The weight loss strategies listed below work for anyone, anytime - regardless. They are simple, straightforward and easy to apply. So really, there's no reason not to!
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- Do not eat out during the initial phase of your weight loss program (i.e. during the weight loss induction phase, which is usually the first 3-4 months).
This is perhaps the most important among all weight loss strategies. If you break this rule, you are setting yourself up for failure: Restaurant food is tricky, and calories are hidden in all sorts of seemingly innocuous items. Moreover, the real calorie content of most restaurant dishes is difficult to gage, and it takes skill and experience to navigate around these traps. Take my word on this: Stay out of restaurants, at least in the beginning. If you cannot do that, here's an option: Look for Health Food Restaurants in your area, and frequent those instead of regular restaurants. But remember, health food or not, the key to weight management is Portion Control. And once you're sitting in a restaurant, this point can be rather tricky.
Note: Coffee-shops and bars qualify as restaurants as well and are best avoided. If this imposes insurmountable hardship on you, check out the links above for tips on how to choose weight-friendlier items on the menu.
And remember, no matter what, you must stay out of fast food places!
Regardless of what anyone may tell you, there are no weight loss strategies applicable to fast food.
- Do not eat carry-out during the initial phase of your weight loss program (for the same reasons as above).
- Do not snack between meals, unless hungry. (Snacking out of boredom is an extremely common habit - and what's worse, it frequently goes unnoticed and unchecked. This kind of snacking can contribute a significant amount toward your total calorie intake, without you even being aware of it.)
Reasonable snacking, however, is ok for the express purpose of curbing hunger between meals. By "reasonable" I mean you don't want to put more than 150-250 calories in your body with any one snack, and you don't want foods high in saturated fats or sugars.
- Learn to curb hunger, not endure hunger! This is the most basic and indispensable of weight loss strategies.
Going hungry on a regular basis puts you in the so-called starvation mode, which shuts down your
metabolism in an effort to conserve calories. The result is that you maintain your weight
in spite of a much lower calorie intake. In other words, your efforts to loose weight are
rendered futile, and the hunger your endure is for nothing. (This scenario is especially
likely if you lead a sedentary lifestyle and try to loose weight by drastically reducing
your food intake.)
- In the grocery store, avoid the following aisles: Chips, Candy, Cookies. (Talk about draconian weight loss strategies, right...? Still, the fact is: Any product in those aisles will likely cause more harm than good to your health and weight. So try to abide by this rule at least during the initial stage of your weight loss program, when you are actively trying to reduce your weight.)
- Beware of regular dairy products: They contain in plenty of saturated fats. As such,
avoid whole milk, butter, cheese, cream, sour cream, whipped cream, chocolate milk, etc.
Substitute with fat-free or reduced fat dairy products.
- Now generalize the above to all other food items: When given the option, always choose
fat-free or reduced fat food items over regular foods. (In spite of what you may think, the taste is almost
identical. It's just the calorie content that is significantly lower.)
The above constitutes the most general (and quite likely most effective) of all weight loss strategies. Apply this rule correctly and consistently, and you're on your way to effective weight control.
- And for the perfectionist in you, here's one more tip: When picking low-fat foods, choose the ones that are lowest in fat. (The grocery store offers you many options offers you many options).
- Watch your salad dressing, sauces, marinade, Ragu, Prego, etc: Some of these items bring in plenty of unnecessary calories. Low calorie versions are available, without much difference in the taste.
Note: There are many great-tasting salad dressings containing less than 25 calories per serving. Their regular counterparts, on the other hand, may contain up to 100 calories per serving. (Think about the amount of calories you would be saving daily!
- Avoid fried foods of any kind (including fried meat, fish, rice, potatoes, chips, fries, etc). Fried foods are rich in saturated fats and may also contain trans fats which are extremely damaging to your health and weight.
- Avoid red meat, or any meat product that has visible fat content (e.g., bacon)
- Do not purchase a food item if the nutrition label indicates trans fats greater than zero.
- Avoid potatoes (at least during the initial stage of your weight loss plan). Regardless of how they are prepared, potatoes are a diet breaker due to their high glycemic index.
- Stay away from soft drinks, including fruit juices: Most are artificially sweetened and
bring in plenty of unnecessary calories. Switch to water, or use diet drinks.
Tip: Pepsi One (sweetened with Splenda), actually tastes surprisingly good, and brings in 1 calorie per 8 oz serving.
- Avoid alcohol as much as possible. Alcohol (including beer, wine, liquor, etc) brings in a hefty amount of calories (7 kcal per gram), second only to fats (which bring in 9 kcal per gram). Especially damaging are alcoholic drinks containing added sugar (such as Margaritas, Pina Coladas, etc), or creamy alcoholic drinks containing added fats and sugar (such as the infamous Mudslide - which, depending on the size of the glass, may bring in up to 850 calories). So remember: Regardless of how well you may apply all other weight loss strategies on this page, one Mudslide is enough to kill it all...
- Limit your intake of cake and pie to one slice per day (or less). Pick fruit pies over other pies.
In particular, avoid cakes with plenty of frosting or butter cream. They contain plenty of "bad carbs" with high glycemic index.
- For the same reason, avoid ice-cream, especially on top of a cake or pie. The "à-la-mode" pie is a sure recipe for weight gain. If you must have ice-cream, choose low calorie versions and limit your portions to half a cup less than 2-3 times a week.
- As a more general application of the above, try to avoid all foods with high sugar content (especially highly processed, refined sugary products). Besides eliminating saturated fat from your diet, this will probably help you the most in your weight loss efforts. These 2 weight loss strategies (avoiding saturated fat and avoiding sugars) sum up the essence of an effective weight control diet.
So far, we've been dealing with the "don't" part of our weight loss strategies.
Let's now see what items you can and should eat to facilitate weight loss:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables: Eat 2-3 helpings per day, every day.
- Low fat yogurt (e.g., Dannon, Activia, Yoplait, etc): It's good for your health and helpful in weight control.
- Fat-free milk (in moderation): It brings in quality proteins and calcium.
- Soy products (in moderation): They bring in monounsaturated (heart-healthy) fats and quality proteins.
- Whole grain breads and cereals: They are healthier than their refined (enriched) counterparts, and promote weight loss due to their high content of fiber. However, for effective weight loss, limit the amount of bread you eat to 3 slices per day or less (at least during the initial phase of your weight loss program). Alternatives: 3 English muffins per day (or less), or 2 medium buns per day (or less).
- Choose whole grain rice and pasta over white rice and pasta. Remember, however, to limit your intake of pasta and rice during the initial phase of your weight loss program.
- Eat fish (grilled or broiled - not fried) 3-4 times a week, or take a daily supplement of omega-3-fatty acids (a compound found in fish oil, which is beneficial for your health and helpful in weight control. Note: Wild fish is a far better source of omega-3-fatty acids than farm-raised fish (due to the way farm-fish fed.)
- Drink green tea and oolong tea - they are rich in antioxidants which accelerate weight loss and have an overall rejuvenating effect on the body.
For more ideas on what foods to eat, see our List of Healthy Foods.
To sum it all up, here are the most important weight loss strategies:
- Minimize the amount of saturated fats in your diet.
- Minimize the sugars in your diet.
- Maximize the whole grain products (fiber) in your diet.
- Exercise, at least walk (if at all possible)
- And last but not least: Don't ever give up on your weight loss plan!
Follow these weight loss strategies and you'll be a whole lot closer to managing your weight effectively. And remember, weight loss strategies work only if applied consistently day-in day-out.
See other useful weight loss tips
Check out our section on Cooking for Weight Loss
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