General tips on nutrition

1. Drink plenty of water. It is very important to drink 8-10 glasses of water every day, whether you are trying to lose weight or not. Water is required by all of the systems in your body to function correctly. If you are dehydrated, your body will try to protect you in all sorts of ways, including retaining as much water as it can. Without water, therefore, your body can also not get rid of the excess fat and toxins while you are trying to lose weight. There are many more reasons for developing a love for water, which we will discuss as a topic all by itself. For know, also keep in mind that your body often confuses hunger with thirst. By making sure that you are properly hydrated, you will be in a better position to control your food portions!

2. Try new types of water. Most people don’t like the idea of drinking 8-10 glasses of plain water each day. Try different types. Maybe you like sparkling waters better. Maybe club soda or even different flavoured waters to add some variety. Just be careful to check the energy contents of the drinks.

3. Be careful of white foods. In general, white foods are best avoided when you want to lose weight. This includes white bread, white rice, white pasta, white sugar and even white fruits. Rather find healthier substitutions that contain whole grains and lots of extra vitamins and minerals. Not only will it look more appetizing, but it will also taste better.

4. Protein is an important ally. Research has proven that the inclusion of more low-fat proteins such as chicken, fish, egg whites, turkey, and soy can be a great help in your efforts to lose weight. You will be able to reduce your carbohydrate intake and increase your overall energy level. When you eat protein your body secretes the hormone glucagons. This actually helps breakdown fat, giving your weight loss regime a boost.

5. If you crave sugar – have it. Stay away from artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes. Sugar may not be good for you, but the chemicals used to make artificial sweeteners are plain bad for you. So, if you enjoy some sugar in your morning coffee – use it and enjoy. Just be careful not to overdo it.

6. Eat negative calorie foods. There are actually several foods that burn more calories than they provide! Apricots, cucumbers, blueberries, fennel, grapefruit and tangerines are some examples of the negative calorie foods that you can include in your daily diet. Eating these foods will make your body burn more calories through the digestion process than you’ll absorb by eating them. Good for snacking in other words!

7. Drink lots and lots of homemade juice. Juicers are becoming increasingly popular as it allows you to get all the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables, without any of the preservatives your store-bought juices contain. Juicing your fruit and vegetables is an easy and fun way of increasing your fruit and vegetable intake.

8. Never skip breakfast. In a recent study, 8 out of 10 people who lost weight, and kept it off, reported that they eat breakfast every morning. Give your body a great start to the day with a healthy breakfast, preferably including protein. You’ll start your day with more energy, keep your blood sugar levels even and will avoid being so hungry by lunch that you overeat.

9. Read and understand food labels. When you are trying to lose weight, you already realize that the energy (calories / kilojoules) content is important. At the same time it is important to get the best nutritional value for your body from the energy you do consume. Become familiar with nutritional labels and pay attention to how much of each nutrient you are getting every day. If you’re falling short of the recommended daily intake, consider a multi-vitamin.

10. Follow the food pyramid. The food pyramid has stood the test of time, even though it may have undergone a few changes. A recent study have shown that following the food pyramid, while reducing your caloric intake, is still the most effective way to shed unwanted pounds. This makes sense since the food guide encourages you to eat more fruits and vegetables, reduce your carbohydrate intake and try to eliminate as much fat from your diet as possible.

11. Make some simple food substitutions. Sometimes little changes can result in a big difference. For example, if you switch to whole wheat pasta you’ll increase your fibre intake, decrease the amount of refined sugars you’re eating and satisfy the hunger pangs for longer. Another great substitution is whole grain bread in place of white bread. And opt for brown rice instead of white rice. And chances are you’ll never notice the difference!

12. Remember that you lose water first. Once you begin a weight loss program, you may notice that you almost immediately drop a significant amount of weight, and that your weight loss slows dramatically after the initial big loss. The reason for this is that one of the first things that you lose is excess water. This phenomenon will be even more noticeable on low carbohydrate and high protein eating programs. Don’t be discouraged by what the scale says later on, instead focus on how you feel and how your clothes fit.

13. Learn to choose healthier options when you eat out. You can still enjoy eating out even while you are trying to lose weight. Just teach yourself to order healthier dishes. Opt for a sit down restaurant instead of a buffet so you’re not tempted to overeat, or have a salad or a baked potato (with sour cream OR butter – not both!) instead of fries. Select grilled chicken or fish instead of fatty ribs.

14. Eat smaller portions when you go out to dinner. Always get half of your meal put in a doggie bag so you can finish it later. Most restaurants serve portions that are enough for two if not three meals!

15. Eat appetizers as meals. A great method to manage your portion sizes when dining out is to order from the appetizer menu. Many restaurants will allow you to order a small salad to accompany your appetizer selection in order to provide you with a well-rounded meal. This technique is a favourite of many weight conscious people, also because appetizers are typically served alone, with out dangerous side items like French fries and mashed potatoes.

16. Eat slowly and you’ll eat less. When you are hungry and start eating, your mind tells your body that food is on the way. It sends yet another signal when you have eaten enough. Unfortunately, this does not happen instantaneously, and it is very easy to eat more than you need to, simply because the message is delayed. If you eat slowly, all the messages will reach their destinations in time, and you will start losing weight. You will also stop having that bloated feeling after every meal!

17. Put left over food in small containers. We often eat food simply because it is there, or because we do not want to let it go to waste. If you plan for portions while you are packing away leftover food for the freezer, you will make it a lot easier for yourself to manage food portions.

18. Eat dairy. Eating dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt every day can actually help you lose weight, provided they are low fat or non-fat. The main advantage of these foods is the relatively high dairy-based calcium content. As part of a study proving the benefits of eating dairy products to weight loss programs, it was also proven that the benefits of dairy-based calcium couldn’t be replaced with supplements.

19. Don’t eat before bedtime. As your mother probably told you growing up, it’s not a good idea to eat before going to bed. As a matter of fact, you should try not to eat within three hours of bedtime because your metabolism slows down when you sleep and since you’re not burning calories your late night snack turns directly into fat. If you must have a nibble, consider foods that are high in protein and low in carbs such as a glass of milk or a piece of cheese.

20. Change your cooking methods. Instead of using your deep fryer and frying pans, start broiling, baking and grilling meats and vegetables instead. Steaming vegetables and potatoes is the best way to cook them, as this cooking method retains most of the essential nutrients and vitamins. Simply changing the way that you cook the foods you normally eat will have a positive impact on your weight loss efforts.

21. Pay attention to the hidden calories in what you drink. What you’re drinking can very easily add unnecessary calories to your diet. A can of soda typically contains close to 200 calories. A specialty coffee from Starbucks can have upwards of 400 calories. Even fruit juices are loaded with sugars and unnecessary calories that can put you over your daily caloric limit.

22. Include good fats in your diet. Our bodies need fat to function properly. Never try to eliminate this nutrition component completely. Choose healthy fats such as nuts, fish and vegetable based oils for inclusion in your diet. These will give your body what it needs and allow you to limit the amount of harmful fats that you are eating.

23. Lay off the caffeine. While eliminating caffeine is best, it is very difficult to face withdrawal symptoms while you are trying to lose weight. Consider changing from coffee to green tea at least in the afternoon. Caffeine is a diuretic, and is known to increase appetite in many people. So, substituting even one cup a day with a caffeine free option can make a difference.

24. Low fat or fat free food is not always better. The retail industry got onto the low-fat bandwagon and is manufacturing low-fat versions of everything. Consider the label of the products carefully before putting it in your shopping trolley. Some fat-free treat you may currently be consuming in large amounts may be high in energy value. Also, reduced fat and low fat alternatives are often lacking in taste, but may be almost as high in energy value as the full fat version. In many cases it will be better to have the real thing, and enjoy it.

25. Stay clear of fried foods. Avoiding fried foods is generally a good practice for everyone. Simply removing fried foods from your daily diet can result in significant weight loss all by itself! Not only will you lose weight, but you will learn to love the taste of fresh and healthy food, paving the way for a permanent reduction in your dress size!

26. You really can eat all you like! When you convert the majority of your food intake to unprocessed foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grain) you really can eat as much as you want without jeopardizing your waistline. Nutritionists have reported that people who are used to a meat-centered diet, and then change their eating habits to include more whole and healthy foods, are almost always surprised by how much they can eat and still lose weight.

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