Most dieters regain lost weight within three to five years. A possible reason is that they often resume their old eating habits or turn to fad diets that are unsustainable in the long run. Leaning out isn't all about calories — it requires lasting lifestyle changes and sensible eating. Refined grains, pastries, flavored yogurt and deli meats are just a few of the foods to cut out to lose weight fast and keep the pounds off.
One of the best ways to lose weight fast is to ditch the sugar, refined carbs and processed foods from your diet. Breakfast cereals, flavored yogurt, instant oatmeal and other so-called "healthy" foods are nothing but candy in disguise.
Choose Weight-Loss-Friendly Foods
Whole foods, especially those rich in fiber and protein, are the best choice when you're trying to slim down. Add healthy fats to the mix to curb hunger and cravings. A 2018 study published in the journal Nutrition assessed the impact of protein and fiber on satiety. Dieters who consumed more of these nutrients experienced greater satiety and found it easier to reduce their food intake.
Read more: 10 Common Food Traps (and How to Avoid Them)
Salmon, mackerel, tuna, avocado, nuts and other high-fat foods can facilitate weight loss too. Rich in polyunsaturated fats, they curb hunger and increase satiety. Polyunsaturated fatty acids have been shown to lower the levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and increase the levels of peptide YY, a hormone that suppresses appetite. These changes lead to greater feelings of fullness and improved appetite control, according to a 2016 study featured in The FASEB Journal.
Fill up on high-protein and high-fat foods rather than searching for pro ana tips and tricks to lose weight fast. Eat plenty of fiber to stay full longer and enjoy better digestion. Remember to watch your portions, though. Avocado and nuts, for example, are nutrient-dense and pack a lot of calories in a small serving, so eat them in moderation.
Cut Back on Sugar
Wondering what foods to cut out to lose weight fast? Start with sugary treats. Ice cream, cookies, baked goods, cake and candies are all loaded with simple sugars that cause you to pack pounds. Glucose and other sugars in soda and sweets trigger chronic, low-grade inflammation, which is a major risk factor for diabetes, depression, heart disease and other ailments.
According to a 2018 report published in Annual Reviews, high sugar intake increases the risk of cancer by 60 percent to 95 percent. Soft drinks appear to be the most harmful.
Luckily, it's never too late to change your eating habits. Replace table sugar with stevia, unsweetened applesauce, vanilla essence or fruit purees. Beware of hidden sugars, such as those found in breakfast cereals, instant oatmeal, processed sauces, flavored yogurts and salad dressings. This sneaky ingredient is often listed under other names, such as dextrose, molasses, corn syrup solids, malt syrup or sucrose.
Avoid Empty Calories
Ever wonder what's wrong with soda, deli meats, sports drinks or frozen milk desserts? After all, they're quite low in calories. The problem with these foods and beverages is that they have little or no nutritional value. They contain only sugars, trans fats and harmful chemicals that can affect your health in the long run.
Energy drinks, for example, provide around 162 calories, 40 grams of carbs (including 36 grams of sugars) and less than 1 gram of protein per bottle. Each gram of carbohydrates delivers 4 calories, meaning that most of the calories in these beverages come from carbs. Sugar-free options exist, but they still lack essential nutrients.
A 2018 review published in The Anatolian Journal of Cardiology assessed the impact of energy drinks on body weight. Rats who consumed either energy drinks or cola soda gained weight a lot faster compared to those fed with sweetened coffee or water. Researchers blame the sugar in these beverages for weight gain and obesity. Other sources of empty calories include:
- Breakfast cereals
- Diet soda
- Fried vegetable chips
- Pretzels and crackers
- Baked desserts
- Coffee drinks
- Commercial smoothies
- Sweetened tea drinks
- Fruit-flavored drinks
- Cocktails and other alcoholic beverages
- Junk food
- Snack bars
- Granola bars
- Pancake syrup
- Processed sauces and salad dressings
Read more: Your 10 Favorite Comfort Foods, Gone Light
Steer Clear of Fried Foods
Fried foods are not only calorie-dense but unhealthy too. Let's take potatoes, for example. One serving of baked potatoes has 138 calories, 31.3 grams of carbs, 0.2 grams of fat and 3.7 grams of protein. It also boasts large amounts of potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.
A small serving of French fries, by comparison, has 267 calories, 32.7 grams of carbs, 13.7 grams of fat and 3.4 grams of protein. Their fat content is about 68 times higher than that of baked potatoes. Additionally, fried foods contain acrylamide, a potential carcinogen.
According to a 2017 study featured in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating fried potatoes at least twice a week increases the risk of premature death. Potato chips and other fried foods are not healthier either.
Avoid Processed Meats
Smoked, dried and canned meats are high in sugar, trans fats and additives and have little nutritional value. They also tend to be more calorie-dense compared to their unprocessed counterparts. These foods have been linked to colorectal, prostate and pancreatic cancers, cardiovascular problems and death from all causes. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the risk of colorectal cancer increases by 18 percent for every 50 grams of processed meat consumed daily.
Let's take smoked chicken breast. One serving (2 oz) provides 70 calories, 12 grams of protein, 1 gram of carbs, 2 grams of fat and 360 milligrams of sodium. The same amount of skinless chicken breast has 62 calories, 13 grams of protein, 0.7 grams of fat, 37 milligrams of sodium and zero carbs. Smoked chicken is about 10 times higher in sodium and three times higher in fat than raw chicken breast.
- Turkey ham
- Smoked meats
- Hot dogs
- Beef jerky
Forget About "White" Foods
White bread, white rice, white pasta and other "white" foods provide nothing but empty calories. They are highly processed and have the fiber removed, so the sugar goes directly into your bloodstream. Since they're low in fiber, they are less satisfying, compared to their unprocessed counterparts.
One serving of cooked spaghetti, for example, has 220 calories, 42.8 grams of carbs, 2.5 grams of fiber, 1.3 grams of fat and 8 grams of protein. Whole-wheat spaghetti, on the other hand, contains 174 calories, 37.2 grams of carbs, 6.3 grams of fiber, 0.8 grams of fat and 7.5 grams of protein per serving. It also boasts larger amounts of vitamins and minerals.
These white foods are fattening and affect metabolic health. As Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, LDN, points out, refined carbs — like those in white bread — cause blood sugar spikes. Whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta, brown rice and other unprocessed foods are rich in fiber, which slows sugar absorption by your body. Additionally, they are more filling and nutritious. Consume these products in the morning and before or after exercise so your body can use the extra carbs for fuel.
- Taylor & Francis Online: Understanding the Challenge of Weight Loss Maintenance - A Systematic Review and Synthesis of Qualitative Research on Weight Loss Maintenance
- ScienceDirect: A Nonrestrictive, Weight Loss Diet Focused on Fiber and Lean Protein Increase
- The FASEB Journal: Hunger and Satiety Responses to Saturated Fat-Rich Meals Before and After a High PUFA Diet
- MDPI: Effect of Dietary Sugar Intake on Biomarkers of Subclinical Inflammation - A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Intervention Studies
- Annual Reviews: Consumption of Sugars, Sugary Foods, and Sugary Beverages in Relation to Cancer Risk
- ChooseMyPlate: What Are Added Sugars?
- Fat Secret: Energy Drink
- USDA: How Many Calories Are in One Gram of Fat, Carbohydrate, or Protein?
- NCBI: Energy Drinks and Obesity - Preliminary Results From a Preclinical Study
- Nature.com: Clinicians Call for Ban on Sales of Energy Drinks to Children
- SELFNutritionData: Baked Potatoes
- CalorieKing: French Fries
- Cancer.org: Acrylamide and Cancer Risk
- Oxford Academic: Fried Potato Consumption Is Associated With Elevated Mortality
- IARC: IARC Monographs Evaluate Consumption of Red Meat and Processed Meat
- MDPI: Red and Processed Meat and Mortality in a Low Meat Intake Population
- Fat Secret: Smoked Chicken Breast
- CalorieKing: Skinless Chicken Breast
- World Action on Salt: Water Retention
- Heart.org: Shaking the Salt Habit to Lower High Blood Pressure
- Wiley Online Library: Is There a Relationship Between Red or Processed Meat Intake and Obesity?
- SELFNutritionData: Cooked Spaghetti
- SELFNutritionData: Whole Wheat Spaghetti
- On Track Diabetes: Blood Sugar Control - Does Cutting Out White Foods Really Help?