If you’ve set a goal of a healthier lifestyle, your first thought may be to commit to a fitness routine.
Although exercise is crucial to your health goal, research shows that nutrition holds the key to your success.
“Most people who exercise to lose weight and don’t restrict calories shed only 2 to 3 percent of their weight over 6 to 12 months,” says Tim Church, M.D., the director of preventive medicine research at Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge.
Eating fewer calories will not only help you lose weight, but shedding about 5 percent of your body weight will also reduce your risk of developing diabetes by nearly 60 percent.
Focus on filling your plate with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and heart-healthy fats, like olive oil.
Limit processed foods such as frozen meals, refined carbohydrates like pastries and white bread and reduce your sugar intake.
According to a study published in the journal Appetite, eating a low-calorie–dense diet (by decreasing fat, eating more produce, or adding water to recipes) helped people consume 230 to 396 fewer calories a day.
“With these strategies, you’ll also be eating foods that are higher in fiber, so you’ll stay satisfied,” says Donald D. Hensrud, M.D., the chair of preventive medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Keep a food diary. This creates accountability and will help highlight any areas that need improvement.
Feeling hungry is an inevitable side effect of losing weight, but by drinking plenty of water and regulating your healthy snacks and meals, you can combat the cravings.
Changing your eating habits may give your metabolism a boost. Create balance between your meals and snacks to eat every two to three hours.
You’ll lose weight when eating every three hours if your daily calorie burn is more than your total calorie intake.
For many adults, sticking with 1,200 to 1,600 calories daily is effective, notes the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. However, if you’re losing more than two pounds weekly, slightly boost your intake.
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