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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

25 Simple Weight-Loss Tips You Shouldn’t Overlook

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25 Simple Weight-Loss Tips You Shouldn’t Overlook

We all know that weight loss is only sustainable with a lifestyle change. Try to incorporate these tips into your daily habits, and watch the pounds melt away.

1. Weight vs. fat: know the difference!

Remember that while a pound of fat and a pound of muscle weigh the same, muscle takes up a lot less room in your clothes. Don’t be afraid to gain muscle weight. Adding more muscle will also raise your metabolism and keep your body-fat percentage low.

2. Throw out the scales.

Don’t be so attached to a number. Instead, measure your BMI and take measurements with measuring tape. Scales can often be deceiving. For example, if you are dehydrated, you may see the numbers drop, but you haven’t really lost any fat. Instead, base your success on measurements and how well your clothes fit.

3.Check progress weekly rather than daily.

Weekly check-ins provide a more accurate picture of your actual progress. If you check your weight or measurements daily, you may become discouraged at the lack of progress. Set weekly instead of daily weight-loss goals to keep on track.

4. Not all calories are created equal.

You will lose more weight if you eat three 70-calorie eggs instead of a candy bar, even if the calorie count is the same. The eggs will regulate insulin and not cause your blood sugar to spike. The extra protein will also help keep you feel full longer. The candy bar will do the exact opposite and can cause you to pack on the pounds. It’s not just calories in and calories out, it’s the kind of calories you put in and how your body processes them that helps you reach your weight-loss goals.

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5. Understand the science of metabolism.

Realize that our BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) are different when it comes down to the numbers. Your BMR is truly your metabolic rate if you just slept all day. Your RMR is your metabolic rate if you laid in bed, but ate meals, and had small activities like moving around your home. Calculating your RMR is probably a more realistic base platform when you’re trying to look at calories burned. Once you have this information, you can better calculate your total caloric loss when adding in exercise and meal plan information.

6. Apps can help you keep track of food intake.

Many apps help you manage your meal plans and exercise. These apps also help you network with other people and create accountability. My personal favorite is myfitnesspal, simply due to its ease of use. Also, the fact that you can scan the UPC codes of items that you are eating to automatically pull them up is quite handy. However, there are many apps out there. Just find one that works best for you, and use it as a tool to manage your diet.

7. Buddy up!

Having someone else keep you on track is key. It can be a trainer, family, or friends. Just knowing that someone else is going to ask you about your meal plan or exercise goals often helps you to resist temptations and procrastination. Even better, having a workout partner who will meet and work out with you will further ensure success.

8. Intensity matters more than time.

Slogging away on that treadmill for an hour at an easy walk may not be your best option for losing weight. One study found that obesity odds decreased by 5% for women and 2% for men for every additional minute of high-intensity exertion.

9. Eat whole foods over processed food.

Your body understands the chemistry of real food and utilizes it much better. However, when you add processed foods into the mix, you usually are adding more sugar, sodium, chemicals, and refined carbohydrates. Keep your diet to whole, unprocessed foods, and you should see a huge difference in your waistline.

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10. Reduce your sugar intake.

Eating too much sugar impacts upon your insulin levels. Insulin unlocks your cells to allow sugar to enter. However, if more sugar enters your cells than is needed, the excess energy accumulates as fat.

11. Don’t drink your calories.

Carbonated beverages are often loaded with sugar. Those “empty” calories can add up quickly, without giving you the satisfaction of being full.

12. Don’t neglect weight training.

Adding muscle, through activities such as weight training, increases your metabolism and fights fat. Lifting weights also helps to strengthen your bones, improve balance, and regulate your blood sugar.

13. Remember small habits, and small plates, add up.

Smaller plates often equal smaller portion sizes, thus reducing your daily caloric intake. Try swapping out your regular dinner plates for a smaller design.

14. Get plenty of sleep.

If you don’t feel rested, you may be tempted to turn to sugary snacks to get your through the day. There is a strong connection between sleeping disorders and weight gain. So make sure to turn in at a decent time and make sleep a priority if you are trying to drop pounds.

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15. Reduce stress.

During stressful periods, many people turn to food to help them cope. Try to use other forms of stress reduction, such as exercise or meditation, to help you manage life’s difficulties.

16. Always have healthy snacks available.

If “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” this could not be more true than in the case of diet regulation. Not having healthy snacks around can certainly cause the pounds to pile on. Most refined foods also have that extra perk of being convenient: you just open a box or bag. Plan ahead and have healthy snacks available to reach for instead of junk food when you don’t feel like putting energy into food prep.

17. Reduce how often you eat out, and eat at home more.

Average American households spend 40% of their food budget on eating out. One study found that each meal or snack eaten outside of the home increases the caloric intake by 134 calories. While it is possible to eat out and stay healthy, most people do not choose healthy foods when they eat their meals outside of the home.

18. Allow yourself a cheat day.

If you feel constantly deprived, you may give up on your goals. It’s OK to cheat every now and then if it helps you stick to your healthy lifestyle for the long term. Moderation is key.

19. Reward yourself with activities or clothes instead of food.

While you may have grown up getting ice cream as a reward, you can move away from that now. Instead, get a pedicure, buy yourself a present, or go out with friends. You don’t have to add extra calories to your day to celebrate.

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20. Cut out commercials; they make you want junk food.

Time in front of the TV usually doesn’t include a lot of calorie burning, unless you put it in front of a treadmill or are doing an exercise video. Food commercials are everywhere, and they are designed to make you want to eat. If you limit your TV time, you will find your snacking will often be limited along with it.

21. Don’t have junk food accessible.

If it’s not in your house, it takes a lot more effort to go get it. Clean out your cupboard, fridge, and freezer of all the foods that will sabotage your weight-loss goals.

22. Don’t be afraid of healthy fat.

Contrary to the low-fat movements of the past, healthy fats do not cause weight gain. Don’t be afraid to eat coconuts, avocados, or nuts. Eating whole, natural foods in their raw form will help fill you up without adding on the pounds.

23.  Have heart-to-hearts with your saboteurs.

Do you have that friend who brings you donuts on a bad day? Does you spouse bring a potato chip bag to bed? Get them on board with your weight-loss goals, and tell them to bring you an apple instead.

24. Write down your goals.

Sometimes, just the act of writing down your goals helps you maintain them. Make sure to put your goals in a place where you can see them every day. It will help you stay committed during the weight-loss journey.

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25. Stay hydrated.

Often, our body will send signals that we are hungry when we are actually dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water will help you feel less hungry throughout the day. If you do get hit with a snack attack, try drinking a large glass of water first and waiting about 30 minutes. You may find all your body needed was a little hydration.

Featured photo credit: Siora Photography via unsplash.com

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Sarah Hansen

A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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Published on August 24, 2021

What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

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What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

I’ve been a dietitian now for a long time (more years than I care to mention), and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that fad diets are best avoided. This is why I’m so pleased that whole food diets are being talked about more and more.

Rather than a “diet,” I prefer to think of a whole food diet as a way of life. Eating this way is balanced, and it is a great way to support your all-around body health and longevity. Plus, it’s delicious and—in my opinion—not limiting either, which is a massive bonus.

A well-balanced diet follows some fairly basic principles and, in essence, consists of plenty of the following:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein
  • Nuts
  • Water

This is essentially all a whole food diet is. Unfortunately, there isn’t an accepted definition of the whole food diet, which means that there are some highly restrictive versions around and some involve principles to frame your diet around rather than strict rules.

Read on to learn more about the whole food diet as a framework for eating rather than a strict rule book of dos and don’ts that restricts your lifestyle.

What Is a Whole Food Diet?

By definition, a whole food diet consists of eating foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. It’s easy to get lost in a quagmire of organic, local, or pesticide-free, but a whole food diet is basically food in its most natural form. Obviously, spices can be ground and grains can be hulled, but you get the idea. You eat the whole food rather than what’s left after being refined or processed.

In other words, it involves a lot of cooking because whole foods do not involve anything processed. That means no premade sauces, dips, or convenience foods like chocolate bars, sweets, or ready-meals. It also includes things like tinned vegetables and white bread.

Why? Processed and convenience foods are often high in salt, saturated fat, and additives in comparison to anything homemade. Because of this, their toll on your overall health is higher.

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Can Other Diets Also Be Whole Food Diets?

Here’s where it gets confusing—yes, other diets can also be whole food diets. Eating a whole food diet is a lifestyle choice, but many other diets can exist within a whole foods construct. So, diets like the MIND Diet and Mediterranean Diet are also whole food diets.

For example, here are the foods involved in the MIND Diet:[1]

  • Green, leafy vegetables five times a week
  • Five or more different colored fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Berries five times a week
  • Five or more servings of nuts a week
  • Olive oil five times a week
  • Whole grains five times a week
  • Oily fish twice a week or take an algae-based omega-3 supplement
  • Legumes and pulses five times a week
  • White meat/mix of plant-based proteins twice a week
  • Vitamin D supplement
  • Minimally processed foods
  • No more than one glass of wine a day
  • One or two coffee or tea a day max
  • Two liters of water a day

That’s pretty much a whole food diet, right? As long as any meat or plant-based proteins are as unprocessed as possible, then it can be a whole food diet.

Other diets, like a vegan diet, for instance, could be whole food diets or not. It really depends if processed foods are included. Some food substitutes are really heavily processed, so it’s important to read labels really carefully. But it’s only some, not all.

And here’s where it gets woolly. If you don’t need to eliminate certain food groups for whatever reason—ethical, health, religion—then a whole food diet can be great. But if you do exclude certain foods, then it could be beneficial to include certain “processed” foods. This is to make sure that you don’t miss out on vital nutrients to keep you healthy.

Processed Foods That Are Okay on a Whole Food Diet

Many brands of cereals are fortified with B vitamins, which can be hard to come by on a plant-based diet.

For example, vitamin B12 (needed for maintaining a healthy nervous system, energy, and mood-regulation), is largely found in animal sources. It is something that those on a plant-based diet need to keep an eye on, as studies show that around 20% of us are deficient. And we also know that 65% of vegans and vegetarians don’t take a B vitamin supplement.[2]

So in that case, choosing a cereal fortified with B vitamins would be a good option, if done wisely. By that I mean use your discretion and check the labels, as many brands of cereals are packed with sugar and additives. But you can strategically choose minimally processed foods using a whole foods mentality.

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As a rule of thumb, if there are any ingredients that you can’t pronounce, don’t understand, or sound artificial, they probably are best avoided.

Benefits of a Whole Food Diet

In a 2014 analysis by Yale University, they concluded that “a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”[3]

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables or other high-fiber foods like whole grains and nuts is really important in maintaining good long-term health and preventing health problems like diabetes and cancers. These kinds of foods also help our bodies to cope and control the effects of inflammation.

In fact, one review from 2019 stated that “diets high in plant foods could potentially prevent several million premature deaths each year if adopted globally.”[4] This is a big endorsement for a whole food diet.

Whole Foods and the Gut

Whole foods are loaded with fibers that are sometimes lost during processing or refinement. Fiber is essential for a healthy gut because aside from its traditional “roughage” reputation, it also feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, providing a whole host of other benefits.

They also provide a lot of variety, which the gut loves. The more variety, the better. So, even though you might fall in love with certain recipes, it’s important to mix up the kinds of whole foods you eat to maintain a healthy gut. Aim for 30 different whole foods each week. It’s easier than you think!

Whole Foods and the Brain

The brain is a really hungry organ, and it uses 25% of the total energy you consume from your food. Everything it needs to function at its best is—you guessed it—a whole, unprocessed food.

In fact, the best diet recommended for brain health is the MIND Diet. In one study, it was shown that people who follow the MIND diet closely had a 53% reduced rate of developing Alzheimer’s.[5]

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Some of the best whole foods for the brain are:[6]

  • Oily fish
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Whole grains

Is It Easy to Follow a Whole Food Diet?

Once you’ve got your head around having “ingredients” rather than “ready-to-eat” things in your kitchen cupboards, it’s actually very easy. The only issue is the lifestyle and habit changes that come along with it.

It is very likely that for many people, following a totally, religiously whole food diet may be unattainable at least some of the time. For example, there are days where you don’t get time to make your lunch or if you want to enjoy social eating. Similarly, people who have young children or who are working more than one job are unlikely to be able to follow a whole food diet all of the time.

Sometimes, we put ourselves under pressure to be as perfect as we can with diets like this, which can lead to an eating disorder called Orthorexia, which is a preoccupation with healthy eating.

This means that following a whole food diet, in principle, can be healthy and accessible for some people but not for everyone. It also means that those with previous disordered eating, as always, need to avoid any form of dietary restriction or rules around their diet.

Is a Whole Food Diet Boring?

Absolutely not! The beauty of this way of eating is that there are barely any recipes that are off-limits. If you can make it yourself using natural ingredients, then it counts. So, dig out your recipe books and get familiar with your spice cupboard.

Here’s my advice if you’re just starting: stock up on coconut milk and canned tomatoes. You’ll use them all the time in sauces.

Best Hacks for Sticking With a Whole Food Diet

Here are some tips to help you stick with a whole food diet and develop this lifestyle.

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1. Practice Batch Cooking

Especially in the beginning, if you’ve been used to eating more convenience-based or packaged foods, you’re likely to feel like you spend the majority of your life in the kitchen. So, I’d suggest getting your cookbooks out and planning around five things to make per week. If you make double, or even triple portions depending on your household, you’ll have enough quantity to last several meals.

For example, his could be homemade granola. Make it once, and that’s breakfast sorted for a week. Whole food diet ingredients like oats, quinoa, buckwheat, nuts, and seeds are all delicious, and great nutritional resources to keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

I also love to make big stews, sauces, and curries that can happily be reheated and added throughout the course of a few days.

2. Make Your Own Convenience Foods

Sticking to a new way of eating can be really difficult, especially for your willpower. So, it’s very important to make it as easy as possible for yourself.

Pre-chop. Pre-chop. Pre-chop.

If you’ve got a container of carrot sticks on hand or can happily munch on a few pieces of melon from the fridge, use those—it’s almost easier than grabbing something from a package. This can extend to your other vegetables, too. If you get your veg delivered or buy it from a market, choose a few things to slice after you wash them. That way, if you need a speedy lunch or a lazy dinner, it’ll be ready in minutes.

Ready to Try a Whole Food Diet?

If you’re looking to maximize your overall health, well-being, and vitality, I’d absolutely suggest a whole food diet. But, as with everything, it’s important to do what works for you and your own lifestyle.

Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel – Restaurant Photographer via unsplash.com

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Reference

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