out, leaving you unsatisfied and wanting more. Don’t deprive yourself, but limit your intake of sugar, especially muffins, cakes, cookies, and candy. If you can’t end your day without something sweet, savor a bit of dark chocolate or mix a cup of dried fruit and chocolate chips. Another way to lower your calorie intake is to skip sugary drinks like soda, energy drinks, and flavored coffee.
6. Stop eating your feelings
Binging on junk food is a common response to stress and anxiety, and can make you gain weight if you do it too much. Mayo Clinic calls this emotional eating, and lists work, relationships, and health problems as potential stressors that can lead to weight gain due to eating too much. Gain control of your stress eating, and you’re less likely to gain weight. If you feel the need to snack when stressed, don’t go straight for comfort food to make yourself feel better.
Fruit, nuts, and veggies might not sound as satisfying as a handful of Reese’s cups, but you’ll feel much better about your food choices later if you go with healthier, stress-relieving snacks.
7. Eat high-fiber foods
Protein is only one of several important nutrients that promotes fullness. It turns out that diets high in fiber-rich foods are associated with lower body weight. Fiber, which forms a gel-like substance as you digest it, sits in your stomach and slows down your digestion to keep you feeling full for longer. The best sources of fiber include plant sources like beans, asparagus, oats, seeds, and fruit.
8. Take your time
Finishing your food as quickly as you can doesn’t help out with digestion. In fact, it can actually be really bad for you. Eating your food more quickly can lead to weight gain, research suggests, because you’re not giving your satiety hormones — the chemicals that tell you it’s time to stop eating — enough time to kick in. Eating more slowly tends to reduce overall calorie intake because you’re not stuffing yourself full of food before your body realizes it’s already past full.
Put your fork down between bites. Drink some water. There’s no rush.
9. Put down your phone at meals
You might not think twice about eating in front of the TV or scrolling through Facebook during dinner, but these behaviors make you more likely to overeat. Some research shows people tend to eat more at meals when they’re not paying attention, because they’re either eating too quickly or they grab a second portion without finishing the first. You can put your phone down and turn off Netflix for 15 minutes. You’ll walk away from your meal much more satisfied every time, too.
10. Drink more water
If you often find yourself reaching for food soon after a meal, you could be confusing hunger with thirst. Staying hydrated throughout the day is important, but drinking more water can also help you avoid unnecessary snacking. Your best bet is to stick to mostly water and avoid sugary drinks. These beverages might satisfy your craving for something sweet, but they won’t keep you full. If you need something fizzy, try sparkling water.
Additional reporting by Meg Dowell