Fat is needed to sustain bodily functions, but what you eat dictates how fat cells swell. Want to lose weight? Here’s what you need to do.
Don’t eat just salads.
If you think just surviving on a bowl of lettuce and vegetables for every meal is the secret to dropping pounds, you’re wrong. “While salads may be considered the healthiest selection on a menu, you need to consider what’s in them, like salad dressing, which contains artificial ingredients and sugars, and whether or not you’re getting enough protein, healthy, fat, and fiber (all needed to burn fat and boost metabolism),” says celebrity nutritionist Cynthia Pasquella. When a salad lacks those elements, eating it won’t do you much good.
Don’t load up on high-fiber bars and cereals.
There’s nothing wrong with fiber, as long as you get it from natural sources like fruits and vegetables. “Processed bars and cereals often contain ‘functional fiber,’ which comprises of non-digestible carbohydrates isolated from foods,” says Pasquella. “There’s no evidence that functional fiber offers the same benefits as natural fiber.”
Processed fiber bars tend to contain copious amounts of sugar, artificial ingredients and additives. Nutritionist Darya Rose adds that they also aren’t satisfying enough to keep you from overeating. “They give a false sense of virtue, which enables you to rationalize your indulgences later on.”
Don’t stockpile your kitchen with “fat-free” and “low-fat” foods.
Foods that are packaged and marketed as low-fat or fat-free can actually cause more harm than good. “Low-fat and fat-free foods are usually composed of simple and ‘white’ carbohydratesand/or filled with sugar to make up for the missing fat,” says nutritionist Amy Shapiro, founder of Real Nutrition NYC. “When fat is removed, something else needs to be added to the food to make it taste good. Most times, manufacturers go to sugar.” Unfortunately, too much sugar gets stored as fat.
Eat plenty of protein.
“Protein is the nutrient that takes the longest to break down, keeping you fuller for longer. The longer we stay full, the less we need to eat,” says Shapiro. But some people avoid protein, and that’s a bad idea. “Protein, when broken down, becomes amino acids, which are the building blocks for muscles,” Shapiro adds. You want to eat protein (egg whites, lean chicken, turkey, beans and fish), because it keeps you full and isn’t high in calories. Protein also burns the most amount of calories during the digestion process.
Eat good fats.
“While they get a bad rap, healthy fats are one of the three macronutrient groups that provide the body with energy,” says Carey Peters, cofounder of Health Coach Institute. Monosaturated fat, found inavocado and olive oil, and polyunsaturated fat, sourced from salmon and almonds, help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, D and K) and reduce inflammation in the body. But, like everything else, you want to make sure your diet has a balance of healthy fats (not too many!), otherwise the excess gets stored as fat.
Don’t fall prey to diets and detoxes that overpromise.
Anything that’s a fast fix isn’t a good idea. They typically will end up starving your body or robbing it of essential nutrients. “My best advice is that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” says Pasquella. “I warn my clients against depriving themselves, as these behaviors only lead to binge eating later.”