If you tend to go more than four hours between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner, adding in a smart snack may actually help you lose weight. After eating, your blood sugar gradually drops. That’s OK, but if you go too long without giving your body energy in the form of food, you may find yourself grabbing the first thing you can at meal time (think of it as the “bread basket attack effect”). A small, well-timed snack will help keep your blood sugar on an even keel — and give you the power to pass on the bread while you wait for your entree.
Fast fix: Choose a snack that clocks in at around 200 calories. One that contains some fiber and protein like an apple and peanut butter will do an extra great job at tiding you over until mealtime.
Of course adjusting the amount you eat is crucial to weight loss. But don’t forget about the exercise end of the equation. Moving your body means your cells use up more calories, which (if you are careful not to eat back the calories you’ve burned) equals weight loss. Exercising will also help boost your happy-hormone endorphins, which will help you stay on track with eating right — why quit when you’re feeling this good?!
Fast fix: Find the workout that works for you. Whether you’re walking the mall or training for a 5k, you’re burning calories and building muscle (which in turn, burns even more calories).
Successful weight loss — the kind that you can keep off for years to come without a second thought — happens as a result of making small, sustainable changes. In other words, quickie diets don’t work. Adjusting your lifestyle and your eating habits with tiny tweaks that you actually enjoy (or at minimum don’t mind) will help you lose weight and keep it off over the long run. For most of us, that means no more than a 1- to 2-pound weight loss each week.
Fast fix: Focus on goals other than the number on the scale. Pat yourself on the back for exercising three times each week, loading up half of your plate with veggies, and trading refined carbs for whole grain ones like brown rice and quinoa. Succeeding in these small goals will keep you motivated to stick with it long enough to see the scale move in the direction you want it to.
Rachel is a New York City-based nutrition writer, educator and counselor.