Count calories. Knowing how the minimum amount of calories your body needs to function correctly will help you make your own personalized healthy eating plan and lose weight in a way that's quick but sustainable. Your individual calorie needs will vary based on age, gender, height, and activity level. There are online calculators you can use to determine the amount of calories you should be consuming each day.
You can also figure out how much you should be eating by scheduling a consultation with a dietitian or a physician to discuss your weight loss goals, special dietary needs, current eating habits, and potential areas for improvement.
Develop a meal plan. Choose meals that have a healthy balance of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, good fats, and lean proteins. A typical dinner plate should be filled with half vegetables or fruits, half whole grains and lean protein.
The DASH diet, the TLC diet, the Mayo Clinic Diet, the Weight Watchers diet and Volumetrics all provide great meal plans to help you lose weight starting today. Run an internet search on any of the diets and meal plans to find out more.
Eat foods that suppress your appetite.Eating balanced meals will not only provide you with low-calorie nutrition, it will also help tosuppress your appetiteso you won't overeat and foil your plans to lose weight. There are certain foods that keep you feeling sated for hours. Try incorporating the following foods into your diet:
Keep a food diary. Write down every meal, snack, and drink you consume as well as the approximate quantities for an entire week. Writing down what you consume actually helps us to remain mindful of what we put into our bodies and acts as a motivator to stay healthy. If you can, write down the number of calories that go along with each meal or snack you eat.
Don’t forget to include coffee mix-ins, condiments, and other additions to your daily diet.
Identify your food triggers and plan accordingly.Food triggers are the activities we do that make us want to snack. For some people, it's sitting down to watch a movie at night; for others, it's studying late at night. If you know your food triggers, you can plan for them--fill your house with healthy snacks or have them on hand.
If you don’t purchase the unhealthy foods that you love to snack on, you will be less likely to sabotage your diet.
Watch your portion sizes.Incorporateappropriate portion sizesinto your meal plan. For instance, a healthy snack of almonds and dried cranberries can turn into a huge calorie source if you don’t pay attention to quantities. Also, preparing pre-apportioned healthy snacks can help you avoid mindless overeating and can make it convenient to grab a healthy snack.
Strongly flavored versions of the snacks you love (but don't love you) can take longer to eat and solve cravings more efficiently. A small bar of dark chocolate is initially tasty, takes a while to melt, and doesn't leave you wanting more, while basic milk chocolate would be yummy by the bag. A Jolly Rancher satisfies taste cravings immediately, and food cravings as it dissolves. A dark beer is initially satisfying, but not very "drinkable." Think "Bet you can't eat but one!"
Make a list of what you'll need for these meals, and don't stray from your list when you get to the grocery store. Looking at market circulars can also give you ideas and even cut costs by buying weekly sale items and seasonal produce.
Don’t skip meals.Eating a healthy breakfast increases your rest metabolic rate earlier in the day, keeps your energy levels high, and may help you resist the urge of high-calorie snacks throughout the day. Plan to eat a small snack or meal every two to four hours to keep your metabolism active. Eating regularly also keeps your blood sugar stable and reduces unhealthy calorie binges or deviations from your meal plan.
Avoid tempting grocery aisles.Avoid the areas in the grocery store that stock sodas, cookies, ice cream, pizzas, and other fattening and highly processed foods, so that you are less likely to purchase unhealthy options. If you can’t see them, you can’t be tempted by them.
Select smart substitutes for your favorite high calorie foods.Most foods have healthier counterparts that will allow you to enjoy your favorite foods without unnecessary fat, sugar, and calories. Exchanging high-calorie processed foods and drinks for healthier alternatives can help youlose weightfaster.
Consider eating vegetarian a few days each week. By replacing meat with nutritious foods like beans, tofu, or lentils, you can cut significant amounts of your daily calorie intake while adding many nutrients to your diet.
Eat delicious fruit for dessert rather than a processed cookie or cake.
Swap potato chips and candy bars for snacks that are nutrient-rich and low in calories and fat. Try combining string cheese with a handful of grapes, spreading peanut butter on a few crackers, or dipping sliced red pepper into a few tablespoons of hummus.
Try substituting vinegar and lemon juice for your ranch or blue cheese dressing.
Cook with a tablespoon of olive oil instead of butter.
Stop drinking sugary liquids.Sip on water, tea, black coffee or seltzer instead of soft drinks, juice energy drinks, flavored coffees, and martinis. Cutting calories with substitutions can be a lot easier than you might think. For example, a tall latte in the morning may pack 500 calories. Since a pound of body fat (lost or gained) is roughly equivalent to 3,500 calories, replacing that rich beverage with black coffee can help you lose a pound per week.
Drinking water instead of soda, coffee, alcohol, juice, or milk may help you cut hundreds of calories per day. Increasing your water intake can also help your body efficiently use nutrients, keep you energized, get the most benefit from your exercise routine, and feel full longer.
If you can handle substituting water for all other drinks for a week, you can expect faster weight loss and see dramatic improvement in energy levels and even appearance very quickly.