Eat breakfast: In order to gain weight, Japanese sumo wrestlers don't eat breakfast. That's because skipping breakfast slows down your metabolism and encourages weight gain. Start your day with a breakfast that combines fiber and lean protein to rev up your metabolism and keep you feeling full until lunch.
Add fiber: Carbs are your friends if they're high in fiber. A diet lacking in carbohydrates will lead to feelings of hunger and deprivation — and ultimately unwise diet decisions. Fill up on high-fiber carbs, such as brown rice and wheat bran, which leave you feeling full for longer periods of time. The average American only gets about 10 grams daily, but you should be aiming for a minimum of 30 grams.
Snack attack: Eating a small, healthful snack between meals will help keep your blood sugar stable and your metabolism going strong. You'll also avoid getting overly hungry and overeating at your next meal. Choose snacks that are 200 calories or fewer, and combine the winning combo of fiber and protein for satisfaction and blood sugar control. Some great snack options are an apple and nuts or whole-wheat crackers with low-fat cheese.
Go meatless for a day: People who consume the most meat eat more calories daily and have a greater likelihood of being obese than those who limit the amount of meat they consume. That's why vegetarians tend to have lower rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Try sticking to other protein sources as often as possible, such as whole soybeans, hummus, Greek yogurt and fish.
— Jackie Newgent, registered dietitian and author of "Big Green Cookbook" (John Wiley & Sons)
Try weightlifting: Strength training is usually associated with bodybuilders and competitive athletes. However, it is the best exercise for those trying to lose weight. Strength training creates strong ligaments and tendons, which serve to support our joints and decrease the likelihood of injury from other activities. It also increases muscle fiber size, which results in a boost of metabolism. This allows you to eat more without gaining weight, because your body will burn calories at a faster rate. Combining strength training with a healthy diet is the best way to achieve optimum health and body weight.
Stay hydrated: Symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, headaches and muscle cramping. These symptoms are similar to the symptoms of hunger and may easily be confused with each other. So before you reach for a snack, first drink 8 to 16 ounces of water to see if the symptoms go away. You may not have needed that Snickers bar after all! Water also helps rid the body of toxins and chemicals that may be slowing down your overall metabolism. Aim to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
Always order an appetizer: Dining out doesn't have to sabotage your dieting efforts. Make sure to start with a noncream-based soup or salad, so you are less tempted to dig into the fried calamari that your friend ordered. Plus, you'll be less hungry when your entree arrives. According to a Penn State University study, women who had chicken and rice soup right before lunch consumed an average of 100 fewer calories than those who opted for a chicken and rice casserole with a glass of water. This equates to a weight loss of 10 pounds or more in just one year. Aim for broth-based soups filled with vegetables, which tend to have fewer calories than cream- or dairy-based soups. Great options are vegetable, minestrone or bean soups, which are all great low-calorie, high-fiber options.
Pop goes the craving: When you crave a crunchy snack, take a pass on the potato chips and opt for popcorn you air-pop or microwave yourself. Popcorn is high in fiber and low in calories; sprinkle a pinch of salt or sugar on top to have a healthy, satisfying snack.
— Bindi Lessing, registered dietitian
Lean meals at night: Dinner should be the leanest meal of the day: high in protein and vegetables, lower in high-calorie carbs. Unfortunately, people tend to save their calories for dinner, when their metabolism is at its slowest. Instead, the majority of your calories should be eaten at breakfast, allowing more time for your body to burn off the calories consumed.
Alcohol is not off the menu: But be conscious of what you choose. Calories can add up, and moderation is key. Great options are red or white wine, and spirits on the rocks or mixed with club soda.
Have a chocolate craving? Do it the healthy way, says Susan Roberts, co-author of "The Instinct Diet: Use Your Five Food Instincts to Lose Weight and Keep It Off" (Workman), who created this recipe:
Microwave 11/2ounces bittersweet chocolate in a microwave-safe container on high power for 30 seconds. Remove container; stir to blend and finish melting. (Return to microwave if more heating is required, but be careful not to overheat it.)
Dip the tips of 2 cups ripe, washed strawberries in the chocolate; transfer to a baking sheet lined with wax paper to let chocolate set. (If the melted chocolate hardens before you finish dipping fruit, microwave again on 50 percent power.)
Serve with light whipped cream, if desired.
Makes 2 servings; each has about 155 calories (not including the whipped cream) if you use all of the chocolate.