Nearly half of all Americans say they want to lose weight. Just 24 percent of us say we’re actively trying to lose weight. The gap in the numbers is likely because shedding those extra pounds is so difficult. Don’t waste your time on another unproductive diet or exercise regime; these tips will help you lose weight smarter.
1. Shop Smarter
If you only bring good food and beverages into your home, you’re more likely to resist temptation and achieve your weight loss goals. Shopping smarter can help you stick to your resolve. Make a grocery list before you go and don’t deviate from it. Eat before you shop, as you’ll find it easier to say no to sugary and fatty foods. Resist promotions in store, as retailers tend to discount items that are bad for you. Shop from the outside edges, rather than the middle of the store, as that’s where you’ll typically find the fresh, unprocessed items.
2. Drink Water Before Meals
A British study suggested drinking 16 ounces of water half an hour before you eat your meals can help you lose weight. While it had a small sample of 84 obese adults – 41 who drank water before meals and 43 who instead imagined they felt full before dining – the results of the water sipping adults were positive.
All volunteers learned more about improving their diet, exercising, and making better lifestyle choices. The adults who drank water before all main meals lost an average of 9.48 pounds in 12 weeks, nearly 3 pounds more than members of the control group.
“The beauty of these findings is in the simplicity,” declared one of the study’s authors, Dr. Helen Parretti. “When combined with brief instructions on how to increase your amount of physical activity and [get] on a healthy diet, this seems to help people to achieve some extra weight loss — at a moderate and healthy rate. It’s something that doesn’t take much work to integrate into our busy everyday lives.”
3. Count Your Macros, Not Calories
Counting calories is out and counting macronutrients, or macros, is in. The shift in thinking has come about because counting calories are too simplistic. A fat-free salad dressing might be low in calories, but since it’s made with sugar, it could never be classified as good for you. Similarly, oily fish like salmon and trout are relatively high in calories compared to other seafood, yet they’re very nutritious. A small enough serving of anything can be low in calories, including candy or chips, yet no one should mistake these foods for healthy snacks.
Calorie counting treats all calories the same way, but your body does not. High-quality calories leave you satiated and trigger the release of fat-burning hormones in the body. Poor-quality calories from processed foods are less satisfying. They also encourage your body to store fat. When you merely count calories, you can convince yourself you’re doing what you need to lose weight. But if your calories come from the wrong foods, you’ve got no chance.
Macronutrients, or macros for short, are what makes up food’s caloric content. When you count macros, you learn where your calories come from. There are three types of macros: fats, protein, and carbohydrates. The amount of fat, protein, and carbohydrates you consume determines whether you gain or lose body fat and muscle.
Protein, found in foods like meat and eggs, is an essential macro for your diet and weight loss goals. Protein-rich foods build muscle and fill you up, reducing your risk of overeating.
Carbohydrates provide energy and improve mental health. Simple carbs, like those found in candy and soda, provide quick energy, but they aren’t as nutritious as the complex carbs found in vegetables and whole grains. These carbs provide more sustained energy and keep you feeling full for longer.
Fats have a bad reputation, but they balance hormone levels. Stay away from trans-fats and incorporate healthier fats, like those found in avocados, extra virgin olive oil, oily fish, and walnuts into your diet.
The amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats you’ll need depends on your weight, percentage of body fat, and fitness goals. Counting macros and determining what to eat for weight loss can be tricky, but apps like MyFitnessPal or My Food Diary and macro books can help you get the right balance.
4. Exercise in Short Bursts
Spending hours sweating it out in the gym might seem like the best way to slim down, but studies show shorter bursts of exercise are more efficient. Long exercise sessions increase your cortisol levels. This hormone makes your body store fat and increases your appetite. Exercising for less time helps you work out with greater intensity to maximize your results. Try cycling or running at high speed for 20 seconds, then slowing to a more leisurely pace for 20 seconds before speeding up again. Repeating this cycle for as little as 10 minutes can be effective.
5. Eat More Mindfully
All too often we go through our lives on autopilot, never stopping to appreciate and consider what we’re doing. We do it every time we reach for a beer at the end of a day out of habit or eat an entire bag of chips while distracted by a movie or reality TV. Those bad habits are derailing our weight loss goals.
Mindful eating isn’t a weight loss cure, but it can be a powerful weight loss tool because it forces you to be more conscious of what you’re putting into your mouth. Do you want the fried chicken, or do you want it because it’s part of your Friday night routine? How does eating it make you feel, both while you’re eating it and in the aftermath?
When you pause to ask yourself why you want to eat before you head to the fridge, you’re less likely to eat because you’re bored, procrastinating, or upset. Focusing on the act of eating will also help you recognize when you’re full.
Work smarter, not harder to achieve your health goals. These strategies will help you shed those extra pounds and become a fabulous new you.