Fad diets may be popular weight-loss strategies, but they don’t typically work very well.
Instead, dietitians recommend sticking to a sustainable healthy eating plan that you enjoy and preparing more of your own food.
Other simple weight-loss strategies include staying hydrated, avoiding sugar, and planning ahead so you’re not making impulsive food choices when you’re hungry.
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Going on a diet is a losing game. Some research suggests more than nine out of every 10 people who try to diet will fail.
Even people who are able to diet successfully often fight a tough battle against the body’s evolutionarily savvy attempts to store extra energy. In fact, scientists have found that the bodies of severely overweight people who lose weight can work against them: as they slim down, their metabolism drops, making it harder to lose more weight.
Experts agree that extreme diets and juice cleanses aren’t good long-term strategies for maintaining a healthy weight. To that end, the US News & World Report’s 2020 ranking of the best diets put the trendy ketogenic diet in one of the bottom spots.
But there are a few simple things you can do to stay trim and satisfied in the long run.
We asked dietitian Jason Ewoldt from the nation’s top-rated hospital, the Mayo Clinic, for his simplest, sanest ideas for staying lean. Here’s his advice.
Stay hydrated. If you hate drinking water, zest it up with citrus or drink it carbonated (without adding empty calories into your diet).
Ewoldt noted that patients often end up misinterpreting thirst for hunger.
“A lot of times, people just seem to be a little dehydrated,” he said.
A 2016 study of more than 18,000 people in the US found that those who drank more water were consistently more satisfied and ate fewer calories on a daily basis. They also consumed lower amounts of sugar, fat, salt, and cholesterol than more dehydrated participants.
There’s also some limited evidence that drinking water can help you burn through more calories, at least for a little while. So keep sipping.
Whatever you drink, it’s best to steer clear of sugar — and probably artificial sweeteners, too.
A long-term study of more than 118,000 men and women published in 2019 suggests that the more sugar people drink, the more likely they are to die.
Scientists studying the blood vessels of rats discovered that while sugar and artificial sweeteners act in very different ways inside the animals’ bodies, they can both up the odds of developing obesity and diabetes.
The researchers think this is because artificial sweeteners may mess with the way our bodies process fat. More research needs to be done in humans to know for sure, though.
Aim for seven to eight hours of shut-eye per night.
Most of us like to think we can operate well without a full night’s sleep. But the truth is, only about 1% of the population can survive on less than seven hours.
Skipping out on sleep also makes us more likely to eat unhealthy food.
Research published in 2013 in the journal Nature Communications revealed that sleep-deprived eaters are more likely to reach for high-calorie foods and gain weight than well-rested people. That’s because being sleepy also snoozes the region of the brain that helps tell us when we’re full.
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