You don't just want the numbers on the scale to go down — you want to lose body fat too. With so many mixed messages about what to eat and what not to eat to lose weight, we asked registered dietitian Samantha Bartholomew of Fresh Communications to tell us which diet is the best for losing fat.
Unfortunately, there isn't one diet to follow, since everyone is different, but if you're looking for the secret to successful dieting in order to lose fat, follow these five tips.
Most Importantly, Don't Diet!
Samantha says, "Most dietitians agree: diets don't work." Popular diets today are all about encouraging people to give up entire food groups, and while that can work to create a caloric deficit that leads to weight loss, it's not sustainable.
"If we told you not to think of a giraffe, what's the first think you think of? A giraffe, obviously. The same principal applies to dieting. When you give up a food group, like grains for example, eventually the grain cravings will kick in." Instead of swearing off foods, especially ones like whole grains that offer nutritional benefits, focus on lifestyle changes that you can maintain, like adding an extra serving of vegetables to your dinner each night. Small changes are reasonable and lead to big results over time.
Make Healthy Swaps
Find healthier, lower-calorie ways to enjoy your favorite foods. Have a hankering for chocolate? Make these no-bake brownies. Craving cookies? Bake up a batch of these that are date-sweetened. Swap spaghetti squash or carrot ribbons for pasta, cauliflower for rice, or lentils for ground beef. You'll cut down on calories while also satisfying your cravings. These swaps will help keep you in a healthy calorie deficit, which is essential for losing body fat.
Find a Balance
What foods typically take up most of your plate? If you're not following the "MyPlate" rules, you could be missing out on a very simple weight-loss trick. Samantha says, "Try to balance your plate by making half of it fruits and vegetables, a quarter whole grains and the final quarter lean protein. If you can follow this model for meals, they will be nutrient-dense and very satisfying!"
Pay Attention to Portions
Have you ever noticed that your grandmother's coffee cup is about one-quarter the size of your morning mug? Serving sizes have gotten bigger and bigger, and research shows that the size of your plate determines how much you eat. Choose smaller plates to reduce portions and therefore calories. The good news is that if you are truly still hungry, you can always go back for more!
Stop With the "Good" and "Bad"
Samantha encourages you to "stop shame-labeling food! All food can be enjoyed in moderation, and calling a food inherently 'bad' or 'good' gives food power over the decisions we make." It's time to switch up the dialogue, so instead of calling a food "bad," think of it as a special treat. And rather than "giving a food a 'health halo,' simply be thankful for the nutrition it provides." By doing so, you are recognizing that some foods will give you more of what you need while also understanding there is room in a healthy diet for a treat occasionally!