If you’re struggling to lose weight, Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, has five tips to help you achieve success.
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1. Don’t skip breakfast, and get at least 10 grams of protein
Eating a balanced breakfast — including protein, fat and carbs — will give you the energy you need for the day.
“If you skip breakfast, you’re starting the day on a dead battery,” says Ms. Kirkpatrick. “Studies show that higher intake of protein in the morning is also essential for squashing cravings later in the day.”
Good sources of protein include eggs, plant-based protein powders, sprouted toast with natural peanut butter, and plain unsweetened yogurt with berries and hemp seeds.
Skipping meals can make your body think it is in starvation mode. “Think of Sumo wrestlers. They eat little or nothing all day, then eat a big meal late in the day — thus their size and high fat-to-muscle ratio,” she says.
2. Eat small meals, or consider fasting
Take your pick: three meals a day with two or three snacks, five or six small meals a day, or eating every three to four hours.
Each of these approaches will keep your metabolism even — and your blood sugar levels stable.
Balance will help your body function at its best and will help you avoid weight gain. “You don’t want your blood sugar to rise and fall as if you’re on a roller coaster. That will make your energy levels fluctuate and all your body processes work less efficiently,” Ms. Kirkpatrick says.
“It’s better to have blood sugar levels mimic a kiddie roller coaster. It may seem less exciting, but it won’t throw off your metabolism as much.”
Another option to consider is fasting, she notes. Studies show that people who adhere to either an intermittent-fasting or time-restricted feeding approach have a decreased risk of disease, lower mortality and more success in losing weight.
3. Exercise moderately, and add some weights
An intense workout regimen is great if you‘re happy with your weight and are in good health. But if you’re struggling to shed pounds, a moderate exercise program will work better for you.
Walking 30 minutes on a regular basis will benefit you more than an intense 90-minute routine you can’t maintain.
“Moderate exercise is especially important if you have problems with blood sugar. An intense workout will add more stress to your body by making your blood sugar spike and then fall,” says Ms. Kirkpatrick.
She adds that setting goals too high and failing to meet them will keep you from feeling successful. “It’s better to set small goals and surpass them.”
Also, adding in at least three days of resistance training will you help increase muscle, speeding up your metabolism and making weight loss easier.
4. Eat until you’re no longer hungry, not until you’re full
When you feel full, it means you have over-fueled. “Stop giving your body calories it does not need,” says Ms. Kirkpatrick. “Instead, listen to your hunger, and eat only when hungry.”
The amount of carbs, protein and healthy fat you need depends on lots of factors, including your weight loss goals, disease status, etc.
Another tactic is to start big (at breakfast) and end small, tapering off your portion sizes as the day goes on.
5. Be wary of ‘emotional eating.’
When you eat because you’re stressed out or starved for comfort, awareness is half the battle. “Many people get frustrated because they’ve joined a fitness or a weight loss program, have done everything right, and just can’t seem to lose weight,” says Ms. Kirkpatrick.
You may want to consider using hypnosis, meditation or holistic psychotherapy to help you let go of old eating patterns, such as eating for comfort rather than out of real hunger.
“People realize, ‘wow, I eat when I’m not that hungry,’ or ‘I remember how apple pie at grandma’s would comfort me when I was little. That’s what I think of when I crave comfort today,’” says Ms. Kirkpatrick.
After letting go of eating patterns that no longer serve you, you’ll find yourself fitting into clothes you haven’t been able to for years.