You’ve probably seen fad diets and exercise regimens floating around the internet that are all about restriction and punishment, but the truth is you don’t need to live that way to see results. We’re here to show you that you can lose weight just by eating healthy, portioned meals and doing exercises that burn calories and tone your muscles. By making sustainable lifestyle changes that you can actually stick with, you’ll have a much better chance of keeping the weight off once it’s gone!
Creating Nutritious, Low-Calorie Meals
1. Cover half of the plate at every meal with non-starchy vegetables.
Veggies should make up the bulk of your diet because they are low-calorie and contain lots of essential nutrients to keep you healthy. Many experts recommend at least 4 servings of vegetables per day, but if you want to lose weight then you’ll need to eat more than that. By planning meals around a generous portion of non-starchy vegetables, you’ll feel full without eating too much.
Non-starchy vegetables include cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, lettuces, asparagus, and lots of other delicious foods that can all be prepared in many different ways so you won’t get bored of them.
2. Include a serving of a lean protein in every meal.
Lean proteins include chicken and eggs, white fish (like salmon and tuna), some cuts of beef, and legumes. Proteins are important for weight loss because eating them helps your body to build lean muscle and boosts your metabolism.
A good rule of thumb to remember is that a single serving of most meats is about the same size as your palm.
If you don’t eat meat, there are lots of plant-based meat alternatives available that are even healthier options! Look for them in the frozen section of your grocery store.
3. Replace refined carbs with whole grains and lots of fiber.
Many studies show that if you want to see quicker weight loss results from a diet, you should follow a low-carb diet. Instead of eliminating all carbs, however, you can focus on cutting out refined carbs and processed sugars and eating whole grains and plenty of fiber. This category of food should make up the smallest portion of every meal, just one serving or about 1/4 of the plate.
Healthy carbs can be found in fruits, legumes (like chickpeas, lentils, and black beans), whole grains (like oats, brown rice, quinoa, or whole-wheat breads and pastas), and starchy vegetables.
Stick to the proper serving sizes of the different types of carbs. Make sure to look at the nutrition label on your foods and measure them properly before eating.
4. Look for low-calorie versions of your favorite condiments and dressings.
Toppings for your favorite foods often are sneaky ways that calories and carbs show up in meals. One tablespoon of mayonnaise, for example, can have up to 90 calories! Restock your kitchen with low-calorie options of the dressings and condiments that you use often.
You can also practice seasoning foods with herbs and spices, which naturally have fewer calories and more flavor.
5. Supplement meals with a few small, nutritious snacks throughout the day.
Having an occasional snack can be a part of a nutritious weight loss diet because it will keep you from getting too hungry and overeating. When you do snack, make sure that you’re choosing foods that are filling, high in nutrient content, and low in calories.
Examples of filling and healthy snacks include: a medium-sized fruit, like a banana or apple; a 1 ounce (28 g) serving of your favorite nuts; a small bag of carrots and celery with hummus; and beef jerky.
Lots of snacks are available at grocery stores in 100 calorie serving packs. Stock up on these and keep one or two on you during the day just in case you get hungry.
Cutting Liquid Calories
1. Stop drinking sodas, fruit juices, most alcohols, and other high-calorie drinks.
One of the easiest ways to lower the amount of calories you consume in a day is to start with liquids because people often forget or don’t know just how many calories their favorite drinks are. To lose weight fast, you’ll need to eliminate these drinks from your daily life.
2. Drink 2 to 3.25 kg (8 to 13 cups) of water throughout the day.
Water is a great drink to help you lose weight because it fills you up, reducing feelings of hunger, but doesn’t have any hidden calories. Aim to drink approximately 8-13 glasses of water
Contrary to popular belief, retaining water and water bloat comes from not drinking enough water, not drinking too much.
3. Have a cup of a low-calorie drink for added flavor.
If you find it’s hard to drink only water, you can have other liquids, but make sure that they’re low-calorie and have few sugars or carbs. Coffee and teas are great choices since they’re mostly water. If you don’t like those options, look for sugar-free lemonades, sports drinks, or flavored seltzers.
Getting Aerobic Exercise
1. Get in approximately 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day.
In addition to changing your diet, you’ll need to add cardiovascular exercise. Cardio exercises are ones that get your heart rate up, which boosts your metabolism and burns fat. Exercises like jogging or running, swimming, biking, or using a rowing machine are great ways to start if you haven’t done much cardio training before.
When choosing your exercises, aim to pick activities that are moderate-intensity for you. You’ll need to be out of breath, sweating and have your heart rate raised.
2. Add in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to your exercise routine.
HIIT is a great method for maximizing the amount of fat you burn in a single workout session. When you do HIIT, you’ll want to get your heart rate as high as it can go for a short period of time, take a break, and then get your heart rate back up again.
Make 1-2 of your cardio sessions in a week a HIIT workout. The combination of HIIT and steady-state cardio (like jogging for 30 minutes) is great for weight loss.
3. Move more throughout the day.
In addition to participating in planned, structured exercise, try increasing how much you move throughout the day. This can also help your overall calorie burn throughout the day.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can.
- When you go to the store or run an errand, park far away from the building and get in a short walk.
- If you have a one-on-one meeting at work, see if the other person would be okay with taking a walk as you talk.
- Bring your lunch to work and then walk to a nearby spot to eat it.
- Do quick exercises, like crunches, jumping jacks, or lunges, during commercial breaks as you watch TV.
4. Increase the intensity of your workouts over time.
If you notice that you aren’t losing weight or have plateaued, you might need to make your workouts longer or harder. As your body begins to get used to working out, it also makes exercising more efficient, which burns fewer calories. To fix this, increase the length of time you spend doing cardio exercises or do them at a faster pace for the same amount of time.
For example, if you usually spend 20 minutes running each day, try going for 5 or 10 minutes longer each time. Or you can run at a faster pace for the same amount of time.