How to Get Started Exercising Despite Obesity and Low Energy Levels

Diet and exercise programs often exhort you to “get up and move!” as though the only factor affecting your weight is a tendency towards laziness. If you have trouble staying active, however, there’s a good chance that something more is holding you back. Many people with high body mass indexes, or BMIs, also suffer from low energy levels and difficulties with exercise that aren’t found in slimmer, more active people. Here’s a look at some of the possible causes of these problems, as well as a few solutions that can help you get moving a little more easily.

Reasons for Low Energy Levels

Many overweight and obese people suffer from low energy levels, but this problem might not be caused by high body weight. Instead, it might actually be produced by a hormonal or emotional disorder, such as hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression or similar problems. All these conditions can affect your motivation, energy levels and your weight, encouraging you to gain. Talking to a doctor can help you deal with the underlying cause and may make becoming active much easier.

You might also experience low levels of energy if your body doesn’t process carbohydrates properly. This is common in people who have developed insulin resistance, pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. If you don’t monitor your carbohydrate consumption and you have one of these disorders, you may find yourself suffering from uneven moods and periods of extreme fatigue. You might even feel dizzy or lightheaded. Some people with low energy and high body mass are also suffering from sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, which is aggravated by a high weight and can cause extreme fatigue. Like hormonal problems, seeing a doctor can often help you overcome these problems.

Physical Barriers to Exercise

There are also physical difficulties that can make it difficult for many overweight people to enjoy regular exercise. The majority of the sedentary population suffers from poor endurance and low muscle mass, which can make conventional exercise programs exhausting and difficult, but this problem is greater for sedentary people with a high body weight. Simply moving your own body around can be tiring if you’re not used to it.

You may also suffer from problems such as exercise-induced asthma, joint pain from old injuries or weight-related stresses, and an increased tendency to sweat. Exercise can be particularly difficult if you have a major physical disability that has encouraged you to gain weight. That doesn’t mean you can’t find an option that works for you, however.

Working around Problems

The good news is that even if you are physically disabled, suffering from extreme tiredness, or have other problems that make conventional exercise programs difficult, you can still enjoy regular physical activity. The first step is to redefine your idea of exercise.

Most people think that they have to accomplish a certain amount for it to “count” toward their physical fitness. This myth has kept a lot of people feeling uncomfortable in their own bodies, but helpless to improve their health. The truth is that any activity is good activity, and you need to scale your exercise routine to fit in with your personal fitness level. If that means walking slowly around the block or doing easy push-ups against the wall to start with, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Take some time to think about the activity level you’re currently comfortable with. If climbing stairs makes your knees hurt or you have trouble walking to catch the bus, you may need to pursue an alternative to the standard programs. Identify a form of exercise that makes you feel comfortable, even if it’s something as simple as stepping in place during a television program or taking a walk with your kids or pets. Look for something that will get you moving and make you feel a little bit of exertion, but avoid activities that will cause you pain or leave you feeling exhausted. Try to do the same thing every day.

If you have a physical disability such as an old injury or congenital problem, don’t try to force your way past it. You could end up hurting yourself even worse. Instead, design your exercise program to work around your problems. Get the help of a physical therapist or a personal trainer who specializes in your disability if you’re not sure of the best way to do this. If you suffer from any significant symptoms due to your increase in activity, talk to your doctor about the problem, and make sure that he or she takes you seriously. Doctors who prescribe severe dieting instead of treating your injury are focusing on the wrong thing, and can actually be detrimental to your physical fitness.

Leveling Up

If you do even a very small amount of exercise every day, there’s a good chance you’ll find that it gets easier over time. When that happens, it’s time to increase your level of activity. Add a light set of hand weights as you walk around the park. Shift your bicycle into a slightly lower gear, or add a step to your program of walking in place. Increase the number of sit-ups or push-ups you’re doing. It doesn’t matter how you increase the difficulty as long as you make sure you do it gradually and keep things within your ability. Any exercise counts, as long as it gets your heart rate up and puts a little stress on your muscles.

Over time, you’ll probably find that it’s a lot easier to get started. Everyone has bad days, of course, but many people also find that getting more active actually improves their energy level. For people who suffer from depression and insulin-related problems, physical activity can even reduce symptoms, making day to day life a lot easier. If you consume a balanced diet with enough calories to fuel your exercise, there’s even a good chance that moderate increases in physical activity will help you reduce your weight.

You may feel like your weight or medical conditions mean that you can’t get “real” exercise. This is a myth that could be seriously detrimental to your health. Instead of letting other people’s extreme ideas of what fitness means hold you back, take some time to look at your own situation. Find a way to get moving that doesn’t disrupt your life or make you feel miserable, and you may be surprised at the difference it can make.

Even a relatively minor increase in physical activity levels has been shown to reduce weight and help your health. While burning an extra 100 calories per day may not seem like much, it could help you drop about a pound a month, as well as lowering your blood pressure, decreasing your risk of diabetes, strengthening your joints and reducing your stress levels. As you become more fit, you can increase your workout, boosting the amount you burn.

Don’t let yourself end up feeling tired and flabby when you could enjoy the benefits of a healthy workout. There’s no such thing as bad exercise! Just take precautions to make sure you won’t hurt yourself, tailor your workout to your personal situation, and be willing to get moving.

Authored by: Jordan Pete

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Rapid Weight Loss Vs. Slow, Sustained Weight Reduction

Most weight loss products and services currently on the market promise quick, easy weight reduction. They emphasize loss of a specific number of pounds over a short period of time. This can be a really appealing possibility, especially if you’re hoping to drop some weight in order to fit into a wedding dress, look good in a bikini, or wear that old suit. Unfortunately, these kinds of products don’t always work the way you’d like them to.

Problems with Rapid Weight Loss

Losing weight fast sounds like a great idea until you learn about all the possible side effects it could cause. Your body is designed to hold onto fat in times when there’s not much food available. Unfortunately, that means that a lot of programs designed to help you lose fat quickly actually end up taking off muscle mass and causing you to lose water weight. That means that you’ll weight less, but you might not actually end up with the body you wanted.

That weight tends to come right back when you resume normal eating, too. After all, your body has an idea of what it’s “normally” supposed to be like, and it wants to return to that size and shape. Studies have shown that people who’ve lost weight actually feel hungrier than people of the same weight who did not go through a loss program. This extra hunger lasts for up to two or three years, and it can be hard to deal with. The problems are bigger for people who lose most of their weight quickly because it takes longer for the body to adjust.

Losing weight too fast can lead to feeling tired and sluggish. It can also decrease your metabolism in the long run, making it easier to gain weight and harder to lose it. In extreme cases, too-rapid weight loss can even damage your heart and cause other long term health problems.

A More Sustainable Alternative

With all these disadvantages, it’s clear that programs that promise losses of 30 pounds in 30 days aren’t a viable option if you want to stay healthy. Doctors tend to recommend losing only one to two pounds per week if you want to stay healthy and reduce the risk of putting weight back on. Ideally, this process should be relatively slow and gentle, allowing your body to get used to being smaller and needing less or different food. It takes a lot of patience and can be very frustrating at times, but slow weight loss is really the most sustainable option.

Finding a Happy Medium

Unfortunately, the slow speed of many truly sustainable weight loss programs can actually reduce your chances of losing weight. That’s because so many people become frustrated with their progress, especially when they reach a plateau. They may decide that the difficulty of eating a healthier diet isn’t worthwhile. They might even end up quitting their weight loss plan entirely. That’s why some people end up seeking a happy medium between unsustainable, dangerous loss at a rapid rate, and the slower, safer and often frustrating methods that work best in the long run.

One option is to choose a plan that results in some relatively rapid loss at the beginning, then slows down and produces more sustainable results. It’s still important to pay attention to these plans’ effects on your system, since not all of them are healthy. However, the initial rapid loss may help you feel better about the slower pace later on. Popular options include low-carbohydrate plans such as the Atkins Diet, which feature large amounts of loss at the beginning, as well as weight loss techniques that start with fasting or other calorie-restrictive methods and reintroduce other foods later.

You can also work to reduce the damage done by planned or unexpected rapid loss. For instance, you may be able to decrease the risk of severe muscle loss by maintaining regular activity, especially if your exercise program includes a resistance training component. By making sure you use your muscles, you decrease the risk of serious loss. Maintaining good hydration, eating a balanced diet that’s rich in all necessary vitamins and minerals, and taking care to consume foods that will provide you with plenty of energy can also help cut down some of the problems associated with rapid loss. When in doubt, talk to a doctor or nutritionist about your weight loss plans.

When Quick Weight Loss Isn’t a Worry

Sometimes, losing weight fast isn’t something you need to spend too much time worrying about. This doesn’t refer to loss caused by unsustainable fasts or fad diet plans, but it can apply when you’ve recently made a healthy lifestyle change. If you used to live on fast food but you’ve recently changed to a vegetarian lifestyle, there’s a good chance you may experience sudden, surprising loss. This sort of effect can also happen if you’ve suddenly taken up a strenuous new sport or hobby, such as running, cycling or dancing.

The change in your diet and your activity level could be enough to prompt rapid loss, but if your healthy new habit is going to be a long term one, there’s probably nothing to worry about. Concentrate on taking care of your body, avoiding injury, and getting a balanced diet. If you stay active and provide your body with plenty of energy, the weight loss will slow down eventually and you should be able to maintain good health.

Dealing with the Side Effects of Rapid Weight Loss

Even quick weight loss that doesn’t negatively affect your health can have some unpleasant side effects, however. Many people who lose weight fast find that they suffer from loose skin, changes in appetite and energy level, or unusual moods. These can be disruptive to your daily life and may also negatively affect your self-image, but there are some ways to reduce or eliminate them.

The first is to ensure that you’re getting enough food. If you’ve recently lost a lot of weight due to a sudden increase in exercise level or a major change in your diet, there’s a chance you’re actually getting too few calories. This can affect the way you feel, the things you eat, and even how much you want to eat. Focus on getting plenty of lean protein, but don’t cut out the fat entirely. Look for “good” fats such as nuts and olive oil. These will help you feel sated, so they’ll reduce the risk of that ravenous feeling. They’ll also provide the specific types of energy that your nervous system needs to work properly, cutting down on mental and emotional side effects.

Weight loss can also cause cosmetic issues such as loose skin. This is especially common in older people who experience rapid loss, since their skin isn’t as elastic as that of younger dieters. While some amount of loose skin may be unavoidable after a quick loss, you have a few options to decrease it.

First, make sure you’re engaging in at least some resistance training like weight lifting. This will help build muscle under the skin, filling it out and helping reduce sagginess. This plan is appropriate for women as well as men, since there’s no need to fear bulking up unless you have an unusually large amount of testosterone in your system or are using performance enhancers. You can also help your skin stay firm and attractive by making sure you stay hydrated and consuming plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

If you have the option to pursue slow, steady weight loss, that’s always the best choice. However, a short period of quick loss or a fast loss due to healthy lifestyle changes doesn’t have to be the end of the world. In the end, just make sure you stick with healthy, balanced choices and focus on fitness, not just appearance.

Authored by: Jordan Pete

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Weight Loss Psychology: Are Your Thoughts Making You Fat?

If losing weight was as simple as counting calories for a few weeks, the obesity epidemic would be easily fixed. In most cases, gaining weight is a physical manifestation of emotional and psychological stress. To lose weight for good, you need to change the way you think and behave, which can be more complicated than just going on a crash diet. There is a reason why the weight loss industry brings in billions of dollars a year.

Looking for a quick solution to a complicated problem is one of the quickest ways to set yourself up for failure and disappointment. While diet products, books and DVDs can certainly be helpful, it’s ultimately up to you to take your mind and body to the next level and say goodbye to those pesky extra pounds forever.

Why Diets Fail

There is nothing more frustrating than denying yourself your favorite foods for days, or even weeks, only to find out that the numbers on the scale haven’t budged and neither has your waist line. Most dieters are stuck in a cycle of starving and overeating with no middle ground. The truth is that you fail before you even start dieting when you set unrealistic goals like losing 20lbs by the summer when it’s already the middle of April. When the plan inevitably falls through, you feel so upset and discouraged that you give up and go right back to bad eating habits.

The core of the problem for many people is thinking of temporary dieting as a long-term solution to staying fit. Losing weight for good is not so much about dieting as it is about making permanent lifestyle changes. If you want to look great and stay healthy throughout your life, you need to stop yo-yo dieting and start taking small steps toward big changes. Weight loss starts with discovering why you are overweight in the first place and why you haven’t been successful in your past attempts to get fit.

Anyone who has ever lost a substantial amount of weight and kept it off will tell you that weight loss is as much of an emotional journey as it is a tough physical challenge. To get results, you need to change your relationship with food and stop letting your weight shape your self-esteem.

Why is Changing Bad Eating Habits so Hard?

In theory, making a conscious decision not to reach for french fries and dessert is simple, but in practice it’s a lot harder than it sounds. Why is it so hard to lose weight and stick to good habits when you already know how to do it? One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming that they are completely in control of their behavior, which is exactly why dieters are so critical of themselves when they fail.

Assuming logic drives your behavior is the wrong way to approach losing weight. Emotions, stress and depression can all drive you to intense cravings for fatty snacks and comfort foods. Stress can even trick you into thinking that you are hungry when you aren’t. That’s why after a long day at work a bag of salty chips looks a lot more tempting than a low-fat yogurt. It’s not just that it tastes better, but it also fills an emotional need that’s not being taken care of in other ways.

In fact, studies show that in some people food can trigger the same pleasure areas of the brain as illegal drugs. Foods that are rich in salt, sugar or fat can even trigger dopamine in the brain, the feel-good chemical that makes you feel happy and relaxed. That satisfying feeling can drive you to come back to the same bad foods over and over again even if you are consciously trying to avoid them. It’s important to stop blaming yourself for failing to change your habits and start looking for practical solutions.

If you are an emotional eater, figure out what’s upsetting you and confront it head on. Whether you are stressed out at work or dealing with problems at home, it’s very important to find a healthy outlet for your emotions. Even if it seems silly, science proves that your psychological well-being does have a direct impact on your ability to make the right choices in the kitchen.

Why Deprivation Doesn’t Work

Most people believe that strict calorie restriction is the best way to lose weight, but that simply isn’t true. That line of thinking will damage your metabolism and trap you in a never-ending cycle of eating too little and eating too much. When you eat too few calories, your body will perceive it as a famine and start clinging to every fat cell in your body as a precaution. Not to mention that constantly saying no when you want to say yes will create a strong emotional need for that type of food until you can no longer resist it.

Eating in moderation is a much better approach from both a psychological and a physical standpoint. Knowing that you can eat calorie-rich foods in small amounts whenever you want to will actually make them seem a lot less special.

How to Think Yourself Thin

The idea that your mind might be behind your failed attempts to lose weight may seem discouraging, but the good news is that changing the way you think isn’t as tough as it sounds. The first thing you should do is forget the traditional definition of the word “diet”. Thinking of eating healthy as a quick way to lose weight won’t get you anywhere in the long run since you’ll start to gain the weight you lost as soon as you go back to your old eating habits. To get permanent result, you’ll need to find a healthy lifestyle that you can live with. It doesn’t mean that you can’t eat bad foods altogether, but it’s important to cut some of them out of your normal day-to-day routine. Moderation is the key to long-term success. Go ahead and eat chocolate if you love it, but keep it to one square after dinner or an occasional candy bar on the weekends.

Set small goals instead of focusing on the final results. Dieters who measure their access by the number of pounds they lose each week are destined for failure because weight loss is not consistent no matter how well you eat and how much you exercise. Instead of basing your success and self-esteem on the numbers you see on the scale, pat yourself on the back for making small changes like cutting out high-sodium foods or reducing your alcohol intake. Taking one small step at a time will help your mind and body adjust to the changes slowly and smoothly. If you give yourself a chance to get used to your new lifestyle, making good choices will eventually become second nature.

Lastly, remember not to beat yourself up if you gain weight or get sidetracked. The less time you spend on dwelling on past mistakes, the quicker you’ll be able to move forward toward a happier and healthier you.

Authored by: Jordan Pete

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6 Foods to Never Eat On a Diet (And Delicious Alternatives)

One of the toughest aspects of losing weight is learning how to instantly tell the difference between a good food and a bad food. Calorie counting is simple in theory, but it doesn’t really take into account busy schedules and meals that you eat on the run. Besides, to maintain a healthy weight into the future you need to find a diet that you can live with, and you can’t count every calorie that you eat for the rest of your life. That’s why the secret to sustainable weight loss lies in instinctively avoiding bad choices, especially when the nutritional information is not readily available. Some foods that appear perfectly healthy and harmless can jeopardize your weight loss and keep you coming back for more. Replacing the sneaky diet-busters below with healthy, tasty alternatives can help you satisfy cravings without compromising your weight loss.

1. French Fries

If you are a potato lover, giving up French fries won’t be easy, but the payoff is well worth the price. On average, a small to medium order of French fries contains a whopping 300 to 600 calories, and chances are that you are not eating it as a standalone meal. The good news is that you don’t have to give up on potatoes altogether.

Baked potatoes are a great alternative as long as you don’t load them up with fatty toppings like bacon bits and butter. If you are really craving French fries and nothing else will do, make a healthy batch at home with olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper.

2. Dangerous Drinks

Fruit-flavored smoothies, sports drinks and coffee sound diet-friendly enough, but some of them can pack as many calories as a medium-sized meal. Trendy coffee drinks are among the most dangerous diet offenders, closely followed by fat-laden milkshakes and calorie-rich energy drinks. That doesn’t mean you need to give up your relaxing trips to the local coffee house, but you do need to be smart about your order.

Try unsweetened or lightly sweetened coffee, and use skim, non-fat or soy milk instead of whole milk or cream. Remember that fruit-flavored drinks in coffee houses are often made with thick, sugary syrup, so grab some whole fruit if you are craving something sweet. To avoid hidden calories in smoothies, make your own at home. If you are feeling run down or tired at work, try green tea instead of a pre-bottled energy drink. Green tea’s powerful anti-oxidant compound knows as EGCG is a natural fighter against fat, disease and aging.

3. Sausage

Full of saturated fats, sodium and mystery ingredients, pre-packaged sausages can sidetrack your diet in one bite. Processed meats in general are a bad idea because they are full of sodium and other ingredients that are toxic to your health. Instead of eating sausages for breakfast or lunch, reach for healthy lean meats that will satisfy your cravings for sausages or hot dogs.

Try replacing pork with chicken. Chicken and vegetables rolls are delicious and easy to make. Turkey is another great alternative. You can combine ground turkey with spices like paprika, cayenne and cumin for a delicious and healthy homemade sausage stuffing. Pack it into natural casings, cook for 15 minutes or so, and you’ll have delicious sausages that are good for both your taste buds and your waist line.

4. Canned Soups

While they might be low in calories, canned soups are extremely high in sodium. Eating too much salt is not just bad for your overall well-being, but it can also stall your weight loss by forcing your body to hold on to excess water weight. You can try low sodium brands, or better yet, make your own soup at home.

Try making a traditional chicken noodle soup by using chunks of organic chicken meat and whole grain pasta. Split pea soup is another great option. Just one cup of split peas contains over 16 grams of healthy protein that will keep you feeling full and energized throughout the day.

5. Foods that Contain a Lot of High-Fructose Corn Syrup

High-fructose corn syrup, or corn sugar, is one of the most popular additives in the food industry. Unfortunately, it also happens to be one of the worst ingredients you can consume if you want to lose weight and improve your health. High-fructose corn syrup and other sugar additives are associated with weight gain, poor nutrition, cavities and high triglyceride levels. According to the guidelines from the American Heart Association, you should consume no more than 100 calories of any sugar additive a day. The easiest way to avoid foods that are high in corn sugar and other additives is to stop buying pre-packaged processed foods and drinks like chips, soda and sugary cereals. Read labels to make sure that the foods you are buying contain natural ingredients.

Substitute sugary cereals with whole grains and oatmeal. Oatmeal doesn’t have to be boring or bland. In the winter, add brown sugar, apples and golden raisins for a delicious bowl of warm, seasonal oatmeal that won’t pack on the pounds. In the summer, try adding blueberries and cut-up strawberries to a bowl of plain non-fat or low-fat Greek-style yogurt. Greek yogurt is higher in protein and creamier than traditional yogurt, so it will keep you satisfied longer. Just one six ounce serving of Greek yogurt can contain as much protein as two or three ounces of lean meat.

6. Frozen Meals

Your supermarket’s frozen food aisle might look like a dieter’s heaven, but think twice before you load up your cart with tasty pre-packaged diet meals. Many are loaded with salt, strange ingredients and artificial preservatives. Not to mention that they are often too low in calories to make up a whole meal, which explains why dieters who eat frozen meals often have trouble saying no to unhealthy snacks and deserts.

Instead of buying frozen food, keep your fridge stocked with healthy pre-prepared snacks and meals. Assorted vegetables with a low-fat dressing dip or hummus, nuts, low-sodium cold cuts and whole wheat crackers are all great options for satisfying your cravings in between bigger meals. If you need to eat lunch or dinner quickly, try mixing low-fat mayo with tuna and chopped up celery. Or, keep pre-cooked chicken breasts in your fridge for quick salads and sandwiches. Always having access to healthy foods will help you avoid junk food and high-calorie snacks.

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Eat More Food! – Are Calorie Restriction Diets Making You Fat?

“If you want to lose weight, eat less.” That’s what popular wisdom has to say about fat reduction, but the truth is a lot more complicated than that. While it’s true that restricting your calories usually produces some short-term loss, it can lead to long-term problems. That’s because your body is designed to hold onto fat in case of a famine. When you restrict your food intake too much, you can actually end up gaining weight in the long run as your system tries to “fix” what it sees as a problem.

Calorie Restriction Theory

The basis of calorie restriction is pretty simple. People who advocate this kind of dieting imagine your body as a big rubber bag; food goes in and gets used for energy, but if you’re not using enough energy, the food gets turned into fat and the bag expands. To cut down on fat, just decrease what goes in. It takes about 3,500 excess calories to make a pound of fat, so by reducing your intake by 500 a day, you should lose a pound a week.

Starvation Mode

Unfortunately, things are a little more complicated than this theory suggests. While reducing the amount you eat does cause weight loss, it can backfire. This is especially common if you decide to cut out a large number of calories. It may seem like reducing your intake even more will cause you lose more weight and to lose it faster, but you could actually find yourself gaining.

This is due to the fact that your body enters a phase called starvation mode when your food intake drops below a certain level. This level varies for everyone, but is usually between 900 and 1,200 calories per day. If you’re a very active person or have a naturally high metabolism, however, it could be much higher. When you use a diet that restricts you below this threshold, your body believes that it’s going through a famine and that resources are scarce.

Instead of getting rid of that pesky fat, it starts holding onto it even more tightly. Instead of attacking fat for energy, it begins to use up lean muscle tissue, especially if you’re not doing any resistance training to build up that tissue. You lose weight, but you probably won’t lose much fat.

You’ll also probably notice that your energy levels start to drop. You may feel tired and listless throughout the day. This is due to your body cutting down on the amount of energy it needs in an attempt to get through the famine. As your metabolism slows down in response to perceived starvation, your weight loss will probably slow down and start to plateau. In the end, severe calorie restriction and fad dieting leaves you tired, flabby and with a reduced metabolic response.

Long-term Effects of Dieting

Problems with calorie restriction don’t stop there, of course. In the long term, repeatedly using highly-restrictive diets to take off those last few pounds can actually lead to more weight gain. Recent studies in the weight loss field have shown that even people who successfully lose large amounts of weight tend to gain it back. That’s because the calorie restriction causes their bodies to believe that they need to return to their “normal” size as soon as food is more readily available.

If you’ve been using a strict diet, after you lose the desired amount of weight, you’ll probably find yourself slipping back into your old eating habits. You may even find that you crave unhealthy foods like refined sugar and fried, salty snacks. People who’ve lost weight through restrictive diets are often actually hungrier than people who are naturally thin, since the previously-fat people’s bodies are still trying to put the weight back on.

Over time, your weight may even go up. Long-term weight loss studies have shown that repeated yo-yo dieting encourages people to increase their bodies’ internal upper weight threshold, potentially getting fatter than they were before they started dieting. This tendency is highest in people who lost large amounts of weight very quickly through calorie restriction or other faddish methods.

What’s the Solution?

All this information can be disheartening. After all, most people want to take off fat and stay healthy and fit, not slow down their metabolisms and potentially gain more. The good news is that long term, sustainable weight loss isn’t impossible. It’s just a little more complicated than “eat less, lose more.” Studies have shown that minor calorie restriction, especially if it’s done by reducing your intake of unhealthy foods, can be quite effective, but that activity may be the real key to reducing weight.

While exercise alone won’t burn enough calories to whittle your waistline quickly, it will help you keep your energy level up and maintain muscle mass. Resistance training activities are especially important for this, so it’s vital to make sure you’re taking in enough energy to stay active. Over time, you can replace fat with lean muscle, which actually burns more calories and can increase your metabolism, instead of starving your body and slowing down your metabolic rate. The more energetic and active you are, the better your results are likely to be.

Reasonable Expectations

It’s also important to maintain reasonable expectations when you go to lose weight. Doctors at the U.S. National Institutes of Health say that most successful dieters take off about 8 to 15 percent of their highest body weight. That means that a 200 pound person can expect to effectively lose 16 to 30 pounds. This isn’t an upper limit, of course, but it’s what most people lose without the risk of gaining it back.

If you want to lose more, those figures can be disheartening, but there is hope. Slower weight loss backed by sound nutrition and an activity level powered with plenty of energy increase the chances of major loss. This plan might not get you into a bikini by the end of the summer, but it’s the best-documented way to take that weight off and keep it off.

If you’re hoping to take off some fat, don’t be tempted by plans that tell you to eat nothing but grapefruit and coffee or subsist on spicy lemonade. Instead, cut those calories only a little, ramp up your activity level, and make sure that you’ve got the energy to keep moving. It might take a little longer, but you’ll do a lot better at losing fat, permanently.

Authored by: Jordan Pete

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How to Improve Your Results with Slimming Pills

Many slimming pills on the market today do offer proven effectiveness to assisting weight loss. And it’s not uncommon for people who use them to report results of slimming down to a healthy, manageable weight. Unfortunately however, most folks don’t realize that a slimming pill is not supposed to be used as a magic bullet for weight loss. That is not their intended purpose. Their intended purpose is as a supplement to be used as an adjunct to your weight loss plan. And to that end, I’m often asked what dieters can do to get the most from using diet pills

Diet supplements can help you kick start or maintain your weight loss program. But if you’re looking at a slimming pill as the easy way out, you’ll likely be disappointed in the long run. On the other hand, if you’re willing to put in just a little work, slimming pills can provide the extra boost you need to burn off those unwanted pounds, quickly.

Pick your pills carefully

Many of the supplements on the market are scientifically sound and do work as advertised; however, that’s certainly not true for all of them. Unfortunately, the truly safe and effective slimming pills are often overshadowed by a few unscrupulous manufacturers who make bogus claims. For this reason, it’s wise to do your research before you start popping pills.

If possible, talk with a doctor or nutritionist about your weight loss goals and your particular body type. A health professional will be able to advise you as to the best course of action to take – and which slimming pills would fit best into that plan. They’ll also be able to tell you which pills are truly effective and which ones to avoid.

Lower your calorie intake

As you start your slimming pill regimen, take the opportunity to give your daily diet an overhaul. Take a look at your current diet and cut out any processed sugars or carbohydrates. Reduce foods that have a high fat or salt content, as these aren’t going to do you any good. Get ruthless about it – you can afford to be a little fanatical at the start.

Sodas, chips and candy bars are obviously a no-go, but also take a close look at sneakier areas. Alcohol, for example, can really pack on the pounds, so cut back or switch to a lesser evil with lower carbs, like red wine. And if you happen to be a beer drinker, find a true low carb beer like Pure Blonde. There are a lot of “low carb” beers available that really aren’t very low in carbs at all. Do your due-diligence and check the label.

Eat small, balanced portions

Once you’ve “trimmed the fat”, so to speak, from your diet, you can start planning your new, healthy meals. Focus on including a wide variety of foods from all the food groups. Make sure that you’re including breads and grains, fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy, legumes, and fish, poultry and meat. Stick to lean proteins as much as possible, supplementing meat at times with low-fat, high-fiber legumes.

Okay, maybe not that small!

Ultimately though, you can really enhance the effectiveness of those slimming pills by trimming down the portions you eat. Try eating smaller portions of food – like mini meals – more frequently throughout your day. This will help to further speed up your metabolism.

Following the traditional three-meal schedule often means that your body is really hungry by the time you finally sit down to eat – and that means that you’ll often eat far more than you really need. By eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day, you’ll better control the amount you consume.

Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables

As much as possible, stick to a 60/40 diet plan: 60% fruits and vegetables and 40% protein and starches. Not only will all that natural fiber do wonders for your body, but you’ll also feel fuller as well. Your body will feel satisfied and contented, but it will be full of easily-digestible fruit and veg that won’t pack on unwanted pounds.

Drink lots of water

Slimming pills are going to be pulling the unwanted fat from your diet, and you can give them a major boost by keeping your system well-flushed with plenty of water. Drinking at least eight tall glasses of water each day will cleanse your system and keep you shedding those pounds.

In addition, drinking plenty of water will help to replenish your system and prevent dehydration. Slimming pills often will cause more frequent bathroom trips as your body eliminates the extra waste. That means you’ll be losing more water than usual, and it will need to be replaced frequently.

Get moving!

As wonderful as it would be to simply pop a pill and never have to move a muscle in order to lose weight, that’s not the way the body works – at least not in the long-term. Yes, you might shed some pounds initially, but if you really want your slimming pills to work for you, you’re going to have to get up and get moving. Wiggle it!

You don’t necessarily have to spend hours at the gym each day – though if you do, more power to you. You should, however, be putting in at least 30 solid minutes of low-impact exercise each day. Go for a brisk walk, swim some laps, pull out the old skipping rope or jump on the trampoline with your kids. Whatever you choose to do, make it vigorous and break a sweat.

Practice moderation

A major pitfall with any diet – and slimming pills are included here – is the tendency to binge. As you start on your pill and fitness regimen, you might be inclined to resign all the chocolates, cookies and treats to the garbage. While this might work for a little while, sooner or later the craving will strike, and most of us will blow our diet completely by consuming way more than we should.

Rather than cutting out the “treats” entirely, take the opportunity to teach yourself some moderation and self-control. Instead of throwing the chocolates out altogether, allow yourself one small square of dark chocolate, one cookie, or another small treat each day. Perhaps you’ll choose to indulge during your afternoon coffee break, or maybe you’ll savor your treat after dinner in the evening. However you choose to do it, giving yourself a little treat to look forward to will prevent you from over-indulging and blowing all your hard-earned progress.

Be patient – and do your part!

You didn’t put the weight on overnight, and you can’t expect it to melt off overnight either. It can take a couple of weeks to see any change on your bathroom scales. Remember that pills – while effective – are intended to be used as a supplement to a healthy overall lifestyle. Slimming pills can help to kick start your new healthy lifestyle, and will provide a nice boost to your ongoing healthy choices, but if you really want the pills to be effective in the long-term, you’ll need to do your part as well. The difference in result will be well worth it, and your family and friends will notice!

Authored by: Jordan Pete

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7 Secrets of Weight Loss Success

My readers often tell me that weight loss, in itself, isn’t the big battle. You may have noticed that losing weight isn’t nearly as difficult as actually keeping it off. It’s very easy to regain lost weight after returning to previous lifestyle habits, especially if your diet plan slowed your metabolism.

Often dieters report regaining more weight than they lost on their diet in the first place. To succeed at proper weight management, learning to change lifestyle habits is essential. Those who successfully lose pounds and keep them off are the ones who adapt to a healthier lifestyle that helps maintain a healthy weight after initial weight loss. For those looking for the secrets of weight loss success, it’s an excellent idea to look closely at the methods used by those who have lost weight and kept it off for the long-term.

Here is a look at some of the most helpful ideas that can get you on your way to experiencing both short-term and long-term weight loss success.

Secret #1 – Passion and Motivation

Research has shown that those who begin their weight loss process with passion and motivation are far more likely to lose weight and keep the pounds off. Losing weight is hard work and can require a deep passion and a lasting motivation to keep you going. Once you become passionate about your body’s health, it’s easier to stick with a good diet and exercise routine. Carefully examining your motivation can help as well. Some people are motivated by the health benefits that come with weight loss, while others are motivated by wanting to improve their appearance. Find a motivation for losing weight that won’t allow you to give up and fuel it with passion to increase your chance of sustained success. Write it down as a reminder and stick it on your refrigerator door and your bathroom mirror.

Secret #2 – Calorie and Fat Controlled Diet

Among those who have successfully lost weight and kept it off, a calorie and fat controlled diet is a common habit. To lose weight, substantial and long-term changes to your diet are often required. Calories and fat can be controlled by starting to reduce portion sizes, which immediately offers a pain-free way to limit the calories eaten on a regular basis. Adding more nutritious and low calorie fruits and veggies to your diet can also help. Of course, it’s important to avoid depriving yourself on a diet as well. Small treats from time to time are fine, as long as you plan those treats and be careful to avoid sabotaging your diet.

Secret #3 – Eat Breakfast

Another helpful secret of weight loss success is to eat breakfast. In many studies, those who eat breakfast on a regular basis lose more weight. Eating breakfast helps to get the metabolism going in the morning and can set the tone for the rest of the day. Starting out with a healthy meal for breakfast can help you ensure you make good, healthy choices for the rest of the day. Also, eating breakfast can curb cravings later in the day, especially if you choose a breakfast that includes healthy protein and whole grains that keep you feeling full longer.

Secret #4 – Check the Scale on a Regular Basis

Many people don’t take the time to weigh themselves every day, but checking the scale on a regular basis can definitely help when you’re working to lose weight and keep it off. Even weighing in once a week can bring with it many benefits. Weighing yourself on a regular basis can allow you to easily notice when your weight becomes creeping up. When you notice this, you can begin taking measures to avoid further weight gain. Many people gain weight back after losing it because they don’t realize how much they are gaining and they fail to realize the problem until it’s too late. Regularly weighing in can help you keep track of any gains and help you get back on track before substantial weight gain occurs.

Secret #5 – Exercising Regularly

Dieting alone isn’t always enough to guarantee weight loss success. Those who successfully lose weight, and maintain a healthy weight, tend to exercise on a regular basis. In the beginning, you can start out by incorporating a simple 15 minutes of exercise into your life. However, you should focus on increasing your workouts as you get into better shape. It’s important to continue challenging your body and to increase your activity to help burn calories and improve health and fitness. Those who exercise for 30 minutes each day lose weight and win the maintenance battle in the long-run. Work on choosing exercises that you enjoy so you aren’t tempted to quit.

Secret #6 – Get Beyond Failure

For many working to lose weight, one failure is enough to get them off the path to success. Learning to get beyond setbacks is important if you’re going to lose weight and keep it off. If you slip-up and make a mistake, don’t keep beating yourself up. Negative feelings will only further sabotage your efforts. Accept that you messed up and then get ready to move on. It’s easy to feel so frustrated with a mistake that you throw away your efforts for the day or even for the week, which results in further problems. When you make a mistake, get beyond the problem by reaffirming your motivation and desire to lose weight, as you wrote down in step #1, and quickly get back on track.

Secret #7 – Find Helpful Support

Studies have shown that people who have support are far more likely to succeed in losing weight. Don’t underestimate the power of support when you’re working to lose weight for good. With the support of others, you will have someone to be accountable to, which will help keep you focused on your goal. It’s good to have someone rooting for you and pushing you to keep going. Many people find that a family member or a good friend can keep them going, even in those difficult times where they might otherwise have given up. Others make use of online support or the support of special weight loss groups. Find a good support system that will keep you on track and you’ll have the backup you need as you take on your weight loss journey.

These are just a few of the secrets behind every weight loss success. Begin using these helpful secrets in your own life and you’ll quickly begin seeing weight loss results that will truly last.

Authored by: Jordan Pete

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What the Diet Industry Isn’t Telling You about Weight Loss

At any given time, more than half of U.S. residents are trying to lose weight. With overall body weights increasing, along with the rates of diseases that have been correlated with higher weights, many people feel that dieting is their only option for good health. Unfortunately, not everyone who wants to reduce is doing it in a healthy way. Weight loss is an industry worth more than $60 billion dollars in the United States, and much of that industry is dedicated to selling products rather than keeping people healthy. Here’s a look at what you may not know about losing weight.

Types of Weight Loss Techniques

There are many methods available for trying to lose weight. Restrictive diets are among the best-publicized. These include calorie restriction, in an attempt to take in less energy than you expend, as well as diets that restrict food by type, such as low-fat, low-carbohydrate and low-sugar diets.

In addition to using restrictive diets, some people also attempt to significantly increase their activity. This has a similar effect to that of a calorie-restricting diet, but it increases the amount of energy spent rather than decreasing what goes in. Increased activity tends to require greater schedule and lifestyle changes than simply changing your eating habits, but it comes with added benefits such as increased strength and better cardiovascular health.

Last, and potentially more profitable for the weight loss industry, are devices, supplements and other products intended to produce weight loss. These include diet pills, natural weight loss supplements containing acai, African mango and a range of other substances, plus belts and other devices. The basic principle behind some of these products has been shown to help with reduction when it’s combined with other mainstream methods; but many diet pills and other products by themselves, often won’t do that much to help. Some can even be harmful to your health.

Weight Loss Effectiveness

With more than 50 percent of the population paying attention to weight, you’d expect the pounds to be coming off. Most people, however, are experiencing little to no weight change. Some people even find that their weight goes up after they attempt to reduce. Depending on the study, statistics show that between 30 and 60 percent of dieters not only regain all the weight they lose while dieting, they actually become even heavier than they were before they started the diet. These patterns hold true across a wide spectrum of weight-loss techniques. Only about 10 percent of all dieters are able to maintain their loss after several years, no matter how much weight was lost during the dieting period.

Out of people who do lose weight effectively, the most viable target is a loss of about 10 percent of their highest weight. That’s the number recommended by the National Institutes of Health for people who are obese or overweight. Losing more than this can be difficult and is rarely effective.

Many people attribute this lack of effectiveness to poor willpower on the part of the dieter, but recent research has shown that the problem is more complex than this. A 2011 study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that losing weight changes the way the body produces hormones associated with metabolism. This means that people who attempt to reduce are hungrier and suffer from higher appetite levels than they did before the loss. This lasts for at least one year after weight loss, making it far more difficult for someone who has dieted to maintain a lower weight than it is for someone who has never undergone a weight loss program.

Dangers of Dieting

It’s not just poor rates of effectiveness that make weight loss a complicated subject. Trying to get rid of fat can also be dangerous. This problem is greater with extreme diets that promise to take off a lot of weight very quickly. These diets can encourage loss of muscle instead of fat. They also increase the risk of heart disease, a slowed metabolism, and other health problems. Liquid diets, extreme calorie deprivation, and fad diets that eliminate whole categories of food are the most dangerous, but any kind of diet can be hazardous to your health if you repeatedly lose and gain weight, or “yo-yo.”

Diet pills can cause serious health problems, too. These weight loss supplements are usually made to be taken for only a short period of time and often contain large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants. This type of diet pill can increase anxiety and irritability, produce insomnia and other sleep problems, and even cause cardiovascular problems in people with existing heart weakness. Fat blockers can produce intestinal discomfort and other digestive problems. They can also produce malnutrition by blocking the body’s ability to absorb important vitamins and minerals. Diet pills that work as appetite suppressants can raise your heart rate and blood pressure. Even herbal weight loss supplements can have unpleasant side effects, especially in people who are allergic to some of their ingredients.

Weight Isn’t Everything

These questions about health and effectiveness are often met with the assertion that fatness is fundamentally unhealthy, so everyone should try to lose weight. In fact, while there are several diseases and conditions associated with higher weight, they aren’t necessarily a direct result of it. While fat people are much more likely to suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and other metabolic problems, the correlation reduces significantly if those fat people are active and eat a good diet. Thin, sedentary people are actually at greater risk than people who are fat but otherwise in good physical condition. You may be fat and unhealthy, but your weight isn’t the biggest factor. However, that doesn’t mean that weight loss isn’t effective.

Who Should Reduce?

Studies show that if you have diabetes, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, your condition will probably improve if you lose about 10 percent of your body weight. Losing more weight than this doesn’t seem to provide additional benefit, though it could help you wear smaller clothes. If you have any of these conditions, it’s important to be careful how you lose the weight and to do it only in conjunction with good diet and regular exercise. These seem to be the most important parts of staying healthy, no matter how much weight you carry.

The Healthiest Option

What the diet industry doesn’t want you to know is that most diet pills, weight loss supplements, and diet programs don’t work very well and can even hurt your health more than being fat. If you’re interested in being truly healthy, your best option for weight loss is to look at your activity level and the nutritional content of your diet. Work on making fresh vegetables at least half of your diet and take up moderate exercise at about a half hour per day. That’s what the U.S. government recommends for optimum health.

If you do decide to reduce your caloric intake, use a balanced diet that doesn’t cut out any important food groups, and look for weight loss of no more than one to two pounds per week. This rate is more likely to produce permanent loss without serious health side effects because it’s so slow that your body has the ability to adjust more effectively. You may not be able to drop a dress size in a month, but you’ll feel better and stay a whole lot healthier in the long run.

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The Fad Diet Hall of Shame

If a stage magician promised to help you lose weight while you sleep, or lose weight while eating anything you want, would you believe him? Surely not. However, every time a new fad diet comes out promising 10 pounds lost in seven days or a magical fat burning food, we fall for it, hook, line and sinker.

There’s a reason why fad diets are just that – fads. While they may start off great, promoting rapid weight loss and melting the fat off, they are completely ineffective in the long run. In fact, many who jump on the fad diet bandwagon end up not only gaining back the weight they lost, but a few extra pounds in the bargain.

Unfortunately, the United States is a prime market for the diet industry. With skyrocketing obesity levels and widespread weight-related illness, many people are desperate to shed the pounds. Folks are grasping at straws, so when a miracle cure comes along, they’re ready to try it – even with little to no scientific data to back up its claims.

So what’s the deal with fad diets? Let’s take a look at some of the common (yet untrue) claims of fad diets, as well as some of the worst diets out there.

Don’t Believe the Hype

You’ve likely seen the claims. Perhaps you’ve even been suckered in by them. Unfortunately, they’re generally either misleading or completely untrue. Here are a few popular ones:

Lose up to 10 pounds in the first week!

Steer clear of any diets that promise weight loss of more than two to three pounds per week. Rapid weight loss is (more often than not) simply water weight. You’re not losing fat, which is what really matters, and that’s why this claim is a big red flag.

Burn belly fat with cabbage soup!

While it would be dandy if eating a certain food would magically melt the fat away, the body simply doesn’t work that way. While certain foods do aid the metabolism, there is no magic food – soup or otherwise – that will help you lose weight on its own merit.

Drink only juice and never diet again!

Really? Again, any diet that requires eating or drinking one magic food is a bad idea. For starters, how long can your body possibly maintain itself on a diet like that? And what happens when you switch back to a normal diet?

Eat anything you want and still lose weight!

If that were the case, we’d all look like Olympic athletes. This is simply a case of too good to be true, and if something is too good to be true, it’s generally not true. Weight loss very often requires cutting out certain unhealthy elements of the diet, so a diet that promises that you can keep eating cookies, chips and cake every day should send you running the other way.

Lose weight while you sleep!

Oh, if only this were true. But it’s not. Sure, good sleep habits contribute to weight loss, but the simple fact is, weight loss requires exercise.

A Look at the Worst of the Worst

There are hundreds of fad diets out there, ranging from the reasonable to the ridiculous. Some are simply silly, others are downright dangerous. There are a few, however, that have hung on despite being ineffective. Like bad pennies, these diets keep cropping up every few years – often due to one celebrity or another jumping on the bandwagon.

The Grapefruit Diet

Adherents of this diet follow a strict plan involving a lunch and dinner of lean meat and vegetables, supplemented with grapefruit. Grapefruit is great, and it does contain enzymes that aid weight loss; however, a diet based on 800 calories per day based largely around grapefruit is neither healthy nor effective. In fact, such a large quantity of grapefruit has been known to react badly with certain medications.

The Leek Diet

Mirelle Guiliano, author of the best-seller French Women Don’t Get Fat, set off a trend of cleansing the system by eating only cooked leeks and leek broth for a full weekend. Since leeks are a mild diuretic, adherents of the leek diet do lose excess water weight. Unfortunately, they don’t lose much else, so the Leek Diet is essentially a weekend of deprivation for no reason.

The Cookie Diet

Here’s one that is as silly as its name, yet it has claimed such celebrity fans as Guy Ritchie and Snooki. The diet was developed by Dr. Sanford Siegel, which suckered loads of people into thinking it was a valid rapid weight loss solution. While the cookies do contain hunger-suppressing ingredients like bran, oats, and whole wheat flour, they really don’t provide sufficient daily nutrition. Even the one daily meal that is allowed consists of no more than six ounces of seafood, chicken or turkey and one cup of vegetables. Because the diet is so nutrient-poor, dieters often end up low on energy.

The Baby Food Diet

This concept, which was made popular by designer Hedi Slimane, has garnered quite a celebrity following, including Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. The idea is that one or two baby-sized portions of puree per day, helps to slim down the waist line. Sure, little pots of nutrient-dense food provide more nutrition than some other diets; however, the portions are meant to sustain babies and are insufficient for fully grown adults.

The Cabbage Soup Diet

Jaime Pressly and Sarah Michelle Gellar may swear by this diet, but its side effects of this bleak diet range from sugar cravings to mood swings and low energy levels. And no wonder! Adherents are allowed only veggies, fruit, skim milk, low fat yogurt, tea, and coffee for seven days straight – along with cabbage soup, of course. Bananas can be added on the fourth day, as well as brown rice and lean meat on the sixth; however, this extremely low-calorie diet is all but ineffective in the long-run.

The Lemonade Diet

Also known as the Master Cleanse, this diet has celebrities coming back again and again. The lemonade diet is a purely liquid diet, based on a mixture of water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup. Sure, you might drop the pounds quickly, but the lack of nutrients means seriously neglecting your health. As Beyonce – one time adherent of the Master Cleanse – noted, it might just make you evil as well, as folks on this diet often end up extremely irritable.

Forget Fad Diets

You may be trying to trim down for bikini season, but stay away from fad diets. Doctors suggest that instead of following a fad, stick to losing weight the old fashioned way: healthy eating, plenty of water, and increased physical activity.

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How to Enjoy Dining Out Without Ruining Your Diet Plan

Ah, the great dieting dilemma. You’re making phenomenal progress on your weight loss goals. You’re following your diet plan to the letter, you’re exercising regularly, and you’ve seen fairly rapid weight loss. But every now and then, you’re invited out to eat with friends or family, or you just have a hankering for some good Italian food. Then what about those times when you’re out and about and simply don’t have time for a diet-friendly home cooked meal?

Most folks assume that dining out only leaves one option: putting the diet on hold. But let’s be realistic here. If you’re dining out two or three times a week (fairly standard for most folks) – and dropping the diet every time – you’ll be doing some serious damage to your waistline.

But here’s the good news: dieting and dining out can go hand-in-hand. It might take a little planning and a lot of will power, but if you’re serious about losing weight, you can make it work. So let’s talk strategy.

Plan your meal before leaving the house

While this isn’t always possible, most restaurants these days have their menu posted online. Look at the various options you’ll have available, and pick out the ones that are diet-friendly. If you arrive at the restaurant prepared to order, you won’t be as tempted by what others are ordering.

Eat a little protein before heading out

If you arrive at the restaurant ravenous, all your self-control will likely fly out the window. You’ll end up eating too much of all the wrong things. Take the edge off your hunger before heading out by eating a small protein-packed snack like a handful of nuts, a boiled egg, or a slice of low-fat cheese.

Avoid the “extras”

Some places will put a complementary basket of bread or chips on the table before the meal. All those refined carbs and deep-fried chips are hazardous to any diet, so do all you can to avoid them. If you’re with family or close friends, see if you can have the basket removed altogether. If you can’t remove the temptation completely, at least sit as far away from it as you can so that you’re not nibbling before the meal.

Quench your thirst

Thirst is often confused for hunger, so before your food arrives, down a big glass of water. Whether or not your body needs fluids, you’ll feel less hungry with all that water in your stomach.

Be careful though, a sugary beverage can do just as much damage as an unhealthy food choice. In addition, alcohol fuels the appetite, making you feel hungrier than you really are. Stay away from sodas, alcohol, and even lemonade. Just stick to water with a little lemon while you’re eating. If you really want a beer or cocktail, have one after your meal is done.

Swap the appetizer for a soup or salad

Most appetizers on the menu are deep fried and loaded with fat, calories and sodium. Anything crispy or creamy is a bad idea, so skip over those options altogether. Instead, select a soup or salad.

Soups and salads are great diet foods. They will fill you up while you’re waiting for your entrée, so that by the time it arrives, your body is already feeling fairly satisfied. If your hunger is already sated, you’ll be less inclined to overindulge.

Just remember, when you order a soup or salad, avoid any creamy soups or dressings. Anything creamy is going to be loaded with fats. For your soup, order a rich vegetable soup or even a broth or consommé. For your dressing, choose an olive-oil vinaigrette if possible.

Get your sauces on the side

Restaurants are generally heavy-handed with sauces and dressings, and this can spell disaster for your diet plan. By asking for your dressings and sauces on the side, you can choose how much you consume, putting you back in control of your diet.

You can even take a clever tip from Tyra Banks: just dip the tip of your fork in sauce or dressing before each bite. That way, you get all the tasty goodness of the dressing without all the fat and calories.

Beware of sneaky fats

You may have wisely chosen a fish or chicken entrée. While these are good low-fat options, beware of sneaky fats. Fish is great, but fried fish, or fish slathered in tartar sauce isn’t. Chicken is low-fat, but not if it’s battered and fried or smothered in gravy or cheese. Ask your server how the meat is cooked, and leave off any fatty sauces or dressings – or pick something else if necessary.

Know the perils and pitfalls of pasta

Who doesn’t love a big bowl of Fettuccini Alfredo or a dish of creamy, bacony carbonara? While you might have a serious pasta craving, all those noodles pack a walloping calorie count – not to mention the creamy, buttery sauce.

If you must indulge – as we all should from time to time – select a tomato or pesto based sauce. You’ll bring the calorie and fat count down considerably while still satisfying your craving.

Ask your server about nutrition and substitutions

If you are unsure about the diet-friendliness of an item on the menu, don’t be afraid to ask your server about it. They can likely give you information on how an item is cooked as well as any sauces or sides that can be removed or swapped out. Even if the server doesn’t know off-hand, they will usually be happy to check with the chef (if you ask nicely, of course).

Most restaurants do allow food substitutions within reason. Rather than getting fries with your grilled chicken breast, ask if you can get a vegetable or baked potato instead.

Keep track of portion sizes

Finally, remember that a huge factor in effective dieting is moderation. A great food choice in excess is still a poor choice. A handy trick for preventing overeating is to get your to-go box before the meal. Then, portion out the food you plan to eat immediately and save the rest for later. If the entire meal is on the plate, you’ll likely eat most or all of it, whereas if some of it is put away, you’re more likely to stick to a diet-friendly portion.

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