Even a small amount of weight loss can make a huge difference: you'll boost your confidence and improve your health.
Losing those last irritating 5 pounds can be the hardest part of your weight-loss journey. Kick things up a notch without depriving yourself. These 10 easy rules will help you finally hit your goal weight and allow you to maintain your healthy new physique.
1. Practice Portion Control
Over the years, portions have become supersized. Larger serving sizes make it easy to consume excess calories, even when it comes to healthy foods. Curb your consumption by being mindful of proper serving sizes: a serving of meat should be no larger than the palm of your hand or deck of cards. When it comes to snacking, don't eat out of the package or bag. When you're dining out, ask for a doggy bag at the beginning of your meal and immediately place half of your dish in the to-go container so that you won't be tempted to clean your plate. As a rule of thumb, make sure half of your plate is filled with fruits and colorful veggies at every meal.
2. Lose "Low-Fat" Labels
Many dieters fill their kitchens with foods branded as "low fat" – but all too often that label is a diet trap. To improve their flavor, manufacturers tend to add more sugar, flour and thickeners to fat-free products, which boost calorie content. The fats in these foods are replaced with low-performing white carbs that digest quickly and are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. This causes the classic sugar high and crash followed by a hunger rebound.
Additionally, studies show that people often view a low-fat label as a green light to eat much more than they normally would, unaware that low-fat versions of foods are usually not much lower in calories than the regular versions.
Metabolism is the process your body uses to convert food into energy. If your weight loss is stalled, your metabolism might just need a little boost. Luckily, there are easy things you can do to ignite your body's fat-burning engines.
Add Protein and Greens
Digesting high-fiber green vegetables is an easy way to make your metabolism work harder, and it can kill cravings for unhealthy foods. Likewise, your body burns twice as many calories by digesting proteins than it does when digesting carbs. Add more protein to your diet with two fish-based meals per week. Packed with protein, fish, such as halibut or salmon, also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which increase fat-burning enzymes in the body.
Spice It Up
Some plants contain the bioactive ingredient capsaicin, which not only makes them spicy hot, but also doubles your body's energy expenditure for 3 hours after a meal. Plants belonging to this family are a hot ticket for boosting metabolism. Include red peppers, cayenne, jalapenos, habaneros, and tabasco in your cooking. Capsaicin may also work to suppress appetite centers in the brain by boosting the release of certain neurotransmitters.
Ginger is also another good addition. It not only aids in digestion but increases body temperature and metabolic rates as much as 20 percent after eating. Slice fresh ginger and stir-fry it with vegetables for an energy invigorating meal.
Artificial sweeteners are frequently found in many reduced-calorie foods, processed products, and diet or decaffeinated drinks. Study after study connects artificial sweeteners to weight gain. Whenever you eat, your body is trained to expect calories, but it's not getting them when you eat zero-calorie sweeteners. You end up craving more food and not feeling full. What's more, artificial sweeteners are up to 7000 times sweeter than natural sugars and this can desensitize taste buds. As a result, artificial sweeteners can cause you to overeat.
Cut artificial sweeteners out of your diet and enjoy natural sweets like fruit and antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.
5. Cut Out Soda
The average American drinks 53 gallons of soda a year; if it's regular soda, that comes to about 49 pounds of sugar. Soda is loaded with caffeine, high-fructose corn syrup and calories. In addition to contributing to weight gain, soda increases your risk of diabetes, bone weakening and tooth decay. Even diet soda is packed with artificial sweeteners. Additionally, the carbonation in soda cause air bubbles to form and expand in your abdomen. When they burst, carbon dioxide gas dispersed in the stomach, which can cause excess bloating.
6. Get Moving!
Part of any effective weight-loss routine is exercise. At minimum, make sure you're walking at least 10,000 steps a day. Beyond that, select a workout routine that best fits your fitness and lifestyle needs.
Once your body gets used to consuming the same amount of calories every day, your weight loss naturally levels off to match what you burn. For example, your body simply adapts to 1,800 calories and stops slimming down.
To keep your body working hard at shedding those pounds, vary your caloric intake. Consume 1,800 calories one day; then reduce to 1,600 calories the next day; and 1,700 the following day. Keep this pattern going, and your body will have to exert more energy to make adjustments, which can trigger bigger weight loss.
8. Drink More Water!
We all know that water is healthy, but what you may not know is that it could help you shed excess pounds. Each day, drink enough water so that your urine is clear. A recent study showed that your metabolic rate jumps within 10 minutes of drinking ice-cold water, and it stays up for an additional half-hour after you drink it. Research has also found that drinking an average of 6.5 cups of water per day helped people consume 200 less calories a day.
9. Switch to Whole Grains
Instead of white pastas, breads and flour, switch to whole grains. Packed with fiber, whole grains keep you full longer, stabilize blood sugar, and are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Plus, a diet rich in whole grains has been tied to lower rates of chronic disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. Restock your pantry with fiber-rich whole-grain carbs such as:
Whole wheat bread
Whole grain pasta
10. Try a Cleanse
Still can't quite shed those last couple pounds? The answer might lie in a cleanse, a quick way to eliminate toxins that might cause bloating and inflammation. Traditional cleanses can involve extreme low-calorie fasting, which can slow your metabolism and actually harm your body. Luckily, Dr. Oz has formulated a 48-hour weekend cleanse is based upon eating certain foods that keep your detoxifying systems running smoothly and revitalize your body.