10 Sensible Weight-Loss Tips

Nutrition Label

Forget Fad Diets, Follow This Common-Sense Advice

Fad diets usually don't work, and furthermore they are often down-right unhealthy. So why do so many people fall for them? Because like all great gimmicks, fad diets often contain a nugget of truth. After examining some of the fads as well as the hard science on diet and weight-loss, I've distilled out a list of ten tips that borrows the best from both. They are as follows:

1. Drink More Water

In fact, try replacing all soda and sugary juices with water. For many people, this is the single easiest and best step to take to start shedding pounds. Soda and juice can add hundreds of needless calories to your daily diet--in fact, a recent study found that some people actually consume more calories by what they drink than by what they eat! Water, of course, has no calories at all, making this one a no-brainer.

2. Reduce or Eliminate "White Food"

White foods are the starches: potatoes, white rice, white bread. Your body metabolizes these foods even quicker than it does pure sugar. These empty carbs flood your body with a burst of easy calories, and therefore should be avoided. Opt for healthier alternatives, such as wheat bread in place of white.

3. Have a Smoothie for Dessert

Smoothies are a delicious way to satisfy that sweet tooth without all the fat and calories of typical desserts. Simply toss some ice and low-cal yogurt into the blender and add your favorite fruit. Mix and match fruits to create new blends each night. In addition to the calorie savings, you'll feel healthier knowing that you're getting all the nutrition from the fruit and yogurt. If your smoothies come out too thick, next time just use more ice and less yogurt.

4. Take a Lesson From Volumetrics

Volumetrics is a diet theory based on the fact that people tend to eat the same volume of food each day--it is the volume of food and not the calorie content which makes us feel full. With that in mind, you'll want to avoid food that is calorie-dense, that is, food which has a high calorie-to-volume ratio. To find this ratio, simply look at the nutrition facts label and divide the calories by the grams per serving. If the number is less than one, perfect. If the ratio is above two, avoid or eat a small portion. As you might have guessed, foods high in fiber and water content are not calorie dense and make excellent choices.

5. Portion Control

Expanding upon something mentioned in the previous tip, portion control plays a key role in the proper diet. Studies have found that people tend to keep eating if given a larger portion of food. Why? Because the body's trigger mechanism that tells the brain "I'm full" tends to work more slowly than the average person eats. In other words, you often don't know you're full until after you've continued to eat past the full mark. That's why you should purposefully set out smaller portions in front of you, and eating more slowly wouldn't hurt, either!

6. Know Your Fats!

Fats come in three general varieties: Unsaturated, saturated, and trans fat. You probably know that saturated fats are bad. You might know that trans fats are the worst. You might not know that unsaturated fats are actually part of a healthy diet--these are the fats found in nuts and olive oil, for example. Know that not all fats are created equal. Reduce unsaturated fat only when their calorie content becomes too great (other than that, they are healthful). Reduce saturated fats much more heavily. And avoid trans fat like the plague. Check your labels for any ingredients that say "partially-hydrogenated." Those contain trans fat, and yes they are in everything! As a smart consumer, support brands which do not use partially-hydrogenated oils.

7. Get Into a Daily Walk Routine

Walking has been proven beneficial time and time again to anyone trying to get fit. Did you know that walking a mile burns the same amount of calories as jogging a mile? True enough, walking doesn't get your heart rate up as jogging would. But a daily walk is something anyone can do, and comes with the added benefit of being enjoyable--not something you can say about most types of exercise. Eventually you can build up to more strenuous exercise.

8. Lift Weights Three Times Per Week

A common misconception is that weight-lifting will result in bulging muscles--which is why many women avoid it. Yes, it can result in bulging muscles if that is what you're aiming for, but a regular light or moderate weight work-out will have a very different result: Strengthened and toned muscles that look fantastic while burning more calories. That's right, extra muscle tissue naturally burns calories throughout the day, which means you don't just burn calories while lifting the weights--you burn extra calories every day just by having stronger, firmer muscles. Also, targetting muscle groups in your trouble spots can help firm up those areas.

9. Don't Just Sit There

Researchers have found that people who sit at their desk for hours at a time tend to be heavier than those who don't--even if they exercise regularly. Being sedentary for long stretches of time has a detrimental effect on your body. If you typically sit still all day at work, make it a point to get up regularly, stretch, and walk around. Try not to stay plopped in your chair for more than an hour at a time.

10. Finally, Know the Calorie Formula

Calories in balanced with calories burned yields a consistent weight. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. For every 3,500 calorie difference, you lose one pound. That's a tough number. Even if you cut or burn 1,000 calories every day, it would still take three and a half days to lose a single pound. Any diet that promises a faster shortcut to weight loss is snake oil, plain and simple. A very sensible and sustainable goal is to lose one pound per week. At that rate, you could lose 50 pounds in a year--no small feat. But there won't be any instant gratification--the human body just doesn't work that way. It is evolved to be very efficient at storing and conserving calories, regardless of whether we want it to be!

Don't fall for the fads. Following these tips will set you on a path toward healthy and consistent weight-loss. You will feel better, look better, and live better when you take care of your body the right way!

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