If you buy into all of the New Year’s health memes on Pinterest, you already know that weight loss is 70-percent diet and only 30-percent exercise. And although I’m a huge proponent of the fact that daily physical activity is a good thing, it’s less about losing weight and more for (me personally) about being in a better mood, getting better sleep, having extra energy, etc. In the end, the most important factor in losing weight is diet, or rather, how many calories we consume. According to doctors from Washington University’s School of Medicine, “Decreasing food intake is much more effective than increasing physical activity to achieve weight loss.”
Load Up on Extra Veggies
Bulking your meals up with extra veggies rather than fats and starches can fill you up and keep you satisfied until your next meal. For instance, with your next stir fry or pasta, try cutting the noodles or rice in half and adding double the vegetables.
Doctors will recommend eating more fruits and veggies as a method for shedding excess pounds. Why? Because veggies and fruits are typically low calorie, high in fiber, and high in water content, which in the end, fills you up while having you consume less overall.
Cozy Up with Tea
Oftentimes we eat when we’re bored or nervous when we’re not even hungry. Add some cozy (zero calorie) comfort to your day or evening with a steaming mug of your favorite green or herbal brew. Not only do many studies link sipping on green tea with a temporary boost in metabolism, green tea is rich in catechins, a type of photochemical, linked to metabolic boost.
Plus, sipping on plain herbal or green tea will ensure your beverage of choice is zero calorie (if you don’t add cream or sugar). Just be sure to stick with an herbal brew in the evening so sleep isn’t disrupted.
Soup it Up
Do you like a side with your lunch or a starter for dinner. Rather than bread or pasta, try a side or starter of soup…or make a big, comforting bowl of broth based soup your main entree. The key is to stick with broth based (veggie or chicken) versus cream based soups (made with fatty butter or cream).
Dining on soup at the start of any meal will help curb hunger faster, especially if you eat slowly. So soup it up with a tomato, minestrone, white bean, or even a chili soup packed with loads of veggies and fiber.
Dine at Home
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: if you want to consume fewer calories prepare the bulk of your meals at home. Preparing your own meals puts you in control of the ingredients within, according to a survey from Consumer Reports.
The poll linked those who dined at home the majority of the week (at least 5 days per week) with more successful weight loss and weight maintenance. In fact, you can make meal prep a breeze by pre-cooking lean protein (i.e., chicken or fish), dried beans, rice, quinoa, and using frozen veggies for quick, no-fuss meals at home.
Eat to a Timer
No, I’m not referring to military-style food fest, rather I’m talking about training your body to consume food more slowly with the aid of a timer or stopwatch. Many nutritionists tell us, after all, that the root of indigestion and heartburn comes from shoveling food down too quickly.
Alternatively, savoring your meals more slowly can help you enjoy the meal more while also helping you consume smaller portions. So try it; set a timer for 20-minutes and stretch out your meal really tasting and chewing each bite thoroughly. You’ll soon notice with longer meals comes sooner satiation (because the brain has time to register that it’s full).
Yoga State of Mind and Body
Part of losing weight and feeling great has to do with a positive state of mind. And the Journal of the American Dietetic Association credits yoga to a better mind-body contentment. The research indicates that folks who maintain a regular yoga practice tend to weigh significantly less than those who don’t do yoga.
So what does downward dog have to do with weight loss? Not only does yoga get you moving, a better overall self-awareness of your body and emotions will help you develop a mindful approach to eating. Hence, you’ll realize sooner that you’re full and resist the urge to keep eating.
Stick with Water
It’s an understatement to say that the calories in beverages can really add up. If you like to crack a soda, sports drink, or alcoholic beverage with your meals, chances are you’re drinking down a lot of excess calories, and wasting it on fluids.
Instead, keep those calories in check by swapping a sugary soda or cocktail with water or sparkling soda with no sugar added. If you can’t stand the thought of drinking boring old water, add some flavor with a slice of cucumber and a slice of lemon, lime, or orange to give it some flavor.
Set Your Alarm to Snooze
While eating in bed can lead to mindless snacking (and too many crumbs in the sheets), researchers from the University of Michigan say that catching an extra hour of shut-eye nightly can lead to significant weight loss…of almost 15-pounds annually.
The Michigan study reasons that an extra hour of sleep equals one less hour of idleness, which is most likely used for snacking through another television episode on Netflix. Instead, you can cut your daily calories by about 6-percent with one added hour of zzzzzz’s. Plus, we all know that lack of sleep leads to lack of energy and tendency to binge on empty carbs, fats, and refined sugars.