Diet and Weight Loss Tips
Calories per Hour offers the following tips to help you lose weight to look better, feel better, and live a healthier life. These tips are short and sweet and are intended as a starting point or quick reference for individuals seeking to lose weight by using the resources offered on Calories per Hour. Read the related tutorial topics to learn more about the topics discussed in these weight loss tips
How Did I Get Here?
Do you simply need help learning how to eat better? Probably. But if you eat poorly as a result of emotional, mental, or spiritual problems, they may have to be addressed before you can make any real progress with weight loss.
Even people who don't feel they have an eating disorder often turn to food for comfort. To learn to eat well and exercise regularly, you may also have to learn to handle the problems life throws at you without turning away from healthy eating and exercise.
Be particularly careful about all-or-nothing thinking. A common tendency when failing to stay on a diet is to abandon it altogether. Instead, try to learn from your mistakes and do better in the future.
Related Tutorial Topic: Eating Disorders
Are You Ready to Diet? Again?
Diets entice us with promises of quick weight loss. But focusing on quick weight loss can lead to unhealthy eating and only short term success.
While most diets produce quick weight loss at the outset, they often cause your metabolism to slow. The result is that you have to eat less and less to keep losing weight. You quickly become discouraged, give up, and start eating like you used to. But now, with a slower metabolism, you regain all the weight you lost, and more.
Focus instead on improving your health, and you will become slim and healthy.
Related Tutorial Topic: Selecting a Diet Plan
Take Control of What You Eat
There are few things that we have complete control over, but what we put in our mouths is one of them. We don't have to lose control in a restaurant or a friend's home, and we don't have to eat everything that's put in front of us.
Consider this: We love fat because it carries flavor, and restaurants aren't as interested in whether we'll be around in 30 years as whether we'll be back next week. And what about our friends?
Eat Frequently, and Eat Slowly
It is important to understand what happens when you skip a meal or go on a crash diet. When you skip a meal your metabolism slows to conserve your energy. And when you lose weight too quickly for a few days, your body thinks it is threatened with starvation and goes into survival mode. It fights to conserve your fat stores, and any weight loss comes mostly from water and muscle.
Never skip a meal, especially breakfast, and eat healthy snacks between meals. Eating frequently prevents hunger pangs and the binges that follow, provides consistent energy, and may be the single most effective way to maintain metabolism efficiency.
Eating slowly gives our bodies time to tell us they are full before we've eaten more than we need.
Related Tutorial Topic: Raise Your Metabolism and Burn More Calories
Eat More Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grains
People who eat healthy, mostly unprocessed foods, including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and limited amounts of lean animal protein, often find that they can eat as much as they want without gaining weight. If they are switching from a diet containing lots of processed foods, they find that they can eat more yet consume fewer calories -- and they lose weight.
Historically, the Chinese ate mostly rice and vegetables with a little lean meat for protein and flavor, nothing like the American Chinese restaurant dishes of deep fried sweet and sour pork. A step back to more natural foods would improve our health and waistlines.
Related Tutorial Topic: Why Healthy Food Makes You Slim
Eat More Fiber
Fiber makes us feel full sooner and stays in our stomach longer than other substances we eat, slowing down our rate of digestion and keeping us feeling full longer. Due to its greater fiber content, a single serving of whole grain bread can be more filling than two servings of white bread. Fiber also moves fat through our digestive system faster so that less of it is absorbed.
Refined grains like white rice and those used to make white bread and sugary breakfast cereals have had most of their fiber and nutrients stripped away. They turn into blood sugar (glucose) so fast that, like sugar itself, they can cause a spike in our insulin level. This tells our body that plenty of energy is readily available and that it should stop burning fat and start storing it.
Eating foods with plenty of fiber will help keep our blood sugar at a more consistent level.
Related Tutorial Topic: How Fiber Helps You Lose Weight
Cut Down on Sugar
Be careful about sugar in coffee and soda pop. It can add up quickly, and these drinks aren't filling.
Watch for "hidden" sugar in processed foods like bread, ketchup, salad dressing, canned fruit, applesauce, peanut butter, and soups. And be careful with "fat-free" products. Sugar is often used to replace the flavor that is lost when the fat is removed. Fat-free does not mean calorie-free.
The greater concern with the insulin spike (above) is not that it tells our body to start storing fat. Whatever we eat and don't burn up eventually gets turned into fat anyway.
The greater concern is that the insulin spike is followed by a drop in insulin level that leaves us feeling tired and hungry and wanting to eat more. The unfortunate result of this scenario is that it makes us want to eat something else with a high sugar content. When we do, we start the cycle all over again.
Regulating your blood sugar level is the most effective way to maintain your fat-burning capacity.
Related Tutorial Topic: How Blood Sugar Levels Affect Weight Loss
Too Much of a Bad Thing
Foods like cheese stand out as among the most fat-laden, with a great number of calories coming from fat. But as important as it is to select the healthiest foods, it is also important to consider how they are prepared.
Fried foods, especially deep-fried, contain a great amount of fat. While chicken and fish are usually leaner than beef or pork, they can contain more fat when they are fried. Look at how the number of grams of fat in a chicken breast changes depending on how it is cooked:
Cooking Method Fat
Meat Only, Roasted 3.1
Meat Only, Fried 4.1
Meat and Skin, Batter Fried 18.5
"Fried food? All I eat is salad and I still can't lose weight!"
Be careful with salad dressings, mayonnaise, and other condiments that are high in fat content. They greatly increase the calorie count and can negate the healthy aspects of a meal. Replace mayonnaise-based condiments with fat-free alternatives like fat-free yogurt, mustard, ketchup and barbecue sauce.
And remember, a gram of fat contains more than twice as many calories as a gram of protein or carbohydrate.
Related Tutorial Topic: Calories in Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates
Too Little of a Good Thing
But don't try to eliminate fat altogether, as dietary fat is necessary to maintain a healthy body. It is a vital component for building body tissue and cells, and it aids in the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients. Many people eat too much of the bad fats, but also eat too little of the good fats required for optimal health.
Related Tutorial Topic: Good Fats and Bad Fats
People who exercise regularly not only lose weight faster, they are more successful at keeping it off. Exercise makes it possible to create a calorie deficit and lose weight without starving your body and slowing your metabolism.
At home, at the gym, or playing sports, participate in both aerobic and strength building activities on a regular basis. Not only does the exercise itself burn calories, but your body will continue to burn calories at a higher rate even after you're done exercising.
If walking is all you can do, then walk because it's great for you. But muscle burns more calories than fat, so put on a little muscle if you can and you will burn more calories just sitting there... looking good.
But don't sit too long. The human body is good at adapting. If you dig ditches without gloves, you will develop calluses to protect your hands. If you sit too long, you will develop extra padding to keep you comfortable!
Related Tutorial Topic: Why Exercise Is Important for Weight Loss
Take It Easy
Unless you are excited to be following a very specific diet and exercise plan, do not try and change too much too fast. If you have been eating poorly and not exercising, both your body and your mind will have a lot of adjusting to do.
All the sugar and fat were actually quite enjoyable, and sitting on the couch didn't feel too bad, either. If you try and change everything too quickly the odds are greater that you will feel bad, get discouraged, and give up. So be patient.
A time will come when a healthy snack will taste as good as the junk food you felt bad about eating, and you will look forward to your regular exercise.
You can achieve your goals, but it won't likely happen as a result of the next fad diet. Or the one after that.
Learning to eat well and exercise is the only solution to long term weight loss.
Begin Here: Diet and Weight Loss Tutorial