Have a Plan in Place to Lose Weight?
No one has ever claimed that losing weight was easy. And when you have a significant target like losing 10 pounds in two weeks then guess what? Your struggle just got a little harder. But don’t worry, it may be hard to do so but by no means impossible and of course, feasible for some but not so for others.
Remember that everything in life needs planning and trying to lose weight is no exception. In fact, chances are that if you are reading this, then you are among the many who want to successfully shed some serious weight and keep it off long term.
As they say, you are what you eat so if you put unhealthy food into your mouth, and thrive on refined and processed foods which are packed with fat, carbs and calories then you will end up with all that stored as fat. (Psst…you know your eating habits best!) But the better you eat, the healthier your lifestyle becomes and the easier it is to reach your weight loss goal.
However, before starting on any diet plan, just know that leaving healthy eating and exercise to chance is not going to help. If anything, you have to make time for these two essential features of successful weight loss. Losing excess weight and maintaining long term weight loss will only be successful if the plan is tailored to your lifestyle. With your own weight loss preferences in place it becomes so much easier to stick to the plan long term. To pick a diet that actually works, you will need to refine options that pose roadblocks for you personally or do not fit your needs.
And while every individual may have different approaches to diet and exercise, there are a few common factors that can help jump start weight loss plans for everyone. And since the focus of this article is to eliminate offending foods (exercise is a whole different ballgame), here is a quick look at some of those points to get you started.
Clean Out Pantry
Undoubtedly the first component of any weight loss plan is to get rid of temptations around the pantry. This means tossing out all the candy and sweet treats, disposing of sodas and processed juices as well as getting rid of white carbs and high fat dairy products. Some of these can include examples like white pasta, white bread, and white rice. In fact, everything that contains trans-fats, artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup needs to go. This will include foods like chips, candies, pastries, juice and similar food items.
This initial step in itself is a good indicator of the types of foods you eat. If you find that most of the items in your pantry need to be disposed based on this rule alone, then you have been eating the wrong stuff so far and will need to completely revamp your eating habits.
Make a Shopping List and Read Labels
After emptying out the pantry, the next step would be to restock it with healthier options. If you know exactly what you are going to eat, the best way to avoid derailing is by making a shopping list ahead of time.
Now your shopping list does not have to bust your budget but can be made up from simple, yet sensible food choices.
When looking for healthier alternatives, choose from whole foods that are nutritionally dense, free from additives and preservatives and are not part of the refined or processed foods category. The best choices would be those that have been minimally processed and are closest to Mother Nature.
Choose from all food groups including produce and whole foods, whole unprocessed grains such as quinoa and barley, and others like nuts, beans, and seeds while avoiding everything that is loaded with sugars, sodium, preservatives and more. Reading labels carefully will give you a good idea of what to look for and what to avoid. We will take a closer look at how food labels can be easily misleading for the consumer and are used by manufacturers to create hype about healthy food choices later, but for now it suffices to say that foods which have a long list of unpronounceable ingredients should definitely be avoided. It is better to look for food with fewer ingredients as these will likely be closest to being real foods.
Make a Food Diary
One of the most common reasons of weight gain is unintentional eating. It is true for many of us that when we are bored, we tend to eat or drink something to keep ourselves busy. Here a food diary would come in very handy.
With a food journal in place, you will be reminded of your food habits and help assess eating patterns that need to be changed. Plus, keeping track of your eating habits is the first step to changing them.
A food journal should be an integral part of your weight loss program as it not only helps track your food choices but also your progress and setbacks as well. Recordings in your food diary can help establish what is working well and what is not working about your weight loss program. Should there be any need to re-evaluate your diet plan, you will have the blueprint ready to make the needed changes. A food diary will also help you see how you feel after eating certain foods, such as feeling sleepy after some, or perhaps bloated after others.
Set Realistic Goals
Now that you have the basics down, it is important to set realistic goals. What this means is that whether it is a commercial diet that you are following, or one that you have created yourself, the ultimate goal is to keep the weight off for long term. Ideally, it is not recommended to lose more than a pound or so every week since this is considered safe and sustainable weight loss.
However, when there are quicker goals to be achieved, then the diet plan may include multiple goals for sustainability. For instance, there can be one long term goal of say losing 30 pounds in three months with short term goals of losing five pounds a week or ten pounds in two weeks.
The important thing to remember is that you do not want to be too extreme and follow a diet plan that turns out to be completely unrealistic for you. Instead you want to find a plan that can help you jump start your weight loss and then be practical enough to follow through long term.
A practical suggestion would be to make small changes regularly into the diet such as adding healthy options weekly into the meal plans. An example could be including meatless Mondays and introducing more plant based foods into the plan.
A plant based diet is not only nutritionally dense but also very effective for long term weight loss.
Have a Support Group
There is no doubt that a healthy lifestyle is easier to achieve when you have support. Plus, finding support when trying to lose weight has been known to be very helpful for dieters. A support group can work equally well for someone who is trying to lose weight, maintain their weight or even follow a healthy lifestyle. Sharing your experiences with others can help you reach your weight loss goals faster and keep your weight off for longer.
Tell Friends About Your Goals
It has been studied that people who rely on a support group of either friends, family members or even other dieters have been more successful in not only achieving their weight loss goals but also keeping the weight off for longer. The obvious choice is to look for support close to home so family and friends are a natural starting point. Look for individuals who are committed to adopting a healthier lifestyle and have similar goals as yourself.
Sharing your goals with personal contacts is one thing, but the same support can also be found online in many forums and support groups.
Assign Yourself Rewards
Support need not only be in the form of cheerleaders cheering you as you meet your various short and long term goals but can also come from setting up rewards as you accomplish different milestones in your weight loss program. Setting up small rewards as you move ahead in your diet plan will help you stay motivated to aim for that ultimate long term goal.
The big reward at the end of your weight loss target can be a larger, more lucrative one.
However, it is not suggested to choose food related rewards when on a weight loss plan. And even though rewards like indulging in a decadent dessert or going out for dinner may seem the obvious choices, try picking out rewards that are not food related such as treating yourself to a new outfit or shoes, or a day at the spa.
Filter Out the Bad Foods
To achieve a certain measure of weight loss and keep it off for good, you will need to put certain controls into play, for without an active plan to change your lifestyle, the goals you have in mind will not be attainable. And for anyone trying to lose weight, the process always starts with the right food choices.
Since for many of us food choices dictate how we live, here is what to eliminate from your eating habits for serious weight loss.
List of Bad Foods to Stay Away From
Remember that healthier foods fill up your stomach keeping it feeling full longer while junk food has the exact opposite effect. The longer you feel full and content, the less likely you will be to look for quick fix options to satisfy those hunger cravings.
For argument’s sake, let’s say that you consume 500 calories worth of junk food with the result that you return back to the fridge within minutes. The reason is that junk foods are not filling. If anything, they spike your cravings even higher while eating 500 calories of real food will keep you satiated for a long time.
Processed/ Packaged Foods
Avoid processed or packaged foods for these have lost most of their nutritive value during preparation. They are typically loaded with additives, preservatives, colorants and artificial ingredients and have been engineered to such an extent that they no longer resemble the actual food they were derived from. In fact, many of the ingredients are not actual food but artificial chemicals that are added for various purposes. The only thing they do is leave you craving for more and more.
The same goes for artificial sweeteners. Even though they are praised to help drop calories when trying to lose weight, artificial sweeteners have not always lived up to their promises. They have been studied to trick taste buds, and with prolonged use can change the way we taste food. People who routinely use artificial sweeteners begin to find less intensely sweet foods such as fruit less appealing and unsweet food like vegetables downright unpalatable. For effective weight management, it is best to stay away from them since they are bad for your health.
While complete elimination is not realistic, limiting salt consumption is surely possible. By restricting salt consumption, you will be able to eliminate water retention in your body which will naturally result in a slimmer waistline. If going salt free presents the possibility of food tasting bland, then use fresh herbs to add flavor to your dishes. It is a much healthier and more versatile option.
Improve your Eating Habits
A number of bad eating habits can make us gain unwanted weight and feel bloated and unwell most of the time. When trying to lose weight many of us want to make drastic changes which are neither healthy nor realistic with the result that they fail over time.
To make these changes successful, all eating habits, both good and bad need to be reflected upon. This way it becomes easy to identify triggers for unhealthy eating. Remember the food diary that we talked about earlier? Well, here that journal can come in handy to uncover bad eating habits. Some of these may be eating too fast, eating when not hungry, skipping meals or perhaps always eating dessert.
Once these triggers have been identified, it can then become easier to replace them with better options. Newer, healthier options can then be reinforced and even though habits take time to develop the long-term benefits to you will be immense.
Plan for Lifestyle Changes
When you are trying to lose weight for long term, it is suggested to stay away from fad diets and make long term lifestyle changes. With the pointers mentioned above like filtering out bad foods and improving your eating habits, it becomes easier to maintain weight loss over a longer period of time.
When quick and drastic changes are made to diet and lifestyle habits it becomes very challenging to keep them up for a long time. You can start by adding a healthy food and taking out a bad food every week and eventually you will stop craving the bad stuff.
Stop Counting Calories
Contrary to popular belief, successful weight loss is not all about counting calories. Rather, choosing the right foods to eat means that you do not need to get lured in the trap of counting calories. And while creating a drastic calorie deficit may be one of those essentials to jump start weight loss, it is definitely not one that is easy for most people to sustain over a longer period of time.
Instead a well-rounded diet plan will focus on a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats without criticizing one or the other. (Mind you we are taking into consideration good fats vs bad fats and whole grain carbs vs white carbs.) Likewise, protein is always considered the healthier option, so while no one food group is condemned completely, there are healthier options within every food group.
Coming back to the topic of right foods, including whole foods into your diet plan, and not their processed or refined versions, will give you enough nutritional value and satiation that the need to over indulge will be eliminated. The focus here is on the quality of food going into your mouth and not the caloric count.
Merely restricting calories without considering the wholeness of food will only result in nutrient deficiency. On the other hand, a nutrient dense diet done with whole foods will make weight loss much easier. To get the best out of your diet meal plans, include the following types of foods in them.
Add in Whole Foods
Including whole foods into your diet automatically translates into eating less. (How so? you may ask?) Well, for starters, whole foods are nutrient dense, satiating choices that will fill you up with smaller portions and keep you feeling full longer; their fiber and water content will keep you satisfied without giving in to cravings.
To make things clear, whole foods are those foods which have not undergone refining or processing to improve taste or texture but are used with all their nutritional goodness intact. Some examples include whole grains instead of refined grains, fruits, vegetables and beans are all foods that retain their fiber content along with other nutrients that are often removed in their processed versions.
As such, with eating whole foods the need to rely on processed foods gets eliminated since you are now too full to want the bad foods. As this develops into a habit, the cravings start to subside and your diet starts to shift from processed foods to whole foods. This shift alone can be the most beneficial one in shedding off excess weight and keeping it off long term. (And without the need of counting calories.)
Add Fruits & Vegetables in your Diet
Fruits and vegetables are fiber dense foods and with a few exceptions, typically low on the calorie count. As such inclusion of these foods make up ideal choices for people on a weight loss program. By including fruits and vegetables into your meal plans, you will not only be consuming fiber rich foods, and everyone knows that fiber will help you feel fuller longer, but you will also be incorporating a host of important vitamins and minerals into your meals as well.
Both fruits and vegetables offer the dual benefit of nutrient density and fewer calories. However, for those looking to lose weight faster, fruit consumption is recommended to be limited to 1-2 servings of fruit daily since they do contain sugar. However, 5-7 servings of vegetables may be generously consumed every day.
Individuals following a low carb diet should opt for non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes instead of high carb vegetables like potatoes, carrots or peas.
Include Hydrating Fluids Every Day
Another important component of weight loss is to drink plenty of water and other hydrating fluids daily. Water comes with no calories and drinking enough of it will help you manage your appetite. Often times, when we feel the urge to binge or eat unnecessarily, it is actually thirst that our body wants to quench, but instead we reach for fat and quick fixes to feel satiated.
Keeping a water bottle to keep track of your fluid intake can help you be aware of how much water you drink and stay away from unwanted binging.
Among hydrating fluids, herbal teas are considered healthy options, but diet drinks, sodas, boxed fruit juices, and energy drinks should be avoided as they contain plenty of calories.
Be Aware of False Health Claims
Many people choose to opt for one food item over the other based on the health claims advertised on the box. And while reading labels is indeed a worthy habit, they are not always true. In fact, health claims often highlight the benefits of eating pure foods without any additives and preservatives and are pleasing to read such as 100% wheat, all natural or sodium free. But remember that where something is missing, something else will have been added to make up for the taste.
This often means that such claims can easily be misleading for the common consumer making it hard for them to truly understand the nutritional labels. What is important is to know that manufacturers use these claims on food as a marketing hype which is not beneficial to healthy eating.
Some Common Culprits
Here is a look at some of the most common culprits that manufacturers use to mislead consumers.
Perhaps the most common offender is the phrase “all natural”. However, do not be fooled by this catch phrase since the spectrum for all natural can be pretty wide. Since the FDA does not define it, the term may merely suggest that there are no added colors, artificial flavors or synthetic substances added to the food but it does not mean that all other ingredients are natural.
Likewise, the term “multigrain” also causes confusion. Instead of opting for products with multigrain imprinted on the labels, look for others that read whole grain or 100% whole wheat. It is not enough if labels read multigrain since these may be refined grains where essential nutrients have been stripped off during processing. Whole grains, on the other hand, retain their most nutritious parts and are higher on fiber and nutrients. Look for the “100% whole grain stamp” on the package. Visit: http://wholegrainscouncil.org for more information.
No Added Sugar
All forms of dieting inevitably restrict or eliminate sugar consumption, so looking for sugar free options is a common practice among dieters. However, remember that many foods including breakfast cereals, fruits, vegetables and milk naturally contain sugar while others may contain ingredients like maltodextrin, mannitol, xylitol, and sorbitol among others which are all common sugar alcohols. The truth is that sugar goes by many other names which can make it confusing for the consumer. Lots of substances that are technically sugar do not get labelled as such. It is advised to stay away from these types of sugars as they are toxic for the body.
We all know that trans-fats are bad for us so we do not think twice before picking up an item that reads zero trans-fat. However, there are others cues that should also be taken into account like looking for hydrogenated oils or shortening which means that trans-fats are still present in the food item. The term “zero trans-fats” isn’t what it seems, since these foods can still contain 0.5% fats per serving and with additional servings that fat content can add up.
Fat Free and Light
Trans-fats aside, another confusing problem is when foods are labelled fat free. Even though these foods may be cutting out on the actual fat content, make sure to check that they are not adding on sugar or other harmful ingredients to make up for the taste. Packages could well read fat free but may be laden with other ingredients.
Likewise, products that are labelled light such as “light mayo” or “light cream cheese” also need to be checked for their nutritional facts. Remember that to be considered light, the product actually needs to have 50% less of the fat content than the amount found in their regular version.
Made with Real Fruit
Products that claim to be made from real fruit may not have much fruit in them aside from what is typically pictured on the box. Since it is not imposed on manufacturers to disclose the percentage of ingredients included in the product, they can get away with a lot of misconception.
For instance, when coming across the term juice, the first thing that you would expect is the container to have is something like fresh squeezed liquid from a fruit. However, if the label reads words like 60% so and so juice, diluted so and so juice, juice drink or juice beverage, chances are that there is very little or no fresh juice but that the product is made from a blend of juice; perhaps something that was freeze dried and then reconstituted. The same may also have been simply topped with water and flavoring.
The Ultimate Problem
Whatever labels may read the ultimate problem comes down to that fact that labels are misleading; they use terms that may sound impressive such as “light tasting”, “part of a healthy breakfast” or “ no artificial ingredients” but they do not mean anything. The terms can easily become confusing for customers since there is a lot of information given on a package and it becomes hard to filter out the accurate from the inaccurate.
Some Natural Fat Burners
When you are looking to lose weight, you need your diet plan to include a lot of good foods and an effective exercise regimen to melt way the fat quickly. And from the choice of good foods that you include in your diet, there are some superstars that will help boost your metabolism so that you can burn calories as you chew.
These natural fat burners have the potential to spike metabolism, trigger hormones that release fat and eliminate toxins that make it otherwise difficult for the body to shed weight.
However, as a reminder be careful that for these foods to work their magic, they should be made part of a clean, wholesome diet, one that is devoid of any junk foods. And while there are many, including the following foods into your meal plans can really kick start the weight loss.
A popular breakfast ingredient in many recipes, grapefruit can help you feel fuller with fewer calories. Not only does it have a lot of soluble fiber which takes longer to digest, but it actually helps lower insulin levels in the body.
This modestly reduced insulin level can help prevent the body from reserving as much sugar as fat. As a result, lowered insulin also helps curb appetite helping you ward off those unwanted cravings.
Along with very few calories, grapefruit is also one of those foods that is classified as a negative calorie food. What that means is that it takes more calories to digest the fruit than exist in the fruit itself.
Essentially negative calorie foods contain more water than they do calories and require more calories to burn them than they hold. In the case of grapefruit, the water content is accompanied by healthy fiber which boosts digestive health and promotes a feeling of satiation.
Tea, especially green tea is packed with antioxidants that have been proven to speed up metabolism. Compounds in green tea known as catechins not only increase metabolism but also speed up the rate at which the liver burns fat.
At the same time, the caffeine content in green tea helps increase the heart rate elevating circulation and causing the heart to work just a little harder.
For those wishing to add green tea into their diet plan, the recommended amount for effective fat burning is about three cups a day. It can be enjoyed hot or cold as you prefer or as in accordance with the weather.
Although not for everyone’s taste buds, cayenne peppers are a natural fat buster that work because of the chemical capsaicin. Capsaicin has the effect of restricting appetite and speeding up metabolism.
Also in the same league as grapefruit, cayenne peppers have very few calories so can help burn away more than they actually contain. Since the peppers lend a spicy kick to meals, you may also find yourself feeling less hungry after meals sprinkled with the peppers. In this way cayenne peppers are a smart choice if you want to restrain your appetite.
The good thing about cayenne peppers is their versatility since they can be included in meals of all sorts. Peppers may be added to meal entrees, sprinkled onto salads, added into sauces, salsas and soups.
Whatever your weight loss goals may be, remember that low calorie, filling foods are the key to your success.
Where 300 calories of vegetables will fill you up to the brim, the same from fried foods will leave you wanting more. So, if you implement the simple suggestions, they will put you on the right track to lose weight and the rest will follow!