Forget the word diet. Why? Diets are about deprivation, the last thing you need for lasting weight-loss success, says registered dietitian Sharon Richter. Shes designed a creative food plan that will give you the variety you crave while teaching you to choose wisely in the future, so those pounds stay off. Just follow these guidelines, and supplement your menu with these great healthy recipes.
Eat small, frequent meals
Keep your metabolism stoked by eating five or six small meals for a total of 1,600 calories every day. Youll eat every two to three hours to help you avoid hunger and overeating. And you can eat a cup of nonstarchy veggies (anything but potatoes, corn, peas, and beans) whenever youre hungry. Break up your 1,600 calories this way:
Breakfast: 200 to 300 calories (Split your plate, so you get half protein and half carbs.*)
Snack: 100 to 150 calories
Lunch: 400 calories (half protein, half carbs) Snack: 150 to 200 calories
Dinner: 500 to 600 calories (half nonstarchy veggies, one-quarter protein, one-quarter carbs)
Snack: 100 calories
*Carbs include whole grains, fruits, starchy vegetables.
Schedule in a splurge
Allow yourself 400 extra calories per week (on top of those allowed on the plan). So if you want a cocktail or two on Friday night or that slice of pizza on Saturday, go ahead.
Add a snack with cardio
On days you do 30-minute Feel Great Weight cardio workouts, you can add a 100-calorie snack: Try 1/2 cup cottage cheese and 1/2 cup berries or an apple and piece of string cheese.
Fill up with fruits and veggies.
Aim for two or three servings of fruit and three to five servings of vegetables per day; a serving equals 1 medium-size fruit or 1 cup fruit or vegetables.
Aim for 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day to keep you full, aid in digestion, and help lower cholesterol. Choose high-fiber carbs: whole-grain cereals, breads, and pastas; brown rice; quinoa; oatmeal; flaxseed; unpeeled fruits and veggies.
Pick lean protein
Protein makes you feel full, and the amino acids it contains will help you build lean muscle mass, which, in turn, burns calories more efficiently. Aim for 0.75 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, and think lean.
Chicken: Choose white meat, no skin
Fish: Go easy on shellfish if you have high cholesterol.
Red meat with no visible fat: Select the leanest cuts like eye round steak, top round steak, and flank steak.
Pork: Pick a lean chop. Eggs: Limit yolks to three per week.
Low-fat or skim dairy: Snack on cottage cheese or yogurt.
Tofu, quinoa, or beans: Learn to love these great vegetarian options.
Dont forget fat
For this 1,600-calorie diet, shoot for 36 to 53 grams of fat per day. Its necessary to have some fat in your dietabout 20 to 30 percent of your total calories (no more than 10 percent from saturated fat). Fat gives you energy, helps insulate your body, and helps your body make hormones. Several vitamins (A, D, E, and K) also need fat to be absorbed. Try these good sources of healthy fat: avocado, nuts, seeds, salmon, and olive oil.
Weigh in weekly
Because weight can fluctuate daily (thanks to carbohydrate and salt intakes), Richter recommends weighing in once per weeksame time, same scale; that will give you the most consistent read on your progress. Because youre replacing fat with muscle, you can also measure your waist, hips, thighs, and arms to find out if your shape is changing (even if the number on the scale isnt).