It’s January and many of us have weight loss on the brain. Perhaps you’re psyched about using the latest, greatest plan to
slim down this “diet season.” Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of trendy, fad diets. They make ridiculous promises. Sure, you
may drop 10
pounds in a week
eating cabbage soup and little else, but once you go back to eating like a normal person you’ll gain it
That’s the biggest problem with most fad diets: they generally don’t give you eating patterns that you can stick to
long-term. Essentially, they set you up to fail. (Get a healthy 28-day weight-loss meal plan of delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes to help you shed
But I’ll be the first to admit that there are kernels of truth buried in the shaky “scientific” rhetoric of many popular
plans—real advice that will help you lose weight healthfully. (Drop 10 pounds healthfully with these 6 easy steps and super-cool tools.
Without further ado, I give you 5 weight-loss secrets I’ve found hidden in fad diets... and how to apply them with common
sense to your own healthy weight-loss plan.
#1: Eat delicious foods that you love.
The bottom line of French Women Don’t Get Fat
The Secret of Eating for Pleasure
by Mireille Guiliano: food should be savored and enjoyed. Guiliano is right: we
continue to eat foods that we love, like chocolate and cheese—just in small portions. Deprivation diets only
work for a short time. Making room for a small treat every day can help you stick to an overall-healthy eating plan for the
“Bad” Foods You Should Be Eating
#2: Have some lean protein, good carbs and lots of veggies. According to “The Zone” diet,
created by Dr. Barry Sears and made famous by big-name followers like Jennifer Aniston, meals that are precisely 30 percent
protein, 30 percent fat and 40 percent carbohydrates can reset your metabolism in a way that results in weight loss, reduced
risk for heart disease and loads more energy. I don’t buy into the Sears super-exact 30-30-40 formula, but I do know that
meals like the ones he suggests—a small amount of lean protein, such as salmon, paired with “favorable” carbohydrates, like
vegetables and whole grains—do tend to be more satisfying. Science shows that gram for gram, protein tends to be more filling
than carbohydrates or fat. Vegetables and whole grains contain fiber, which causes you to digest them more slowly than
refined carbohydrates like pasta or white rice.
#3: Don’t be afraid of fat.
If the Atkins diet taught us anything, it’s that following a
fat-free diet isn’t always the best way to lose weight—especially if your favorite fat-free foods are big, caloric cookies
and bagels. Then, the more sensible South Beach Diet came along and taught us to opt for healthy fats
almonds and fatty fish (think: salmon and tuna), over the artery-clogging burgers and bacon that Atkins permitted. South
Beach also encouraged carbohydrates that fall low on the glycemic index (i.e., they don’t cause rapid spikes and drops in
your blood sugar)—vegetables and whole grains like brown rice and barley. And we all should adopt the philosophy that
judicious amounts of healthy fats trump unlimited refined carbs any day. (This is just one of our 6 secrets to losing weight. Find out the other 5 here.)
Recipes to try:Discover
Healthy Tuna and Salmon Salad Recipes
#4: Soup can help you lose weight.
The anonymous creator of the “Cabbage Soup Diet”
was onto something: soup (based on a low-calorie veggie, like cabbage) may help you lose weight. Various studies show that
soup is highly satisfying. In one study, published in the journal Physiology & Behavior
, people consumed the fewest
calories on days when they ate soup. Broth-based soups packed with vegetables and lean proteins or fiber-rich beans give you
the biggest bang for your caloric buck.
Recipes to try:Soups
and Salads to Help you Lose Weight
low-calorie soups ready in 30 minutes or less.
#5: Keep an eye on sugars.
The Zone, South Beach, Sugar Busters and Atkins all had us cutting
back on sugars. While I don’t advocate limiting healthy foods that naturally contain sugars, like fruits and dairy (unless
you have diabetes and your doctor tells you to), I agree that cutting added
sugars is good for our health and our
“bottom lines.” The average American consumes 355 calories of added sugars each day. A year ago, the American Heart
Association released recommendations
advising women to eat no more than 100 calories per day from added sugars (that’s
about 6 teaspoons) and men to stick to less than 150 calories, approximately 9 teaspoons. “Sugars” on Nutrition Facts panels
include natural and added sugars, so check ingredient lists for sugar and all its aliases: corn syrup, honey, molasses, etc.
The closer sugars are to the top of the list, the more the food contains.
Recipes to try:Naturally sweet diet-friendly desserts
with low or no added sugars.
So if you are going to use a “faddish” diet plan to shed pounds in 2011, I urge you to read with a critical eye, sort the
sensible from the silliness and only make changes that feel healthful. You may not lose weight as quickly but you’ll keep it
off longer and feel better while you’re doing it!
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