Many weight-loss books say they can help you get slim for life, including the "Juice Master" Jason Vale and Britain's celebrity doctor, Gillian McKeith. But if you're struggling with yo-yo dieting, you may want to take advice from people who have managed to lose weight, some a significant amount, and keep it off by following some basic weight-loss guidelines. Consult your doctor to help you design a weight-loss plan that fits your specific needs.
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Slim for Life "Diets"
Although both Vale and McKeith offer sound advice for healthy eating, they also suggest techniques that may be difficult to follow for life. Both suggest you limit your intake of foods full of additives and sugar and eat a more plant-based diet filled with fresh, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and plant-based proteins. Vale emphasizes that his book is not a diet plan but a way to view food in a different light. He notes that unhealthy food choices, those full of sugar, fat and caffeine, are addictive and promote hunger. Eating a healthier diet filled with less-processed foods, including raw juice, helps you gain control over your hunger, your weight and your health.
McKeith's plan follows a similar approach. She says that you'll naturally lose weight by eating a more holistic diet. Her diet plan includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods including quinoa, amaranth and sea vegetables. She also encourages beans for protein.
Although these are both healthy diet plans, Vale and McKeith also suggest food combining as a way to promote weight loss and improve digestion. Weightlossresources.co.uk reports that there's no scientific evidence to support the theory that eating foods at separate times improves digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Real Examples of "Slim for Life"
If you're ready to be slim for life, you may want to take advice from people who have lost weight and kept it off. The National Weight Control Registry began in 1994 as an investigation to determine the traits of those who have lost a significant amount of weight, 30 pounds or more, and kept it off for an extended period of time, a year or longer. The registry currently has more than 10,000 members, according to the official website. The site is kept up to date with detailed questionnaires and yearly follow-ups to assess behavioral and psychological characteristics of the successful participants. The registry also tracks common strategies used to lose and keep the weight off.
Find a Program That Suits You
Whether you're counting carbs or limiting fat, any diet will help you lose weight, but if you want to be slim for life, you need to choose a diet that's filled with things you like to eat. That doesn't mean fast food and ice cream, however. The Harvard School of Public Health says the best diet for long-term weight loss is filled with a variety of whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts, with limited amounts of processed foods.
And don't skimp on the fat. The Harvard School of Public Health says low-fat diets are not sustainable over the long haul for most people. Plus, severely restricting your fat intake may increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies. For weight management and good health, include healthy sources of fat such as olive oil or canola oil. Avocados, fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, nuts and seeds are also healthy fat options to include in your slim for life diet.
Be Slim by Balancing Calories
It's a lot easier to maintain a healthy weight than to lose weight after you've gained it, according to the publication "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010." Weight control is about calorie balance. When you eat more calories than your body needs, you gain weight, and when you eat less, you lose. Calorie needs vary and depend on a person's genetics, along with age, gender, body size and activity. In general, calorie needs for weight maintenance for women range from 1,600 to 2,400 calories and for men range from 2,000 to 3,000 calories.
When you want to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories, exercising to burn more calories or both. Creating a 500-calorie daily deficit -- for example, decreasing your caloric intake by 250 calories and working out to burn 250 calories -- should help you lose 1 pound a week. When you're cutting calories, it's important not to cut too many too quickly, says the McKinley Health Center, because it may decrease your metabolism. Women should not eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day, and men no less than 1,800 calories, to avoid going into "starvation mode."
According to a 2002 study published in Obesity Research, 78 percent of the National Weight Control Registry participants report eating breakfast every day. People who skip breakfast tend to eat more calories than breakfast eaters, say the authors of a 2005 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Skipping breakfast causes a drop in blood sugars, which may lead to intense hunger and cause you to overcompensate by eating too much.
There are a number of options for healthy and satisfying breakfast meals, such as whole-grain cereal with nonfat milk and fruit, a whole-grain English muffin with almond butter and nonfat yogurt or a veggie omelet with whole-wheat toast. If time is the reason you don't eat breakfast, make a fruit smoothie you can take with you, such as a blend of blueberries, raspberries, kale, Greek yogurt and flaxseeds or banana, strawberries, cocoa powder, soy milk and peanut butter.
If you want to be slim for life, you need to be active. Ninety percent of the registry's participants exercise every day for about an hour. If you're new to working out, you want to start slowly and work your way up. Doing too much too fast may kill your enthusiasm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests you first aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise five days a week, such as fast-paced walks or swims. You can even start with 10 minutes at a time stretched over the day, says the CDC. Additionally, you want to include strength-training exercises twice a week, such as weight lifting or a yoga class, for balance. Adding more muscle to your frame speeds up your metabolism.
Turn Off the TV
You burn fewer calories sitting up and watching TV than you do sitting up and reading a book, according to Harvard Health Publications. If you want to stop the weight pendulum, limit the amount of TV you watch. Most registry participants watch less than 10 hours of TV a week. Watching TV not only slows down your metabolism but may lead to unhealthy snacking. A 2008 study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that the more TV you watch, the more likely you are to snack on high-calorie foods.
To help you better manage your weight, turn off the TV and the computer screen. Instead, read a book, take a walk or start a new hobby such as painting or writing. Or, spend time with friends and family.
To stay slim and keep your weight in check, you need to step on the scale regularly. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that daily weigh-ins helped people maintain their weight loss. The authors of the study report that keeping regular tabs on your weight may help deter you from making poor food choices. If the idea of everyday weight checks sounds like too much, you may be able to get away with weekly check-ins. The registry notes that 75 percent of its weight-loss maintainers weigh themselves at least once a week.