❑ Consuming fewer calories than you burn in a day is the only way to lose weight. But consuming the right types of foods is important as well. Rotate your foods, and be sure to eat a variety of foods, especially an assortment of fruits and vegetables. Eat meals that consist of a balance of proteins, complex carbohydrates, and some fat. Proteins can increase your metabolic rate slightly and help to balance the release of insulin by prompting secretion of the pancreatic hormone glucagon. Protein-induced glucagon mobilizes fats from the tissues in which it is stored, thus aiding in weight loss. Obesity Recommendations. By eating balanced meals you get steadier blood sugar levels and the ability to burn stored body fat for long-term weight loss. Make sure that you have some protein at each meal and snack to keep you feeling full until the next meal.
❑ Eat more complex carbohydrates that also offer protein, such as tofu, lentils and other legumes, plain baked potatoes (no toppings, except for vegetables), and sesame seeds. Other foods that are good to include in your diet are brown rice, whole grains, skinless turkey or chicken breast, and seafood.
❑ Poultry and fish should be broiled or baked, never fried. Fish is particularly important for overweight people who have high blood pressure. Obesity Recommendations. In one study, those who ate fish once a day lost more weight and had lower blood pressure compared to those who did not eat fish.
❑ Eat fresh fruits and an abundance of raw vegetables. Use low-calorie vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, green beans, kale, lettuce, onions, radishes, spinach, and turnips. Low-calorie, low-carbohydrate fruits include apples, cantaloupe, grapefruit, strawberries, and watermelon. The following are higher in calories and should be consumed in moderation: bananas, cherries, corn, figs, grapes, green peas, hominy, pears, pineapple, sweet potatoes, white rice, and yams.
❑ In one study, a low-carbohydrate diet that was also high in vegetable proteins from soy, nuts, fruits, vegetables, cereals, and vegetable oils was shown to promote weight loss as well as lower total cholesterol and bad-cholesterol levels compared to the typical high-carbohydrate, heart-healthy diet, which is based on low-fat and whole-grain products. The low-carbohydrate plant-based diet produced similar weight loss to an Atkins-like diet, which is also low in carbohydrates but high in animal protein and fats.
❑ Eat foods raw, if possible. If foods are heated, they should be baked, broiled, steamed, or boiled. Never consume fried or greasy foods. Obesity Recommendations.
❑ Eat a healthful assortment of foods that includes vegetables, fruits, grains (especially whole grains), fish, beans, seeds, nuts, and soy products. Soy is a good source of protein if you are looking to lose weight, and it may have additional benefits beyond other protein sources. Soy may specifically promote the loss of body fat, reduce the risk of heart disease, and minimize bone loss.
❑ If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation only. Alcohol provides lots of calories, but few nutrients. Wine and beer or a spirit with soda water are better choices than a Mai Tai, for example, which is made with juice and other ingredients that add additional calories.
❑ Limit your intake of foods and beverages that contain added sugar. So-called fat-free and low-fat foods are not calorie-free. To add taste, food manufacturers often add sugars. Obesity Recommendations. You should always check the Nutrition Facts label on products before purchasing them.
❑ Try a Mediterranean diet—high in fish, whole grains, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and olive oil; low in meat, dairy products, and polyunsaturated fat.
❑ Drink ten 8-ounce glasses of liquids daily. Herbal teas and steam-distilled water with trace minerals (such as ConcenTrace from Trace Minerals Research) added are good. Taken before meals, they help to reduce your appetite. They are nonfattening fillers that also help to dilute toxins and flush them out of the body. Herbal teas mixed with unsweetened fruit juice are very satisfying low-calorie drinks and are also very filling. Use these between meals and when a desire for sweets hits you. Drink sparkling water mixed with fruit juice in place of sodas.
❑ Pay particular attention to the fat in your diet. Some fat is necessary, but it must be the right kind. Avocados, olives, olive oil, raw nuts and seeds, and wheat and corn germ are sources of “good” fats that contain essential fatty acids. Use these foods in moderation—no more than twice a week. Eliminate saturated fats from the diet completely. Avoid animal fat, found in butter, cream, gravies, ice cream, mayonnaise, meat, rich dressings, and whole milk. Do not eat any fried foods.
❑ Focus on eating low-glycemic-load foods. These include any meat, fish, or poultry, fats (in reasonable amounts), low-fat dairy products, and fruits and non-starchy vegetables. Anything with a grain or rice in it can increase blood sugar levels and insulin levels. Insulin is the storage hormone, so what you eat quickly turns to fat. People who adopt a low-glycemic-load diet weigh less, have less heart disease and diabetes, and have lesser incidences of fatty liver compared to those who eat a typical American diet, which tends to be high-glycemic load. Obesity Recommendations. It is easy to follow a low-glycemic-load diet. You can still have some bread, as long as you choose whole-grain bread and only eat one piece at a time. A baked potato is fine, but don’t have it at the same meal with another starchy vegetable such as corn.
❑ If you must eat snacks occasionally to ward off hunger, make sure they are healthy. Good choices include:
• Celery and carrot sticks; in fact, any nonstarchy vegetable is fine.
• Low-fat cottage cheese topped with fresh applesauce and walnuts.
• Unsweetened gelatin made with fruit juice in place of sugar and water.
• Freshly made unsalted popcorn. Obesity Recommendations.
• Rice cakes topped with nut butter (but not peanut butter).
• Watermelon, fresh fruit, or frozen fruit popsicles.
• Unsweetened low-fat yogurt topped with granola or nuts and fresh fruit.
❑ Do not eat any white flour products, salt, white rice, or processed foods. Also, avoid fast food restaurants and all junk foods.
❑ Do not consume sweets such as soda, pastries, pies, cakes, doughnuts, or candy. These are high-glycemic-load foods. Omit all forms of refined sugar (including white sugar, brown sugar, and corn sweetener) from the diet. Sugar triggers the release of insulin, which then activates enzymes that promote the passage of fat from the blood-stream into the fat cells.
❑ Follow a fasting program once monthly.
❑ Spirulina aids in fighting obesity. Take it thirty minutes before meals to decrease your appetite. Spirulina also sustains energy, aids in detoxification, and aids in maintaining proper bowel function.
❑ Avoid eating before bedtime and during the night. Supplementation with melatonin may help with this. “Night eaters” often have low melatonin levels.
❑ Use wheatgrass to calm the appetite. This is a very nutritious fuel from whole food that assists metabolic functions. Kelp is also beneficial. Obesity Recommendations.
❑ Use powdered barley malt sweetener (found in health food stores) instead of sugar. This is highly concentrated but not dangerous. It contains only 3 calories per gram (approximately 2 teaspoons). This sweetener is also beneficial for people with diabetes or hypoglycemia.
❑ Increase your intake of fiber.
❑ Dietary fiber intake prevents obesity by filling up your stomach and thus making you less hungry, decreasing the absorption of excess nutrients, and changing your body’s hormones so that you feel full naturally. The best way to get fiber is from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In addition, a fiber supplement is useful. Women need 25 grams and men 38 grams of fiber a day.
❑ Guar gum and psyllium husks are good sources of supplemental fiber. Take fiber with a large glass of liquid one-half hour before meals.
Note: Always take supplemental fiber separately from other supplements and medications.
❑ Move your bowels daily. Obesity Recommendations. A clean colon is important in stabilizing your weight.
❑ Keep a diet diary to help you keep track of what you eat, the caloric and fat content of what you eat, and what triggers your eating. This can help you to pinpoint and eliminate trigger factors (such as allergies or depression), as well as let you see if you are eating too much of the wrong types of foods.
❑ Be active. Take a brisk walk every day before breakfast or dinner to burn off fat. Make a habit of using the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk or ride a bicycle instead of driving whenever possible. Exercise increases the metabolic rate as well as burning off calories.
❑ Be sure to get regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, running, bicycling, or swimming, and do exercises for strength and flexibility, such as yoga or stretching exercises.
❑ Exercise is better than an overly strict diet for maintaining your health and controlling your weight. It is the best way to rid the body of fat and to maintain good muscle tone. Obesity Recommendations. Be sure to drink water during exercise to prevent dehydration and muscle cramps.
Caution: If you are over thirty-five and/or have been sedentary for some time, consult your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.
❑ If you have been sedentary for some time, try exercising in water. Water aerobics is excellent for those who are overweight or who find running or walking difficult. It is also good for arthritis sufferers. Water aerobics tones the body and strengthens the heart without straining the joints. Start by taking a class at a local fitness center or YMCA.
❑ Change your eating habits. This is extremely important not only for losing weight, but for maintaining weight loss. Begin with the following:
• Always eat breakfast. It jump-starts the metabolism at the beginning of the day. Eat small but nutrient-dense meals every three to four hours throughout the day to keep your metabolism stable, to maintain a full feeling, and to avoid wide swings in blood sugar. Obesity Recommendations. Good choices might include a 2-ounce portion of protein food (beans, an egg, poultry) with ½ cup fresh salad dressed with apple cider vinegar; or ½ cup of a steamed vegetable with some type of grain ( ½ cup brown rice or a piece of whole- or multigrain bread). If you can’t limit yourself to small meals or are not hungry, go back to the traditional three-meal-a-day plan.
• Don’t skip meals. This only intensifies hunger and food cravings.
• Make your main meal lunch, not dinner. Some people have had excellent results consuming no food after 3:00 P.M.
• At meals, put less food on your plate. Chew slowly. Stop eating as soon as you are no longer hungry—don’t wait until you feel full. If you eat at a restaurant, stop eating when you are full. Take the leftovers home or leave them.
❑ If you get the urge to eat, put on a tight belt. This will make you uncomfortable and remind you that you want to lose that excess fat.
❑ Learn to ride out your food cravings.
❑ They peak and subside like ocean waves. When you get an urge to eat, tell yourself that you can satisfy the craving if you really want to. Then wait ten minutes. This ensures that your eating is conscious, not compulsive. Keep in mind that most cravings last only a few minutes. Obesity Recommendations. Try doing something to distract yourself. Also remember that food addiction is the same as any other addiction: That first bite only makes you want more. If you ultimately decide that you really do want that food, then decide how much is reasonable and enjoy it. Really enjoy it. Take one bite and savor the taste. Eat slowly.
❑ Find out what causes your cravings. A craving for salt, chocolate, or sugar may actually be an indication of an underlying condition such as a mineral deficiency, food allergy, hypoglycemia, or hypothyroidism. 1) If you get a strong urge to snack while you’re watching television, try reading a book, drinking a large glass of liquid, or taking a walk instead. If your cravings are triggered by where you are, move. 2) If you’re in the kitchen, go outside to relax, take a walk, or do yard work. If you’re in the mall, avoid the food court.
❑ 3) If you are always tired in midmorning or midday, are always craving carbohydrates, and are always hungry, you may be consuming too many simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates include refined sugars and sweet fruits; complex carbohydrates, which include whole grains, peas, and beans, provide more long-term energy. Protein is another long-term source of energy. Think of interesting protein choices you can have for breakfast.
❑ It doesn’t always have to be bacon and eggs.
❑ In some countries people eat thin slices of cheese and meat and small amounts of fish for breakfast. A little protein goes a long way to sustain you until lunch. Obesity Recommendations. Be sure to have a piece of fruit and one high-glycemic-index food like a slice of bread or half of a bagel as well.
❑ Frequent bloating and water retention may be a result of excess insulin production, which makes it almost impossible to burn fat. Try lowering your carbohydrate intake and increasing your consumption of protein and fat. Excess sodium intake can also cause water retention.
❑ Consider being tested for food allergies. Many people who have eliminated allergenic foods from their diets have stabilized their weight quickly.
❑ Do not grocery shop on an empty stomach. You will be tempted to buy forbidden foods and will often buy more food than you need or can use before it loses its freshness.
❑ Read labels. A bottle of juice or a salty snack package may look like one serving, but often is more—sometimes two or three times more. You also may have noticed the new 100-calorie snack packages. While these may be convenient, when you see how small the portions are, you may be tempted to have more than one. But the calories add up quickly, so avoid them if you can’t limit yourself to one.
❑ Avoid crash dieting. A very low-calorie diet causes the metabolism to slow down, resulting in fewer calories being burned. Instead, increase your activity level. This will raise your metabolic rate, burn fat, and help prevent the loss of lean tissue.
❑ To maintain weight loss, calculate how many calories you need daily by multiplying your weight by 10. Then add 30 percent (about one-third) of that amount to the result. Assuming a moderate activity level, consuming anything less than that number of calories should allow you to lose weight. This is the number of calories you can consume daily with-out gaining the weight back. Most diet plans allow for a 500-calorie reduction per day, which would produce one pound per week of weight loss. This is a healthy approach to losing weight. Remember, you didn’t gain it all in one week; it likely took years. It should come off at the same pace to avoid rebounding to your starting weight.
❑ Losing weight sensibly and safely requires setting reasonable weight-loss goals, changing eating habits, and getting adequate exercise. Women and inactive men generally need to consume approximately 1,700 to 2,000 calories to maintain weight; men and very active women may consume up to 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day.