The most reliable way to lose weight at a healthy pace is to adopt a low-calorie, nutrient-rich diet. By removing high-calorie, sugar-rich foods from your daily routine, you can effectively cut out the empty calories that provide little or no nutritive value. For example, instead of eating a hamburger for lunch, you can opt for a veggie wrap with miso soup. As a first-time dieter, you may want to talk to your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to make drastic changes to what and how you eat.
Calories and Diet
If you've never dieted before, you may not be familiar with the key role that calories play in losing weight. Weight loss is essentially a numbers game involving the calories that you consume and the calories that you burn, according to MayoClinic.com. For your diet plan to be effective, it must restrict the total number of calories you consume each day. Because 3,500 deficit calories are required to burn a single pound, you will need to alter your diet in a way that allows you to receive plenty of nutrients without the excess calories. Fortunately, foods such as whole grains, leafy greens, fruits and lean proteins are all low in calories and rich in essential nutrients and vitamins.
As a first-time dieter, you will want to begin your diet plan by cutting the most fattening meals and beverages from your routine. These generally include foods such as red meat, some dairy and desserts. Also, soft drinks and sugary snack foods are typically high in calories and low in nutrients. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average soft drink or fruit punch can contain between 220 and 320 calories per serving. Opt for water instead of sugary soft drinks, and choose healthy, low-calorie snack foods such as: fresh fruit, pita wedges, carrot sticks, nuts or peanut butter.
Start your day with a breakfast consisting of eggs, whole grain porridge, oatmeal or miso soup. For lunch, opt for a quinoa and barley stir-fry with cooked veggies and tilapia. Beans and rice make complementary staples for most dishes, while tofu or tempeh can be used as a low-calorie alternative to steaks, hamburger and other red meats. For dinner, make a seafood pasta using buckwheat noodles and soy sauce. Because this is your first attempt at dieting, you may want to simplify your meals to four basic dietary staples: whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, barley and buckwheat can boost your protein intake while providing ample quantities of nutrients and minerals. Likewise, fruits and vegetables contain reliable amounts of minerals, vitamins and fiber. When selecting lean proteins, opt for turkey, seafood, tofu or tempeh.
Adopting a diet for the first time can be difficult if you are used to eating foods that are high in calories. One way to reduce your risk of diet burnout is to ease your way into your new meal choices. For example, instead of overhauling your entire diet on day one, try replacing a single high-calorie meal for a low-calorie alternative. Over time, you can gradually incorporate more low-calorie meals into your diet. One way to stay on top of your caloric intake is to keep a food journal that contains an entry for each food or beverage item you consume each day, along with its caloric value. As a first-time dieter, this can help you meet your weight loss goals, while you stay flexible with the foods you eat. Always remember, you can burn off extra calories by engaging in a regular exercise activity, such as running or swimming.
- MayoClinic.com: Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight Loss Basics
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Rethink Your Drink
- MayoClinic.com: Whole Grains: Hearty Options for a Healthy Diet
- Journal of the American Dietetic Association: The Role of Whole Grains in Disease Prevention
- Macrobiotics America: Basic Macrobiotic Menu Planning