You’re sticking to your balanced healthy diet and exercising regularly, but those last few pounds won’t go away! Here’s how to fix that.
Despite pulling out all the stops—trading junk food for wholesome snacks, making your own meals, and becoming a kickboxing-class regular— you’re still struggling to shed those last 5 to 10 pounds. Don’t assume that means you can’t reach your goal no matter what you do. Experts say that in many cases, the smartest-sounding balanced healthy diet and exercise strategies can actually work against you. Fortunately, by adjusting your approach to some of these “healthy" behaviors, you can get the scale moving in the right direction.
Weight Loss Tips # 1, for when you're loading up on whole grains
You’ve rid your pantry of snacks made with white flour, replacing them with heart-healthy whole-grain versions. “But many of these snacks can be high in fat, sugar, and sodium—not to mention calories," says Lisa Sasson, R.D., clinical associate professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University.
Switch up your strategy and choose healthy whole grains instead
People who eat the greatest number of servings of minimally processed whole-grain foods—not snack foods, like crackers, cookies, and chips—enjoy the biggest weight-control benefits, research shows. Aim to increase your intake of brown and wild rice, bulgur, oatmeal, spelt, and quinoa, plus whole-grain breads and cereals. “Not only do most of these healthy whole grains contain fiber, which helps curb your appetite, but they’re also low on the glycemic index [GI]," says Sasson. “The carbs in low-GI foods are absorbed into your bloodstream slowly, allowing you to go longer without feeling hungry."
Now that you’ve incorporated more healthy whole grains into your balanced healthy diet, keep reading to discover more terrific and effective weight loss tips by Shape![header = Balanced healthy diet: find out how to prevent binge eating over the weekend.]
More Surprising Weight Loss Tips
You eat a balanced healthy diet, Monday through Friday, and then allow yourself some slack on the weekends. Why isn’t this strategy working?
Weight Loss Tips # 2, about when you allow yourself a "cheat" day...or two
You’ve probably learned from experience that denying yourself all treats when you’re dieting can set you up for binge eating. Your solution? Being “good" during the week and allowing yourself to splurge on weekends. While this may seem like a moderate approach to weight loss, it’s still a feast-or-famine mentality that can easily backfire. Dieters who shed a small amount of weight each weekday by eating a balanced healthy diet gained most of it back between Friday night and Monday morning, according to a recent study from the Washington University School of Medicine.
“When trying to lose those last few pounds, every calorie counts," says Kathy McManus, R.D., director of the department of nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “By eating whatever you want for two days straight, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll undo the hard work you put in during the previous five."
Switch up your strategy and be consistent in your balanced healthy diet
When it comes to shedding pounds, consistency is key. One study in the International Journal of Obesity found that people who eat a similar number of calories over seven days are 50 percent more likely to maintain their weight than those who diet more strictly on weekdays. That means you’ll be more successful if you allow yourself a 150- to 200-calorie treat a few times a week, rather than waiting until Friday night happy hour for your binge eating.
Strategies for Healthy Meals
Seems that the easiest way to maintain a balanced healthy diet is to cook your own meals. Discover – and avoid – the pitfalls!
Weight Loss Tips, # 3, for when you make your own healthy meals
There’s little dispute that frequently eating out can wreak havoc on a diet. Clemson University researchers found that restaurant chefs may serve dishes two to four times larger than the portion size recommended by the USDA. So it would seem that by grocery shopping and cooking at home whenever possible, you’d be doing your waistline a favor by following a balanced healthy diet.
That may be true, but if you’re not vigilant, this strategy can easily translate into extra pounds. Habits like picking at food while you cook, adding just a bit of extra butter or oil, using a heavy hand with dressings and sauces, and nibbling leftovers as you’re clearing the table can tack on hundreds of calories to otherwise healthy meals.
Switch up your strategy as you cook your healthy meals at home
“Pull out your measuring cups and spoons and use them throughout the entire cooking process," advises Sasson. “That way the next time you’re adding oil to a pan or pouring marinara sauce over your pasta, you’ll have a better sense of the amounts you’re using." A food scale can help you weigh items that can’t be measured in cups, like poultry, fish, and cheese. When you’re ready to eat, take a small portion of food (use a salad plate rather than a dinner dish), then put the rest of your healthy meals into single-serving storage containers. Popping them directly into the freezer can deter you from polishing off a second dinner soon after finishing your first.
Reasons For Skipping Cardio Workout Routines?
No matter how tired you are, you find a way to fit in your workout routines. Shouldn’t that help you lose those last 5 to 10 stubborn pounds?
Weight Loss Tips, # 4, for when you squeeze in cardio workout routines
No matter how tired you are in the morning or after work, you still push through your cardio workout routines. Better to burn a few calories than none at all, right? Not necessarily. “If you’re feeling truly exhausted, it’s more beneficial to ditch your workout," says Alejandro D. Chediak, M.D., medical director of the Miami Sleep Disorders Center. Reprioritizing to allow yourself an extra hour of shut-eye may be a smarter move than lacing up your sneakers. “When you’re sleep-deprived, your hormone levels change, stimulating cravings for starches and sweets," says Chediak. Your willpower diminishes too: One recent study from the University of Chicago found that people who had just a single night of poor sleep upped their intake of carb-rich snacks the next day by more than 200 calories.
Another reason you might want to put off your cardio workout routines: “You may not be able to exercise at the same intensity or for as long when you’re tired," says Jessica Matthews, a continuing education coordinator for the American Council on Exercise. “You’re also more likely to compromise your form, increasing your risk for injury."
Switch up your strategy for your cardio workout
Few of us can get eight hours of sleep and have the time for an hour-long workout. Chediak suggests getting at least seven hours and scheduling workout routines earlier in the day, as exercising within four hours of your bedtime may hinder your ability to fall asleep.
Two Bonus Weight Loss Tips
You’re desperate to lose those last 5 to 10 pounds! Here are two final weight loss tips from Shape to get you to the weight loss finish line.
Weight Loss Tips # 5, for when you eat slowly, savoring every bite
It might just be one of the world’s most oft-repeated diet tips: Eat slowly and you’ll consume less. But while this works when you’re alone, lingering in a group situation seems to have the opposite effect. A review from the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society found that people take in 40 to 70 percent more calories when dining with family and friends.
“People tend to eat more when they’re in pleasant surroundings, such as at a restaurant or dinner party," says Collin Payne, assistant professor of marketing at New Mexico State University. “Socializing serves as a distraction, making it hard to monitor what’s on your plate."
Switch up your strategy, so that you stick to your balanced healthy diet
When going out with friends, have a dining strategy in place so you don’t have to think about calories at the table, says Payne. “For example, decide whether you’ll have a slice of bread or a glass of wine. You might also order an appetizer as your main dish instead of an entrée."
Weight Loss Tips, # 6, for when you enlisted a friend to help
Teaming up with a buddy seems more fun than dieting alone, which is why you talked your best friend into joining that weight-loss program with you. Unfortunately, her unenthusiastic attitude can take a toll on your goals, suggests research from the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
“Partners observe the other’s eating and exercise habits and alter their own behavior to match," says Becky Marquez, Ph.D., a researcher at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. So if your pal finds excuses to skip scheduled workouts or indulges in unhealthy snacks that aren’t on your plan, you’re likely to follow suit.
People who make the most successful weight loss partners are those who are committed to losing 10 percent of their body weight and plan to stick with the program for a set period of time. “If you have to convince your friend to join you in a balanced healthy diet or cardio workout routines," says Marquez, “she probably isn’t ready."
Switch up your strategy and have a heart to heart talk about goals for your balanced healthy diet and exercise plan
Sit down with your buddy to discuss your eating and exercise goals going forward, advises Marquez. If you’re not on the same page, don’t feel bad about gently ending the partnership. You may be better off going it alone or finding someone who can pull her own weight.