There's a lot of weight-loss talk going around at this time of year, due to all the New Year's resolutions. If weight loss is one of your targets this year — or at any point in your life — half the battle is finding the right kind of guidance to help you safely and effectively crush your goals. POPSUGAR spoke with an expert who has an immense amount of experience coaching people in their weight-loss journey: Dr. Luiza Petre, a weight-management specialist and board-certified cardiologist.
She gave us the inside scoop on actionable ways to lose weight. Here are six detailed pieces of advice you won't want to ignore.
Drink More Water
You've probably heard a million times that drinking more water helps you lose weight, but Dr. Petre explains exactly why that's the case. "Research suggests that drinking eight to 10 glasses of water (eight fluid ounces each) a day can boost metabolism by 24-30 percent and suppress appetite," she explained.
She points out that, unfortunately, many people reach for beverages other than water throughout the day, like juice, soda, sweetened tea, alcohol, etc. But when you replace these drinks with natural H2O, it "not only helps your body stay hydrated, but it can save calories and money, and even help protect and clean your teeth."
The exact amount of water you should be drinking depends on your height, weight, and activity level. But Dr. Petre put it this way: "How do you know if you're drinking enough? If your urine is clear or very light yellow in color, you're well-hydrated."
Cut Out 100 Calories at Each Meal
"Omitting a large number of calories from your daily diet is very counterproductive to your weight-loss efforts," Dr. Petre said. "Starvation usually leads to overeating at the next meal." Rather than severely restricting yourself, cutting out major food groups, or recklessly skipping meals, Dr. Petre suggested you "instead slash 100 calories at each meal."
If that sounds monumental to you, think again. "That's equal to a tablespoon of mayo on your sandwich or butter on your morning piece of toast," she reminded us. That doesn't sound so bad, right? "Cutting out a total of 300 calories over three meals can take off three pounds this month alone," Dr. Petre explained.
Cook Your Own Dinner
Although it may be tempting to order in food after a long day at work, you'll reach your weight-loss goals so much faster if you simply cook your own dinner. "Dining at home means you can control exactly what goes into your food and how much of it you eat," Dr. Petre confirmed. "According to a recent study, 96 percent of restaurant entrees exceed the USDA's daily limits for calories, fat, and sodium — in just one meal!"
You can save a lot of excess calories if you start to cook for yourself at home. Don't know where to start? No problem. Try any of these healthy dinner recipes or some of these meat-free meals. You'll be a chef in no time.
Sneak In 10 Minutes of Exercise
"Breaking exercise down into smaller-sized sessions can be more manageable to fit into an already overscheduled day," Dr. Petre said. "Studies found that squeezing in 10-minute bouts of exercise throughout your day can be just as effective as one long session."
Read the Labels on Everything You Buy
Dr. Petre recommends eating whole, natural, unprocessed foods every chance you get, while also avoiding anything that's full of chemicals or anything that's been artificially sweetened. "Before you buy food at the supermarket, read the label. You will be surprised," Dr. Petre shared. "For example, an item marked as 'low-fat' may still contain a huge amount of calories from sugar."
Additionally, if there are ingredients on the label that you don't recognize or can't pronounce, don't buy it. Food manufacturers are required to put nutrition information on all their products, so take advantage of this and only buy the products that are truly worth your time!
Keep a Food Journal
It may sound silly to record everything you eat, "but several studies have shown that those who keep food journals are more likely to be successful in losing weight and keeping it off."
"Journaling holds you not only accountable, but allows reflection on how you can improve, what caused food deviation, and how to avoid those pitfalls," Dr. Petre said. Whether it's an app like MyFitnessPal or a real-life journal where you pencil in what you eat, you'll be more likely to stick to your guns if you can see exactly what you're eating every day.
Image Source: Franz Steiner Photography
Model credit: @raquelnatasha