It seems Americans are on a perpetual diet when often it is not what we eat, but rather our metabolism (fixable) and even infections (a common cold virus is found 3x as often in obese people, and triggers fat cells). Here are 10 tips everyone should follow when trying to lose weight:
1. A very low calorie diet is self defeating. Your body thinks there is a famine, your metabolism plummets, and you then gain weight eating almost nothing. Then you give up the diet and gain twice as much weight for the same amount of food. Eat at least 1500 calories a day, avoiding sugar and going low carb.
2. High protein, low carb tends to work well in moderation. A simple diet that works: eliminate all sugars and grains (e.g., wheat).
3. Sugars and carbs trigger insulin release which packs on the fat. Use sugar substitutes (stevia is best; the stevia by Body Ecology and the one by Stevita are the 2 best tasting. Saccharin is safe. I consider Nutrasweet to be toxic to many people. The jury is out on Splenda). I will add the 3 magic words to "Avoid sugar" which are "except for chocolate!" Chocolate is a healthy food if it is dark chocolate. Get the best tasting ones you can (Godiva and Russell Stover both have a yummy line of sugar free chocolates) and limit it to 3 ounces a day. Savor and enjoy.
4. When struggling with whether to have something, simply take a small portion and WALK AWAY FROM THE SERVING DISH with the portion in hand. Since you have it in hand, it's easy. Then savor it with no guilt. 80% of the pleasure comes from the first few bites — most of the calories come from the rest. If you feel guilty when you eat something, you won't even notice the taste as it goes down — so NO GUILT.
5. It takes ½ hour for the message to get from your stomach to your brain when you're full. Because of this, simply take small portions to start. It's easier to do when you know in ½ hour you can go back for more if you still want some. But you won't.
6. In restaurants, tell them to wrap ½ of the meal to go before they even bring it to you. In the US, portions are supersized. The ½ portion will fill you and leave you feeling great if you wait the ½ hour for the signal to get to your brain that you are full.
7. For a midnight snack, try a few ounces of low fat turkey. The protein and tryptophan in the turkey both will help you sleep.
8. In the grocery store, shop around the outer part of the store (where refrigeration usually is, so veggies and meat) instead of the center where the processed foods are.
9. To refuel during and after exercise, add 5-10 grams of a special sugar called D-Ribose to your drinking water. It has a zero glycemic index (actually less than zero — it lowers sugar), increased energy an average of 45% in a study I recently published, and prevents post exercise soreness.
10. If you're on vacation, enjoy yourself and ease up on the diet a bit. Simply keep sugars in moderation, and still get the ½ portion (or split a salad, soup or appetizer, and one main dish with a friend).
For more information on dieting, see What to Do When You Can't Lose the Weight.