There’s plenty of debate about the best diets to lose weight. Keto? Whole30? Intermittent fasting? But, in fact, experts say it’s much simpler than subscribing to any of these strict protocols. Here are four registered dietitian nutritionists sharing their best diet advice to lose weight.
Know Your Why
“To help clients lose weight, I take a whole-person approach that addresses much more than just food and exercise. I help them create a healthy lifestyle, and in turn, weight loss follows.
Even though each person is unique and may need a slightly different weight-loss strategy, there are some universal guidelines that everyone can adopt. The very first step, though, is to get your mind right. Figure out why you want to lose weight. This reason needs to be deep, going far beyond outward appearance. Having this purpose will keep you going when things get challenging. It becomes the drive and motivation to achieve your goals.
For meals, focus on protein, healthy fat, and fiber at each meal. Fiber-rich foods are your vegetables and complex carbohydrates. Making sure you get all of these components at each meal keeps you full longer and ensures you’re getting a wide variety of nutrients your body needs.
Then, find movement you enjoy and do it daily. It doesn’t mean you need to go to the gym for an hour every day. Go for a walk, do yoga, do a short but effective HIIT workout… anything your body craves. The key is just to move and stick with it.
Lastly, remember that consistency is key. In order to lose weight and keep it off, you need to make healthy habits part of your lifestyle. It takes 21 days to form a habit. The more you do something, the easier it gets.”
“Start the day with a fiber- and fat-based meal that’s also high in protein. When we start off with foods that digest slowly, it helps to regulate and balance our blood sugar. So often, people skip breakfast or eat a carbohydrate-rich breakfast, which can put us on an insulin rollercoaster. It creates a hormonal imbalance that can cause afternoon snacking and late-night hunger. We tend to beat ourselves up for these erratic eating patterns, when really, it’s our physiology alerting us that something is out of balance.
I like to start off my day with a smoothie that contains at least two tablespoons of fat, one cup of vegetables, a half cup of fruit, and one scoop of protein powder. I find it helps me stay more in touch with my hunger cues and keeps me full until lunchtime.”
Good Old-Fashioned Calorie Counting
“I always share that weight loss is simple, but not necessarily easy. If you’re starting your weight-loss journey (big emphasis on the word “journey”), I recommend looking at the numbers. At first, weight loss can be as simple as calories in versus calories out.
It’s helpful to use a calorie-tracking app on your phone to monitor how much you’re eating and exercising. Over time, however, your body will adjust to the calorie deficit and you may experience a weight-loss plateau. In reality, overcoming a plateau and keeping the weight off will be more challenging aspects of your weight-loss journey. At this point, it’s time to ditch the numbers and look at the bigger picture.
The important thing is to turn your weight-loss journey into a sustainable lifestyle. Incorporating a variety of whole foods such as lean protein, colorful fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats is key to a well-rounded diet. When looking at the bigger picture, you must also remember that exercise, supplements, sleep, stress levels, and drinking enough water can all impact your weight-loss results. Set yourself up for success by planning meals and workouts ahead of time and tailoring them to your individual needs and schedule.
At the end of the day, it’s helpful not to dwell on what the scale says. Instead, try taking progress photos. Lastly, make sure to always jump back on track with your healthy lifestyle, even after a slip up or two.”
Add More Than You Subtract
“Just wanting to lose weight without examining behaviors is only going to set you up for failure from the get-go. Most people who try a traditional diet find that they can only stick with it for a few weeks. Life gets in the way, they tire of a specific meal plan, or any number of normal things arise that interrupt restrictive plans.
When I work with clients, I focus on small changes that can have a big impact. Swearing off junk food forever isn’t possible for everyone and it doesn’t have to be. In my experience, approaching weight loss with kindness and grace tends to have the biggest impact.
We can’t say “I want to lose weight” without examining behaviors first. Weight loss doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s usually the culmination of not honoring our needs, unbalanced food choices, and other behaviors. For that reason, I have my clients examine all of their food and activity behaviors and start to work through each one.
To do this on your own, I encourage you to think about your current approach to food, exercise, and your body. Ask yourself where you could boost your health. Try to make this approach positive rather than negative. For instance, instead of giving up sugar, try aiming for four servings of vegetables per day. We tend to feel more successful accomplishing something than avoiding things altogether.
Then, don’t worry so much about the end result. Focus on your overall health journey ahead. Adding in more plant-based proteins might help you lose weight, but more importantly, it helps add in more fiber and cuts down on cholesterol and saturated fat. Likewise, adding in healthy exercise might help you lose weight, but it’ll also help improve body image, boost body confidence, and reduce stress.”