- Make the decision and commit to weight control as a top priority
- Understand and accept the enemy: your biology
- Follow the seven rules of healthy eating
- Eat well but choose right
- Move your body
- Plan and self-monitor daily
- Understand and manage stress
- Learn to deal with set backs
1.Make the decision and commit to weight control as a top priority
People resist change. When you combine this psychological resistance to change with the way your biology resists to weight loss, you have a mighty combination. If you want to succeed at maintaining weight loss over the long term, you must make a firm decision to commit to changes in how you think, eat, and move.
Weight loss cannot be at the bottom of your list of priorities. It must be a top priority to be successful. A truly dedicated commitment to the decision to lose weight and keep it off is essential.
- Understand and accept the enemy: your biology
Many people who have had a long-term weight issue complain that it is just too hard to lose weight and maintain the loss. They might even say that this is simply because their bodies resist this healthy weight.
They are right.However, accepting that indeed your body does resist weight loss and long-term maintenance does not mean you cannot fight this biological fact. Rather than lament your biology, learn everything you can about how to resist your body’s resistance. The goal is to accept the enemy, not succumb to it.
Humans were hunter-gatherers for thousands of years. Our feet were our only form of transportation. We spent many hours hunting for food, which was not always in great abundance. This meant our bodies had to hang on to fat to survive.
The hunger-gatherer legacy is still with us in our sedentary fast-food society. In developed countries, we rarely go hungry or use our feet for transportation (other than from the front door to the car), but when we cut back on calories, the feast-or-famine biology kicks in and our bodies resist the loss of fat. Therefore, we must develop strategies to resist this resistance. Permanent weight loss becomes an athletic challenge.
- Follow the seven rules of eating
Defying our biological resistance requires dedication and commitment. You are fighting your fat cells, hungry beasts who demand being fed. The daily food choices you make can help you control their demands and lose weight.
The seven things that have the most impact on your hunger & weight are:
- Eat Very Little Fat – Go as Low as You Can Go (<20 g per day)
- Control Sugar Consumption
- Eat Lean Sources of Protein, Emphasizing Plant Proteins
- Consume Low-Density Foods (e.g., soups, vegetables)
- Eat Fiber-Rich Foods (at least 30 g per day)
- 6. Eat Your Calories – Don’t Drink Them
- Stay Calorie Conscious
Rule 1: Eat Very Little Fat
Your body is a very efficient machine when it comes to storing fat in the body. If you eat high-fat foods, you make this an even more efficient process.
Your body only needs to expend 3 calories of energy to turn 100 calories of very high fat food into body fat. This means 97 of the 100 calories end up in your fat cells.
However, your body expends about 23 calories to turn 100 calories of a carbohydrate into fat. By eating high-fat foods you make a tough situation tougher: you are making it very easy for those hungry fat cells to store more fat. This process of storing fat is even more efficient in overweight people than in people who have never been overweight.
The transition to a low-fat diet might seem very difficult at first, but successful weight controllers report that after they become acclimated to the new lower-fat diet, they find that high-fat foods taste greasy and overly rich. Successful weight controllers experiment with various spices, salsa, and fat-free condiments to make their low-fat choices flavorful and delicious.
Successful long-term weight control can only be achieved if you refuse to feed your fat cells the exact thing they want more fat. You will only need 3-5 grams of fat a day to maintain nutritional health.
Rule 2: Control Sugar Consumption.
We love sugar. The sweet taste of cakes, cookies, and ice cream has become intimately associated with the celebrations of life, from holidays to birthdays to weddings. Just as our biology explains the resistance to fat loss, it explains our infatuation with sugar.
As hunter-gatherers we instinctively knew (or learned through experience) that sweetness equaled safe-to-eat. If a berry tasted bitter or sour, it was more likely to be poisonous. You could say that having a “sweet tooth” was a biological necessity for survival.
This biological set-up goes even further: once the hunter-gatherer found a sweet food, the body encouraged them to eat large quantities of it. In a feast-or-famine environment, it would be very important to eat as much as you could of a safe food because you could not be sure when you would find your next meal.
We also have all experienced that quick burst of energy you get after eaten sugar-laden foods. Sugar is composed of glucose, which is also the chemical that is the primary source of energy in your body. Studies show that when humans or animals are starving, they prefer sweet foods. You may have noticed that when you are extremely hungry you gravitate toward the “quick fix” of a cookie or other sugary food.
These biological processes create a vicious circle: you get very hungry and grab sugary foods; the sugary foods trigger biochemical reactions that increase your hunger and encourage you to indulge more.
Studies on the impact of sugar on energy levels have shown that this effect drops off soon after eating sugar-laden foods. However, the increased energy that comes after a brisk walk can be sustained for much longer. Sugar consumption also stimulates the release of serotonin, a natural tranquilizer.
You may have noticed that about an hour after eating drinks or foods with a large amount of sugar that you feel lethargic. This often triggers another round of eating more sugar-laden foods. Because sugary foods have become so associated with holidays and other celebrations, it can be very difficult to break this habit. However, if you realize that you are defeating your enemy by not eating these foods, you can find alternatives such as fruit and low-sugar crackers to ward off cravings for sugary foods.
Rule 3: Eat Lean Sources of Protein
You have probably read many conflicting stories about the value of protein in a weight-loss program, with recommendations ranging from 40 g to as many as 120 grams a day.
Before deciding on the right amount of protein, it is important to understand the role it plays in your body.
Successful long-term weight controllers should eat relatively high levels of proteins for a number of reasons.
Protein stimulates the release of the digestive hormone CCK, which in turn stimulates the release of neurotransmitters that make you feel satisfied and full.
Proteins stabilize your blood glucose levels, which also, regulates feelings of hunger. The complexity of protein molecules translates into slower digestion. This means your blood glucose levels remain more stable and you are less likely to feel hunger for a longer period of time.
Proteins make you feel more satisfied than carbohydrates. It is important to spread your protein intake over the whole day, beginning with breakfast. Choose lean proteins that are low in fat for the most effective weight loss.
We suggest 70-100 grams of protein spread over the day. Good choices are egg substitutes (egg whites), buffalo steak (a low-fat alternative to beef), skim milk, fat-free yogurt, Special K cereal (11 g of protein), fat-free cottage cheese, chicken, turkey, or Boca burgers.
Low-density foods are foods where you get a lot of food for relatively fewer calories. Examples of low-density foods are soups (you consume lots of liquid), vegetables, fruits, and very low-fat foods.
High-density foods include chocolate, pastries, and cheeses: a small serving size equals a lot of calories.
Soups can be great appetite-reduces for weight controllers. Studies have shown that adding more fluid to the diet (but not more calories) reduces overall caloric intake. One study that included around 1,800 participants showed that those who consumed more soup had better weight loss results.
A great book on low-density eating is Volumetrics by Dr. Barbara Rolls. Dr. Rolls compared weight-loss results for diners who ate more low-density foods such as salads with low-fat dressing with those of diners who ate low-fat, yet high-density foods such as pretzels and baked chips. She found that those who ate the low-density foods lost 50% more weight.
You can figure out the density of a food by dividing the calories of one serving by the weight of that serving in grams. A 100-calories, food that, weight 6 ounces will be twice as high in density as a 100-calorie food that weighs 3 ounces. The goal is to include more foods with a density of less than 1, such as most fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. Foods with densities greater than 2, tend to be high in fat, such as fried foods and high-fat meats.
Rule 5: Eat Fiber-Rich Foods
Fiber is one of the best tools in your arsenal. Fiber not only makes you feel full, it has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Very few Americans eat enough fiber. In fact, most eat less than half the recommended amount of fiber in a given day. Countries where people consume a lot of fiber have significantly lower rates of obesity.
Fiber does not sound like a very appetizing food choice – instead of thinking about the fiber, think about the foods that have lots of it: fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Many high-fiber foods are also low-density foods, so by choosing these high-fiber choices you are keeping two rules with one food.
There are many simple changes you can make to increase your fiber consumption. Instead of turkey on white bread have turkey on whole grain bread and add lettuce, tomatoes, and a slice of cucumber. The vegetables add very few calories and the bread won’t change the calories at all, yet you have just added about 6 grams of fiber to your meal, one-fifth of the daily minimum requirement of 30 grams.
You can increase your fiber intake by choosing whole grain breads instead of white breads, brown rice instead of white rice, and whole fruits instead of juices. To meet your daily fiber requirement you will need to add quite a few vegetables to your diet. You will find these foods keep you feeling satisfied and full throughout the day, greatly increasing your chances of success as a long-term weight controller.
Rule 6: Eat Your Calories – Don’t Drink Them
High-calorie drinks such as sodas, fruit juices, and sports drinks can quickly undermine your weight loss, especially if you guzzle such drinks to quench your thirst. You can easily add more than 500 calories to your daily diet by drinking one soda, a fruit juice, and a frozen coffee drink.
For some reason, many people simply don’t bother to count the calories in drinks. In recent years, juice bars have become very popular. Many fruit smoothies contain more than 300 calories and over 50 grams of sugar.
It is particularly important that children be taught to eat their calories. Children are constantly bombarded with advertising that encourages them to drink sugar-filled juice drinks and sodas. A Harvard study showed that for every additional sugared drink a child consumed their risk for developing obesity increased by a stunning 60%. Most fruit drinks contain very little actual fruit juice, and even those that are 100% fruit juice contain almost no fiber.
The only exception to this rule is skim milk. Skim milk contains protein and calcium, and some research has shown that dairy products may help you lose weight.
Rule 7: Stay Calorie Conscious
Even if you follow the first six rules, successful weight control also depends on how many calories you take in and how many you expend. This is simply a natural law: to lose weight you must use more energy than you consume. To maintain a weight you must have an even balance between the two.
If you implement the first six rules and find you are losing weight, you have found the right balance. If you are not losing weight, you will need to either cut back on your food intake or increase your activity.
One general rule of thumb that will help you regulate your daily caloric intake is to limit your largest meal of the day to 800 calories. Most men eat more than 2500 calories a day, and most women now eat more than 1900 calories a day. To be a serious weight controller, you will need to eat far fewer calories.
Eat Well But Choose Right!
They will say they “crave” chocolate or “love” ice cream. Because many of the most calorie-dense foods are associated with happy events, such as parties, birthdays, and holidays, we have made associations that equate cookies, cakes, and ice cream with love, happiness, friendship, and family. Some foods even have a tranquilizing effect on us, calming us when we feel angry, stressed, or upset. However, that calming effect is short-lived, but the effect on our weight continues long after period of indulgences.
It is okay to feel so passionate about food, its flavors and textures, but to be a successful weight controller, you will need to transfer that passion to healthier choices. The worst thing you can do is start eating boiled chicken breast and romaine lettuce with a splash of vinegar for meals. How long do you think you could sustain such a diet? Most people will not last a week.
The first thing you will need to do is understand what qualities in food appeal to you. There are four aspects to food that determine how much you love that food: taste, appearance, smell, and texture. Some people like creamy and sweet, some likely crunchy and salty. Most overweight people know which foods they tend to gravitate toward (and which ones tend to throw any diet plan into a tail spin).
As a weight controller you will want to emphasize the characteristics that please you*.
Some like it hot and spicy, some like it sweet! The four main taste groups are salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. When you eat, focus on the flavors of you food. There are many low-fat condiments that can make food taste more like the flavors you prefer. In most grocery stores you will see bottle after bottle of seasonings and flavor enhancers, from spice combinations to Worcestershire sauce. Of course, you should read the labels before you buy to make sure they are fat free.
We are attracted to foods that look appealing. If you have ever eaten in a five-star restaurant, you know that they pay as much attention to the presentation of the meal as they do the taste of the meal. Why not serve your meal so it looks like it came out of the kitchen of a top-notch restaurant?
You can also make the eating experience more pleasurable by setting the table with nice plates and silverware. Maybe even add some candles or put a bowl of healthy fruits in the middle of the table to make the setting more appealing. Make every meal a pleasant, appealing sight and you will feel more satisfied.
Sometimes we are so anxious to dive into a meal that we forget to savor the smells of that freshly grilled chicken or fish. Savor the smells of your food before you begin eating.
Pay attention to how the food feels in your mouth when you eat it: the creamy texture of nonfat yogurt, the crunchy fresh snap, of a carrot stick. The goal is to focus on the characteristics of food that appeal to you & recognize that many of the factors that appealed to you when you were eating high-fat, densely caloric foods are also present in the healthy, low-fat choices.
You will also discover some new foods that can become healthy substitutes for choices from your overweight past. Sweet potatoes are often cited as one of the best new healthy choices: they have certain sweetness, a creamy texture, and evoke memories of the holidays. Sweet potatoes have great nutritional value and are very filling.
It is okay to love foods – you just want to make sure you choose foods that will love you back!