As a nutrition coach I am often asked which diet is the best for weight loss. The simple answer is the one that works best for you.
But, in general, low carb diets are the way to go.
In addition to focusing on reducing your carbohydrates, there are a few small changes you can make that will help you achieve your weight loss goals. These small changes, which I describe below, don’t require a lot of work, and are simple to do. But they can have a huge impact.
Simple Change #1 – Make your pantry a no sugar and starchy treat zone
The fastest way to failure when working towards your health goals is to be too strict, and not allow yourself a treat or cheat meal sometimes.
The other fastest way to failure is to keep tantalizing treats and food you want to avoid in your house.
The reality is, sticking to your meal plan is hard work. Sometimes we need to sacrifice the food we really want for the food we should be eating. There are going to be lots of times when you are craving something sweet, or you really don’t want to eat what you should eat.
It’s in these times, where our resolve may be weaker and the vision of our success is not as bright, that it will be easier for us to go off track.
Keeping the sugary and starchy treats out of the house is a small change you can make that will have a significant impact on your health success.
It takes more effort and time to run to the store for the sugary and starchy food we are craving. This extra work, and time to really consider our actions, may be enough for us to not do it. We may stop ourselves from grabbing the food we are actually trying to avoid.
But if that sugar treat, or starchy snack, is in your pantry or fridge there isn’t anything stopping you from grabbing it other than your own willpower. And relying on our willpower to stop us from eating delicious food is not a great strategy, as you may already know.
Cleaning out your pantry, removing all of the food that is not going to help you succeed, and not allowing it back, is a major key to weight loss and health success.
Simple Change #2 – Drink your coffee black
How much sugar, cream or flavouring do you add to your coffee or tea?
Researchers at the University of Illinois found that women consume 41% of their daily recommended sugar intake from their coffee drinks!
Add that to the average of 42.5 teaspoons of sugar most women consume each day and that is a lot of sugar!
By the way, the recommended amount of sugar each day is 13.3 teaspoons.
We are eating almost 30 teaspoons of extra sugar each day! And remember, this sugar turns into fat. Sugar = fat gain.
The simplest and easiest way to cut down on your sugar intake is by drinking your coffee or tea black.
Yes, at first the coffee may not taste as good. I was a huge double-double fan (for those that aren’t Canadian that means two sugar and two cream in your coffee), and when I converted to black my tastebuds protested.
It was a little gross at first.
But now I choose better coffee that doesn’t need sugar. I don’t drink Tim Horton’s, because it is gross, and I drink high quality coffee. I have become a connoisseur, and I have found coffees that have amazing flavour and don’t need sugar to mask their grossness.
Surprisingly, McDonalds is one of the coffees I have come to love. I am the only person in the drive through that orders only coffee, haha.
Simple Change #3 – Chew sugar free gum
Craving food doesn’t mean you are hungry.
Allow me to say that again, craving food doesn’t mean that you are hungry.
You could be craving food for a variety of reasons: a hormone imbalance, endorphins may play a role, and emotions may have an impact.
But you are not craving food because you are hungry. Therefore, you don’t need to eat.
But, as you may know, when we have an intense craving for a specific food denying that craving is nearly impossible. I have been known to drive 30 minutes out of my way to get a food that I was craving.
Cravings can be the doom of our meal plan and our success.
Through my personal experience training for a fitness competition, and through the experience of many clients who are trying to lose weight and get the body and health they want, I have found one solution to our cravings – chew sugar free gum.
Is it full proof? No. But it sure helps.
Chewing gum gives you that instant sweetness that helps satisfy the craving and it keeps your mouth busy.
I’m not totally sure why it works, but it does. And my experience is backed up by science.
Louisiana State researchers found in a study that chewing gum can have a positive effect on appetite control and reducing cravings.
The best part is, a typical piece of sugar free gum is only 3 calories. And the work your mouth is doing to chew it may actually burn more calories than that, about 11 calories an hour.
So next time you have a craving for a sweet or starchy treat grab you favourite sugar free gum instead.
Simple Change #4 – Make treats cash only
Do you pay with cash or cards? Or maybe just your phone?
If you are like the majority of people you probably don’t carry cash with you, and you pay with debit or credit card, or maybe your phone.
A simple change you can make that will have huge benefit on your health success is to only allow yourself a treat if you can pay for it with cash.
For most of us that means we are not going to be buying any treats. And if we do, we have to go through the process of getting cash. A process that will require us to really think about our action, and will give us the opportunity to say no.
The more hurdles we can create to getting treats the harder it will be for us to get treats, and the more likely we are to not eat treats.
This simple change may help you create a big hurdle that will have a major effect on your behavior and eating habits.
Simple Change #5 – buy and stock more frozen vegetables
Speaking of hurdles. The fewer you have for getting healthy food, the easier it will be to stick to your meal plan and eat healthy food.
Keeping vegetables in your freezer means you have easy access to vegetables. And you don’t need to worry about the vegetables going bad if you don’t eat them right away.
I saute all my frozen vegetables with a bit a salt and serve as is. It’s super simple, fast, and tastes good.
Simple Change #6 – Drink carbonated water
There’s lots of science that shows drinking water is helpful for weight loss. Here’s an article from Medical News Today that nicely summarizes the science: Can water help you lose weight?
But there is less science on how carbonated water can help you lose weight. So this suggestion comes from personal experience.
When I am preparing for a fitness competition, and my calories are ridiculously low, I feel hungry. Like, get out of my way as I run down the cookie aisle madly grabbing bags of cookies, type of hungry.
Carbonated water helps. A lot.
I’m not sure why. I think it is because the bubbles make me feel full, and the little bit of flavour helps curb my need for sweets.
All I know for sure, is it helps. I think some of the credit for my trophy and medals goes to carbonated water.
Whatever your health goal is – losing weight, having more energy, feeling like your best self – success comes not from one giant action, but from smaller actions taken consistently over a long period of time.
Making these 6 small changes in your life can create big changes over time, and help you achieve health success.