Eat Around the Clock
Eat more often to avoid a completely empty stomach, which can make you overeat at your next meal. Researchers have discovered a hormone called ghrelin, secreted by the stomach. When your stomach is empty, your ghrelin levels surge, which makes you run for the nearest food. Instead of skipping meals, plan to eat four to six small meals or snacks, spaced 3 to 5 hours apart.
Choose Carbs Carefully
You don’t need to avoid all carbohydrates in order to lose weight. But you should shy away from simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, white bread, white pasta, and white rice. These foods are quickly turned into glucose by the body, and the influx of glucose causes a rapid rise in the hormone insulin, whose job it is to escort glucose out of the bloodstream and into cells. A surge of insulin is followed by a glucose “crash,” which leaves you hungry in no time.
Eat Lower on the Glycemic Index
The glycemic index (GI) indicates the rate at which carbohydrate-rich foods are digested. Foods that are digested faster are quickly converted into glucose, leaving you hungry again. Foods with a low GI score include brown rice, lentils, yams, and apples. Those with a high GI number-in other words, foods to avoid if you’re trying to lose weight-include cornflakes, white rice, and mashed potatoes.
Choose Bulky Foods
Foods that don’t leave you hungry are higher in bulk and lower in calories. Any food that contains plenty of fiber, water, or air is a “bulky” or “high-volume” food. These include high-fiber fruits and vegetables as well as beans. Instead of eating a handful of raisins, choose water-dense grapes. Instead of a glass of orange juice, have an orange, which is far less calorie-dense and contains fiber that juice lacks. If you’re making chili, add more beans to bulk it up without adding a lot of calories. Instead of French fries, try whipping up some winter squash with skim milk (Whipped foods contain air, which gives bulk without adding calories).
Watch Out for Low-Fat Foods
Some low-fat foods, such as low-fat dairy products, are a real boon to dieters. But food manufacturers often remove fat from cookies and other treats only to replace that fat with sugar. So, check the label before you indulge with abandon; a serving probably contains just as many calories as the higher-fat original version.
Downsize Your Portions
We’ve become used to bigger and bigger portions both at home and when we eat out. If your fast-food restaurant offers super-size or value meals, think twice about where those extra calories will end up! At restaurants, reduce the temptation to clean your plate by setting aside one-third of your meal before you touch it. When eating at home, check the portion size of foods you enjoy. If your pasta portion has grown to two cups, cut it back to one and a half, and your waistline will start to show the difference. To fool your eye into thinking you’re getting more food, use a bread plate instead of a dinner plate for your entrée and a small cereal bowl instead of a giant pasta bowl for your pasta.
Keep Your Eye on the Mirror
Most people on a diet want to see a lower weight reflected on the bathroom scale. But remember, while you’re losing fat, if you’re exercising, you may be adding muscle, so your weight might remain the same for a while. Instead of relying totally on the scale, check your reflection in the mirror, your clothing size, your energy level, and the notches on your belt.
Fasting, even when plenty of water is consumed, can be very dangerous; it may lead to lowered blood pressure and heart failure. Also, weight loss gained by fasting is rarely sustained once eating is resumed.