10 Ways to Lose Weight Now
from Men's Health
You'll start dropping pounds before you finish reading this article
By: Elizabeth Ward R.D.
The perfect weight-loss article would include only four words:
Eat less. Exercise more.
Of course, if it were really that simple, I'd be out of work and the R.D. after my name would stand for Really Desperate (for a job).
Unfortunately for you (and, I guess, fortunately for me), it's a lot more complicated than that. Some guys need to eat more to lose weight. And some who are already exercising need to do less, but at a higher intensity
My goal here is to show you 10 ways that you can manipulate your diet -- adding in some places, subtracting in others - to start losing weight the next time you open your mouth with the intention of putting something in.
1. Start your engine
I'm a mother, but I'm not your mother. So I can't order you to eat breakfast. But if you don't, you're putting your number-one fat-burning tool in time-out. It takes calories to digest calories, so eating in the morning fires up your metabolism.
Perfect breakfasts: Try a cup of whole-grain cereal with 1 percent low-fat milk and a banana, or two pieces of whole-wheat toast with two tablespoons of peanut butter and an apple. If you hate breakfast food, or have to eat on the fly, take a turkey sandwich (going easy on the mayo) or a slice of leftover cheese pizza and go.
2. Run with the snack pack
Here's where I disagree with your mother. She discouraged you from eating between meals-probably so you'd eat more of her delicious boiled-liver casserole-but I want you to have a snack handy at all times.
Here's why: If breakfast stokes up your metabolic fires, then snacks keep them going between meals. And planning your snacks in advance keeps you from making a mid-morning Chips Ahoy run.
Perfect snacks: Include one of the following two or three times a day: an ounce of nuts, pretzels, or string cheese; a medium piece of fruit; six graham cracker squares; or six cups of low-fat microwave popcorn.
3. Practice fiber-opting
I'm not out to turn you into a vegetarian or anything, but fiber-rich foods are about the only free pass you'll get in the nutrition world. They have few calories and make you feel full. Your goal is to eat 25 grams of fiber every day (Americans typically consume just 12 grams daily).
Where the fiber is: Eat at least three servings of vegetables and two fruit portions daily; and add beans to salads and soups. Choose whole-grain breads over those made with refined flour. And for breakfast, pick the highest-fiber cereal that doesn't taste like cardboard.
4. Fight fat with fat
Things change fast in my world. A few months ago, you couldn't tell overweight people to eat more fat without the evil specter of Dr. Atkins appearing over your head. Now, it seems, everyone knows about the health benefits of unsaturated fats
, those found in fish, nuts, avocados and olive oil.
But in case you haven't heard, here's the basic problem with low-fat diets: You replace the fat with carbohydrates. Carbs provoke a rise in insulin. More insulin leads to more hunger. On top of that, your body digests carbs faster than fat. So you get hungrier faster.
Fat has neither of those liabilities. Your body digests it slowly, and it doesn't cause an insulin surge. So adding a bit of fat to breakfast, lunch, and dinner actually speeds weight loss.
Another point: Fat makes you feel more satisfied after a meal. You feel as if you've eaten, not just nibbled.
The flip side of this (you knew there was a catch) is that too much fat will make you fat. Fat packs more calories per square inch than protein or carbohydrates. Overeating is easy-especially if you're breaking rules 1 and 2, starving yourself through the day and then shoveling down a bag of fried pork rinds at night.
So add some nuts and olive oil to your next salad. Put some avocado on that turkey-breast sandwich. Smear peanut butter on your morning toast. And when you eat out, never pass up a chance for a nicely prepared piece of salmon, herring, tuna, or mackerel (these are the fattiest fish).
5. Don't get juiced
Sure, 100 percent juice beats the pants off soda for nutrition, but juice (and those pseudo-juice beverages, like Snapple) pack just as many calories-up to 225 in a 16-ounce bottle.
What to drink: Water works. It's not as magical as some make it out to be, but you can't beat it for calories (zero). Diet soft drinks are the next-best alternative.
6. Beer down
Want to look better naked? Try drinking half as much beer, wine, or whatever booze you choose. Alcohol puts on pounds in more ways than we can list here, but try these highlights:
> Alcohol contains calories. You may drink like a fish, but booze isn't water. Even a light beer has more than 100 calories. Kahlua and cream? Now we're talking calories.
> Booze makes you store fat. Your body sees alcohol as a poison, and tries desperately to get rid of it. Your liver stops processing all other calories until it has dealt with the alcohol. So anything else you eat during the time you're drinking is more likely to end up as fat.
> Alcohol lowers testosterone. With more abdominal fat, testosterone drops.
> A bender interrupts sleep. And sleep is when your body produces its biggest surge of growth hormone, a chemical that signals your body to use fat for energy. The less growth hormone you release, the fatter you become.
Inconspicuous consumption: When you want to drink less without anyone noticing, start with a glass of water as your first "cocktail" (add a lime for camouflage). Then alternate water with alcoholic beverages. You'll keep your hands busy, and think of all the calories you'll burn during those bathroom runs.
7. Have a green day
Sipping green tea -- the kind served at Japanese restaurants -- revs up your metabolism. Green tea may be foreign to you, but don't knock it until you've tried it. You can find it any supermarket, and it tastes fine. (Go ahead and add a teaspoon of sugar if it's not sweet enough.)
8. Greet meat
It's lunchtime in the local food court. Which do you go for: salad or burger? Of course, you think, the salad is better for you. After all, it's green. And leafy. And has all kinds of crunchy things, which look a lot healthier than a brown slab of dead animal.
But the burger is probably the better choice. Sure, the salad will have fewer calories if you limit what you put on it. Once you add turkey, ham, cheese and dressing, however, you could be looking at more than 700 calories for a three-cup serving. The burger? About 430 calories for a typical quarter-pounder. Plus, the burger will almost certainly make you feel more full, while the meat is rich in zinc, an important mineral for raising testosterone levels.
9. Go for the freezer burn
If weight loss were a game of poker, portion control would be your ace in the hole. You can eat anything and lose or maintain weight, as long as you don't eat too much of anything.
So here's another test: Dinner tonight - frozen meal or pizza? The frozen dinner wins because it gives you portion control. You buy one serving, eat one serving, and you're done. With the pizza, you buy multiple servings, and hope you only eat one of them - probably two slices. If you can pull that off, fine, eat whichever looks better to you. But if you think there's any chance you'll eat more than those two slices, you're better off not tempting yourself.
If the dinner you choose is just an entree and doesn't have vegetables, buy a bag while you're in the frozen-food aisle, and cook a cup of it. Don't worry about the vegetables not being fresh. In winter, the frozen vegetables are often in better shape than the "fresh" ones that were picked last week in Argentina.
10. And, uh, did we mention exercise?
While it's possible to lose weight by eating less without doing more, it's unlikely. The people who lose the most and keep it off the longest tend to approach both sides of the equation with equal fervor. So we'll see you in the gym.