Everywhere you look these days, there’s another fad diet, telling you how you can lose a certain number of pounds in a certain number of days, and only talking in the short term, but in such a way that implies the long. These diets, when stripped of their overly convoluted rules and restrictions, boil down to “if you lock off this food group, you will lose weight”. This may be true in the short term, but you will start to gain that weight back since that approach is a Band-Aid, not a cast for the problem. But rest assured, there are ways to lose weight and maintain that weight loss, without having to kowtow to such gimmicky fad diets.
If you’re a man over 25, and you want to not only lose weight, but stay at a certain weight afterwards, here are 6 helpful tips to get you on the right track. Just remember, there are no forbidden foods, and this is not necessarily a diet.
#1. Healthful diet
This is as good a place to start as any. Change your general diet to one rich in vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and legumes, and try to cut back a tad on sugary foods, trans fats, and refined grains. And unlike the fad diets, this is a permanent change to your daily diet, not just something you do temporarily to lose a bit of weight. On average, aim for 20-35 grams of fiber per day from plant based foods. Fiber not only fills you up faster, but also slows your body’s absorption of carbohydrates. While you don’t need to swear off sweets altogether, you should definitely cut back if you feel the need to lose weight. Once a month is a good plan when compromising sweets with a need to lose weight.
#2. Resist stress eating, and other emotional triggers
People tend to eat a lot more when they’re stressed out, depressed, angry, or just generally upset. Even being really happy or excited can put you in the mood for a big lunch. These emotional triggers may trick you into thinking that you’re hungrier than you really are, something you won’t realize until well after you’ve already eaten and the damage has been done. Make an internal scale of 1 to 10 and use it to rate how hungry you are. If you find yourself feeling peckish even after a big meal, try going for a brisk job, or some other kind of non-food related pass time to substitute.
#3. Cut up your food and eat slowly
This may seem like a small thing, but it is important. For one, it’s a good way to stop yourself from eating too much, as people who cut their food up into smaller bites are typically better at stopping themselves than those that eat whole food. Each bite is instantly satisfying, as if you’re tricking your brain into thinking they just ate a whole piece of food rather than one small portion of it. This makes it much easier for the brain to process when it’s had enough, and it’s also much easier to control portion size. It’s also why you should eat slowly, so your brain has enough time to make the judgement call on whether or not you’re okay taking this bite.
#4. Mind your portions
Portion control is the key to a good weight loss diet. You can do this by checking the serving size on food labels, keeping in mind how many items are in the package. There exist popular “100-calorie” food packages, which, as the name suggests, do the work of maintaining serving size for you, by only filling the packaging with the amount of food that meets exactly 100 calories. However, if you eat too many of these per day, it could’ve said 3 calories, but you’d still would be overdoing it. Keep an eye not only on the serving and portion size, but also the portions you’re consuming at one time.
#5. Eat regularly
Some folks get it into their heads that skipping meals will help them lose weight. This, is untrue to a cosmic degree. We need to eat, we just need to. It helps us recharge our proverbial batteries and keeps us going (and keeps us alive and not starving of course). And your brain will make you eat eventually. Only when you do after skipping a meal or two, your brain will decide that you need to make up for lost time, and without even knowing it, you’ll end up overeating. So skipping meals, in the long run, can actually make you gain weight. Eating 3 times a day, and making sure you’re eating healthy when you do it, is the best way to go when approaching food and weight loss.
#6. Beware the smorgasbord effect
This basically means to avoid having too much variety on your plate at once. Now, variety in your diet is, for the most part, a very good thing. It’s the best way to ensure you get all necessary nutrients in your system while also finding new foods for you to enjoy. But if you have too much variety, there’s a temptation to try one of everything (hence the term smorgasbord effect) which can defeat the purpose. All those nutrients don’t mean much when you’re still overeating. Have some restraint, and pick only the foods that are the healthiest and that look the most delicious. And then only after that, decide if you can handle more.
These may seem like daunting tasks, but they’re much easier than you think. And it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do all of them, but doing at least most of them is preferred. Losing weight isn’t a matter of following some health coach’s 270 step plan to lose 30 pounds in 2 days or something, but rather it’s a simple recontextualization of how you approach your body and your health. Keeping this in mind, as well as the above tips, will help you lose weight better and longer than any fad diet.