Health,  Healthy Eating

The Diet “Rules” You Need to Break Today

It takes just one Google search to know that there are plenty of wacky theories out there about the best approach to weight loss. But the truth is, many of these fad diet plans aren’t practical or sustainable, which means they won’t lead to lasting success. Plus, many leave you short on energy and nutrition which is a recipe for full-on diet disaster. To achieve long-term weight loss success, you can’t rely on quick fixes and totally restrictive rules. You have to make lifestyle changes that are both realistic and sustainable. Relying solely on grapefruit for the rest of your life or never snacking again is neither of these things, so here is the diet “rules” you should disregard on your way to weight loss:

Just Don’t Eat – While it’s true that cutting unnecessary calories from your diet can be a safe and effective way to lose weight, it’s important not to cut too many. Calories are your body’s source of energy. Without them (or with too few of them), you will suffer serious health consequences. Instead of meticulously counting calories, focus instead on choosing healthy foods like veggies, lean proteins, dairy and healthy fats. Get used to listening to your body. Eat slowly and only to the point that you’re satisfied, not stuffed.

Forego All Fats – In the weight loss world, fat has gotten a bit of a bad rap. But the reality is some fat is necessary for life. Fats helps support normal growth and development, provides energy, allows proper cellular function, provides protective cushioning for organs and helps with absorption of certain vitamins (like A, D, E and K). Since the saturated fats found in foods like meat, butter, lard and cream (and trans fats found in baked goods, fried foods and margarine) are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Try replacing them with unsaturated fats, which are associated with a decreased risk of chronic disease. Sources of this type of fat include plant-based oils like olive and canola, avocados, nuts and seeds. Or, opt for plant-based saturated fats like coconut oil and the kinds you get with dairy, since these offer nutrition your body needs.

Take Up Permanent Residence in the Gym – Engaging in regular physical activity is an important piece of the weight loss puzzle and should be a regular part of your regimen, but moderation is key. So how much is enough? You should be aiming for 150-250 minutes/week (about 30 minutes, five days a week) of moderate-intensity physical activity (and of course, don’t forget the importance of incorporating resistance training into your workout regimen at least two times a week).

Break Up with Your Loved Ones – While it’s true that parties and happy hours aren’t exactly diet-friendly, with a little planning, you can still enjoy a social life while you lose weight. If you’re headed to a party, offer to bring a veggie tray and a healthy dish you love. That way, if the rest of the spread looks like weight gain waiting to happen, you’ll have options. The easiest way to make happy hour a healthy hour is to avoid alcohol altogether. But if you do choose to enjoy a libation, opt for a small glass of dry red wine (four ounces) or light beer (12 ounces). Make sure to sip slowly, and don’t skimp on water. Since happy hour takes place dangerously close to dinner time, plan to have a healthy afternoon snack that will hold you over before you head out, and set a happy hour curfew. That way you’ll avoid the temptation to dig in to calorie-packed bar food, and can head home for a healthy dinner.

Stop Snacking Forever – For many of us, snacks can account for more than a quarter of our daily calories. But if you munch on nutrient-dense foods (high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy fats), you’re more likely to maintain a healthy weight. Healthy snackers are less likely than non-snackers to be overweight.

“Negative Calorie Foods” Are Your Best Friends – Grapefruit, celery, coconut oil and other foods are reputed to have a “thermogenic” effect, meaning you literally burn more calories eating and digesting them than they contain. But many of these fat-burning ingredients are simply nutrient-dense foods that are low in calories and high in fiber, just like most other fruits and vegetables. These foods are healthy components of your diet, but they don’t possess magical properties that make them better than others at helping you lose weight. A well-balanced diet that includes a wide variety of foods is the foundation of steady, sustainable weight loss.

Ultimately, the goal is to make lifestyle changes that will help you achieve weight loss success without relying on quick fix fad or restrictive diets and still enjoy living life and until next time, stay happy, healthy and beautiful!

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