It’s that simple, I promise! If you think about making any meal mostly veggies (at least 50% of anything that you’re having), you’re on the right track to better health and weight loss.
All meals are important, but breakfast is what helps you start your day on the right track. The best, heartiest breakfasts are ones that will fill you up, keep you satisfied, and stave off cravings later in the day. Aim to eat anywhere between 400 and 500 calories for your morning meal, and make sure you’re including a source of lean protein plus filling fat (e.g., eggs, unsweetened Greek yogurt, nuts, or nut butters) and fiber (veggies, fruit, or 100% whole grains). Starting your day with a blood sugar-stabilizing blend of nutrients will help you slim down without sacrifice.
Since salt is a preservative, packaged and processed foods are often highest in sodium — something to keep in mind when planning your meals. When it comes by buying snacks, a “low sodium” product has to be 140 mg or less per serving — so if you’re REALLY in a bind, you can follow that guideline for what to put in your cart.
Start your day with a cup of joe. Caffeine is a natural diuretic and an excellent source of antioxidants, which protect your cells from damage. You can have up to 400 mg — about a venti Starbucks coffee — daily, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Not much of a coffee drinker? Tea is also a natural diuretic, and types of herbal tea such as dandelion or fennel root can also lend a hand. In fact: When a recent study compared the metabolic effect of green tea (in extract) with that of a placebo, researchers found that the green-tea drinkers burned about 70 additional calories in a 24-hour period.
We just don’t feel full by liquid calories in quite the same way as we do real food. Drinking a juice or caramel coffee drink just isn’t as satisfying as eating a bowl of veggie- and protein-packed stir-fry. So monitor your intake of juice, soda, sweetened coffee and tea, and alcoholic beverages. If you consume each of those beverages during the day, you’ll have taken in at least 800 extra calories by nighttime — and you’ll still be hungry. (Incidentally, alcohol may suppress the metabolism of fat, making it tougher for you to burn those calories.)
It’s a one-time investment you’ll never regret. Here’s why: Strength training builds lean muscle tissue, which burns more calories — at work or at rest — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The more lean muscle you have, the faster you’ll slim down. How do you start strength training? Try some push-ups or a few squats or lunges. Use your free weights to perform simple bicep curls or tricep pulls right in your home or office. Do these exercises three to four times per week, and you’ll soon see a rapid improvement.
It can actually help you cut back on calories. That’s because capsaicin, a compound found in jalapeño and cayenne peppers, may (slightly) increase your body’s release of stress hormones such as adrenaline, which can speed up your ability to burn calories. What’s more, eating hot peppers may help slow you down. You’re less likely to wolfed down that plate of spicy spaghetti — and therefore stay more mindful of when you’re full. Some great adds besides hot peppers: ginger and turmeric.
There’s tons of research that demonstrates getting less than the desired amount — about 7 hours — of sleep per night can slow down your metabolism. Plus, when you’re awake for longer, you’re naturally more likely to snack on midnight munchies. So don’t skimp on your ZZZ’s, and you’ll be rewarded with an extra edge when it comes to losing weight.
Loads of research demonstrates people who log everything they eat — especially those who log while they’re eating — are more likely to lose weight and keep it off for the long haul. The habit also takes less than 15 minutes per day on average when you do it regularly, according to a 2019 study published in Obesity.
Start tracking on an app like MyFitnessPal or use a regular notebook. It’ll help you stay accountable for what you’ve eaten. Plus, you can easily identify some other areas of your daily eats that could use a little improvement when it’s written out in front of you.
Don’t get me wrong — exercising at any time is good for you. But evening activity may be particularly beneficial because many people’s metabolism slows down toward the end of the day. Thirty minutes of aerobic activity before dinner increases your metabolic rate and may keep it elevated for another two or three hours, even after you’ve stopped moving. Plus, it’ll help you relax post-meal so you won’t be tempted by stress-induced grazing that can rack up calories.