Losing weight is hard. You’ve likely encountered more diets than you can count, none of them effective. What actually works are scientifically proven, small habit changes. Below are 6 simple strategies for effective weight loss.
Reduce Sugar Intake
The absolute, most important dietary change for weight reduction (and overall health) is cutting back added sugar. Sugar contains a lot of calories without any essential nutrients. For this reason, they are called empty calories- calories with no nutritional value.
Sugar is highly addictive. It causes the release of dopamine in the reward center of the brain, similar to drugs such as cocaine. Studies show sugar consumption is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and others diseases.
Be sure to read labels- even so-called healthy foods can be packed with hidden sugar. (Think protein bars and fruit filled yogurts.)
Don’t Drink Your Calories
Sugar is bad enough, but in liquid form it’s even worse. The largest source of excess sugar is consumed as liquid calories. It’s the silent culprit behind many a failed diet.
Liquid sugar is also not as filling or satisfying as the same amount of sugar from food. Therefore, it causes increased calorie consumption. For example, drinking a glass of apple juice at 150 calories is not as filling as eating two small apples.
Bear in mind, fruit juice contains about the same amount of sugar as soft drinks. Instead, eat the whole fruit- you’ll take in fewer calories and feel more satisfied so you eat less later. Not to mention, whole fruits contain fiber. (More about that below.)
Substitute sugary drinks with:
- water- so important, it has it’s own category below
- coffee- with less sugar, and substitute milk for cream- it’s packed with protein and contains fewer calories
- tea- again, be stingy with cream and sugar
- coconut water- with no added sugar
- mint/lemon water- again, no sugar
- whole fruit smoothie- unstrained, no added sugar or juice
Drink Water (especially before meals)
Water aids weight loss in many ways. Drinking water before meals causes you to eat less. It also helps reduce the number of calories absorbed by the body after a meal,  as well as boost metabolism, burning more calories without any extra effort. Not to mention all the additional benefits of water, such as better skin.
Eat More Lean Protein (and fewer carbs)
Simply adding protein to your diet (without restricting anything else) causes weight loss. Dietary protein reduces appetite and makes you feel fuller longer causing you to eat less for the rest of day.Plus, the body burns more calories digesting protein than it does digesting carbs. Also, eating protein after a workout helps retain muscle mass.
Substitute empty carbs with lean proteins such as:
- eggs- also a good source of iron
- skinless chicken or turkey
- fish- especially salmon
- lean ground beef- a small portion
- beans and lentils- also packed with fiber
- Low/nonfat dairy products
Eat More Fiber (instead of refined carbs)
Dietary fiber has numerous health benefits (too many to list here). Studies show that fiber increases satiety  and helps control weight in the long term. Fiber expands in the stomach so you feel full eating less food. Fiber also takes longer to digest so it keeps you full for a longer period of time than refined carbs.
Eating refined carbs is strongly linked to obesity. Refined carbs are grains that are stripped of their naturally occurring fiber (similar to fruit juice). The most common offenders are white bread, white rice and white pasta. Studies show that refined carbs rapidly spike blood sugar, leading to hunger cravings and increased food intake within the next few hours.
So, when eating carbs, make sure to eat the whole grain kind which has its natural fiber intact. Be sure to read labels. Just because it says, “whole grain” doesn’t make it so.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is highly underrated. It may be just as important for weight control as diet and exercise. Poor sleep is linked to weight gain and obesity. Studies show less sleep increases appetite so sleep deprived individuals eat more.
In order to lose weight, getting quality sleep is crucial.
Follow these simple, scientifically proven strategies to improve your overall health and fitness. They will take you a long way towards achieving your weight loss goals.
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