Feel-great eating isn't about starving yourself; it's about having plenty of delicious, healthy foods that help you burn fat and leave you feeling satisfied. But dealing with the detailslike counting grams of fiber, measuring portion sizes, and weighing the differences between good and bad fatscan be confusing, even when you have a daily meal plan to follow.
Here's a crash course from diet expert Alyse Levine, RD, that can help you stay on track.
1. Eat at least three starch “freebies” a day
Studies show that foods rich in a carbohydrate called resistant starch pass through your body without really counting calorically because they “resist” immediate digestion (in other words, passing through you)while still filling you up. Plus they help you burn fat fast, improve digestion, and fight disease.
One serving of resistant starch equals:
- ½ cup beans (esp navy or black)
- ½ cup lentils
- ½ cup whole grains
- ½ cup barley
- ½ cup brown rice (cooled)
- ½ cup corn
- ½ cup split peas
- ½ cup whole wheat pasta (cooled)
- ½ cup oatmeal
- 4 oz boiled, chilled potato
- 1 sushi roll
- 1 slice whole wheat bread
- 1 barely ripe banana (as bananas get riper, the starch converts to sugar, which isnt calorie-free).
2. Add fiberbut not too fast
Consuming 25-35 grams a day will help you feeling full longer, but add it slowly to your diet, or you could end up bloated. Great sources include many resistant-starch foods, plus fruits and vegetables. Here are some great sources:
|Apple, with skin||1 medium||4.4|
|Spaghetti, whole-wheat||cooked 1 cup||6.3|
|Barley, pearled||cooked 1 cup||6.0|
|Bran flakes||3/4 cup||5.1|
|Oatmeal, quick, regular or instant||cooked 1 cup||4.0|
|Popcorn, air-popped||3 cups||3.6|
|Brown rice||cooked 1 cup||3.5|
|Lentils||cooked 1 cup||15.6|
|Black beans||cooked 1 cup||15.0|
|Almonds||1 ounce (22 nuts)||3.3|
|Artichoke||cooked 1 medium||10.3|
|Broccoli||boiled 1 cup||5.1|
|Sweet corn||cooked 1 cup||4.6|
|Brussels sprouts||cooked 1 cup||4.1|
|Potato, with skin||baked 1 medium||4.0|
3. Eat the right fats
Adding healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 polyunsaturated fats to your diet will help you dump pounds because their fat content helps you feel satisfiedthe key to weight loss. Plus, they improve heart health. Try to get four servings (total) of these good fats per day.
One serving of monounsaturated fats equals:
- 1 tbsp olive, canola, peanut, sunflower, or sesame oil
- ¼ avocado
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- ½ oz nuts or seeds
One serving of omega-3 fats equals:
- 3 oz fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, or mackerelfish oil supplements also count)
- 2 tbsp flaxseeds
- ½ oz walnuts
- 1 tbsp canola oil
4. Eat every three to four hours
If you skip meals or snacks, you'll only end up hungrier and more likely to overeat. Also, by continuously fueling your furnace throughout the day, you'll keep your metabolism revved.
5. Divide up your plate
Fill one-fourth with lean protein, one-fourth with a carbohydrate, and half with a vegetable. You can make it easier by buying a few divided children's plates.
6. Pack in protein at every meal
A little lean protein helps you feel full longer by stabilizing blood sugar. Choose fish, skinless poultry, light cheeses, lean cuts of meat, or beans.
7. Eat more water
Water-rich fruits and vegetables (nonstarchy ones, like citrus fruits, watermelon, asparagus, kale, etc.) help you feel full on fewer calories and are loaded with nutrients and fiber. They also act as natural diuretics to get rid of bloat.
8. Go for whole grains
On ingredient lists, look for either the word "whole," or oatmeal, wild rice, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur (cracked wheat), millet, popcorn, quinoa, sorghum, or triticale.