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6 Secrets to Losing Weight (Page 2)

Plan Ahead

Secret 1. Plan Ahead

What's for dinner? Rather than striking fear in your heart, this question should be a joyful one. Plan dinners that you'll look forward to eating. Once you've decided what you want for dinner, plot out the rest of your day's meals.

According to one study, a menu plan for the whole day really does help you lose weight. Perhaps it's because having a plan forces you to keep healthier foods on hand. Planning ahead also helps you keep your eating on schedule: if you already know what you're having for lunch, you're less likely to let 6 or 7 hours pass without having something to eat—a situation that usually results in eating too much when you finally do sit down to a meal.

First you need to decide how many calories you should be eating: 1,500 calories a day usually leads to a 1- to 2-pound weight loss per week, but maybe it just doesn't quite work for you.

CALCULATE YOUR CALORIE GOAL

Your current weight x 12 = calories/day needed to maintain your current weight
To lose 1 pound/week: Cut 500 calories/day.
To lose 2 pounds/week: Cut 1,000 calories/day.

Don't go under 1,200 calories a day, however: it's hard to get the nutrients you need with that little food.

Having trouble thinking of healthy meals for your new plan? Try EatingWell's free Interactive Menu Planner: it tracks calories for you.

Tip: Write what you bite. Studies show writing down everything you eat helps you lose weight. Buy a journal or track it online. The more detailed your notes, the more they'll help: to start, try writing down what you ate, how much, and the calories it contained. You might also note where you ate or how you felt.

Next: Secret 2. Avoid "Portion Distortion" »


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