You don’t need to drastically cut calories in order to lose weight. When you cut back too hard on your calories, the body goes into a starvation mode in which your metabolism—the rate at which the body’s calorie-burning machinery turns over—switches to a slower idle. That actually decreases your ability to lose weight.
We’ll grant that if you eat nothing but grapefruit morning, noon, and night, you will lose weight. But if you’re considering a diet like this, we suggest you look in the mirror and say these words out loud: “I will never in my life eat anything but grapefruit again.”
Right. The problem with extreme diets is that they ignore reality–a certain undeniable craving for roast beef that is bound to set in midway through a grapefruit diet. And once you go back to your old eating ways, you’ll quickly gain the pounds back.
To lose weight and keep it off permanently, experts instead advise making small, gradual changes you can live with. We’re talking changes so innocuous, it won’t seem like you’ve started a diet at all.
The minute you say, “I can’t,” or, “I shouldn’t,” you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Depriving yourself of pleasure from food isn’t fun and it doesn’t work.
Take, for example, ice cream, rated in a survey as the favorite dessert among men. You could have it three times a week as long as you follow one of two guidelines: either have small, half-cup portions of the real thing or have larger, one-cup helpings of low-fat varieties or frozen yogurt.
Red meat is another food that can readily be part of a healthy diet if you eat small portions once or twice a week.
Choose the Right Kind of Snacks
The right kinds of snacks can actually help you lose weight. The important thing is to take control of your snack supply.
You can’t rely on standard fare from office vending machines or company caterers, which provide ample selections of just the things you want to avoid: candy bars, potato chips, and rich doughnuts and pastries.
Instead, bring a bag filled with a variety of food you can nosh on throughout the day. Fruits like apples and bananas are good choices, as are bagels with jam or jelly and small cans of vegetable juice.
Make smarter choices about the food you consume. You don’t have to deprive yourself in order to lose weight. You just need to be more in control of your diet.