To lose weight, it's important to set goals that are realistic for your lifestyle. Think about what your motivations are - fit into a bikini or feel healthier for your children are two good reasons to make changes. Consider tracking your eating habits (using an app or a pen and paper food diary) and other metrics like physical activity, sleep, emotions and stress.
1. Eat a healthy breakfast.
The old saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” holds some truth, as eating a healthy breakfast is key to a weight loss plan. Eating a well-rounded, balanced breakfast gives you energy and can help you control your appetite. It also helps you avoid high-calorie snacks throughout the day and eat less at dinner and lunch.
The best breakfast foods for weight loss are whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, and nutrient-rich beverages like coffee, tea, or water. According to Mayo Clinic, you should aim for about 500 calories at breakfast, though this number can vary depending on your activity schedule and hunger and satiety cues.
A nutritious breakfast should include fiber, complex carbohydrates, and heart-healthy fats. Choose options with a little bit of each, such as oatmeal, egg whites, yogurt and fruit, or a parfait.
You should also choose proteins at breakfast, as they can help keep you full for longer and promote muscle growth and fat burning. Lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds, and legumes are good choices for protein. You should also try to get in one-third of your daily needs for fiber at breakfast, and you can do this by choosing fiber-rich foods such as berries, grapefruit, spinach or an apple.
A wholesome breakfast should also include healthy fats, such as omega-3 fats and unsaturated fats, which can boost your brain power, prevent depression, and improve overall health. Good sources of unsaturated fats at breakfast include avocados, nuts and seeds, and plant oils like olive oil and canola oil.
Eating a healthy breakfast is also essential for regulating your blood sugar and insulin levels, which can help prevent weight gain, curb cravings, and make it easier to lose weight. You should also try to include a source of calcium in your breakfast, as it can help prevent osteoporosis and strengthen your bones.
If you’re in a rush in the morning, consider making breakfast the night before or trying meal prep. This can be an easy way to ensure you’re getting the right nutrients for your weight loss plan without sacrificing time.
2. Eat a healthy lunch.
Eating three healthy meals a day, including lunch, helps maintain appetite-regulating hormones and curb cravings. But a healthy, nutritious lunch can seem like an impossible task on weekdays when you're trying to get work done and kids out the door.
The best meals follow MyPlate guidelines, which recommends half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables and the other half should be protein and grains, with dairy on the side, says registered dietitian nutritionist Caroline West Passerrello. She suggests keeping a stash of go-to healthy lunch recipes for those days when it feels impossible to make something nutritious.
Often, "the things we eat for lunch at home or grab out are high in calories, sugar and fat, which can lead to weight gain, mid-afternoon energy crashes and hunger pangs," said certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist Michele Canon, a STRIDE XPRO for Xponential+. For example, that enormous turkey wrap or salad with grains can be loaded with hundreds of hidden calories, which can lead to overeating, unwanted weight gain and uncontrollable sugar cravings in the afternoon. Instead, try these healthy, delicious and easy lunch ideas for weight loss. They're packed with lean proteins, whole grains and vegetables and have less than 400 calories per serving.
3. Eat a healthy dinner.
Eating a healthy dinner is an important step to a healthier lifestyle. Whether it's a family history of heart disease, an upcoming wedding or simply wanting to feel more comfortable in your clothes, write down the reasons you want to lose weight and put them where you can see them daily. Also, try keeping a food and beverage diary [PDF-127KB] to help you become more aware of your eating habits. Make sure you're eating a balanced meal that includes veggies, lean protein, whole grains and sources of healthy fats.
4. Eat a healthy snack.
Snacking is a part of healthy eating, but it's important to make sure you're choosing snacks that will support your weight loss goals. While it's easy to grab a quick bag of chips or a piece of candy, those types of snacks tend to provide empty calories and can make you feel hungry soon after. Instead, try choosing a snack that's high in protein and fiber to keep you satisfied between meals.
Healthy snacks should also be low in sugar and sodium. For a great snack that will satisfy hunger and support your weight loss goals, try having some sliced turkey or chicken with whole wheat crackers. This will help keep your blood sugar stable and provide you with a good amount of energy. Make sure to use deli meats that are free of nitrates, and don't be afraid to add some chopped vegetables into your snack as well.
Another healthy snack option is to eat some fruit. Not only is it a delicious choice, but it also provides you with a lot of nutrients and fiber. It's also a low-calorie snack that can help to satisfy your cravings and keep you feeling full.
A snack should also contain some form of healthy fats. While some people may avoid these foods because they are high in calories, it's important to remember that a small amount of healthy fats can actually help you lose weight. You can incorporate healthy fats into your snacks by having a few pistachios or an apple with nut butter.
It's important to snack mindfully when trying to lose weight. This means taking the time to savor your food and chew it slowly. It also helps to eat your snacks in a quiet place where you can focus on your food and not be distracted by other things like TV or work. It takes your brain about 20 minutes to get the message that you are full, so don't eat too fast.
Learning how to snack smart can be a huge part of your weight loss success. By making a few simple changes, you can make your snacks healthier and help to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients you need to stay healthy.