Losing weight, even a modest amount, can produce health benefits such as improvements in cholesterol and blood pressure. 2023 may be your year to change your habits and become a healthier you. Here are four tips from a Baylor Medicine registered dietitian to lose weight and keep it off.
Avoid quick weight loss schemes
Although we live in a society where we want fast results, maintaining a moderate calorie deficit combined with exercise you enjoy is the best way to lose weight. Highly restrictive eating can be difficult and unsustainable in the long run. Instead of following a “fad” diet, work on eating well-balanced meals that consist of lean protein and fiber-rich foods, such as legumes, fruits and vegetables. For instance, one goal could be to start eating the colors of the rainbow. The more color in your diet, the richer in vitamins and minerals it is.
“Many people struggle to lose weight because they try to make too many extreme changes at once,” says Rachel Griehs, registered dietitian at the Weight Loss and Metabolic Center at Baylor Medicine. “This causes what we call yo-yo dieting. You may lose weight at first, but the changes are not feasible long term. To be successful, make small changes and build sustainable habits. For instance, choose healthy food that you like and are willing and able to prepare consistently.”
Include protein with each meal
Including protein in each meal is one of the best ways to stay satisfied as it takes longer to break down and process than carbs and fats. Lean proteins like chicken, fish, eggs, beans, peas, lentils and nuts are good options.
“Start with lean protein then fill the plate with vegetables and fruits,” says Griehs. “These are high-volume foods that are low in calories and nutrient-dense. You can load up on these foods to fill you up and keep your calories low.”
Lack of time to prepare meals is a big reason for grabbing unhealthy options or eating out. Cooking in bulk so you have leftovers is one good way to make sure you have healthy options. Another is to plan a few days ahead. Create a list of simple, fast and healthy recipes you enjoy that you can prepare at a moment’s notice at home. Not only will these meals be healthier, but you will save money compared to eating out.
“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle does take effort,” says Griehs. “You have to plan ahead so you can grocery shop and prepare before you are starving and want to just reach for a bag of chips or go pick up fast food.”
Eat at regular times or regularly scheduled intervals
Skipping meals causes you to be hungry and then potentially overeat at other times during the day. Studies show that eating breakfast regularly is part of a healthy lifestyle.
A nutritious breakfast may consist of protein and/or whole grains. Some ideas for breakfast include: two hard-boiled eggs with one slice of whole wheat toast, one serving of oatmeal with 1/2 cup fruit, two slices of whole grain toast with half an avocado, one serving of non-fat Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup fruit and 2 tablespoons granola or homemade high-protein breakfast muffins.
By Tiffany Harston, communications associate for the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine