Here are seven practical tips based on the research and advice of top nutrition professionals.
Keep a food diary
Dieters who write down everything they eat lose twice as much weight as those who don’t. Your food diary should include a list of the calories or carbohydrates or whatever you are counting. Liquid calories count, too. You can write your intake in a small notebook, on your computer or in the margins of a calendar or day planner. You also can list the calories you burn by exercising. To keep yourself honest, continue to do this even after you’ve lost weight.
Weigh yourself regularly
Successful dieters and those who are trying to maintain weight loss usually weigh themselves regularly, research shows. Some step on the scales once a week. Others do so daily. This helps keep you honest. If you’re not losing or start regaining, you know to rein in your eating habits or step up your exercise.
Exercise not only increases weight loss for most people but also helps you maintain your lean body mass when you’re losing weight. Studies show exercise is crucial for maintaining weight loss, so it’s important to get moving quickly so you’ll be in the habit once you’ve lost some weight.
Get plenty of sleep
Scientists have found that sleep deprivation increases levels of a hunger hormone and decreases levels of a hormone that makes you feel full. The effects may lead to overeating and weight gain. Get your rest so you can have better control of your hunger.
Find someone who will lose weight with you or encourage you along the way. Recent research showed that dieters who had support from a partner at home lost more weight than those who didn’t.
Get a pair of jeans or pants that are too tight and hang them in the kitchen instead of the closet, says New York dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. She calls these “reference pants” and says they are a good reminder to stay on track.
Plan for dining out
Professional chefs said in one survey that their portions were two to four times larger than the recommended serving, so if you’re eating out, chances are you’re being served way too much. Figure out what you are going to eat in advance. Split entrees with someone or take half home. If possible, prepare your lunches at home. A recent study showed this was key for many dieters’ success.